YouTube is full of young and hopeful musicians. Naturally, some are more talented than others. One of the best raw voices I have ever heard on there belongs to a singer who stands out from the crowd in more ways than one. A fan of the fashion style and the music of the 1940s and ‘50s, Addie Hamilton still stands at the very start of her career as a singer and performer. With her sights set on delta blues, swing and jazz standards, expect it to be a career unlike that of pop hopefuls.
► I happen to know that you have a large family – any of your siblings born in the wrong decade or century, the way you seem to have been?
My oldest brother is a rockabilly fiend and my twin sister is very much a late-60s hippie, they both wear the kind of clothing as well. The rest of the seven stand in most modern trends.
►Do any of them share the musical talent or ambition that you have?
No, none of them are interested in music in that way, nor do any of them currently play an instrument.
►How did you discover your love for that particular period and style? After all, what we see in the pictures here isn’t you playing dress-up. This is how you dress all the time, correct?
Yes. Today I’m kind of lazy and I’m just wearing ‘50s clothes. But when I feel really good, I dress earlier. So when I’m in my Victorian clothes that means something really good has just happened. Of course it helps that I’ve been working in vintage for about a year and a half. And I’ve been collecting vintage since I was about 13.
►Was there a special event that kicked it off for you?
I found my great-grandma’s record player and I persuaded my mom to let me have it, because she was only using it as an end table. So I brought it up to my room and started listening to the records that came with it. And because that same month I had given up all electronics for Lent, I really honed in on the record player as my outlet for entertainment – swing, delta blues.
►At that time, had you already established yourself as the family member with the musical abilities?
My family is very supportive, but when we were all still kids and I would sing, I would get teased. Not in a horrible way. But as anyone who is learning their instrument, I was probably more annoying than anything else at the beginning. So when I was 13 and started to sing and play the piano, I was more of a nuisance, and my siblings would tell me to be quiet. But as a result, whenever I would get the chance to be on the piano, I made sure I would make the best of my time.
►How soon after discovering your great-grandma’s record collection did you decide that this was what you want to do for a living?
When I was about 14 I started singing in public, as well as practicing with my friends who were instrumentalists. That’s when I could tell that not only was I doing well, but also that there was so much that I, as an audience, wanted to see that wasn’t available. So my longing to hear more of the swing and jazz music that wasn’t available very easily was another factor in wanting to be a performer and a musician.
►The reason we are talking now are the two videos you put up on YouTube last year – the cover versions of Fever and Blurred Lines. How did these come about?
It was my friend’s idea. He found me singing at some high school event with my cousin, where he was doing the sound, and was kind of taken aback by my performance. Some time later, he put the video production together and suggested doing one current song, so I could show that my voice was applicable to modern day music. And because I was campaigning for all my songs to be old jazz standards, we added the Fever cover as well.
►Blurred Lines is a controversial song. I find myself in the camp that calls it The Date Rape Song. You did the cover, but you didn’t stay quite true to the original…
No. The verse where he talks about “I’m gonna rip your ass in two” wasn’t my favourite. I couldn’t think of any other way of structuring it the way I wanted, outside of scatting, and I didn’t feel scatting would be the way to go.
►Then why pick the song in the first place? There would have been plenty of other very popular songs you could have covered.
The one thing that drew me to this song was the back beat being oddly similar to a Marvin Gaye lick – Got To Give It Up. I could definitely hear that the song could have been transferred to an older era and style, like we did in the cover.
►Both of those videos got some nice traction, especially for a largely unknown artist. How did you experience that development?
The views grew steadily pretty much from the beginning, but looking at the timeline I could see that there were events in pop culture that helped them gain a lot of views in a short time. For instance, when Miley Cyrus did that song on the VMAs, I saw it spike. But overall it did its own thing, for which I am very grateful. I didn’t promote the videos. I don’t think I even posted them on my Facebook page until after they had grown in popularity.
►That success and your desire to be performer and singer beg the question: Why only two videos so far?
I am very much a perfectionist. I want to make sure that anything that goes out is at the best quality it can be, instead of rushing out a number of iffy videos as a follow-up. That being said, I have been constantly thinking about doing a new video and I have a few ideas in particular. I’ve also been caught up in working on my personal projects, as well as doing live performances. So I’ve kind of lost track of the whole online thing. But I think it’s been long enough, since I can already see a lot of fans – if I can call them fans yet – get antsy and even annoyed because there has been nothing new. Ask and they shall receive.
►Other than that, what is the general plan at this point?
Definitely getting the rest of my songwriting rounded up, so I can release my first EP. I’ve been very diligent about that. Then, yes, getting a hold of my fans on YouTube by putting some stuff on there. And generally running the show – not by myself, but with a good team of people I can trust, without necessarily being under a record label. If there so happens to be a record label that sees an opening for a cabaret/jazz act – whatever you want to call me – then I’m certainly willing to talk to them.