Jimi Somewhere Dives Into an Angelic, Crisis of Faith on Latest Single "Jesus" [Q&A]
Jimi Somewhere is the brainchild of Benjamin Schandy, a 22-year-old artist hailing from Hokksund, a charming town in Norway. Jimi Somewhere’s music is influenced by the imaginative work of renowned filmmaker Spike Jonze and the outstanding artistry of Kendrick Lamar, Kevin Abstract, and Frank Ocean. Jimi ties his contemplative lyrics with frenzy electro-pop, ornate hip-hop beats, trippy pop, and multi-layered vocals to produce his very own signature resonance.
Today, Jimi Somewhere shares his new single “Jesus" off his forthcoming debut LP, Nothing Gold Can Stay. We caught up with Somewhere for a quick Q&A about the track’s grandiose and "larger than life” feel and the inspiration he pulled from the Christian summer camps he attended growing up.
Ones to Watch: This song has a very spiritual tone and is named after a spiritual figure. It sounds like throughout the song, the main character is going on a spiritual journey or crisis of faith. What is this song about to you, and how did this song come to be?
Jimi Somewhere: A crisis of faith is a good way to put it. That’s what it’s about to me: faith, doubt, and values. I grew up and out of the church myself, and after I stopped going, I kind of had to reflect on which one of these values to bring along with me in life. There was a lot I was taught in church that I didn’t agree with, but then again, a lot of it is just about empathy and humanity. But I needed to have space to figure that out for myself without having any voices in my ears. That’s what inspired me to write the song. I was just so frustrated with everything and needed to breathe. Music is also very therapeutic for me. I use it to get it all off my chest.
What was the creative process like for the single? What made you want to go for this very omnipresent, iridescent sound for the track? Were you inspired by anything in particular?
We kind of wanted it to sound like these Christian songs that we would hear at various summer camps growing up. They always had this “larger than life” feeling. You’re in the crowd singing, and you feel like you are a part of this big thing. That’s what we’re chasing. A Hillsong type beat. Only felt right considering the themes on the song. Other inspirations for the song is Coldplay’s early stuff, which has been very important to me. The emotional but pretty sadness they often present.
Do you consider yourself a spiritual person?
I’m not sure. I don’t think so. I can, for sure, say I feel very connected though. Like I’ll be in nature, and I’ll take it all in. But on a day to day basis, I wouldn’t say I’m very spiritual. It’s something I’d like to dive more into as I’m getting older because I believe the universe is bigger than just us and what you see.
I found myself deeply connecting with a lot of the lyrics, especially the line “I’ve never met Jesus, but you’re the closest to Heaven I’ve ever come.” Do you have a favorite lyric from this track or one that speaks to you? What is your approach when it comes to songwriting?
“For everything I never told my mother, always comes back to get me” is a line I really like. Because it’s so true to me. Every time I go against my mother’s advice, it ends up negatively affecting my life. So listen to your mothers! They do know best.
Songwriting to me is just kind of throwing up. Just everything I have pent up inside. I don’t want to overthink it because if it becomes too conscious, it’s usually not that good. The best stuff just falls out.
Kacy Hill’s voice is so stunning and perfectly compliments the sonic chaos when she comes in halfway through the song. What was working with her like, and how did she get involved with this single?
Working with her was so sick. She’s literally the sweetest person. I’ve been a massive fan of her for many years and suddenly found out I had a mutual friend. So after bugging him to ask her to come to the studio, she did! I was so embarrassed the first time she came to record but because suddenly our audio interface didn’t work. We got all sporadic and were trying to fix it but couldn’t. I was thinking like she would hate us for wasting her time and that we blew our shot. But she was so nice about it and came back the next week.
She really just went into the studio and did that. Me and Milo were in the other room, shaking and jumping around. It sounded crystal clear and angelic from the jump. I think her verse brings this comfort and hope that the song was missing. Because it’s not all bad, you know. There’s light at the end of every tunnel. It was important to me to have that emphasized in the song, and she did that perfectly.
I know “Jesus” is a single coming off of your upcoming Nothing Gold Can Stay. How does it fit into the album overall?
It’s one of the first songs on the album, and I thought it would be cool to open an album with such an honest track. Keep the book open from the beginning. The album is also me reflecting on all these things ending in my life. During the ages of 16 - 20, there’s a lot of moving out, losing friends, growing up, graduating high school, etc. Faith & wanting a sense of belonging has been a big part of my life during those years so it was important to me to talk about it on the album.
What can people expect to hear from the new LP? I’m sure there’s only so much you can share about the album and want to keep a lot of it as a surprise for your fans. Can they expect the same emotional, nostalgic, summery themes from your previous work, or do you feel like you’re going in a different direction? Or is Nothing Gold Can Stay going to be a healthy mix of something old and new?
There’s for sure a lot the same themes as in the previous work. This is my debut album, so we wanted to make it as “Jimi Somewhere” as possible. Everything else has been building up to this, so we weren’t afraid of being a little cliche with it. I just think that’s fun. There’s definitely some new directions on it as well though. Both sonically and thematic. We never want two projects or songs to sound the same.
Has the pandemic effected you or inspired you as an artist? If so, how?
It just gave us time to create a lot. I live with my producer, so when lockdown happened, we kinda were like, “Ok, let’s just be here and work!” We’ve made so many songs this year. I also got to add that I live in Norway, and we handled it all pretty well in the beginning, so life has been a lot more normal here than what it looks like in the States.
Once the world comes to a state of a new normal, what’s the first thing you want to do?
Go back to America! I had so many plans before the pandemic, so I’m trying to make them all happen once I can. But it’s just not safe, yet so I’ll stay on this side of the ocean until then.
When shows and concerts are back, who do you want to see, and who do you want to tour or play with?
I was supposed to see Taylor Swift live this summer, but it, of course, got canceled. Hopefully, I’ll get another chance next year. Just so cool to see such a big production. There’s always that dream of doing stadium shows in the future, so I would be in the crowd taking notes. I’m also a huge Taylor Swift fan, so it’s the best of both worlds.
Dream tour would be with Lorde because she’s been such a big influence on me, and I love her live show. Would not mind hearing ‘Writer in the dark’ live 30 nights in a row. I also feel like I could learn so much from her. She’s only a couple years older than me but seems so wise. So yeah, Lorde, I’m here if you need me just call!
Who have you been listening to throughout the pandemic? Are there any Ones To Watch?
I’ve been going through so many phases. I had this big Jill Scott phase, where I just listened to “The Light” on repeat all day. Watched this movie “Weathering with you” and got obsessed with the soundtrack. When it comes to Ones to Watch, I wanna recommend this Norwegian band Veps. They’re completely new, but my friend sent me their music during quarantine, and it’s so good. My favorite song, “Do I Hear a Maybe,” is this really sweet, garage rock track with a big hook that I’ve been screaming around the apartment ever since I heard it. Very fire.
Stream "Jesus" below.