Jimothy first piqued my interest the moment I saw the visuals for ‘Burberry Socks’. I was left unsure whether he was more meme or musician and I intently scrolled through music video after music video in search of an answer. The Camden artist rhymes comical lines like “London public sometimes seem a little more serious, if I bump into a businessman he might get furious” over self-produced synth-heavy beats that have a notable 70s influence.
After a breakout year performing solo European tours, a handful of festival slots, and dropping some hilariously catchy singles with videos to match, Jimothy is in Australia for the first time to perform a co-headline show with Ireland’s own Rejjie Snow. I kicked it with Jimothy for the day, taking him around Wildlife World, where he tested my limited knowledge of Australia’s flora and fauna, addressed misconceptions about him and his inspirations, and explained how life really is getting quite exciting.
Jimothy! Welcome to Australia man, thanks for coming through.
All good man, thanks for having me.
First off, I’m really intrigued to know what you were like growing up. Can you shed some light on your younger years and how you grew into becoming Jimothy?
So the younger years for me were just very different compared to other kids, I became Jimothy basically just through being exposed to so many different sounds and genres growing up. I didn’t have any rules or anyone around me saying you can’t listen to this or that, and you can’t make a beat or you can’t do music. So basically I just did me and developed myself through that.
Who would you cite as influences or people you looked up to growing up that made you want to create the music that you do?
Literally, like so many people, so many, like a good ten, but in different ways, some gave me the confidence to put the music out and then there’s a few where I just like the sounds. Yung Lean, for example, he’s the guy that made me think “If he can do it, I can do it”, and I just really fucked with his instrumentals. Then there’s other stuff that’s more 70s music and those sort of tempos, like Talking Heads and Loose Ends and their sort of classic synths. But yeah, if I had to narrow it down Yung Lean, Spooky Black and Rejjie Snow, and I just try to fuse all of that.
When did you transition from just listening to these influences to trying to create music yourself?
I was always making beats since like 2011, not all the time maybe one every six months. I was just young as hell freestyling on pianos, and because I didn’t know about using loops and stuff I said “Fuck this, I want to learn to create my own.” 2016 was when I had all the influences in my head and I just knew who I was, so that’s when I thought “Cool, I’m just going to write to one of these instrumentals that I made and do a music video for it and just put it out for me and my friends.” At that time, I didn’t even think at all like “Right, I want to be a musician or [a] rapper.” I really didn’t, I just wanted to shock my friends because they all thought I was dumb as hell, you know?
It’s obviously a very long way to go, from messing around, trying to impress your friends to touring the world. Between then and now is there a moment you can pinpoint and say that that’s when you 100% committed yourself to being Jimothy?
Probably when I did my very first show in London, two of my boys who are photographers put me on. They were throwing an exhibition for their photos and at the time they were shooting my music videos—they did ‘Future Bae’ and ‘Getting Busy With Me’. So they were like “Yo bro, do you wanna perform at the gallery?” and at first I was like “I don’t know, are you sure?” After some convincing, they gave me the confidence and said “Just do two songs”, so I was like, yeah, fuck it I’ll just do two songs. And ‘Future Bae’ was already out by then and it had done decent numbers in the first week, which I was so surprised by, I had no idea how that happened.
Then, basically right before I go to the gallery there was this guy from my record label [Black Butter] that DM’d me on Instagram wanting to talk. I met him at the studio a few hours before I went to the gallery and I got a call from my friend saying there was a roadblock and that I might not be able to get in because the capacity for the venue was only 100 or 200 people. Because I don’t like drinking or doing drugs, I was hearing this all sober that there were hundreds of people to see me perform for the first time ever. Even in school, I never did announcements or nothing like that, so I got the label guy to sort of be my bodyguard and walk me through the crowd. Then, I got on this homemade stage and did my songs for people I didn’t even know and straight away—I’ll never forget—I was overcome by this feeling of like, “I’m gonna take off”, and that’s when I knew.
So there was never a time where you doubted yourself and what you were doing?
