In 2013, if you'd like to drum up a quick fervor online, the description "mysterious genre-bending singer" would be a great place to start.
When his debut single brooding, R&B-influenced "Dark Star" touched down on the Soundcloud airwaves in May, Jaymes Young seemed to fit the above description precisely: social media pages free of information, biographical or otherwise, enigmatic photos obscuring facial features or depicting figures that were unlikely to be the singer in question. It's a strategy we've seen plenty of times, but in the case of Young, it worked without becoming overbearing. In fairly short order, pictures and videos popped up, not only revealing the singer's face, but also a focused aesthetic that fit Young's sound without serving as distraction.
At its core, Jaymes Young's rollout didn't work because of marketing savvy alone. Beneath layers of concerted anonymity and measured releases, Young's music stood on its own compelling merit, an often darkly-tinged blend of pop, R&B, anthemic rock, and hip-hop, collecting intriguing sounds and lyrics that left enough in the abstract to maintain the singer's carefully manicured remove from his audience.
Young's manner is hardly what you might expect of a man whose first single warns "If I told you where I've been/Would you still call me baby?/And if I told you everything/Would you call me crazy?/'Cause baby I'm a dark star, dark star." Warm and humorous, his demeanor is more in line with his current station in music—ascending on the heels of a successful mixtape and currently touring with indie darlings London Grammar—than the actual music that brought him here. Still, the intelligence and sheer depth of knowledge required to create great songs, melancholic or otherwise, is apparent. In the process of figuring out the pieces that will allow him to transition from online buzz artist to major label priority (the singer recently signed with Atlantic Records), Young has already built the sort of foundation that no amount of forced mystery can fake.