"I think this music is the most 'me' music that I’ve ever made."



Jim-E Stack's 'It's Jim-ee' EP is His Most Authentic Record Yet

Jim-E Stack got his start coming up in the club DJ scene of New York City, alongside the likes of Shlohmo and WEDIDIT. If you think that’s where he’s stayed, though, think again; the producer has since moved far beyond his roots—both physically, across the continent, and musically, with It’s Jim-ee. The EP, out just a few weeks ago and featuring Milk fave Charli XCX, showcases an entirely new side of Stack, one that’s more personal, while still maintaining his electronic sound (because where would we be with tracks like “Deadstream” and “Dreamt”?).

In his own words, he’s experimenting less, only because he knows himself better. Apparently, it’s a winning combination. Stream It’s Jim-ee below, then keep scrolling for our chat with Stack on making his most sincere record yet.

Your EP came out a week and a half ago, so how’s the reception been so far? What kind of reactions are you getting?

All the reactions have made me feel really good. I think this music is the most “me” music that I’ve ever made. It feels like the statement that’s truest to who I am as a person and as a musician. I’m moving away from more club-oriented music, into music that goes beyond the club. It’s nice to see the reactions from people who have been listeners, people that’ve seen it online, and just to see it positively and warmly received by those people and then to see it received by friends or other musicians that I really respect and appreciate—it made me feel really good. It made me feel confident in what I’m saying and how I’m saying it.

You said it’s the most “you” thing that you’ve released, what do you think makes you say that? What’s different about this one than Tell Me I Belong or your other records?

I think, for one, my abilities as a producer are better than they’ve ever been. I would say the obvious, I just have the tools, more than ever before, to say what I want to say how I want to say it. I think a thing for me when I first got into making music and electronic music is that I knew I had something to say, and music beyond just that. I wasn’t thinking specific genres like nightclub or whatever, just music. So, I feel with this stuff, it goes beyond the club or the dance floor, it’s more just lifting music, something for your headphones, guitar, or maybe just the speakers in your bedroom. I think just wanting to reach further and further and just be more and say more with my music—that’s what makes it feel like the truest to me. Also, just being a little older—when I first started putting music out, I was 19, and I’m 25 now. I put out Tell Me I Belong when I was 23, and I think I just understand myself more, and what makes me me as an artist. That’s not to say I experiment less, but I definitely know myself better and can express myself better.

What kind of headspace were you in when you were writing and producing It’s Jim-ee?

All of the songs started as just beat ideas, and there were little reactions to how I was feeling, I was in the midst of a break-up from my first real relationship ever, so that was kind of the starting point to everything. I finished the songs over a year and a half period, and my headspace was changing a lot. Initially, it was these raw emotions, the seeds of everything. As I moved on with my life and came to understand my feelings and the break up and everything more, I could better articulate how I felt about everything in a more sober state of mind. I was in so many different headspaces throughout it all. I started in my bedroom in my apartment in New York, fast-forward to finishing it, I was living in LA, living a very different life. Everything in between that, there was some heartbreak, excitement about being here, some determination. Everything I was doing musically, my path has changed since moving out here. I’ve been lucky enough to work on music beyond just myself, with people I really respect. Other musician and producers, it’s really hard to describe the headspace with. It’s fresh, I’ve been incorporating all this new stuff I’ve been learning, I’ve been working on bands’ records and singers’ songs, I’ve been channeling all of that into my own music. It’s a lot of different head spaces.

I was going to ask you about leaving New York and going to LA. Do you feel like the change in environment influences the music you’re making?

That’s a good question. All these songs—the only one I finished in New York was “Deadstream”—ended up how they were meant to be. I don’t know that where I was changed their path or anything, but if anything, with moving, the songs start as a one or two minute beat, and I think the potential for what they could become really expanded when I came out to LA. Like I said, coming out here and working on other people’s’ records, getting out of my own comfort zone, these songs are maybe a little more ambitious because of that. They’re trying to be more like a proper songs, which is different from when I was in New York making more club-oriented stuff.

What was it like working with someone like Charli XCX who’s so big and established? Did you reach out to her or was it the other way around?

Charlie and I were friends before any of it, she’s a really close friend of mine. I first came to know her because she would stay with us in New York. She heard an early version of Deadstream and loved it. She’s been so supportive and helpful in terms of helping me to work with other people and getting my music to people she thinks should hear it. It was really natural, friendly experience working together. I think that’s why it came out cool and felt right because she knows me and I know her. Even though we come from very different worlds musically, there’s a lot of common space we share. Working with her was really fun and informal in Rostam’s studio in LA at like 1 or 2. We were just all hanging, jamming to some of my stuff and she laid down a bunch of ideas, and then Rostam and I took it from there.

So, what do you think of LA? Do you compare it to New York now, or what’s the impression?

I feel like they’re polar opposites of places. My quality of life is so much better here, but I feel soft because of it. It’s that kind of inherent toughness you get from living in New York, and I think I just miss the energy of New York, walking out of your apartment and walk in any direction and get somewhere. The destination will almost find you. That’s something I don’t get here, you have to seek everything out yourself. I definitely just miss the energy, no matter what’s going on there it will not be the most incredible city to me, it’s world class. Creatively it’s really good for me out here, I was getting to a place where I wasn’t enjoying making music because it was this everyday routine of me being alone in my bedroom. That started to get old. I grew up playing in bands in school and outside of school with my friends that I was missing—that social aspect there can be in collaboration. LA is so much more open in that sense. You may be working in the studio and someone else may also be working in the studio, and you cross paths in the hallway and end up doing something. There’s so much cross pollination that doesn’t happen in New York, so that’s something I’ve really loved out here. It’s taken me out of my comfort zone and let me grow.

It’s definitely cool to bounce ideas off of each other instead of being stuck in the echo chamber of your own head, working totally alone all the time.

Yeah, definitely.

So, now that the EP’s out, what do you have planned for the rest of the year?

I have a couple remixes I’ve been doing, music of mine that I’ve been finishing up now for this fall and next year. Then just working with some newer singers, producing some songs, that I really love working with. Kind of, everything, really. I’ve been working on production with my friend Ariel, writing stuff for other people’s projects. That’s what I love about being in LA, I’m just very lucky to get any of the opportunities I’ve been able to get. Staying really busy with a bunch of different stuff helps me stay really energized. I can always just keep moving. All kinds of stuff, whether it’s working with a singer, my new stuff, a remix for a band, working on another band’s record, writing for another artist, there’s so much of everything. I’m working with other producers. It’s really reinvigorated me.

Images courtesy of Griffin Snyder

Stay tuned to Milk for more bicoastal music mastery.

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