Jim Boggia reveals some of his craft, part I

You may all remember a particularly unctuous post a month or two back when I reviewed Jim Boggia’s Misadventures in Stereo. In my defense, doesn’t the name of this blog at least hint that I might tend to gush a little from time to time?

Well, the spell hasn’t lifted. I still listen to Jim’s latest album all the time. At the risk of showing up on some stalker website, I badgered Jim with requests for an interview and, despite his better instincts, he has finally complied. Today, I give you part one of my Q&A with Jim. By the way — get this album!

jb-coverking jb-abbeyrd jboggia1

Your just-released album, Misadventures in Stereo, is garnering critical acclaim. How proud are you and what on the album are you most pleased with?

I’m really happy with the record. I just listened to it the other day — I always have to take a break from it when it first gets released because you wind up second-guessing everything — and I thought it was strong and consistent.

I guess what I’m most pleased with is that I feel like I proved to myself that I could “captain the ship” and put the whole thing together — from the songs through the recording process — and be happy with the result. To me, it sounds like my record in that it reflects my taste and personality.

How does the album reflect your growth as a musician? As an artist? As a person?

I was definitely lost for a couple of years before making this record. I was questioning on some level whether I was really any good, having a crisis of confidence. Making ‘Misadventures in Stereo’ helped me find my way out of the woods on that, to believe in the songs and do what I think is good musically and not have doubts based on what I think someone else might think. To the extent that some of my favorite moments on this record are things I KNOW some people won’t like. An example of that would be something like the bridge on ‘Listening to NRBQ’ when the lyric says “And then Big Al took a solo and it went like this” and then Big Al Anderson does, in fact, come in and take a solo. I know some people – and I’m actually thinking of SPECIFIC people I know who are brilliant songwriters that I love and respect – who just aren’t into that type of meta-moment. But the truth is, I LOVE stuff like that and with this record I wasn’t afraid to go there and please myself.

Who were your musical idols when you were young? What were the first few 45s or albums you bought?

Oh, the usual suspects: The Beatles still have the best batting average and slugging percentage of all-time. I love the Kinks as well. Early Rod Stewart/Faces. Randy Newman, Harry Nilsson, Burt Bacharach. I had a lot of those records from my parents and aunts and uncles from before I can remember, because they used to give me records and I’d learn how to sing them at 3 years old and I think they thought that was pretty cute. I didn’t sing for my supper so much as I sang for my record collection.

Who out there is doing work that really “wows” you now?

I love this woman — Keren Ann. She’s from France, but lives in NYC a lot now and sings in French and English.

At the moment I’m flipping out over the new album by the Major Labels, which is a band project Mike Viola is doing with Bleu and Ducky Carlisle. I’ve known Mike for a few years now and he’s one of my favorite people to play with and this new record is a jaw-dropper.

What is your songwriting process? Words first? Melody first? “Feeling” first?

The music is almost always way ahead of the music.

When I hear the music it’s usually pretty fully formed right from the start in that I’ll hear not only the melody and chord progression but large bits of the arrangement as well. I’ll have a pretty good idea of what instrumentation will be involved and hear where background vocals will go and what the harmonies are  That stuff usually all comes at once.

After that, I’m trying to listen to the music to figure out what it’s supposed to be about lyrically. So, that’s when getting a feeling comes in. Something in the melody or chord progression will give me a feeling which then suggests a subject matter. Then it’s the process of figuring out how to get out of the corner I’ve painted myself into. Because the melody is already there, so the number of syllables and rhyme scheme – even the emphasis of syllables is already dictated by the melody and you’ve got to fit a lyric about whatever the subject matter is into that form. Not surprisingly, I have albums worth of melody, chord progressions and arrangements and the bottleneck is the lyrics.

I commented in my blog that you were equally strong in your songwriting and in your arrangements. How do you approach these two aspects of the music business?

Well, as I said, to me they’re usually one and the same. Because we all grew up with recorded music, as opposed to how it was a few generations back when you’d sit around a piano with sheet music, those elements were always intertwined to me. It surprised me when I found out later that it wasn’t always the songwriter who came up with the arrangement bits. You know, I was sort of shocked that The Beatles didn’t have the baroque piano solo in ‘In My Life’ I their heads as part of the song when they wrote it. I was a bit naive, but it made me think in those terms when writing.


Later this week, I’ll post the second half of my Q&A with Jim. You’re probably thinking, hey, he’s a pretty thoughtful guy . . . and you’d be right. He’s also a hell of a musician and songwriter, so check out his many links below (with his descriptions also provided):

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 be still

And remember, get this guy’s music in your iPod or player of choice soon!

5 Responses to “Jim Boggia reveals some of his craft, part I”

  1. You are so right about this guy and this record. Gushing about stuff this good – encouraged.

  2. I got hooked on Jim Boggia in 2006 and have been a huge fan every since. No show is ever the same! His banter is priceless! Check out my Youtube collection, I have recorded and uploaded about 50 videos from Jim’s shows; like Jim, am very partial to the Beatle covers he has done. Jim’s new CD came out on my birthday so I am partial to the song “On your birthday”… and also love “No Way Out”, “To and Fro” and “So”.

  3. There is hope for music with Jim Boggia in this world!
    He is an amazing talented artist, whose craft is very unique.
    Thank goodness us as listeners can enjoy his brilliance.
    Keep the music coming Jim Boggia!

  4. Same here, I just keep loving this Jim Boggia record. Interesting interview.

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