Interview: Jim Stoten – Collage Wrong Pop

Here at So Young we’re fascinated by illustrator, Jim Stoten’s creative output, both visually and sonically. Jim describes his music as, ‘Collage Wrong Pop’ and after having a listen we were keen to dig a little deeper. We caught up with Jim to talk music, illustration and influences.

How would you describe your music?

It’s made like a collage. I record little ideas for harmonies and chord changes as well as sounds that I find interesting, on my phone. Then I piece it all together slowly in my studio. I always want my music to be catchy but surprising at the same time, so I would call it collage wrong pop.

How do you want people to feel when they see/hear your work?

I want people to feel excited by what they see or hear of my work, and inspired to make their own thing.

What are the main differences for you between working on an illustration or writing a song? Both of which I imagine are initially isolating processes before you share with the world.

I think the big difference is that drawing allows me to communicate what is happening in my mind, and making music allows me to communicate how I feel about things.

Do you enjoy one process more than the other?

No. I need both, I know that. because they are such different processes, it means that I never get bored of either of them because when I’m out of ideas with drawing, I make music and when I’ve got no more enthusiasm for making music, I can go back to drawing. So both ways of working are dependant on each other for survival.

Do you remember the first piece of art that resonated with you as a child?

Yep. It was a cartoon called The Shoe People. All the characters were defined by what type of shoe they were. I loved that you could see the characters personality in the way they were drawn. It also had a vary catchy title song.

And what about music. Any key early memories? Influences?

Not really actually. I remember once saying to my Mum on a Sunday that I thought Lionel Ritchie was depressing. There was a lot of Phil Collins, Chris Rea, Simply Red…that sort of thing. Also bands like The Pasadenas, Milli Vanilli, The Pet shop boys, Erasure, Robert Palmer. I never really connected to any of the music in my house when I was a kid. It was really only when I left home that my tastes really developed, starting with Brit pop – Blur in particular.

You’d previously described making music as a hobby and something to stop you getting bored of drawing. But you now have a big back catalogue of great music. Is there any plans to release any music on a physical format?

Yeah. I actually released an LP last year on Dirty Melody Records which was really exciting. It’s called Lights and the whole album was recorded on a 4 track tape machine in my studio. It’s a gatefold record, and I really loved creating the artwork for a gatefold of my own music. We put little things in like cutting out eye holes on the cover, so that when you pull the inner sleeve out of the record, the pupils in the eyes move from left to right. Now I am just about to finish my second record that is also coming out with Dirty Melody as a piece of vinyl, hopefully with a big fold out poster. It’s a very different album from Lights, and it’s been really fun visualising that difference with the artwork for this record.

Who is your favourite new band?

I really like Squid. Listening to them reminds me of the first time I heard Pixies or Pavement, because it’s almost like you have to learn how to like it. I also really like some albums by John Caroll Kirby, in particular Meditations in Music. I really like Aldous Huxley, Chad VanGaalen and Suzanne Ciani.

Favourite band of all time?

I consistently come back to The Beta Band.

I feel like your music sounds like your art looks and vice versa. Do you see your creative output, visually and sonically, as one thing or two separate entities?

I see it all as one big project.

What can we expect to see from you in the near future? Any live plans?

Aside from the new record which should hopefully be out by the Summer, I’m looking forward to making a collection of long format ambient stuff using my Moog, my little Casio organ and a newly acquired Omnichord. I’m going to use my 4 track tape machine to record because I like how much it picks up outside of what you intend to record and all the little mistakes that come out of editing and chopping in one machine without any real accuracy. But as far as live performances, I never really think of doing that. I really love recording, but recapturing it all again in front of an audience is a totally different challenge that I’m not that interested in figuring out yet. But maybe at some point I’ll enjoy the challenge of that and focus on it more.


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