Jim Perkins is a composer, producer and founder of record label bigo & twigetti, he combines music written for instrumental performance with detailed editing and post production techniques. He writes intricate work creating elaborate textures and exploiting ambisonic and psychoacoustic phenomena to create a sense of depth and detail in his work. Don't miss our interview with Jim Perkins about his music, composing and life.

Reflecting on your musical journey, could you share the story of how you first started making music and what drew you to the world of music composition?

I first started playing music when I was around 7 or so when I was given a violin which I played at school. I started making music much later on when I was in my teens - playing around with guitars, pianos and 4 track tape recorders. The thing I really liked to do was to create music for recordings - manipulating the recorded sounds using delays, reverbs and other different effects. It was this interest in manipulating recorded sounds which led me to study music at University, where I focused on composition and studio recording. I liked composition and harmony and studied classical composers, but I also really liked the different way you could create a recording and realise totally different versions of the same composition just by changing a few things in the recording process. 

Can you share your thoughts on the evolution of your music from your early compositions to your current work? How has your style and approach transformed over the years? 

I think some of my early compositions were quite experimental in terms of composition and maybe a bit esoteric? My knowledge of music theory and harmony developed, as did my experience of making recordings, and I think what I am writing now is probably more accessible and better thought through than my initial compositions. My experience with recording has led me to think about how to approach recording the instrument as part of the composition. 

Could you share with us a glimpse into your daily routine as a musician? How do you structure your days to nurture your creativity?

My days are usually spent either working on the label and selecting music for release and then setting it up, or working on new compositions and recordings. I have a studio in my back yard, and on days when I'm writing music I'm usually in there by 10 am and then work through til 6.

Your latest album, "Pools" was released in 2019. Can you tell us if there's a new album in the works, and if so, what can fans expect from it?

I've just finished a new album called 'Imprints' - the first singles will be released in October and November with the album releasing in December. Here's some more about it: "Imprints" introduces 4 instrumental piano pieces and simultaneously reworks them, breaking each piece down into individual notes and re-recording them using layers of ambient strings.The individual pitches are played one note at a time on double bass, cello, viola and violin. Each note is played at pianissimo, increasing to mezzoforte as the note appears in the piano score. This creates an imprint or impression of the piano piece rendered in string layers.

The effect is a ghostly, hazy image of the original piano piece as the melody emerges and then disappears. For each of the four titles, there are three versions: a solo piano piece, an imprint rendered in strings, and a hybrid version that blends the piano part with the imprint. "Imprints" invites the listener to immerse themselves in the calm ambient waves of texture created through the intricately layered compositional process. 

Your music has a strong sense of depth and detail. Can you elaborate on the techniques and technologies you use to achieve this immersive quality in your compositions? 

Thanks. I think quite a lot about how all the instruments in a recording will be recorded in terms of what mics to use, and in what configuration to use them to blend the recorded sounds together. I try to draw out where the instruments will go in the mix on a piece of paper before I start recording, so that I know where each instrument or sound will sit in the mix. I also use synths and sound design to underpin the acoustic instruments and make them sound more defined or distinctive. 

As an artist, how do you maintain a balance between your artistic expression and the commercial aspects of the music industry?

I split my time between running the label and making compositions and recordings. I try to focus on releasing music that I like and that I think will appeal to the kind of listeners that the label attracts. When making my own music, I just follow my own instincts - sometimes this can lead to music that really connects with people, and other times it can just be something that I wanted to try out.

Collaborations with other musicians can be inspiring. Could you share any notable collaborations you've engaged in and how they've influenced your musical style?

We're in the process of releasing an album called “From the Deep”, which was performed by Curve Ensemble. We put on a label night in February where composers from across the label wrote for the ensemble (and 2 of them also performed in the ensemble). Collaborating with an ensemble of 12 incredible string players not only gave the composers the opportunity to write for an ensemble, it also led to a very successful recording in May, in which the artists were able to record their work whilst also getting feedback from the ensemble on how to effectively realise their pieces. The full album is out on 29th September and features five beautifully written and carefully recorded pieces of music for string orchestra. Huge thanks to Anna De Bruin the Music Director, all the players in the ensemble and the recording and mix/mastering engineer, John Croft, for helping us to realise these recordings. 

You've had the opportunity to perform in a variety of settings. How does the environment or venue impact your creative process and the way your music is experienced by the audience?

When looking for venues to perform in, I’m looking for those with a great acoustic, bearing in mind I'm mostly looking to perform music that’s not amplified - or at most only partially amplified. So, first I’m thinking about a venue with a good acoustic, and then I’m thinking about where to position the players so that the audience gets the best possible experience. We put on a label night in St James Church in Clerkenwell, and the entire gig was acoustic - the sound blended with the room acoustic perfectly! The overall sound was beautiful and balanced, and the audience really responded to this.

Given your diverse experiences in the music industry, including founding your record label, how do you see the future of independent artists and labels in the ever-changing landscape of the music business?

Well, there are a lot of ways to release music these days. I think to stay focused on releasing and making music you enjoy/that resonates with you is important. I think now is a great time for independent artists and labels that can release and distribute music very affordably. I think being open to collaboration with other artists is very important if you have a strong following, and if you collaborate with another artist with a similar or bigger audience, this can be a great way to get your music to new audiences. You can also release with several different independent record labels, which helps bring your music to new audiences. I think keeping an open mind about how you get your music to your audience, and being open to collaboration, are both important very important in a constantly changing environment.

Finally, from your perspective, what is the meaning of life?

Wow, that is quite a question! I'm really not sure? Maybe to find meaningful ways to spend your time, try to be nice and treat everyone you come across with respect and humanity?