picture via Relevant Magazine
VMP: Hey Jim, you’ve had a huge career so far spanning a number of different projects and I can imagine the raw act of creating for so long is both restorative and emptying. What sort of affect has your work had on you? How has it shaped you as a person?
Jim James: i feel like life is work and work is life….so anything that has happened to me has been reflected in my work while the work also makes things happen in real life and in dreams and other realms. it is like some kind of circular maze that i dont fully understand. i live music and think about it all the time…always popping into different bathrooms to record an idea that popped up in my mind onto my cell phone voice memo recorder. i feel like having that outlet is such a gift and i am so glad it found me at an early age. or maybe i found it? i feel like that is possible for anyone really- we all have a special thing that calls to us and its good to listen and find it and it is different for everyone but also the same. nowadays- when i see a kid start to find that for themselves- whether it is music or sports or art or whatever- it gives me hope for the universe. i think its the key to life really. to find that certain thing that makes you filled with joy and purpose- good work. then do your work.
VMP: What’s your relationship like with Louisville, KY? While the adage that no prophet is welcome in his hometown doesn’t seem to apply to you completely, is that relationship complicated at all?
Jim James: i love louisville. it is the spindle from which the record of my life spins. this is home. we have some of the greatest restaurants on earth here .there is a great energy here right now with lots of great art, new record stores, and people trying to make the world a better place.
the relationship can indeed be complicated…but i feel the good outweighs the bad and the power of friends and family is something i am so glad i have.
VMP: What are some of your main inspirations currently either personally or musically? How have those changed over the years, if at all?
Jim James: i am inspired when i see people living their dream and creating something positive for the world. it makes me want to go get positive and start messing with stuff start creating new life forms. i try to be inspired by something in the day- for instance today i found a perfect little bird egg on the ground. and it was so beautiful and so perfect and so new filled with possibility but also so sad because it had fallen out of the nest- never to be hatched. there’s all of the universe right there- well at least one way it can work out- there is the beauty of creation….but who knows how long its gonna last?
VMP: Are there any topics, issues, memories or experiences that you haven’t written about yet that you still hope to address in your future work?
Jim James: yes of course. i feel i have been blessed to have so many adventures with so many magical people…somewhere somehow i wish i could write about it all….but there are so many moments and ideas and threads… that i will never get to get to them all- i dont think anyone will or can because life is so short, i guess that is what next lifetime is for? i really love that erykah badu song “next lifetime” i really think about that a lot, because there are all these roads..infinite roads in love and work and life that we COULD go down, but we have to make choices- thus there are certain roads we cannot go down even if they may be intriguing to us…i guess that is what next lifetime is for? guess ill see ya next lifetime?
VMP: Shifting gears for a moment, what are your thoughts on vinyl, especially in light of the recent resurgence? Do you make your albums with vinyl in mind?
Jim James: i love love love vinyl- yes we still make “albums” that we want folks to take in as an experience. there is something so powerful about sharing that with friends. i have a great collection. vinyl is something so real in this world of zeros and ones…that are also real in their own way….i love the world of zeros and ones when i travel and i am so glad that it exists so that i can call up any music i want any time. but when i am home or hanging with friends vinyl is just so powerful the experience of holding it in your hand and dropping the needle it is so real and if you walk past the record player too hard it goes BANG and the needle skips and that is a very real thing.
VMP: Do you have a personal vinyl collection? If so, what records from your collection are you most attached to?
Jim James: yess i have a ton of records. before light in the attic re-released “satan is real” it was hard to find on vinyl, but carl found me one from germany from the stetson cowboy hat co- some kind of promo disc and the vinyl is SO thin it flaps in the breeze. but it still sounds awesome and i treasure it and my yma sumac 10in.
VMP: If you met the version of yourself from 10 years ago on the street, what would make it difficult for that Jim James to recognize the present one? And where/who do you hope Jim James will be in 20 years?
Jim James: thats a good question. there are so many things i have done and so many versions of me that i have been that i do not understand…yet at the core it is still the same me. i think that is one of the greatest things about life is we have this constant opportunity to recreate ourselves and better ourselves. it is weird making records cuz its like you are leaving behind these little time capsules all the time and sometimes you have to dig one up and you hear it and you are like “whoa i remember that guy! what the fuck was he thinking!?” so strange because at the time it all seemed right or made sense in some way. at least musically. well in every aspect of life i have made many mistakes…but i am trying very hard to be a force of good and do no harm and trying to have fun and adventure and love and trying very hard to learn from my mistakes and i know somewhere there is some force that knows we are all just doing the best we can with what we were given. i used to not believe that- i thought it was bullshit- this notion that everyone is doing the best they can, because i thought “hey this asshole serial killer could do better!” but then i learned it is true. everyone is just doing the best they can. so i am doing the best i can and i get on my knees in the shower at night and i pray that the future jim will somehow do even better and learn to treat himself and others and the world better and better and i hope he will get smarter and more creative but i know at the end of the day he will just do the best he can and someday all the different me’s will meet at the nye’s polonaise at the end of the universe and we will have a conference on how we did, how we are doing, and how we can do it even better.