Jim Boggia reveals more of his craft, part 2
A few days ago, I posted part 1 of an interview with Philly-based Jim Boggia, one of the best singer/songwriter/producers I’ve uncovered in the last few years. I say “uncovered” not “discovered” — because a lot of his fans have been way ahead of me on that front. But playing catch up has been so much fun! And he’s a great guy to correspond with, too.
This all came about when I stumbled on his August 2008 release, Misadventures in Stereo. This album should be on everyone’s iPod. And if Jim had his preferences, he’d have us pick it up on vinyl (yes, it’s available!) and spin our way to musical happiness. So take your pick — but (as I’ve said before) — get this album!
And now — after you see our man in action on his YouTube site — you can read part 2 of my email-mediated interview. You’ll see that he’s got some exciting plans for the near future and, who knows, maybe a roadie position will open up for you.
What else interests you in life? Politics? Culture? Art? Botany?
Well, right now the World Series!
I tend to follow politics pretty closely. The financial mess has actually been pretty fascinating and I’ve really enjoyed in a perverse way learning what credit default swaps are and exactly how exceptionally dodgy loans were bundled together and sold as securities. Amazing what we let happen. And now the same people who got us into this mess by saying don’t regulate the markets are asking for money but then saying but don’t regulate the markets. I wonder if Americans will actually wake-up to how badly they’ve been bamboozled by the neo-cons on everything from the economy to foreign policy to the environment. My hunch is we’ll forget pretty fast. A few Britney Spears dramas and a season of American Idol and we should be ready to be taken for another half trillion.
Oh, I’m also very interested in science, which is another thing the neo-cons have hoodwinked us on — global warming being a liberal conspiracy and Adam and Eve riding dinosaurs, stuff like that.
How have you managed to balance your music and personal life?
What balance? I became a musician when I was 5. They’re one and the same.
From the beginning, how did your knowledge of technology and the internet shape your musical development?
In the beginning, there was no internet! My favorite technology is still old stuff. I have a mono reel-to-reel tape machine from the 60s, a consumer one that was meant for dictation or recording things off the radio, that is still my favorite thing to record with. I always use the slowest speed so it has almost no high-end and you can really hear the tape. I love that sound.
What can you say about the relative success of different distribution modes for your music? iTunes, for example. CD mailers. Vinyl. What does your experience tell you about the future of music distribution?
I think in the near future there will be practically a total collapse of the recorded music market. From a financial point of view it is not viable.
I make no money from any distribution method other than selling CDs or vinyl directly to fans at shows or through CDBaby.com. I see nothing from any sales over iTunes or at retail stores or Amazon or other online sites, even when people DO buy the music, and the idea that stealing music is perfectly fine is now entrenched in the culture — it’s not even worth railing against anymore.
So, ultimately while you CAN make a record in your bedroom for next to nothing, there’s a lot of limitations to what types of things you can do in that scenario, but the money to go in and finance actual recording sessions and musician fees is drying up fast, so the bedroom is going to be the only studio anyone can afford soon.
Did you realize early on that being a successful musician might not require getting signed by a label? How did that play out (or not)?
Well, I’m on a label but, yeah, the majority of my career and opportunities that happen for me are not related to that.
I think what has happened in the last 8 years or so is that there’s a lot more opportunity to gain a following in the margins through word of mouth as opposed to what it was like before, which was essentially you either hit it big or you washed out. I don’t think I could sustain myself doing music full-time before this kind of seismic shift that occurred with the internet and the indie movement.
What is it like for you to perform live vs. record in a studio session? Do you feel your equally well suited for both?
It took a while for me to understand the differences. Growing up, I always had tape recorders and listened to records but I didn’t live in a place where I was able to play live much or even see a lot of live shows. Consequently, when I first started playing out live I used to think the idea was to just play things exactly like the recordings. I have to say that meeting Jill Sobule and playing a bunch of shows with her as essentially her musical sidekick really opened my eyes to what a live show could be about. Jill taught me, just by watching her, how to connect to the audience in the room and make them an active part of the show so that you were all creating this unique moment in the present together. So, that’s much more my focus playing live now.
How has your fan base grown or changed?
It’s always changing, so you can never really pin it down to quantify or characterize it.
The thing I have noticed over time is the types of venues I play seem to have become more about listening to music and less about it being a bar. That’s everything from rooms in NY like the Living Room or Hotel Cafe in LA, which serve alcohol but have built their business identities around being about the music to house concerts, which I’m starting to play a lot more of.
What’s next for you?
I think in 2009 I’m going to try to focus on Europe more, maybe base myself there for three or four months and try to see if I can develop enough of a following to make it sustainable. I’m not sure yet whether that means working to get my records officially released over there or just approach it in a more guerrilla like fashion, but I’ve played London about 10 or 12 times and I’d love to use that as a base and then travel in a lot of the other countries.
All sorts of Boggia-based web adventure:
http://www.jimboggia.com – Home of official propaganda.
http://www.myspace.com/jimboggia – Be my friend.
http://www.boggiamusic.podomatic.com – Fill your Pod with Boggiamusic (it’s a podcast).
http://www.youtube.com/jimboggia – See me move.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimboggia – See me not move.