Finding a perfect musical partner is not easy. When it does happen though a magic comes with it that creates a whole even better than the parts. Our recent find Jim And Mandy are a great example of this. Jim’s introverted and personal persona somehow collided with Mandy’s optimistic innocence to form the duo that feeds off each other seamlessly.
Now, Jim and Mandy have blessed us with their EP The Lion And The Fox. The 5 track record is a pretty piece of folk americana. The opener “You’re Gonna Get Lucky” starts it off with a heartfelt tone and vulnerable lyrics opening up the hearts of the duo for everyone to see.
The lead single “Nothing But Jacks” lets each singer take their own turn with emotional vocals over an elegant guitar melody that has a way of soothing the soul. Every listener is welcome around the campfire to sway along with Jim and Mandy.
There is a more energetic vibe to “Adam And Eve”. The quickly strummed acoustic guitar gets your head bopping as the angry tone of the verse crashes into the pretty harmonies of the chorus. This is a fun song that demands more listens to take in the full story.
We had a chance to chat with Jim and Mandy about how they started and how their emotions transfer to song. Enjoy the interview here:
So what made you decide to stick with Jim and Mandy as your artist name with so many wild personas in music today?
Mandy: Well, nothing quite describes us better than our own names. We are minimalists and try to keep things as streamlined and efficient as possible.
Jim: We also back up other artists quite a bit both live and in the studio. It’s a pretty great deal for another artist to be able to hire us as a pair and get great male & female vocals, rhythm and smoking lead guitars all in one shot. That is actually a big part of how we came together. We got asked to play South By Southwest in Austin early 2017 backing up another artist, and I said to the booking agent, who’s a really great guy named Jimbo, “Sure, we’ll do it if you can get us a showcase, also!” We’d like to keep up that tradition when artists need extra musicians, to just call Jim & Mandy.
The same thing goes for studio work. I’ve done a lot of sessions where I ended up playing most of the instrumentation and co-producing records, for example Matt Babineaux’s “A Place To Fall”, and another artist I’m working with currently from Houston. Now, having Mandy’s vocals as part of that package, we’ve really got something special!
How would you describe your sound?
Jim: I usually just describe it as American roots music, since it has elements of country, folk, blues, american rock music, and our roots are pretty proudly on display.
Mandy: I would have to agree with Jim . Most people who hear us have likened us to a Folk/American sound, and I would say that’s a good way to describe it. I do like that we are able to be flexible with our sound, though. That’s what really makes us able to back up other artists and reach a wider audience. The EP we just put out is mostly one sound, but Jim wrote the tune Adam & Eve that takes a slight turn away from all the rest which really showcases that flexibility.
Who would you say are your biggest influences?
Mandy: Some of my biggest influences in songwriting recently have been artists like The Lumineers, Dawes, Brandi Carlile, The Head and the Heart, etc. I could go on really as there are so many inspiring artists out there, but I’d have to so those are a few of my tops.
Jim: Right now I’m liking the first two Father John Misty records, and my all time favorite is Wilco. I’ve been working really hard at lyrics and so artists with a lot to say and ones with really interesting words or turns of phrases catch my attention. For guitar styling, my favorites are Marc Ribot, Nels Cline from Wilco, Buddy Miller, people like that. I like cinematic stuff. I actually just quietly released an album called “Wild Western Guitar” that showcases a lot of those influences.
What is the songwriting process when Jim and Mandy get together to write?
Jim: We really like titles! I like to come up with interesting song titles, something that would make me think, I’d like to hear a song called that! For me there’s a concept or story to be told first. For example, “You’re Gonna Get Lucky” came about from the idea that you can work on yourself as a person until you feel you’ve really got your stuff together, then the person you end up being with is really gonna get lucky. I thought about how people say, “I’m so lucky to have you”, then flipping that around and saying, you’re pretty lucky yourself! Haha!
Mandy: I’m the type that doesn’t write all that well with people around. For me, I get little ideas randomly and jot them down and revisit them later. I actually never finished a song until Jim asked me to go to Austin for South by Southwest with him and said that we had to have all new songs. I wouldn’t say that I have really nailed down a “process” just yet, because every song has come about differently. When we’re trying to write together, we like to nail down the little bits and pieces we have, and record a demo and add a little more each time.
There seems to be some deep emotions in your music. Are these personal?
Mandy: Most of them are written from personal experiences, and some are a little more imaginative, like Nothing but Jacks. I would say we do write more personally because we started this together and it meant a lot to the both of us (I’m speaking for Jim here, but he knows he should agree (; ). We really want to convey messages in our future songs that everyone can take something from, and I don’t think you can achieve that without being willing to be vulnerable.
What advice would you have for other independent artists on the rise?
Mandy: Write what’s on your mind and have fun with it. Be yourself. Of course, have a plan and goals, but don’t try so dang hard. Just do what you love and are good at and people will want to be a part of it. People love to see others having fun. If you’re passionate and personal, people will stop and listen. It draws them in. Play every chance you get, write every chance you get, and don’t ever stop. Do it because you love it. It’s not about “making it” or money, honestly. It’s about doing what you were meant to do.
Jim: I’d say get the right people together, and start reading business and marketing books. We start bands because we love making art, but in the end you become a business and you need to be smart. You need to know what you’re doing, and bring on people to do the things you’re not good at.
What is next for Jim and Mandy?
Mandy: Lots of songs and gigs! We really enjoy making music more than anything, and have made it a goal to share that every chance we get. We are currently working with our band on some ideas and having a ton of fun.
Jim: We’re working on a follow up EP to “The Lion & The Fox”, which will be much more upbeat, faster songs, more electric guitars and drums & bass courtesy of our wonderful rhythm section Jack Langlinais & Alex Camel, who are in the band Brass Mimosa (listen to them too!). We’re also looking at releasing an EP of cajun/zydeco influenced songs that really show our Louisiana roots.