Jim Moynihan is your typical happy-go-lucky musician; a humble bloke kicking along, enjoying what he does and copping his due props along the way. “I started being influenced by my brother who played in bands as a kid,” he says. “My brother was five years older than me. We lived in the country, a little past Hurtsbridge. He rehearsed with his band and I was around the scene with those sorts of musicians from a young age.” It was the drums that seemed to capture his attention though and Jim developed a sort of liking for drums and rhythm. “So then I went to play in a few bands myself and then moved into using samplers with more traditional band formats,” he explains.
Somewhere in between, he completed a degree in Industrial Design and began freelancing as a product and sound designer on a broad spectrum of commercial and art-based projects that saw him exhibit his conceptual ideas in museums around the world. He won a wide range of audio production awards including the First Place and People’s Choice Award, Electrovision 2004, and Best Sound Design, 2003 in the 15/15 International Film Festival.
“From there, things progressed and I started writing and recording my own music. I started sampling friends and things but also creating grooves out of live recordings; live fragments and tiny snippets to create new lines and grooves. I was doing it for my own enjoyment. I never really wanted to release anything. It was just the process I enjoyed. Then after honing my skills and people twisting my arm to release things, by 2005 I released my first album under the name Spoonbill.”
More albums and EPs followed. Yet he admits it was a slow if not even trajectory as things progressed, but feedback started coming from people that mattered, around the world. Jim continues with his take: “well the scene and the style made its way underground, some people took notice and things improved more and more.” Today, his music has evolved but it is still edit-heavy, glitch type electronica with a jazzy angle but also influenced by hip hop and big beat. “Sure, it has definitely changed over the years as technology has changed and my influences have changed,” chimes Jim. “So now it touches on this glitch-hop sound, which is popular in the US. Overall, it loosely brushes on different genres like IDM and broken beat I suppose, but it’s bouncy and quirky and comical at times.”
Clearly then, his music is anything but easy to define - and my sneaking suspicion is that is exactly the way he likes it. “I used to call it wonky before that was a genre,” he says laughing. “That sound was popularised by Flying Lotus and that sort of vibe. It’s definitely abstract but it’s pretty fat and chunky as well.” Likewise, Astro Archipelago is his latest three-track EP and one he considers different to his previous releases. “It’s a 15 minute bunch of tracks that I wrote for a video game actually! It came up after this mob got onto me to use a depth camera which connects to the Xbox – so we developed this fun game which is basically a music thing where the music is all pre-composed in tiny fragments and then arranged in terms of how you perform. It’s a linear composition of a dynamically generated soundscapes, if you know what I mean?” To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what it means but it does sound cool.
Regardless, Jim is prepping for a wicked gig with partner-in-crime Dub FX, another local wonder kid who has amazing talent. Jim sums up: “well the idea for the gig came about with Dub FX who I met in Canada last August where we were doing some gigs together. He was a guest musician working with someone I knew over there, so we decided we wanted to do a show at Hi-Fi Bar in Melbourne, so that got the wheels in motion.”
Jim comments that maybe it is really his first main event since he’s become quite popular in Melbourne. It’s surprising that it has taken this long for the world to take up and stand notice – but having these two on a lineup will be a masterstroke. But wait, there’s more. “There is another Melbourne producer doing an EP launch as well as me, so there will be a few of us doing some pretty cool stuff on the night. You will hear everything from funky and disco to glitch and proper electronic sounds. There should really be something for everyone. There is a lot of talent coming out on the night and the line-up is great. To see all of this internationally recognised talent on one bill is fantastic. It’s innovative music and I think it will really be a dancing as well as listening event. Other than the ear candy, there will also be a lot of visual awesomeness as well.”
Sounds like a hoot.
Spoonbill [AUS] performs with Dub FX [AUS] at The Hi-Fi on Saturday May 5.