THE excellent Jim Junior...
has been telling me about his latest single, Is It the Right Time, and its background. I ask him what is coming next and what music means to him – he selects a few albums that means a lot and recommends some rising artists worth checking out.
Jim Junior discusses his musical background and looks ahead to 2019; gaining a solid reputation in his hometown and what advice he would give to artists coming through – he selects a great song to end the interview with.
Hi, Jim. How are you? How has your week been?
Creatively fulfilling and exciting as I have discovered a new tonic wine that stimulates my faculties in the studio and makes me feel great.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I go by Jim Junior. I am a singer-songwriter and producer and multi-instrumentalist from Toronto, Canada. I have a background that includes House music, Jazz; Country and Hip-Hop. I mostly produce and write my material and people tell me they like it.
Is It the Right Time is your new track. Can you reveal the story behind it?
Yes, I can. I wrote it about two years ago in Toronto. I was riding the Subway (your tube) home from my then-day job and had this chord progression spinning around in my head. At some point, the lyric hit me and I arrived home at around 2 A.M. I fired up my computer and started putting it together.
The lyrics just happened. I was feeling intoxicated and excited but also nervous about romantic aspects of my life, not knowing where to turn but also feeling a deep sense of inevitability. I think it’s just that feeling of limbo I was trying to capture in the song.
You are signed to LAB Records. What was the reason behind that move? What is life like under the label?
They offered me the best deal. It’s like having a cool uncle with money who also knows people at Spotify.
Will there be more material coming next year?
Yes, there will. We are potentially seeing some remix type stuff in the short-term; some collaborations in the spring and likely another body of tunes from juste moi. Expect things to get wilder musically...
Can you remember when you knew music was the path for you? Did something trigger that?
Not really; it was so early in my life that I just always wanted to be playing and singing. I think around thirteen was when I consciously conceived of it as a job - but it was always like water for me.
Is it true you are known in your Canadian hometown for illegal parties?! Did that, alongside your D.J. skills, help spur you to where you are now?
Well. I am known for a lot of things in my hometown. My circle of friends got to putting on events in D.I.Y. spaces starting around 2010 where we sold drinks and provided music. My project kind of blossomed out of that as I got into writing this brand of R&B that I though could sit alongside the House and Hip-Hop that was getting spun. I was usually just the warm up D.J. and mostly played older Disco and Funk records but, when sh*t got going, other guys would spin and I would toast (emcee) on top of the House records, improvising lyrics and even writing whole tunes on the spot sometimes.
So, I learned how to work a club crowd, got more into Dance music - to which I was somewhat new - and my sound changed. I started using more drum machines and synths, changing how I approached my melodies etc. It was a blast.
Do you already have plans for 2019?
Doing some dates in Canada in the winter. Hoping to put together a full batch of songs for the spring and travelling as much as I can.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
No, to be honest. Haha. It’s all been a joyous whirlwind.
What does music mean to you? How important is it in your life?
I don't really exist comfortably without it. It's the centre of my being and the medium in which I am my most natural self.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
A Love Supreme - John Coltrane
When I was about twelve-years-old, I would put it on every night before bed and find the spot where I had fallen asleep and start from there in the morning. I did this for about three months I think. It was such a pure and brilliant compromise between raw improvisation and composition that it captivated me over and over.
This Year's Model - Elvis Costello and the Attractions
Learned to play bass from this guy.
Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous - Big L
The Hip-Hop record that completely took me in and turned my head out.
As Christmas is coming up; if you had to ask for one present what would it be?
Probably for Canada to recognize its continued abuse and neglect of its native population and deal with it in more than a cursory way.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
I would love to support any artist with a fan base with whom my stuff would resonate. I don’t know who that is but my rider would include rum, ginger beer and chicken.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
In terms of the music itself, figure out what makes you shine as an individual and develop that. There are a lot of talented people doing what someone else does, just not quite as well. Don’t fall into that trap. As far as the industry is concerned, I am still figuring it out - ask somebody with real success.
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
I am planning a few dates in Canada in the winter but it’s pending. I expect to be playing in impromptu circumstances and only if the money is right. Otherwise, I am at Handlebar in Toronto in January. Check IG.
How important is it getting onto the stage and delivering music to the people?
It’s the only way musicians can really make a living now, so that’s the main thing. I hope we start to see more flow from streaming as we figure out how the whole Internet thing will continue to work; but for now we gotta hit the stage. I have a performance background and I love it the same as I love writing and recording...so it’s a big part of my thing. I think a lot of artists today are lacking in live chops and, considering the circumstances I’ve described, that seems kind of backwards.
IN THIS PHOTO: Casey MQ/PHOTO CREDIT: Haley V. Parker
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I force myself to hang out without a recording setup sometimes, yeah. I love to cook and did it for many years as a day job, so I’m pretty decent. Otherwise, I love watching sports and talking politics, history and philosophy.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Let’s put on SAINT off of Birthday Boy’s latest E.P. - cause he probably won’t ask anyone to play it…
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