Jim Jarmusch Taught Me Not to Give a Fuck
You probably know Jim Jarmusch as a fiercely independent director, one who’s responsible for untouchable flicks like Down By Law, Dead Man, and Ghost Dog. But maybe you didn’t know that he’s a serious musician too. It makes sense: Jarmusch first blossomed in the 80s downtown NY scene, where it was fairly common to see rappers working with painters working with No Wave skronkers working with Cinema of Transgression transgressors, so a little overlap in the arts was pretty commonplace.
Jarmusch is still making music, staying true to that element of his early days. He recently teamed with up with Dutch lutist Jozef van Wissem for a few albums of heavy drone/folk workouts that all cast a cinematic, foreboding vibe over your sunshine-y ass. Sacred Bones just put out The Mystery of Heaven LP, which will destroy you:
Now the pair is working together on Jarmusch’s new film, Only Lovers Left Alive, a romance centered around two vampires.
I got to attend one of Jim and Jozef’s only performances together last Sunday at MoMA PS1’s Sunday Sessions. Their set was a thick, smoky roast that formed a warm little cocoon inside PS1’s low-lit, futuristic performance dome. Bright glowing embers of guitar feedback were underscored by soft, delicate lute plucking that all swirled around together in a gorgeous, hazy drone. It was the perfect Sunday palette cleanser that made my hungover loser-self want to go home immediately, read a thoughtful book for a few hours, and go to bed at a reasonable time.
Before I could hop on the subway to go act like an adult, I talked to Jim and Jozef about their new album on Sacred Bones, their upcoming Only Lovers Left Alive score, and proper sunglasses etiquette.
Noisey: How’d you guys come into contact?
Jim Jarmusch: We were in ‘Nam together.
Yeah, it was wild.
Were you in the shit?
Yeah. [Laughs] No, we met on the street in New York like six or seven years ago. I got a CD from Jozef and we started talking about maybe doing something together, maybe a film score, and we’ve been doing some stuff ever since. We made a record together and now The Mystery of Heaven is our second one. And we’re finally preparing a score for Only Lovers Left Alive, which took me seven years to get going.
How’d the connection with Sacred Bones happen?
Jozef van Wissem:I was just buying records one day at a record fair in Williamsburg and I came across a Zola Jesus 7-inch that I saw and wanted. The record happened to be at the Sacred Bones record stand. I met Caleb and told him what a great label it was. We got to talking and he asked me what I was doing and I said I was working on new record with Jim. That was it.
Tell me a little bit about how you guys work together. Where does it start with a composition?
I guess we compose together. Sometimes I give Jim a piece that he adds to and sometimes it’s the other way around. In the beginning, it was more like I gave him my little pieces and he would add to that, but now it has grown. Now we just both write together and we both come up with ideas.