Its not very often we have the artist write their own biography …
Greetings, I’m Jim White, and here’s my 2022 bio.
Truth be told, I never set out to become a “professional musician”. No, songwriting was always a secret hobby for me, like a highly personal therapeutic outlet. I banged out compositions in solitude for decades, never performing a one of them in front of my fellow human beings.
Along the way I made several hundred shitty little cassette tapes just to document the tsunami of material I’d emitted and one fine day this friend of mine, he handed one such dismal cassette tape to guy named David Byrne, whereupon pretty much everything changed.
To my astonishment Byrne promptly signed me to a six record deal. I went to meetings with Warner Brothers big shots who patted me on the back, murmuring complimentary noises and at that point I figured, hell I might as well give this public musician deal a shot.
Well, it’s twenty five years down the line and here I am, still writing bios, so I guess I’ve earned some manner of a place in the dubious, shapeshifting realm known as Commercial Music…albeit a decidedly off-kilter, marginalized type place.
Right out of the gates with my debut record I landed in critical darling territory and so along the way I’ve been lucky enough to see a few of my albums appear on prestigious top ten lists. That was cool.
Soon thereafter I logged showcase gigs on those major US TV shows that artists covet playing on—you know, Letterman, Conan, etc. And I have to say that phase of my career felt decidedly surreal and non-integral to my true self. But on you go, right?
Since then I’ve released ten or so records and placed songs in various productions like major movies (most recently the closing credits for El Camino, the Breaking Bad movie), TV commercials, radio spots—you name it. So I guess I do have some commercial appeal after all.
I tend to keep busy and prefer it that way—idle hands being the devil’s workshop and all, so during that same stretch I published a bunch of short stories and won a big literary prize over here in the US, this while simultaneously mounting a series of visual art shows in galleries and museums in the US and beyond.
Though I’m generally known as one of those scruffy Americana type artists, even a cursory glance at my back catalog will call bullshit on that acutely arbitrary designation. See, I got no filters—I just play what the voices in my head tell me to play. As such the material runs the gamut from bonafide sad-sack Americana to experimental noir-jazz, from deep fried southern rock to quasi-classical etudes, from primitive white gospel laments to trailer park hick-hop, and a whole bunch more. I remember on my first record the label folks desperately pleading with me to limit to my output to three personalities or less. It was hilarious and eminently sane advice.
So finally cutting to the chase here, on my latest record, Misfit’s Jubilee, the voices in my head informed me it was time to set loose a long neglected personality—my inner rocker. Over the years I’d amassed this pile of uptempo, fairly raucous songs and said songs started asking to be set free into the world of properly realized material. Mind you, these were cuts that my various labels over the years had rejected for not being “Americana” enough. But liberated from major label constraints I could now do as I pleased, so I wrote a couple of new head bobbers to compliment the existing jaunty material and thus came Misfit’s Jubilee into being.
In the ensuing recording process, rather than doing my typical “more is more” studio approach—you know hopscotching around from producer to producer, performer to performer—I tracked with a tight knit group of sonic badasses over there in Antwerp, Belgium. The end result is this tightly wrought circus ride called Misfit’s Jubilee.
Of course me being me, I released Misfits Jubilee at the worst possible time during the peak of the pandemic. It got rave reviews and was, as usual, a commercial flop. This dichotomy I consider a slightly perverse badge of honor.
After releasing Misfit’s Jubilee and having no tour to embark on due to COVID restrictions, I sat down and wrote my debut novel, Incidental Contact, which will be released in the UK in late May 2022, this in conjunction with this upcoming tour there. If you desire a press release on that particular literary endeavor of mine just let me know and I’ll have my publicist (me) send you a copy.
That should get you up to date. Thanks for listening.