It’s widely known that New York City is an amazing jumping off point for artistic careers. What tends to fly slightly further under the radar is the fact that finding a successful career in music and the arts is, more often than not, an intense sometimes exhausting and discouraging struggle. For singer/songwriter, Jamie Bendell, the pursuit of her musical dreams has featured its share of both ups and downs, but she persists.
Born in New York City and raised in Long Island, Bendell studied business at Emery College in Atlanta, Georgia before returning to the city with two roommates. Upon her return, she set about taking steps to establish herself in music.
“I’ve always loved writing. I’ve always loved singing,” Bendell notes. “I had a couple of friends from high school who had gone to NYU who had pursued music, and I basically just reached out to them to get started.”
In essence, Bendell called her old high school friends and offered to treat them to drinks or coffee in exchange for their opinions on how to initiate the performing and recording process. This method helped her to link up with a friend in a band who introduced her to the guys who later produced her first two EPs.
Bendell also attributes her progression into the industry to various individuals she encountered at her first few performance experiences. Like most musicians, she remembers her first open mic, in her case at a place in the city called Paddy Reilly’s.
“I had my first open mic at Paddy Reilly’s. The guy who ran it told me to go the back and there were a group of four guys, two in particular I’m now close to,” Bendell recalls. “Basically I played, and when I played they kind of took me under their wing as a little sister.”
Once Bendell connected with the guys from Paddy Reilly’s, her journey led her to Cafe Vivaldi in the village.
One guy said, ‘You have to come to Café Vivaldi’,” Bendell says. “From there, every single Monday for three years until recently, I would go to open mic and I would sit there the entire night and I basically developed a really strong group of talented singer/songwriter friends.”
Bendell’s networking and drive have earned her industry connections that have been imperative to her career thus far. From producers to DJs to guitar teachers, Bendell has managed to surround herself with people who can help to further her career. Her guitar teacher was actually a Craigslist find gone amazingly right.
“I was lucky, I found a guitar teacher on Craigslist,” she shares. “It’s Josh Lattanzi if anyone needs a teacher. He is one of the most giving people I have yet to meet in the music industry. I think I really needed someone to give me their opinion and to have suggestions, so we’d spend a lot of lessons talking for the first 15-20 minutes and I was able to play him my songs. He’s full of suggestions, always. He’s so, so supportive and so nice. He’s someone who has experience in the music industry and could have been not as forthcoming with his opinion and is just so open and willing to give me advice.”
While Lattanzi has clearly been helpful to Bendell, she maintains that her intent in business relationships is to establish mutually beneficial situations.
“It’s important to make money for yourself and to be self sufficient, at least in my opinion, but it’s hard to do things by yourself and to try to convince people when they have so many other things to do, especially in NYC,” Bendell admits. “I try to surround myself with people who I can help and who can help me, so that it’s a mutual thing.”
Though her interpersonal relationships have definitely impacted her career in a positive way, Bendell has most assuredly put in the hard work as well. Her ability to even be present for an interview is impressive, as she is currently juggling an internship, a job with her family’s business and two separate music projects as well as a spot in a friend’s band.
“I think New York gives a lot, but it also sucks a lot of out of you in terms of money and energy,” she admits. “You move a little bit and then you feel like you come back, but you try to have as many projects in the works as possible. It’s stressful only because it’s hard to make everything work financially and give enough time to each project and make sure I’m not spreading myself too thin.”
As for her two current projects, Bendell is excited about both, though they are very different. One project involves working directly with a producer/DJ friend named Devon C. Johnson.
“The one with my friend Devon started out as just being acoustic recordings and it became a little bit more involved,” Bendell explains. “It’s more experimentation. Because we’re friends, I took a little more of a risk on some of those things just as exploration.”
Despite the fact that the project has taken a new direction, Bendell is embracing the results of her experimental tracks with Johnson and is eager to release the music in a creative way that coincides with the new sound of the collaboration. In addition, she is also working on a fourth EP with the studio connected to some of her media representatives.
“The project in The Cutting Room is with a lot of musicians I play with for live shows, so I’m excited for that project,” Bendell shares. “That’s the one I will be doing a giant release for coming up this fall.”
On top of two demanding projects, Bendell also serves as the vocalist for a friend’s band, Plastic Cannons. The look on her face when describes her experience with the band suggests that her love for this project is more intense than any stress its addition to her life could cause. As she describes the homemade t-shirts the “indie synth-pop” band wears at some shows as promotional gear and representation of their group, Bendell repeats that she is “excited” and “so honored” to be a part of Plastic Cannons. Her excitement is contagious, so don’t be surprised to see the name Plastic Cannons on a future NY Social Status article.
Whether she’s releasing her experimental collaborations, recording new music for her fourth EP or belting vocals for the band she appears to be in love with, it seems clear that Jamie Bendell has carved a significant spot in her life for the the music she has always loved. She is a testament to the fact that a little hard work (and some networking) does go a long way.