Jamie McDell riding popularity wave

JAMIE MCDELL: Releasing her first album, Six Strings and a Sailboat.
JAMIE MCDELL: Releasing her first album, Six Strings and a Sailboat.

"Mum likes it, so that's all that matters." Based on her growing popularity and chart-topping singles, Jamie McDell doesn't have to worry about just family liking her new album, Six Strings and a Sailboat.

This year alone, the 20-year-old Aucklander has had two number one singles, plus mentions on US website Disney Dreaming and Hollywood insider, Perez Hilton's blog.

Now, after a lifetime of song-writing McDell has an album in her hands.

"I've been writing all my life, never really expecting any songs to make it to an album.  

"I'm just stoked to have an album at all. I mean hopefully people like it, but I'm very proud of it."

Described as a combination of Jewel, Jack Johnson and Taylor Swift, McDell is in two minds about been known as "a Kiwi version of".

"I think it's a huge compliment because I think Taylor Swift is an amazing songwriter, and that's something that's very important to me. But at the same time I'm Jamie McDell, I'm not Taylor Swift and there are a lot of things that are different."

Unlike Swift's recent attempt to marry into politics, McDell is drawing on her love of the environment and stepping into the political arena.

In October she wrote a song inspired by the fight to save the Maui dolphins, which she later performed in front of the Auckland Council, and she attended the New Zealand Music Awards dressed as a shark in an attempt to change the public opinion of the "misunderstood" animals.

"I've spent my entire life near or on the ocean, and have been lucky enough to experience the creatures that live in it and also watch the decline, which has been heartbreaking for me.  

"I think, getting to this point in my career - and I've still got a long way to go - but I'm trying to make a difference with the followers that I have, to teach people."

McDell laughs at the idea she could be New Zealand's answer to U2 front man Bono, but does think music is a way to get a message across.

"I don't try to be political, per say, but I just get inspired by these things I am passionate about and I use music to let people know."

And she said there is always something inspiring her to write. So much so, she already has another album's worth of songs in the bag.

"There's just so much happening in my life right now that I can write about. And it's an outlet for me, it helps me stay positive all the time, because I can just write about something or say what I want to say in a song.  

"I've just recoded this album, but I've pretty much recorded another one. It's like 'oh I really like this song, I'm upset that I didn't write it before the album'."

Auckland Now