Interview: Jim Kroft

By on Friday, 11th June 2010 at 2:00 pm

Based on his lovely songs alone, Berlin-based singer/ songwriter Jim Kroft could be classified as much as much as an artist as a philosopher. He’s one of those who truly wears his heart on his sleeve and demonstrates an exceptional level of what being human is all about. Quite simply, he’s a great guy, and this little q and a session proves why. Read it all and find out why his first response makes so much sense in the end.

First off, to those who may not have heard of Jim Kroft before, what would be three things they should know about you, musically speaking and/or in general?

After sordid allegations destroyed Jim Kroft´s presidential campaign, he relocated to Berlin. There he lost his mind, regained it, built up a life, destroyed a life, and can now be found re-building the Kaleidoscope and re-dreaming the future!

I read somewhere else that your new album, ‘Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’ is an effort to ‘grow up sane in a bonkers world.’ Would you agree with such a statement?

Absolutely! Whoever wrote that must have been very perceptive, ha ha! The scope of our times, the range of beliefs, the clashing of cultures, the misunderstanding between people, the challenges we face as a species – there is much to try and grasp in growing up today. Throw in a healthy dose of hedonism, over-education, family breakdown, losing loved, and wrong choices made, and there is a veritable cocktail of confusion / derangement and meltdown.

The paradox is that it is entirely normal to feel isolated / alienated / that you may lose your mind. The heresy and myth is that young people are made to feel that they are not `normal’ – because they don’t feel normal. To me it makes entire sense that the individual may feel bonkers. In my songs I am trying to get across the belief that only when there is an acceptance of what we feel, rather than a rejecting, can a healing or an evolution of some sort begin.

I have gone my own way in life, at least, made the decision to reject the man, to gamble with everything

I have on a way of life that is completely and utterly unrealistic. But it is not the chasing of a fairy tale. It is the conscious decision to live in a way that one can live with oneself. And if this leads, as it often does, to a time of disillusion or glimpses of insanity – then that is the price I am willing to pay for the right to be able to live with myself.

Mine is a normal modern experience to boot. It is an insane world, and trying to grow up sane takes courage, focus and heart. If my musical life leads to any worth, it will be trying to give the kids out there a small glimpse that what they go through is not something they go through alone – even though society dictates they must.

Speaking of the album, could you provide the curious with how the album all started? How long was it in the works and what were some of the more challenging parts of writing the songs and/or recording the album?

The album was recorded outside the music industry. I was in a band called Myriad Creatures, who I recently left (only a month ago). I had a couple of weeks free in between touring and gigging commitments so I went to London to record.
The album was recorded live in 9 days – with strings over dubbed, and a vocal or two each evening.

I recorded the album in Gordon Raphael´s studio in London called Urchin Studios with a pair of genius´s – Matt Ingram and Dan Cox. Fyfe Dangerfield also recorded his album there, right after I did mine. It is a wonderful place where musicians can get their music made with class professionals at an affordable rate.

Recording live was a great experience and it is a little miracle that we knocked the album out in 9 days given the fact there were only two days rehearsals and major time pressure.

The songs were brewing for awhile. The tunes weren´t appropriate for the band, and I was just gunning to get it out of me. You get to the point where you feel pregnant with song and just have to get it out. I´m feeling the same at the moment.

Is it true that one of the standout tracks, ‘One Sees the Sun’ was inspired after personally meeting author Colin Wilson? What was that like?

It certainly was. I had just left a band I was in in London called Creel Commission and was at a loss with how to put my next foot forward. This was before I came to Berlin with the band I put together after that, mentioned above.
Climate change was still not front page news then, or even main stream dialogue. What people forget now, is how recent this has emerged in the main stream. Fortunately the collective psyche of man has finally twigged, and the realities of what we face are dawning on us.

