Since his debut, Tyne-James Organ has put his entire heart and soul into his art. Every song he pens is sure to be gorgeous and utterly transcendent.
Fresh off the release of his latest single Not Ready for Love, we caught up with the songwriter for an intimate chat about mental health, self-love, and the future.
HAPPY: So I don’t think I’ve ever heard a song of yours where you haven’t put your entire heart and soul into it. Everything you write is so powerful.
TYNE JAMES: Thank you.
HAPPY: What drives your music?
TYNE JAMES: My life. I know that’s a pretty stock standard answer, but yeah, it’s my life. I only write about things that I’ve experienced or feel, you know what I mean? And when I say I feel, it’s got to be felt to a very personal level. I have written a few songs from an outsider’s perspective, but I wouldn’t write about something that I don’t understand. So as much as being an outsider, there’s only two songs I’ve written like that which are on my album and I’m an outsider but still present. I couldn’t write about stuff that I don’t understand because if I don’t understand it, how can I expect the audience to kind of connect with it and feel something? I know that answer is pretty short and sweet, but my life just drives me. We all have weird stuff, this year is the pinnacle of how weird this world is. But yeah, I think everything that goes on, it just inspires me. And unfortunately, it’s the sad stuff that usually inspires you the most. But I struggle to talk about it generally, so I think that through song, I can articulate it in that way, that it tells my story, but it tells it in a way that it’s not just names and specifics, I just try to keep it broad. So I’m venting to everyone, because that’s what I feel like I’m doing when I play a show. I’m just having a big vent. But it’s nice that people can take it into their own way and just appreciate it for what it is and just feel something. That’s my goal, for people to be able to feel and connect. If I wrote something that sounded cool but didn’t mean anything, that wouldn’t really have much point for me. I hope that answers your question… [laughs]
HAPPY: Yeah, it definitely does [laughs]. Because I’ve always noticed that your songs are really personal but they are all about things that everyone can relate to. Is that something you really focus on?
TYNE JAMES: Very much. It’s a weird story and I haven’t told that many people, but I have this one song that I wrote about my dad called Watch You Go and that’s about him passing away. Anyway, I’ve had numerous messages and conversations, but there’s one specific message I got on Facebook, when I first dropped it, and it just stuck with me. It was from this family that said they were on their way to the hospital, a husband and wife who were about to give birth. They just said they heard it a few minutes before they got there and it just really calmed them and gave them hope. And then they concluded it by saying, you now have three new fans. And all in all, that song was a heartbreaking song for me because it’s about losing dad, but then they sort of like a new life thing. I was like, man, that was the first kind of moment that I was like, wow, that’s really cool that people can really take it in a whole other light. Like, when they were like, we found life in this song, but that’s I think that’s the blessing of music, it leaves it open to interpretation. It can feel good or sad.
HAPPY: That’s so beautiful.
TYNE JAMES: Yeah, it helps. I feel like if I didn’t write songs I’d be crazy. After I’ve written a song, I’ll talk about it but in the moment, I’m just in this little box and there’s only one person who gets it, a guy called Chris Collins. He’s my best friend and he produces all my music and we’ve written a couple songs on the record together too. But he’s the only one that really gets that first bit. And I just look at his eyes just opening as I’m pouring all my problems out to him. But it’s good, it’s healing.
HAPPY: Yeah, totally. When you go about writing a song because like you said, you’ve got some that are about other people’s lives, some that are about really personal things to you, what’s the real catalyst for you when writing a song?
TYNE JAMES: It’s a very good question. I also don’t know how to answer it because I just don’t plan it as such. Sometimes, I’m writing about one thing and I’ve got probably like 500 and something half-songs in my library with all the songs I’m writing. My mind just drifts. I’m a massive thinker at night. There’s a lot of songs I write at like 3 a.m. I just wake up and I just start – with my eyes half-closed – and just start singing. But again I don’t want to say life again.
