Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

Drumroll Please: Jim White’s Baker’s Dozen

From hearing a drumroll so good he dropped out of university, to the links between Iggy Pop and Lana Del Rey, the much-lauded percussionist Jim White speaks to Julian Marszalek about the 13 albums he loves the most

Photo by Anna White

Jim White is a busy man. A very busy man indeed. Arguably best known as the drummer and co-founder of Australian instrumental trio The Dirty Three alongside violinist Warren Ellis and guitarist Mick Turner, he’s also lent his considerable percussive talents to a wide variety of artists that includes – deep breath – Cat Power, Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, Marianne Faithfull, Bill Callahan, The Blackeyed Susans and Bonnie “Prince” Billy among many others. And that’s before we even pause to take into account his own projects that have included Venom P. Stinger and, more recently, Xylouris White, the duo he formed with Greek lute player Giorgos Xylouris.

And if that wasn’t enough, Jim White now has not one, but two, albums ready to go in quick succession. The first is All Hits: Memories, a solo album – albeit featuring cameo appearances from Xylouris and keyboardist Ben Boye – while the second, Swallowtail – finds White collaborating with multi-instrumentalist Marisa Anderson once again after they first worked together on The Quickening in 2000.

With such a packed release schedule, is Jim White in competition with himself? “I didn’t plan it out very well,” laughs White from his home in Brooklyn, where he’s been resident for the past 20 years. “But the two albums are very different from each other. It’s fine.”

So why a solo album now?

“It was a vague idea for a very long time,” he says “We started recording the drums at [Fugazi guitarist and vocalist and album co-producer] Guy Picciotto’s house. We thought it might be the start of a Xylouris White album, but we also knew that it might be something else. I was making music, but I wanted a keyboard and I wanted a tone to keep the keyboards company. So I got a synthesizer and found a sound that I really liked and started playing a little bit more and it sort of opened up from there.”

And while All Hits: Memories is very much a solo record, White is fulsome in his praise of Picciotto. “Guy was heavily involved in the making of the album. We co-wrote some songs. We both produced it, but we mixed different songs. We’ve been working together for over 10 years now. I don’t think it would have happened if we hadn’t learned a lot together, you know?”

Conversely, Swallowtail is the result of a collaborative process that was recorded in peaceful and bucolic environs of Australian coastal town of Point Lonsdale in Victoria. “The record with Marissa is a real dialogue and it’s a result of our musical relationship, our friendship, traveling together,” says White.

Jim White’s solo album All Hits: Memories is out on March 29 via Drag City. Swallowtail, his collaboration with Marissa Anderson, is released via Thrill Jockey Records on May 10. To begin reading Jim White’s Baker’s Dozen, click on the image of him below.

First Record

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