In Conversation: Jim Guthrie


Last week we reviewed the fantastic Takes Time by Jim Guthrie, an album that took over six years to finish. It’s a charming blend of folk, pop & indie, and we managed to catch up with the man himself for a quick chat on everything from 60s pop music to his love of vinyl and plugins.

Noted: Takes Time aptly took you over five years of on-and-off writing to complete — was their a specific catalyst for your final push towards finishing it?

Jim Guthrie: Well I had received an Ontario Arts Council grant to help with some of it so that was part of the push but it mostly came down to friends.  I had a lot of amazing people encourage me and ‘gently push’ me to get it done.  It was a huge help when I started bouncing rough mixes off of other musician friends.  Even to hear them say ‘that sounds cool so far – keep going’ was big.  It’s the little things that helped the most.

Noted: Whilst Takes Time is a very ‘organic’ album with regards to its instrumentation, you’ve previously used programmed electronica on the soundtrack to the ‘Sword & Sworcery’ video game and also the ‘Indie Game: The Movie’ score. Do you have a desire to utilize that style in your future solo work, or do you see them as incompatible with your folk/indie sensibilities?

Jim: I’m lucky to have so many amazing musical outlets these.  It’s hard to say how I’ll use all of the tools and chops I’ve developed over the years.  I like the idea of incorporating more tech into my solo stuff for sure.  It really depends on the songs themselves and what they’ll need when it comes time to write some.  It’s wide open, really.

Noted: How much of the early songwriting sessions from 2007 survived the final cut? Was the album an evolution of fragmented ideas or a more linear process?

Jim: Almost all of it.  There were two or three songs that had bed tracks but I just couldn’t make them work as a song.  I may or may not go back and work on those but for now I’ll let them be.  It was pretty pieced together though.  Like, we only record drums, bass, piano and acoustic guitars at in the original session so everything else was slowly added over the last five or six years.

Noted: There’s a lot of musical styles present in the album, but one I noticed almost immediately was that of ’60s pop, particularly in the vocal melodies. Would you say this is a fair observation?

Jim: 100%.  I love oldies and while I wasn’t specially trying to make this kind of music some songs just willed themselves in that direction.  I love melody and really laboured over how to sing these songs..

Even to hear them say ‘that sounds cool so far – keep going’ was big.  It’s the little things that helped the most.

Noted: All of your releases come on vinyl with detailed, comprehensive artwork. How important do you feel design and the ‘total package’ are to maintaining healthy physical sales of music?

Jim: Well you want the art on the outside to reflect what’s on the inside.  Great packaging also lends itself to the moment when you pull out the record and put it on.  I always think of the person sitting and listening while flipping through the artwork.  it’s almost like the music is the soundtrack to that moment or something.

Noted: You’ve used pianos, guitars and even a PlayStation to compose music in the past. Have you added any new gear to your arsenal recently?

Jim: Just tons of software plugins and effects etc.  I have a few amazing vintage synths on permanent loan right now.  Juno-60, Poly-61, JX-3P and a Siel Cruise.  Super excited to dig into those when I have time.

Noted: Now Takes Time has been released, what do you have lined up for the near future?

Jim: Ah just more of the same.  Maybe a new film, more songs to write and more eating and sleeping!

Isaac Powell
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Isaac Powell

Isaac is Editor-in-Chief of Noted, and prefers his music loud and steaks rare. Lives and writes in Nottingham, England.
Isaac Powell
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