HAPPY: I mean it’s true. Everything’s tied up in life. [both laugh]
TYNE JAMES: It is. Just as I said, when writing an album I have to be personal about it. Maybe one day, I’ll venture down the path of making a concept album about something, again, that I know, feel and am very passionate about. But for now, I just really take in everything I’m around. I really like healings and meditation and things like that because my mum’s always been into that kind of thing. And I recently had a Reiki healing and [my mum] was just telling me how much of my feet pick up on other people’s energy.
TYNE JAMES: Yeah. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But for me, I’m just very into it. And my mum said that every time, I can just talk with someone on the street for two seconds and if they tell me something heavy, nine times out of ten, I’ll take that away with me and dwell on it later. Since she’s told me that, I’ve realised how much I do it. So that’s kind of I don’t know. I think it all kind of comes into it as well. I don’t know if I’m making sense. [laughs]
HAPPY: Yeah, that’s so interesting. I’ve never heard someone use the feet as an example.
TYNE JAMES: So she told me, for starters, that I need to wear shoes heaps less, to keep me grounded and present with the moment. So there were lots of things that she said within that I’d pick up. But I also don’t want to get rid of that because that’s a part of me.
HAPPY: Yeah, totally.
TYNE JAMES: It really helps my work and my career, in helping to pick up on those energies. But then there’s that fine line where it can warp your brain at the same time. And I tend to overthink and I think think think, you know. Often, I just want to switch off. But as I said, it’s a fine line between Sick! I can’t switch off. Let’s make an album. Or holy shit, this is too much. But I think again I’m going to say life. [both laugh]
HAPPY: Wow, that’s so interesting. Do you find walking in nature, like along the beach and things like that, really grounding? Is that what your mum was getting at?
TYNE JAMES: Well, she just meant in general. Living in Melbourne for the past few years, you don’t really take your shoes off down there. But up here, you do. So since I’ve been up here, I’ve actually got – this is a bit lame – but I’ve got the start of a Birkenstock tan going on.
HAPPY: Oh my god, I have a fat one right now.
TYNE JAMES: Yeah, my goal for summer is to just wear these and get a tan. [laughs]
HAPPY: Yeah. Get those nice ones happening.
TYNE JAMES: But yeah, I do feel it a lot when – this is a bit weird – I put my feet in mud or dirt. The sand is great and grass is great, but getting them dirty and is when I really feel it.
HAPPY: Yeah, getting them in the actual earth.
TYNE JAMES: But it’s not something that I might do that often. I just know it’s good and so I try to be conscious about doing it as much as I can.
HAPPY: Well, speaking of energies, this year has obviously been so fucked. Do you feel like the energy shift in this year has fed into your music in any way?
TYNE JAMES: 100%. This year has been such a personal year for everyone, but for me, I’ve really had so many questioning thoughts and moments in that time. And because, as I said before, my music is so personal, where the album was pre-COVID to where it is now, was definitely shaped by the pandemic. Less in terms of the lyrics, because most of that was already done, but sonically there are some sounds that have come in and just random little things. It was just such a different time. I mean we’re still somewhat in it, but it’s definitely changed my whole outlook on life, to be honest.
HAPPY: Totally. Well like you say, you write very emotionally-driven songs. For a lot of artists who deal with more intense topics in their music, they can really struggle with burnout every now and again because it’s just so intense all the time. Do you ever feel like you’re having to really consider your mental health and your well-being when you’re going about your music in this way?
TYNE JAMES: To be honest and upfront, because I think I’ve never really been like that in an interview, but I think life’s too short. And this time that we’re living in now, I mean, in COVID I’ve lost friends to suicide and things like that. It’s not really a conversation that I’ve had much, but I think it is the time to have it. In general, I’ve unfortunately suffered from mental health from a young age and mine’s been hereditary. But in this time, considering what’s happened and everything that’s going on, along with touring and everything – when I tour I’m a stress head, I’m a stress head in life and in everything – mental health is number one. There are times where you’ve got to really take a break. And I mean, you deal with it day-to-day. You can medicate yourself. You can do this and this. You can self medicate in your own way, but none of it’s healthy. It’s really the most important thing you can do is just focus on what makes you happy and find that. And sometimes, you know, I always thought the music was the one thing I needed to do to make me happy. And music is the one thing that makes me happy.
