At 17, the now LA-based artist, Jimi Somewhere, was a Norwegian kid dreaming of moving to the US to pursue his musical dreams.
Today, he's 20 years old and releasing his first EP, PONYBOY, after a string of singles including the infectious "I Shot My Dog."
JIMI SOMEWHERE - I SHOT MY DOG / 1st PLACE www.youtube.com
Despite all this, life was better—or at least less complicated—when he was 17. Or at least that's the thesis of his most popular song, "1st Place," which forms the heart of his nostalgic and infectious EP
. Like the movie from which it draws its name, the EP explores the simultaneous discomfort and thrill of leaving home and striking out on one's own.
In a way, Jimi Somewhere's music is youth incarnate. Intense, saturated with feeling, and yet still buoyant and dreamlike, existing somewhere outside of time, PONYBOY is tailor-made for savoring sunsets by the ocean or late-night drives in the heart of summer while knowing that soon, nothing will ever be the same.
Image via P3
Popdust caught up with Jimi Somewhere—real name Benjamin Schnandy—to talk about Los Angeles living, famous friends, songwriting therapy, Coppola movies, and that simultaneously universal and intimate experience called coming of age.
What was the move from Norway to LA like? How was meeting Kevin Abstract, getting connected with all these producers and having all that happen so quickly?
It all felt really organic. I was scared before leaving since being so far away from home on my own for so long felt super scary, but it all ended up flowing really well. I've met Kevin [Abstract] a couple of times, and he is the nicest guy, so it was cool even though I was always nervous. When it came to the producers and stuff, it was so much fun. Me and Milo Orchis (the producer behind all my music) hadn't been in any session with other people before LA, so it was interesting to experience that.
What was growing up in Norway like? What music did you cut your teeth on? Do you feel like being Norwegian influences your work?
Growing up in Norway was great—it was also a bit boring. I listened to all kinds of music during those years. My dad is heavy into Supertramp, Pink Floyd, Elton John, and all those 80s artists so that's what was playing in the car when I was a kid, while my sisters played a lot of Coldplay, Green Day and U2 in their rooms. Other than that I got heavy into hip-hop in elementary school and used to listen to a lot of 90s, early 2000s stuff. And then later I got into pop punk and folk-rock. I really love all kinds of music [so long as it's] made with passion and has some emotion to it. Emotion is what I'm drawn the most to.
I do think being Norwegian influences my work. I think that growing up unable to understand a lot of the lyrics in the music I listened to made me pay more attention to the melody and flow. I think that's a strength in Scandinavian music in general. We've got great melodies.
A lot of your songs are about coming of age. Has your music helped you process growing up?
Yeah. Writing is therapeutic, and it helps me deal with stuff that feels overwhelming. When I feel bad or sad I can turn those dark feelings into something worth something, which makes it feel better, like my sadness isn't wasted.
How do you write your songs? What's the process?
I don't really have a routine or anything, but usually, it starts with Milo bringing me chords or a small idea he had, and me just sitting down with it and starting to write. I write really fast; it just pours out.
The emo-suburban-coming of age story is a very specific one, and it's been prominent for a while, especially with artists like Kevin Abstract and Roy Blair really pushing that imagery. Do you feel connected to this narrative? What about it inspires you?
Overall I guess I'm inspired by it because I grew up in a suburb myself. I don't overthink it or anything. I just try to replicate the feelings I've experienced in different situations and make them into songs. In general, I'm just very nostalgic as a person. I'm always thinking about things that have been.
What inspires you in general? What makes you want to share your voice through music?
I have a need to express myself. It's always been there. I've written songs for as long as I can remember, so it's just in my nature. Whenever I've gone through something or experienced something, I just put it into words and melody.
What's the story behind the name "I Shot My Dog"? It's a pretty intense title.
I had this dog in elementary called Noddy that we had to put down because he was getting aggressive and bit this girl in my class. It was really sad and broke my heart. In the old days, farmers used to shoot their dogs when they had to put them down. So instead of singing "I put down my dog" I chose to write "I shot my dog." I thought it had more punch and felt more cinematic. But for everybody asking, for the millionth time, I didn't actually shoot a dog.
Your new EP is called PONYBOY—what made you choose that name? Why do you feel connected to Coppola, and how does film influence your music?
I chose the name just because I felt so connected with the movie. Coppola's Ponyboy is who I want Jimi Somewhere to be. The whole feeling in that movie is so special, and I definitely found myself thinking about it while writing. Film influences all my music pretty heavily. I love movies, and I watch one almost every day. My favorite movies are always spinning in my head whenever I write.
Where do you see yourself going in the future? Where do you want to be?
I've been thinking about that a lot. Watching Billie Eilish doing what she is doing right now is really inspiring. That's the position I want to be in—to be able to create freely whatever I want, whenever I want and still have it top the charts. That's the ultimate dream, but I'm happy as long as I get to do this for a living.
JIMI SOMEWHERE - BLUE SKIES www.youtube.com
Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York City. Follow her on Twitter @edenarielmusic.
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