Jib Kidder would like to introduce himself

The American underground pop collagist and Julia Holter collaborator breaks through with a new video

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Jib Kidder's built up a name for himself on the American underground through an unbeatable series of Bandcamp releases – and one minor DIY smash, 2012's "My Baby". A 21st century psyche wanderer of no fixed abode, artistically or otherwise, he makes visual and musical collages out of world music, found footage and spare songs. An occasional collaborator of fellow explorer Julia Holter, he's just signed to Weird World, the frequently thrilling home to musical outsiders that bigtime indie label Domino keeps. 

He's witty, his music's pretty, and above, he's streaming a ditty: “Appetites”, which also features Julia Holter on backing vocals. The video, by Jib Kidder, is the first from the new album, due out in early 2015. 

Could you please introduce yourself and your music to the readers? 

Jib Kidder: Oh yeah! Hello, I am Sean Schuster-Craig and have made a large and varied body of music under the name Jib Kidder but I like to think it is all psychedelic in the sense of being insightfully inexplicable the way dreams are.

How did you start making music? 

Jib Kidder: My parents were musicians so it must have started before the lower boundary of my memories but it took on a different aspect when I noticed that my guitar teacher thought I was good at it.

Can you describe the importance of collage art to your music? 

Jib Kidder: My gift as an artist is in seeing a connectivity between things that cannot be reduced to words. Collage is the most immediate way to engage this gift. I love all adhesives: the tidy boogers of rubber cement, the matte haze of Elmer's, the puffy fungus of Gorilla Glue. In music, echo is my primary glue.

I love that lots of your songs have "source material" written underneath on Youtube. How do you compose your music? 

Jib Kidder: I like to work in blocks, I like to work with ideas I don't fully understand. It's a kind of hunting, to try and force a world together and then find the most alive thing in it and capture it. It's a shame how sampling has played out in the industry. There's a climate of fear and the art isn't benefitting. No one wants to risk it and really go to court and stretch the ideas of what fair use should really mean. The limitations are an absurdity and they reveal a real problem with capitalism (the concept of "intellectual property" in itself) that deserves more attention. We're bombarded with this noise and this shit all the time and to say we can't freely engage with it through our own work without forfeiting the small amount of money left sitting around for musicians at the end of the day is an insult and is pretty revealing in terms of what we as a culture really value.

“I like to work with ideas I don't fully understand. It's a kind of hunting, to try and force a world together and then find the most alive thing in it and capture it” – Jib Kidder

You're originally from Atlanta, an amazing musical city. Has the astonishing rap music from there influenced you at all? 

Jib Kidder: Rap is my hugest influence, definitely: a lot of Atlanta rap, but, perhaps more than that, the 1990s Memphis cassette underground: early Triple 6 mixtapes, DJ Spanish Fly, Shawty Pimp. How rap is influencing my music is always evolving. With my first record, "All on Yall" I tried to capture a certain psychedelic feeling I discovered in rap music and take it further out and also to find a meeting place between the sampling methods of rap and the sampling methods of artists like John Oswald or Dennis Duck. I started to see a lot of connectivity between rap music and other music like how the gong in a Gamelan is like the 808 boom in Miami bass. Now, years later, I'm exploring songwriting more and so the influence is operating at a different level of zoom, like you said, it has to do with a sense of space but also it comes through in a sense of time: on one level in ideas of syncopation and on another in ideas of flow, of a resistance to resolution. The way "Appetites" just sort of spins around instead of going somewhere comes from rap music.  

Eagle-eyed fans will know you from the release of "My Baby" a couple of years back. How did you meet Julia Holter? How do you find the collaborative process?

Jib Kidder: I met Julia a decade ago at Ann Arbor's freeform radio station, WCBN-FM. We had plans to collaborate for a while but we were trying to do it with those little thumb drives and they were always breaking. When we finally got around to it, it was a modern collaboration, you know? We weren't living in the same place. Like it happened in the cloud, the digital cloud of loneliness we're all uploading ourselves into. And it's beautiful, what she did. I had made my country sample record, and the vibe of that blended so well with Julia's presence. On the new record, I used a harmonizer pedal on a lot of tracks but I couldn't do that on "Appetites" cuz of the key changes. So Julia covered my slack there and of course it now sounds a hell of a lot better than me over myself.  

Can you tell us something about your other artistic outputs? For example, your video output? 

Jib Kidder: I have this restlessness, I always want to be doing something with my hands. Sometimes I think of record cover art as my true talent, and then making music as like some lesser skill. Visual art and music were always competing in me and music won out by accident. After a while I found that the things I had learned about sound were translatable to video, were translatable to text.  

“Sometimes I think of record cover art as my true talent, and then making music as like some lesser skill. Visual art and music were always competing in me and music won out by accident” – Jib Kidder

Your Etudes album is a classic Bandcamp; and "an etude" the French word for "a study". What would you you like to teach our readers? 

Jib Kidder: Well, thank you for that. I think of the act of study there as happening between me and composition, as an attempt to discover new potentials through illuminating accident. I composed those pieces by rearranging improvised phrases. The edits were minimal but impactful. In the traditional sense, études are intended to teach the serious student of music the playing of her instrument. It would be great to get some sheet music printed of those pieces so serious students of the piano, banjo and guitar could master their secrets.  

You Tweeted that Vietnam is home to some of the most beautiful music in the world. Could you recommend some tracks for us please? 

Jib Kidder: I'm not sure that they qualify as tracks per se but I can recommend performance youtubes. Street performers with high echo karaoke vocals, the wild bends of scalloped fret guitars. String playing that is wet, the way Hendrix's playing was wet, you know, dripping, spilling, uncontainable.  

Do you have any unfinished or unrealised projects you'd like to to tell us about? 

Jib Kidder: Yeah I'm working on a record made with drum machines and feedback loops as Joyn Holzcek, the name is a joke Lou Reed made about Columbia's plans for the release of Metal Machine Music. I'm using the collage methods of my other releases but with the palette of feedback it has a pretty distinct vibe. It's good for listening to on the subway or when you're getting a cavity filled. When you get dental work, that's some of the most insane noises you'll ever hear, like the screams of tiny electric animals, like the hyper-amplified squeals of dying waterbears. 

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