Originally hailing from South London, Melbourne-based multi-instrumentalist and producer Jimmy Cass has previously released records under Men's Adventures and is currently working on multiple solo projects. His new record Chapters will be the culmination of a multi-part audio visual project. We chatted from our locations in Paris and Melbourne about leaving Peckham, avant-garde cinema and eclectic music.


So you're originally from South London (I used to live in Peckham) but now live in Melbourne. It's a big change, what prompted the move and do you think the change in location has influenced your music?

Yeah absolutely. The standard of musicianship here is phenomenal, so for someone that plays a variety of instruments it has been a humbling experience but it's improved my range and I'm doing things now that I wasn't capable of before. It's been tough at times leaving everything you know behind but it's an experience I would recommend everyone try at least once in their lifetime.

How and why did you transition from Men's Adventures to doing your own solo stuff?

I would say that for someone like me a band comes with a certain set of parameters and the narrower those become the more restricted your workflow becomes. I reached a point in that situation where I felt like I had more in me that I could no longer get out. I began questioning if I was at the apex of my own existence and creativity or if I could push myself further. I came to the conclusion that in order to continue on the path I had set for myself I had to get away from excessive amounts of cocaine and partying and go somewhere with more affordable rent and somewhere I could get my head down and expend my energy in a more constructive way.

Now you are working on an audio-visual project called Chapters. What inspired it and how did it come together?

Well I've been working on multiple projects since I've been here, one of those being a full-length solo album which I started writing about 2 weeks after I arrived. I came with only a small bag of clothes so it's taken awhile to get a studio together again. That record still isn't finished but it's gone through about 5 generations of recording, from phones to high end recording studios.

For someone that's always worked with singers it's been a taxing process to write 10+ songs with decent lyrics not to mention a deeper level of instrumentation to anything I've attempted before. So about 5 months ago I realised I had strained the whole project and was going insane with it. I decided to take a break and went to the local secondhand music store with about 400 bucks and bought a bunch of analogue equipment. I quit another shitty job and decided to write something brand new. I hate writing lyrics so figured I'd make an instrumental record. I always wanted to make an album with visuals for each song so that became a part of it too. It's a concept of sorts and it may seem tenuous to some, but if you invest in it, I believe that you are rewarded for your efforts. I knew no label would go for it so figured I would just do this on my own this time.

The footage you have created is very visceral. Are you interested in film and avant-garde cinema?

Absolutely, I'm probably as inspired by film and its sounds as music itself, if not more. When we were doing interviews for MA's I used to crowbar the fact I wanted to do soundtracks into almost everyone. Eventually, I got chatting with Danny Sangra and did a few of his shorts which then culminated in me contributing a fair bit to his feature film Goldbricks In Bloom. That was amazing to finally see my music accompany a full-length film. Something I intend to build on.

Visual accompaniment to music is a powerful tool. I went and watched Phillip Glass and his ensemble play the score to Koyaanisqatsi in real time with the film above them. Kinda one of the most incredible things I've ever witnessed to be honest. It would be fair to say that the experience contributed to the process of making this record.

What are you listening to at the moment?

I've been revisiting early Kraftwerk, John Maus and Manuel Göttsching for general vibes and production. I recently bought Bruce Haack's Electric Lucifer and a cool Arthur Russell record called Corn which has alternate takes and demos and stuff, love everything with that guy's name on. I should also mention 'Ethiopian Girl (I've Been Thinking About You)' by the Dur Dur band, it's an old song but easily my favourite I've heard this year, makes you wanna dance and cry at the same time. Andy Shauf's The Party came out last year but is legit one of the best new records I've heard in ages. He's way ahead of the curve and the album is basically a master class in taste when it comes to arrangements and production.

So, what are your summer plans?

Summer lasts for like 8 months here so there will be a fair bit going on. As I said I'll be putting the current record out myself, but I'm speaking to a few people about working with me on the other one. I'd like to get a couple more films in the bag before the end of the year and I did some session drumming on a record yesterday and a few other bits and pieces with me behind the desk might surface before the end of the year. Who knows, I live week to week, stuff comes in all the time and falls through in equal measure, I've long since stopped trying to predict the future. If someone told me 3 years ago I'd be in Melbourne doing what I'm doing now I'd have been sceptical.