SXSW Interview: Jim James

SXSW panel reviews

Ballroom Dancing
by Gary Miller

SXSW Interview: Jim James

Austin Convention Center, Wednesday, March 13

Few artists seem as omnipresent this week as Jim James. Taking a breather from showcasing his new solo album, Regions of Light and Sound of God, to sit down with MTV's Bill Flanagan only reinforced the My Morning Jacket frontman as music's ubiquitous Walt Whitman. Like his recordings, James' musings are far-reaching, open-minded, searchingly uncertain, but deeply and honestly expressed, with an amalgam of self-contradictions. Beginning by discussing his antagonistic relationship to technology, James posited, "I think we're going to look back on the Internet ... as a big mistake ... a horrible drug we're all addicted to." Yet James doesn't strike a Luddite pose as much as that of willful ruralist, insisting later in relation to recording, "If you don't know technology, you're cutting yourself out of a lot of power." Likewise, he offered a clear sense of the industry while citing an obvious oxymoron: "The two words music and business don't go very well together." He also cut his spiritual sincerity with a persistently defiant levity. "I just want to reach a state of sustained peace," he intoned with purpose, and that elusive point directs the openness of James' universal, contradicting embrace. Or as Whitman acknowledged: "I am large, I contain multitudes."

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