words by JoliAmour DuBose-Morris
images by U Music

How Felix Ames is bringing heart and soul back to the genre of music that declares it. A conversation about the joy that is contentment, family support, and fruitful love. 

Felix Ames doesn’t have a typical meet-cute with his profession. Music doesn’t knock on his doorstep or sit across from him on the train, it coasts through his life; with his family, and even during the three years he’s studying psychology and Pre-Med in college. He begins to study music theory and divest more and more time to recording, and his reality begins to change, as music flowers into his career. 

The Milwaukee, Wisconsin-born, but now Brooklyn, New York-residing musician still uses his experience with psychology to unlock perspectives and deeper consciousnesses that connect with his listeners.

Ames ponders, “I mean, I think I do. Subconsciously. All the knowledge I’ve gained through studying psychology in school, sticks with me, and just like my understanding of people and right, the world, genetics, and biology, you know what I mean? It more so affects my worldview.” Ames’s lens connects everyone, synonymously to his relationship with psychology and music. When listening to Ames talk about his point of view, relaying theories about the universality of our brains, and how all of these billions of people existing are connected through identical brains, hearts, and souls; all functioning organs that may make different characteristics, but the foundations of love, hope, joy, and optimism are all still the same. And JENA, the artist’s debut album is a reflection of all of those human emotions.

In the fall of 2023, Ames released the twelve-track project, named after the town of Jena, Louisiana—the home of his ancestors. JENA, the album feels synonymous with the mapped location, where Ames’s debut begins. JENA becomes a star on the map for where his musical journey takes off, reeling his audience in with tracks that vary in the usage of instruments, engineering, and vocal ability. In JENA, there’s “Taxi Driver,” “Leftright,” and “7711” that demonstrate the sweet archival soul sound carried along by founding fathers before Ames such as Maxwell, and D’Angelo. 

Then, with “Always, I’ll Stay,” “Irish Goodbye,” and “Half A Man,” Ames produces something more like poetry, a rawness all around where Ames sings as if he’ll have nothing left. He sings with his heart open declaring his thoughts about the persistence of love, loneliness, and heartbreak.

“I’ve learned since making the album that I have more things to work on with myself than I thought originally because I think making the album I got a lot off my chest and through a lot myself. But I think at the same time, I came to this false sense of an ending or like a, the work is done thing. Right? Because it was my first time making sense of my life, you know, making the songs, and going through those things. I think. And so of course, I learned that it’s far from true and that there’s a lot more work to be done. And it’s exciting too, though, because with the work on myself, digging into the music more and learning more and just putting in my next 10,000 hours, that’s how I break new ground and keep myself excited. Because that’s, that’s what keeps me going is the excitement about music—like that’s my shit.” Ames says when reflecting on JENA.

It’s telling that Ames’s love of music affects him internally. When Ames is creating, he’s finding deeper revelations about himself that wouldn’t have been able to come out otherwise. He’s deliberately soul-searching, and JENA is just the beginning of his discovery as Felix Ames, the person and the artist. 

When thinking about “Half A Man,” the song off JENA that gives him the most pride, he spoke deeply about his grandfather and the unit of family surrounding him. “He was like my number one, my first fan of music. He used to send my SoundCloud links to his retirement community, and he was proud of me before I was even anything, you know.” Growing up in Milwaukee, Ames’s family unit has always been tight-knit. As much as Ames could focus on the dysfunctional tides of growing up, the artist believes in focusing on the memories that have brought him joy rather than staying focused on experiences of sadness or trauma. 

Ames knows that he’s destined for greatness because of his upbringing. The space of love around him keeps him content regardless of the obstacles in front of him. The fact that this support was behind him when he was just a Pre-Med college student shapes his confidence, relieving him of the pressure to fit into superlatives. Music for him doesn’t have to be about competition. “I think my grandpa would be proud of that song and the album. he’d be like, “What the fuck man?” You know what I mean? Like, “What did you do? Who are you?” His belief in me keeps my feet on the ground now. I have people who loved me before I was anything special or before I developed my gifts to this extent. He just believed in me blindly, because he loved me as a person.”

No one loves music the way Felix Ames does. His love for music has sprouted even further since being able to dive into the medium full-time. He keeps a twenty-eight-hour playlist for Sunday cleaning, always connecting with new producers, and asking his friends for recommendations because he believes in the validity of music even without his attachment to it. Ames understands that for music to have a message, it has to come with strides, setbacks, and pushbacks because that is how the lyrics find the soul. One cannot attach perfection to a form of art that breathes life from the harshest conditions, and Ames’s infectious understanding of contentment in all forms and at times of his life is seen through his work. 

“It always makes trials and tribulations have meaning while I’m going through them, so it helps me get through them. But at the same time, I’m like, what if I just hit a stop button on all this? You know? I can hit the stop button and stop translating and try to live a comfy cozy padded life, but to do what I want to do, live the life I want, and get my music—get my career to the level I want it to be, I have to continue to move forward, and live life and go through things. So here we are.” Ames says. 

Since JENA’s initial release in October, Ames has gotten more comfortable in his artistry, and his evolution within music is clear as blue skies. “Mr. Weatherman,” Ames’s most recent single, and one of the few upcoming songs to be seen on the deluxe album of JENA coming very soon, is a testimony to his musical journey. You can hear it in his voice, and his lyrics, that the future of Ames and his career is unwritten but what can be foreseen is that he’s making a name for himself, quickly. 



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