Originally appeared on the 405; view archived article here.
When you listen to the latest single from Jamie Turner, aka Hēran Soun (say: hee-ran soon), the first thing to strike you is its myriad delicate sounds. Nuance is in surplus on both of his current tracks, “I Offer and the debut Barricade,” both of which feature on his just-released debut EP, Cambridge. For a classically trained musician, this approach would be nothing new, but Turner has a more complex history with music.
At birth, his hearing was severely below average, slipping until it eventually left him completely deaf before the age of 10. Through a series of surgeries and speech therapy, Turner gained full hearing—and began his obsession with sound. Now he lives in a studio in Oakland, working on his music throughout the night; how he got there is a story made up of amusing anecdotes, which he told me during our interview below. Read an excerpt from the interview and read it in full here.
405: It’s pretty incredible that these situations continue to fall into your lap.
Jamie Turner: Yeah, I guess I’ve just always been open to whatever happens. When I turned up here in California I just went out and I played an open mic because it was at a venue called the Starry Plow in Berkeley, which I had heard Jeff Buckley had played at one point. I dunno why, I always like to play on stages where I know that other people have been, it’s a nice reflection. Same reason I ended up in Cambridge, because of Nick Drake. The owner and the manager of the studio here saw me playing and asked to hear something I’d recorded but I didn’t have anything, so he invited me along. He gave me the keys and the alarm code to this, it’s a ridiculous place. I’m sitting right now in the control room talking to you, and there’s a half-a-million dollar desk, which my glass of whiskey is sat on and probably shouldn’t be. They’ve got a big parking lot out front, and so I bought an RV and decided to stay and move in. I’ve been here for about three years.
405: It’s interesting that you love solitude, and yet the music you make connects you with people.
I love it. Would I have ever met this person in Brazil or been able to imagine what their life is like? What I’ve found is that it’s how you put yourself forward. I put out music now—I say it like I’m an old pro, I’ve put out two songs [laughs]—so that how people are connecting with me. But I was selling an old microphone on Craigslist the other day and these horrible people were messaging me, being really short, and demanding ridiculous things from me, like to give it to them for pennies and drive it to Sacramento. Sometimes they don’t respond and when you ask if they are still interested, they say, “no, I found a cheaper one on Amazon,” and then I send them a John Oliver piece about how Amazon treats its workers. I’m getting more involved than I should.