TYNE JAMES: But since it’s become my job, there’s a lot of stress around it. Especially because there are no clock-on clock-off hours. It’s not a 9-5 job. Sometimes I get business calls at 10:30 pm or other odd times of the day.
You get emails at 1 am and that, so you never really switch off. As for me, as an overthinker, it puts you into some pretty weird situations. But for me, I’ve honestly just drawn the line now where I’m like my head comes first. So if at any time it’s too much, I switch off. I think that’s important. And if, you know, I couldn’t if I was on some massive tour, like there’s people out there that like Tash Sultana, Ed Sheeran and those people that are touring to that level, that would freak me out. Everyone does it in their own way. But yeah, I think for me, it’s so important to really take care of your head because, you know, you can be fine one day and then the next day, your whole world is over and it’s again, it’s a fine line of making sure your world isn’t over. You’ve got to tell yourself it’s not. So, yeah, as I said, it’s nothing I’ve ever really spoken about outside of a very close group. But with having music and a platform, why not use that platform to actually try and open that conversation on stage and everything? When I’m on tour and meet the crowds that come to the shows. I’m always trying to get out of that headspace of “I’m the artist and you’re. the fan.”
We’re just two people talking. There’s no pedestals, nothing like that. If I need to vent and you need to vent, let’s talk! Because that might be the thing that helps someone to save someone’s life, you know?
TYNE JAMES: That’s my outlook on this scary time. The suicide rate, especially stacked against the odds of this year is just scary. The conversation surrounding this just needs to be had.
TYNE JAMES: Everyone needs to put themselves first and take all the right measurements to be happy.
HAPPY: Thanks so much for your honesty.
TYNE JAMES: No, no, as I’ve said I’ve never done it. This has been the first interview I’ve done like post-COVID? In COVID? Wherever we are. It’s always been something I’ve wanted to work towards talking about and I feel like now, why hold back now? The time is now, you know. I don’t talk about mental health in a sympathetic, “oh, I’m going to die” way because everyone’s fucking going through something, you know. But if someone can hear this, read this and see this and it sparks something, then that’s helping someone in some way. Because by not saying a word, then, you’re not helping. What’s the point in that?
HAPPY: Yeah, absolutely. Well, you said in an interview in Fashion Journal Mag, back at the start of the year, that music to you is stories and chapters of your life. For this new album and new music that you’re putting out? What’s this new chapter for you?
TYNE JAMES: So with this, I feel like I lied a little bit last year. [laughs] Well, actually, I didn’t lie. I just didn’t realise because I hadn’t finished the album then. But I thought Persevere, my EP that I made was a chapter. And then that had concluded. And there are parts of that chapter in the album. Because then when I got to making the album, there was lots of stuff that came back, which is good, you know, it’s good. It’s more. It made me go “shit, I wasn’t finished with that I’m still processing.”
TYNE JAMES: The Persevere chapter was virtually like 18 to 22-year-old me, and this chapter is actually a Melbourne chapter actually. Holy shit.
HAPPY: Yeah right!
TYNE JAMES: I didn’t know it but this is fully my Melbourne chapter. It is. That’s so weird. Yeah, wow.
HAPPY: There you go.
TYNE JAMES: This conversation helped me work out what chapter this album is! Since I moved to Melbourne, it’s everything that happened there. And why I say that I had a little bit of the old chapters is because when I first moved to Melbourne, I’d just come out of a relationship and my first experience of Melbourne was all about grieving, processing, getting over that and starting a new life. So I guess, yeah, that did come into a little bit of the album. But yeah, I’m going to call it the Melbourne chapter. Because it was just everything that I went through during that time. And because I was doing so much travelling, there was so much more to it than what just happened in Melbourne. This is blowing my mind. [laughs]
HAPPY: That’s what we’re here for! [laughs]
TYNE JAMES: Now I can answer that with confidence because I had no idea what to say before. I thought lied at the beginning and now we’ve come full circle.
HAPPY: Yeah. Well, thanks so much for the chat.
TYNE JAMES: No, thank you!
Photos by Charlie Hardy