Nah, you know what? I’ve never doubted it but I’ve definitely felt stress and seen loads of mistakes that I’ve made so far, in terms of business and whatnot. I think every musician goes through loads of stress, and one thing is to remind yourself that you aren’t the only person going through the stress and shit like that, but nah, never really doubted it after that.
Despite the perception that you’re playing a character or your music is a joke, you’ve managed to make a career out of it. How would you describe the difference between Jimothy the artist and Jimothy the person?
My friend described it really perfectly right, he said that it’s definitely not a gimmick, but when I’m on stage performing or recording, that’s actually me being me. When I’m not doing that, I’m a shy guy you know, in groups of people I’ll be really shy to talk and stuff. People often think that if Jimothy is real, then in this group of people right now he’d be super hyper and dancing but it’s just like a persona and the real me is when I’m onstage and shit.
Do you find that you are supported in your art, or has you carefree and cheeky attitude been met with some backlash?
The only backlash I really face right is when people say it’s a joke without understanding that I take the music seriously, I just don’t take myself seriously. How I deal with it, I guess, is that right now I really look up to Playboi Carti. It sucks that I feel so shy saying that, like so many people hate him, but yeah I look up to him. His music is really just him having fun and he does say some shit that is meant to make you laugh sometimes, he has one line like “Bitch I need some condoms” and that line is funny man. Anyway yeah, some of his lyrics are funny as fuck but no one is jumping on him and saying he’s comedy, so yeah, it’s just perspective I guess and getting that it’s just people’s lack of understanding.
These days, Instagram and social media seem to be instrumental tools in launching careers, but with that comes constant real-life comparison. Do you think that without the internet your brand of music could have taken off as well as it has?
Without the internet, I wouldn’t be here right now straight up. Especially without Youtube and Instagram. I guess honestly that shit doesn’t really matter because no one’s getting busy, but as you said it goes hand in hand. Like back before my Instagram and SoundCloud were linked, I just had a random unrelated Insta name but low key somehow people were already finding out about me through there.
In ‘Future Bae’ you state that your goal is to become a money maker, how’s that coming along?
Yeah so like it’s not too bad, I’ve got a new goal now though and that is to buy a house before finding a bae. I guess to be fair though the money comes in now, but still, not as much as people think. I used to think that my favorite rappers were getting millions but heard their figures and was surprised. If you’re coming into music to make money though, this is not the thing for you. That’s the worst mentality and you won’t make any money that way, you really have to enjoy it.
On your Instagram and throughout your music, there’s a recurring theme of “Getting busy” and “Life getting quite exciting”. Tell me about these phrases you coined.
So basically in 2016, I started staying really busy, meaning that I started doing new shit like I started working out, eating healthy, going out, and just being productive. Also, that’s when I sort of realized like, damn I feel fucking good, my brain feels so free, I should make this my goal in life to just stay busy and if I focus I can make my life exciting.
I think your videos are such a big part of your appeal, have you ever gotten into trouble filming anything?
Bro, I filmed a video for ‘Subway Systems’ and it’s literally so sad because that video would’ve been fucking massive now, it was my best video to one of my best songs. I remember when I took that into the studio to my engineer Pete, and as soon as he heard it he was just like “Fuck!” So I took it and showed it to my sister and she was also just like “Fuck!”, and it’s like fucks sakes. I mean the song is still there, like fuck the video it’s all about the music, but the video was amazing. Yeah, the TFL (Transport for London) don’t really fuck with people doing dumb shit on their trains so they took it down after.
And now you’re currently touring with Rejjie Snow, how important is this to you after citing him as one of your inspirations?
So it was all through connections and agencies, it wasn’t me that organized it, but when I found out I was like “Fuck that’s crazy”. As I said, Rejjie Snow is a massive inspiration for me, ‘Black Pancakes’ is the one where I watched the video and the instrumental and it made me feel like I could do it. In the video as well, I saw he was wearing North Face when I was massive into North Face, before it blew up again. Yeah that shit is so crazy, I sometimes forget my inspirations but then remember and get nervous to talk to them and shit.
Crazy, and now you’re on tour with one of them.
Yeah exactly, it’s mad.
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