The proliferation Jimmy Tamborello is well documented. From his work as Dntel, James Figurine, Figurine and the cross-over success of Postal Service, Jimmy’s talent and work ethic have propelled him to the forefront of the independent music scene. With Dntel being signed to Subpop, his James Figurine releases on Plug Research, his regular radio program on Dublab and countless other creative projects, Jimmy Tamborello continues the process of refining his forward-looking art and pushing himself forward.
Architects and Heroes had the opportunity to catch up with Jimmy, and here’s the result.
1. How did you get started producing music? Who were some of your influences?
When I was in 7th or 8th grade my dad bought some home studio equipment (he played sax and flute as a hobby and was interested in recording his own songs). After school, my friends and I started using the equipment and making songs and creating bands just for fun. I was just becoming a big fan of music and it was exciting to realize I had the tools to make my own. I think my parents bought me my first sampler a few years later and my interest kept growing from there. Early on my biggest influences were 80s techno pop like new order and the pet shop boys and then a little later it was a lot of industrial music, especially skinny puppy.
2. You’ve recorded under a number of pseudonyms and in a number of collaborative projects. Has this be a conscious decision? Do you like having a number of different outlets to try different things musically?
From the start with my friends in high school it was part of the game to come up with band names and characters, so that probably influenced my tendency to keep coming up with new projects and new names all the time. But also I’m interested in making a lot of different kinds of music and I’d feel bad if someone who enjoyed Figurine’s techno pop bought the new Figurine album and it was all noise…
Oh and also I end up working with different configurations of friends so that also leads to different band names even though most of them could barely be considered bands.
That’s crazy! I feel like that’s the first time I’ve heard of anybody actually having that besides me and david and our families. -J
3. What projects do you currently have in the works?
I’ve been doing a bunch of cover songs under the James Figurine moniker and posting one a month on my website for people to download for free. It’s been a good way to keep busy and mess around with different production ideas without having to worry about the hard part (writing songs and lyrics especially). The January post will be the last cover post and I think I’m going to clean up the 10 tracks I’ve collected and turn it into a low-key release.
I’ve also been slowly working on a dntel related project but it’s too early to go into details. And still coming up with Postal Service ideas, hopefully this year Ben and I will get some time to work on some songs.
3. How about your Dublab show? How do you program for that?
The dublab radio show (www.dublab.com) is really fun. My show’s called Dying Songs and it’s a really random selection of music I’ve discovered in the week or two before I record a show, plus some old favorites thrown in. on Tuesdays dublab streams live but usually it’s a prerecorded stream of a bunch of different djs’ shows. You can also access archives of the djs’ older shows. I usually record maybe 1 or 2 hour-long shows per month.
5. Are there any artists you’d like to work with?
There are tons of artists that I love but I’m trying to get away from working with a lot of different singers. I really don’t do well with strangers so I’d love to become even more self-contained. I wish I was more comfortable with my voice and my lyrics, I’m trying to work on that, but in the meantime I’m trying to do projects with fewer people involved. Like the new dntel related project will probably just be one singer who’s a friend singing all the vocal tracks instead of having a different vocalist on each track.
6. Are you currently playing out any live/dj shows?
Just barely. I always end up djing at bars and shows, usually because Dublab is involved in a lot of stuff going on around LA. But I never know usually until a week or two before an event. And I’m hoping in 2009 I can come up with some sort of live show, really just to have an excuse to do some traveling. It’s been a while since I’ve played a show that I was really proud of, so I have to figure out some new way to present my music live.
7. What’s your top 5 right now?
Animal Collective – merriweather post pavilion
Moondog – H’art Songs
Psychic Ills – Mirror Eye
Barbara Morgenstern – BM
Nite Jewel – My CD
Sten – The Essence