Jim Hickey by Meike Peters
A lot of the time, my job as a blog editor involves trying to tease out the “Berlin connection” of the people pitching me, and working out what makes them different to the other artists piling up in my inbox. Thankfully, Jim Hickey took care of all this when he sent me a copy of his wonderful Railings EP and told me about his unique expat experience:
I’m Maltese/American, spent many summers in LA as a kid which was definitely a big influence on my life, as was spending the rest of the time on a small rock in the Mediterranean. I’ve always had an obsessive relationship with music, it started out with some old Pink Floyd tapes which I would listen to over and over for hours and when I started playing guitar it was a strictly day-and-night thing, played pretty much all the time. Started playing in bands at 15, live at 16 and doing live and studio session work at 17. Went on tour for the first time at 18 in Germany as a session guitarist for a local act (played all sorts of unsavoury radio festivals but also opened for Elton John at Bielefeld Stadium – a rather dubious honour), fell in love with Berlin and decided to move here ASAP. As soon as the tour ended I moved to England which didn’t last long and from there I moved to Berlin (at 19, I’m 26 now, I’ve been here nearly eight years).
The Berlin electronic underground scene was the next huge influence and at this point I started to play with synths and drum machines more and more. I was the live sound mixer at an (illegal) electro club (called Eel Pie – it got forcibly shut down) where the underground scene gathered to shuffle. The place was in an office block and when the offices closed for the weekend we let loose. Mixed some great indie/electro acts there, mostly under the radar stuff, like Robots in Disguise, ANIAETLEPROGRAMMEUR, Gebrüder Teichmann and Juri Gagarin. This experience changed a lot really, just being immersed in the scene and being around these acts that were creating this unbelievable new music had a huge influence on me and my approach to making music. At the same time I started to get involved in the gallery scene and got to know many of the amazing artists working and in refuge in Berlin. In effect this changed my approach to working creatively and helped to free up any insecurities about doing stuff people might not understand or be able to appreciate.
Some of the music I’m listening to at the moment is Chromatics (or any of Johnny Jewel’s projects for that matter), Errors (really, really good), D33J, James Blake (of course…), Factory Floor, Egyptian Hip Hop, Vondelpark and Space Dimension Controller (those last three are all R&S artists, Blake started there too). I like Anticon records stuff, UNO NYC, alternative/ experimental electronic music and any 80s electro funk but also hazy indie stuff with reverb drenched guitars like Beach House or Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti.
My Railings EP was written, recorded and produced by me at home (except drums which I did at another studio). I’ve been writing and collecting ideas over the past few years, just creating my own sound and this is the first release from this collection of songs.
Listen to and download Railings at jim-hickey.com.