Interview with Joel Jerome & Jimi Cabeza de Vaca

Dangerbird Records is releasing, on August 31st, Atlantis Airport 1982, the new work of Joel Jerome & Jimi Cabeza. A perfect timing to talk to the artists. Check out the interview.

Headphones For Robots: Who are you Jimi & Joel? Where do you live? where do you come from? How did you meet?

Joel Jerome: we both live in North East LA, we come from the South Bay, specifically Hawthorne California. We met in Elementary school, probably trading Garbage Pail Kids. Jimi was sort of the Mitch Kramer to my Hirschfelder. We started playing music together after high school though, in our first band The Mimes, with such hits as:

           Mime Bomb

One Track Mime

Outta My Mime

Mime To Go

Da Mimes

we would dress up as mimes and for the first ten minutes of the show we would mime playing songs. no sound. you know “miming”. people would get pissed. right at the boiling point we would blast into instrumental songs that sounded like dead kennedys meets devo. 2-3 songs tops then we OUT.

Jimi: Joel and I grew up down the street from each other and 30+years later we still live down the street from each only in a different part of Los Angeles.   We went to school together, started playing in bands together and eventually started releasing albums and touring together. At some point, I had to stop touring to take care of some health issues.  I wound up going back to school. This album marks the first time we would’ve collaborated in many years. Joel is a world class musician and whenever he is behind the boards I have total trust in his decisions.

HFR: How did you start making music? Could you tell us a bit about your influences? What music have you listened to this week?

JOEL JEROME: i started making music on my own when i got a hold of a four track. blew my world right open. immediately fell in love with tracking and it is now what i do for a living. The Beatles & Beach Boys were the biggest influence on me in my formative music making years. Specifically The Beatles Anthology Disc 2 (which came out on my birthday March 18th 1996) and later Disc 3, as well as The Beach Boys Pet Sounds/Smile records that i got into through some chat room friends on AOL back in the day-day. Also a good friend of mine who was a DJ at KXLU (a very influencial local college radio station) gave me his copy of Smile that he curated. Back in the day day there were a lot of mix tapes going around as to what people thought the track listing and order shouldve/wouldve been, so it was cool to make your own and pass it along.

lately ive been listening to radio station streams based on bands like: vulpeck, 1967 Sunshine Tomorrow Sessions, Kavinsky, Ofege, and basically a lot of music with cool arrangements and instrumentation, minimal or barraged. David Axelrod, Adrian Younge, Margo Guryan, many many more.

Jimi: I followed in my brothers footsteps and started playing guitar when I was a kid.  I eventually wound up studying ethnomusicology at UCLA and music at Calarts. This past week I have been listening to Lou Reed’s Hudson valley meditations and playing Erik Satie’s 5th gnossienne.  

HFR: Can you tell us about Atlantis Airport 1982, your new release on Dangerbird Records?

JOEL JEROME: aaron from Dangerbird hit me up asking me if id like to do something for a project he’s putting together with the Arthur King fellas, instrumental weirdness, whatever id want. i recruited Jimi knowing he would be the perfect pairing to put something strange and interesting together since he’s been doing weird experimental music for a while with various people.

We got together and started jamming, stricly synth only to start, using everything from physical synths to tablet apps. those apps are so fun and cheap i just got everything i could get my hands on and slap it all over this record.

the record breaks down into 3 parts, a beginning, middle and current day.

the first section “atlantis” is the birth, early life of a world. “airport” is the formation, the devolopment of said world. and part 3 “1982” is current day, a day in life of love and conflict, the dangers of the world around us that echo current events in our world.

Jimi:  Atlantis Airport 1982 is a conversation between Joel and I. Topics covered during the recording process consisted of science fiction, growing up in Los Angeles, video games, synths, Romeo and Juliette, rain and color.  When it came time to name the album we realized that the 3 tracks we made, Atlantis, Airport, and 1982 had named itself.

HFR: What is your approach on writing music together? Which are the steps you make when songwriting?

JOEL JEROME: this is the first time JIMI and i wrote things together like this so we just went in, plugged in all the gear we could put together and start jamming on themes, recording all jams/rehearsals, listening back, picking parts out, making loose outlines. tons of fun. we added and added then we started pruning these sections like bonzai trees.

Jimi: Usually one of has a melodic idea, a chord sequence or drum beat that will start the session off.  I like to rotate my set up and allow spontaneity. After enough sessions we know what to explore and what to give context. Once our ship has been assembled and our destination has been mapped out, we begin recording.  

HFR: Could you tell us a bit about your “go to” equipment? What do you use when writing a song and which are your favorite instruments?

JOEL JEROME: ive written a lot on guitar but for this project i made a point of not using one (except for bass). i went in and got my little controller and popped on a moog synth app or the like and started playing random chords, exploring a theme and letting it breath, expand and develop. i was strict about only using apps and a controller and i pretty much stuck to that, i was processing everything and running it through my recording gear so i was able to make it sound good without having to worry about it not coming from some cool vintage synth. plus now its portable and if its good enough for Robert Fripp its good enough for me.

Jimi :  My go to equipment are sequencers and small battery powered synths.  You get a wide range of possibilities in a set up that you can recreate fairly easily in any setting, outside, studio or live.  

HFR: J & J in a near future? Are there any shows coming up within 2018?

JOEL JEROME: we are doing a record release show at Dangerbird head quarters on saturday September 8th. that should be a very fun awesome show. they are pulling out all the stops and setting up lights and a stage area, JIMI is putting together a dance troupe for the show, and we’ll be projecting video and playing the album in its entirety. there should be some kegstands and blunts going around, its gonna be rad. we’ll have a RSVP link blasted soon. We’re also working on a west coast mini tour in the fall and hope to have some firm dates soon.

Jimi:  Yes, we have a west coast tour coming up and I imagine some east coast and European dates will follow.

HFR: Last words?

JOEL JEROME: ATLANTIS AIRPORT 1982 is a good driving record. its also good in your room with headphones and a head change.

Jimi:  “be like water”.

Check out the album: http://smarturl.it/AKP-Atlantis

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