Anyway, I was in a difficult place personally, and on top of that I was digging in and reading deeper about the greater state of things – from geo-politics, to oil peaking, to the state of the oceans, or the so called clashing of cultures.
It was a time of feeling helpless and impotent and I just felt that it was necessary to go to the source of this stuff. So I set out one summer with my brother Ed, to meet various wisemen we thought of as luminaries – men like James Lovelock, Colin Wilson, John Zerzan, Michael Klare, John Gray.

It was tremendously fun, inspirational as well as educational. But more importantly it kicked me out of the armchair. Meeting these guys was seminal to me – these are guys who made it their life to follow the path, to speak their mind, to develop themselves to the maximum of their potential, regardless of the challenges faced, and regardless of what little men laughed at them or the ways the bureaucratic machine tried to break them.

I am middle class guy who has had a decent education, food on the table, and a roof over my head.

What excuse should I have for not making the very most in my life, to try and follow a path that at least attempts to do something, or signify something in some type of small way?

The life of a musician is a well trodden path, but what it gives you – a voice, and the power to use it, only a few have the courage to do that. Personally I think that it is a very exciting time in music, a very strange one. But I can´t help feeling that there is an awful amount of fad and fashion music out there, and not enough people attempting to take by the balls the human situation and what it is we face in ourselves and in our times.
I know I am banging on – but Colin Wilson has written more books than any other living author, knows the discipline of writing as much as anyone, has known penury and ups and down – and when I went to meet him he was a perfect gent. To the extent that he invited me to supper with his wife, got me piss-arse drunk, then let me stay the night. Some man. As I say, a luminary, if a strange one at that. I don´t know many people who own 50,000 books and have so many he has to use piles of books as coffee tables!

What inspired you to move to Berlin? Could you tell us what makes that area a better place to function as an artist? Is there anything you miss about living in the UK?

London is wonderful city and I was there for 5 years. But it is a commercial city, and for all the fawning of the Hoxton scene, it is the antitheses of a 1920´s Paris, a New York in the 1970´s or even London itself in the 60´s.
I was in London and the simple fact is that I wasn´t developing artistically. To do that, I feel like you need to follow that full time, as best you can.
I arrived in Berlin with my boys, and we quickly started making a living from music. Mainly playing

weekend residencies in Cafe Zapata and White Trash amongst other places. Three sets a night, good money, amazing crowds, and all the chaos and cliches that rock n roll brings. We did that then got a publishing deal and record deal, which allowed things to develop further. Good times. Then like an idiot I threw it all away because I had something else to follow. Music is about following your guts, regardless of the consequences.

Berlin is a wonderful city and I have been here three and a half years now. Cheap rents, cheap food, an abundance of young artists and talent. On the flip side there is a lot of posing and bullshit, but you get that in every scene.
I miss marmite and PG Tips especially, as well as seeing the Highlands in Scotland where I grew up.

Several reviews have declared that you sound similar to legendary David Bowie. Is he an influence in your work? Who are your musical heroes today and while you were growing up?

Well that is a wonderful compliment of course, as well as a surprise. I guess I have a high voice, and Bowie had a good range, and also there is the Berlin connection.
I think Bowie is great, but I wouldn´t say he is a bigger influence than other people necessarily. However, I will feed from anywhere that is potent, and Bowie is certainly not free from being attacked!

Regarding musical heroes, most of mine are dead. However, I do love an American musician called

Ken Doleman. He is similar to Neil Young in his dedication to song and his stubbornness to get his music out regardless. You have to admire Damon Albarn of course though.

Finally, what are your plans for the next six months? Will you be touring, recording more stuff, relaxing, or all of the above?

I find myself in a precarious position to be honest. I left the band and am now without any support really. I don´t have management or a new record contract. If the signs were to be read, it would to be evanesce into the mist. However, the void must be faced!

Somehow the kaleidescope pieces itself back together if you let it.

I am writing furiously, and intent on re-building my musical path on, for the first time, a solid foundation – myself…..if that can be called solid! Then I will tour and release new material for sure. But first, back to basics.

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