Jim Noir

For the past 16 months, cult Manchester singer-songwriter Jim Noir has maintained an exhausting output, releasing an EP a month to his fans through a project called The Noir Club.

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 28 Sep 2012
  • min read
Some of these tracks were from dusty files on decrepit computers; some were new-born gems, penned that month and sent directly to the club members’ inboxes. As The Noir Club concludes, Jim finds himself on top creative form for the release of his brand new LP Jimmy’s Show.

We caught up with him on the cusp of its release…

When did you first start writing songs and why?
Well, I first started writing electronic music – instrumental noodling and things on synthesizers and old broken computers. I started to write more traditional music like the Jim Noir stuff when I was about 18 or so – 12 years ago.

I did it backwards really – becoming a traditional songwriter after being experimental.

What made you move into more traditional songwriting?
I just thought I’d have a go at it and see if I could write some songs. I gave them out to my friends and people quite liked them, enough to encourage me to do more. I wasn’t planning to make a career out of it! It snuck up on me.

Do you remember the first song you wrote?
I do, yep. I was called Philosophers Stones, but it was pre-Harry Potter!

Do you play it today, or is it consigned to the archives?
No, not today, it’s not a very complicated song, or very good! I might have a copy of it somewhere – it’s probably the most psychedelic thing I’ve written but that’s probably because of the subject matter.

How has your songwriting changed since your first EP in 2004?
Not much, I don’t think. I’ve got slightly better equipment now, but I still approach everything in the same naïve way, to get strange sounds out of everything. I don’t take a lot of time to use the right microphones and all that - everything gets thrown in a pot. My latest album will be the last that I do like that I think.

So will the new album be the last Jim Noir release?
I can’t be sure really. It depends what I write next. If I write another 12 Jim Noir-sounding songs then maybe, but I don’t think the world needs any more! I’ve covered every angle of noisy lo-fi sounds. I’d like to do something different. I’ve got a band sorted now so it would be nice to do more of that – I think that will be the next album. I want to get everyone else contributing too.

So who’s in the band then?
There’s the two girls, Henrietta and Leonore, who are in other bands Sisters of Transistors and the Soundcarriers respectively. Budgie the drummer, who was in a band called Mirrorball, Paul, who’s in Aidan Smith’s band and Bryan, who’s played with me for years. It’s a good bunch.

What generally comes first when you write a song?
It’s usually the drums. I’ll put them down and build on top of that. Sometimes I’ll find old melodies that I’ve recorded over other things and Frankenstein them together with other stuff that didn’t quite go anywhere – that seems to work too! It’s all quite free and easy, I don’t write much down. Lyrics usually come last. I quite like the idea of it all being loose, but you never know, I might talking sense one day! We’ll see.

What was the thinking behind The Noir Club?
I wanted to put out a lot of the old stuff that would never have seen the light of day otherwise, without it being too much hassle – it was just an internet thing. Then after six or seven months I ran out of the stock pile and started to use old ones with new ones and it evolved. I really enjoyed it.

You seem to be a prolific songwriter, would you agree?
I don’t write as often as I used to – I seem to spend more time on one song than I used to on 12. I’m not as young and prolific as I used to be! I don’t think it matters, it’s just different.

You’re probably best known for Eanie Meanie on an Adidas World Cup advert – what did it feel like to get such a high profile sync?
I spose at the time I wasn’t that happy about it, because it doesn’t look that good, does it? It’s difficult. I didn’t really have much choice at the time. I felt like I’d be letting people down that had worked so hard on getting it that far. And then I’d also be skint! I had to bite the bullet and take the money and run. Nobody was throwing record contracts at me. I’ve never been signed. Atlantic licensed the first album and had the option to license the second, but we fell out over that one. They tried to write it for me and I wasn’t having any of it.