Radio Fodder speaks to Melburnian indie artist Jim Alxndr in support of his latest record 'Feels Worth Living For', his creative process and how it's a "reminder that life is cooked and amazing and just so rich”.
To explore life as a sensational ride of highs and lows is an audacious feat for any artist. Deciding how to navigate it takes a unique dedication to sit with negative feelings as much as you would joy. In Jim Alxndr’s latest EP, Feels Worth Living For, the indie electronica artist produces a pixelated and intimate set of tracks that dives into the sensational feels of life.
I called Jim one afternoon, as he was on a break from feverishly working on his second EP. I’m eager to ask how he cultivates soundscapes of human experience, how he navigated his career in production, and especially, how he landed epic collaborations with Ruel, Carly Rae Jepson, Jack Garrett and Broods. He answered in a state of zen, coffee at hand, and said his career has been less strategic, as I preconceived, and far more explorative.
Jim Alxndr: I think the broad answer is slowly and carefully. I just kind of made music and found a way to survive whilst making as much music as possible, and jumped on the right opportunities along the way. And it's led me here. it hasn't been planned at all. It's been taking each day as it comes and trying to put myself in positions where opportunities will come, and making sure I'm ready for them. I think the biggest thing has just been constantly working on my craft; constantly writing and engaging with my creativity; and also trying to look after myself along the way. I think that's also quite important and that's been a part of my journey, especially over the last couple of years. Like, I've really prioritised my mental health and my well-being. With any creative practice, you're like a machine—you've got to make sure the machine works and is functional in order to keep it going.
It was fascinating to hear Jim speak that way and it made me curious to ask how producing music affects that balance. The EP’s lead single, ‘Sticks and Stones’, is an interesting case: although uplifting with stripped-back electronica-underhooks and spirited vocals, the song came as a result of a strange experience for Jim. After the success of his track ‘Slave’, he found himself still living in a world with little change. And yet, the single is undeniably giddy. I asked him if that was how he felt after finishing the single.
JA: For sure. I think it's interesting because it's about a negative experience, as you said, but I think it's almost an answer to that negative experience. I think it's what I wanted to inject into myself when I was feeling those negative feelings. When I finished that song, I felt pretty euphoric and what you said: I felt giddy. The chorus, to me, I haven't really achieved anything like that since. But it just feels like I imagine you're standing there and you're like going Super Saiyan and the floor's cracking. That's kind of the vibe that I get from that song. I guess in a way, that's how I felt when I finished it.
The experience of change with songs is not new to Jim. In a previous conversation with Lido, Norwegian producer and collaborator on middle track ‘Live in Pretend’, Jim explained that the time between mastering the record and it being released led him to view his music as a consumer. When asked how he feels post-release, he equated it to “sending your kids off to college”—but has found new joy in the way fans have received it.
JA: Since the EP came out I've received a lot of really heartfelt messages from both people I know and people I don't know. Now that I’m receiving other people’s experiences with the record, it’s like another step back. I can see, I think. Where I was after the record had been finished for a while, I still felt a little sense of ownership over the record.
Credit: Seeking Blue Records
LH: Do you have a favourite message from a fan?
JA: There was a comment on the ‘Sticks and Stones’ video on YouTube that was something along the lines of:
“I was having the worst day and I didn't think I could do anything. And then I watched this and I felt empowered and I felt like I could do anything… Thank you for making this project and thank you for being so vulnerable and thank you for saying the things you said.”
It's really lifted me up and I think that's like the most validating thing ever. Like, that message means way more to me than like 10 billion streams. The whole point is for people to be able to use it as a tool and for people to hear one of the songs and be like: “life is actually okay”. It's kind of the reminder that like life is fucking cooked and amazing and just so rich.
That optimism is readily extended into joy for the people who collaborated with him. Being able to see the work behind the music videos was a particular highlight.
First time I watched the ‘Live in Pretend’ video, I cried so much. With all of the visual collaborations, I've done with Jackie (Picnic Practice) and Kyle Caulfield and Shevin Dissanayake, who did all the visuals… They have just been like the greatest collaborators. The way I've approached the visuals has also been somewhat hands-off. They've all made such cohesive pieces of art. I’m so grateful… they're all just fucking amazing at their craft.
LH: That's amazing. Do you have a favourite animation from the ‘Live in Pretend’ video?
JA: Oh, yeah. It's when everything goes fucking nuts and it's all orange and there's every little, like, icon that's already been in the video at that point. That is one of my favourite moments—ever in my life. The first time watching that, it's like one of the best moments of my life.
Jim’s approach to making music and collaborating was wonderful to hear. I asked offhand what instrument he would want to work with next, and his answer detailed his process of exploration.
JA: This is funny. I had this question the other day. And my answer then I wonder if my answer then is my answer... Now let me think. Yeah—Yeah, it kind of is. I reckon I really want to work with, well, two instruments, the hammer dulcimer and the zither—think of Coldplay and the start of ‘Life In Technicolor’. But I just think it's a really beautiful texture, and the way you play [hammer dulcimer], it's like a bunch of strings, and you hit it with these little metal hammers. I just think that way of playing something is so interesting. I started playing the guitar a couple of years ago (I grew up playing the keyboard and saxophone). And I think when you play instruments that you've trained on and that you know, you play music with your fingers, but when you play instruments that you have no idea how to play, you play with your ears and with your heart and your brain. Whereas, if I play a keyboard, I'll play the same shit every time because I've learnt how to play it. So I think that hitting something with a hammer is a way of playing an instrument that I haven't really interacted with that much. So I think that's an interesting next step, perhaps.
LH: That's amazing. Thank you so much for joining me. Last question before we wrap things up… What does life need more of?
JA: What does life need more of… Nothing. It's full. It's so full. And what does it need more of now? [Laughter] I should answer this question. What does it need more of? Time. Life needs more time, I think. That's me saying that in my mid-twenties, I think maybe when I'm like 60, I'll not have that answer. I'll be like, I'm done with this. But I think if you can work on yourself, and I think when I feel complete and when I feel present, I'm like: ‘man, I could do this forever’. So, yeah, time is my answer to that question.
Jim is currently finishing his second album to be released in the coming future. His latest music can be found on Spotify and heard live at his next show, Thursday at the Northcote Social Club. He ends the call excited to explore his second record with a lighter tone and some more bangers.
Listen to Feels Worth Living For on Spotify here: