x place: erm, a pub somewhere in notting hill... x time: early evening, monday 5th may 2000 x who: why, mr. jamie hince, of course! x why: note, this is fiji's website... duh... .. .... .
here i am talking with jamie over a drink, trying to be a professional journalist, or something (hmmm... that's why you'll see it's plainly written in conversation style!), thinking that all musician-types hate one thing most of all. that one thing being interviews! however, jamie appeared more enthusiastic than most bands. thankfully.
well, where to start? one of those 'tell us something about yourself/biog.' questions, i think. yes, a predictable question, but somewhere to start nevertheless... so jamie, tell us something about fiji!..
j.h. a lot of it's [done] by doing stuff in my bedroom really. after i'd finished doing scarfo, i had a load of tunes that i was doing in my bedroom and then um... i got offered some studio time. so i went into a space with some amazing - it was like um, loads and loads of really ancient/old - gear that didn't work very well. and so i just recorded it all there on my own, just playing everything - i didn't really wanna get a band together... but i did cos of the live thing.
l.d. so are they going into the studio w/ you next time around?
l.d. ...you prefer the freedom of doing yr. own thing?
j.h. yeah, i s'pose... control!... nah, it's like... i change my mind all the time - i just like messing around with things. if you get someone to play a part on something then... it's just a lot easier if i can just, like, fuck around on the keyboard 'til i'm happy with something. i find, anyway!
l.d. couldn't you do gigs on yr. own then? (do an elliott smith!)
j.h. i don't know if i'm brave enough to do that.. i mean, elliott smith's fantastic!.. i would like to do that at some point. i saw polly harvey and john parish - just the two of them; it was one of the best things i've ever seen. fantastic...i'd quite like to do that... i don't just wanna go out with a guitar though; i'd like to have loads of stuff...
l.d. theremins... kazoos...!
j.h. yeah... loads of old keyboards and that. just mess around really.
l.d. have you tried it?
j.h. no. but i will now. in fact i'm gonna try it tomorrow!
l.d. what happened to scarfo? do you mind talking about that?
j.h. no, i don't mind. um, it just kind of... ran its course. we just kept getting run over and having car accidents... well, when al had a car accident we didn't do anything for ages. and then we did an album - and then we all had a car accident. then the next record's like, delayed for ages. and then by that time i'd sort of spent a lot of time doing stuff on my own.
l.d. i remember hearing some later scarfo stuff that you didn't release: americana, one-eighty, sinatra cars... i really loved those!
j.h. ...yeah, i really like that - i might nick some of the words from it, or something.
l.d. would you ever consider doing a scarfo song onstage now?!
j.h. yeah... well one of our songs is an old scarfo song - it's called for pinko - it was on the b-side of a single ages ago. i just did it at home on my 4-track... i'm not bothered with that, but i just like messing around with more electronic stuff than scarfo who were more of a 3-piece thing really.
l.d. does that mean you listen to a lot of dance stuff then?
j.h. no i don't listen to dance stuff. i just like odd-sounding things, i dunno - like le tigre: some of the samples and drum machines just sound fantastic... and sparklehorse...
l.d. have you heard of quasi?
j.h. yeah. that's the woman from sleater-kinney, isn't it?... wasn't she married to elliott smith?
l.d. she was married to the other person in quasi, sam...
j.h. have you got elliott smith's new album then? what's it like? i haven't heard it yet.
l.d. yeah it's v. good, very piano-orientated. (hang on a mo. i'm the one who asks the questions here!...) anyway, back to fiji, then!.. why do you call yourself that? it seems a bit odd...
j.h. yeah i know... well, i had to think of a name, i had real trouble, and i was talking to my mum and she says that was where i was conceived. so i thought: "hey, that's quite good!" then i wanted to call it 'fuji' cos it sounded like cameras, but i had some copyright trouble with it. And then when my mum said i was conceived in fiji - and well, that's quite cool - i just came home one day and there was, like, a fiji two-dollar bill on my table cos someone had gone there and brought it back. and so i thought: "hey that's a sign!"
l.d. you've got that on the cover of pillshop (the 2 dollar bill)...
j.h. yeah i photocopied it, then screen printed it.
l.d. (interruption, to take a couple of photos) you should put your 'comedy glasses' on!
j.h. (wears them) yeah, they're great 'cos they cover up your whole face - that's what's really cool about them!
l.d. future gigs?..
j.h. i dunno... i've been a bit lazy to be honest... i've got all these licensing deals set up, um, in america, japan, and europe. and they wanna release a full-length album, so i've gotta record another six songs. i went into the studio and recorded six and decided i wasn't happy with 'em after a while... so, i've got to do some more... so, then, when i've done that, maybe tour for a bit then, but i don't know when that'll be...
l.d. no festival appearances planned then?
j.h. no... i might go to some... but all the line-ups are really rubbish...
l.d. that's true - like the stereophonics/oasis at reading, etc..
j.h. stereophonics - like, what's it about?!
l.d. exactly - what is it about?.. well, you'll just have to get famous and take over the whole...
j.h. ...yeah, well write some more fucking songs quickly, anyway!
l.d. how long does it take to write a song?
j.h. it fucking takes me ages, 'cos i just keep writing them, and then pressing erase and keep re-doing them.
l.d. music first or lyrics first?
j.h. a bit of both really... yeah, it depends. sometimes i just come up with a title, and just like think "yeah!" and write something around that... but, i dunno, it just depends. i don't find it easy... but i really like playing music, and i'll sort of mess around at home and come up with something that i really, really like, but it'll just be a tiny little thing, y'know - and i won't wanna touch it... it'll be like "listen to this," and everyone'll go, "that's just a sound, that's not a song!" and i'm like, "yeah, but i'm gonna make it into a song."
l.d. what about a song like, lucien turns blue - how did you come to write that?
j.h. i did that for someone's, um - someone had a photography exhibition. they wanted some music, so i just wrote it, like, two days before the thing, i dunno. it had a real sort of hip-hop beat and stuff...
l.d. ...i thought it sounded like a lil' nursery rhyme when i first heard it!... in a nice way!..
j.h. (laughing) did you?! nah, that sounds alright... so i just did it for that really, and then i ended up using it.
l.d. ... my mum works in the geriatrics ward of a hospital + she really likes the song (!) - played it in the ward once..!
j.h. oh no!... oh cool: "are we dead yet?!.." - i like it!
l.d. why didn't you get into acting, since you've studied it?
j.h. i did!.. but not for very long. i did, um... i wrote plays! i wrote 3 one-man plays and i went up to edinburgh festival and did one up there - performed it. and then i did a couple of little films, just little parts in the films. and then, um, i did some music for a show i was doing, and we got signed when i was with scarfo, so i thought "oh, i'll do this for a bit" - and that was about five years ago...
l.d. so, do you think you'll ever get back into acting?
j.h. yeah, i wanna make a film. i've got a camera and stuff... and i'm sort of, part of this screen writing workshop. someone's asked me to write a film for channel four, so i'm gonna do that - but i don't know if i'll be in it, 'cos it's... it's about fucking football mascots. it's like, i hate football, i don't know anything about it... yeah i'd like to do acting again - i like it. a lot.
l.d. as much as music?
j.h. sometimes... doing, like, theatre is like playing live. but a thousand times more sort of, real. cos when you play live, i find you just hide behind the noise and volume... but with acting it's like, there's five minutes while they count you down before you go on.. it's like being in a car crash, yeah it's like: "aaaaagrhh"(he screams!) and you say, "why am i doing this?" and then you go on there and do it, and it's alright.... music is really thankless. and, you know what it's like, you wait for someone's album, and the build-up is, like, months and months, you hear about it all the time. then it comes out, and a week later it's like bang, y'know, forget it, the things only have a shelf life, a really, really short time. and also, there are thousands and thousands of bands around, and there's not much theatre, so it's sort of a little bit more challenging. a bit. i dunno... i like 'em both. but when i did this acting in films i hated it, i thought it was awful... there's no nerves involved. i like feeling nervous. it's just like: run through, have rehearsal and you just go through the motions, do your scene, and then they go: "do it again... do it again." and then you're ready to do it and they say, "ok, it's in the can!" and it's like, "what? i didn't even know i was doing it."
l.d. what about your image - d'ya pay much attention to it/have you an image?!
j.h. yeah... um, i don't think so, i don't know. no, not really... i find it hard, because um, i got the band together really quickly - and they all do different things - and i feel like i really love the people in my band, but i don't feel like it's my home, y'know. i'm a bit troubled by it, actually - i don't wanna talk about it too much... i'm a bit troubled by it.
l.d. is that why you go into the recording studio by yourself?
j.h. yeah - totally - i feel like i know exactly what i'm doing then. and, i don't know, it depends how you describe it, but i guess it's like.. on the one hand it sounds really, really horrible saying that, y'know - but i'm not comfortable...
l.d. were yr. 'backing band' in other bands before fiji?
j.h. sarah plays for another band. she's a model - she, like, models for armani, and that's her 'dough' and she plays in another band... who are rubbish! and er, the drummer is like a jazz drummer - just plays jazz, which i hate... and don [bassist], he's been in most bands - julian cope band; d'you remember tiger? he was in them; and he was in prolapse...
l.d. ok... how about yr. fascination w/ satan, then!!..
j.h. yeah... i was christened, just church of england, regular sort of... yeah, my mum and dad aren't religious or anything. well my dad kinda believes in god - well he watches songs of praise when my nan's around!..
l.d. did you go to a religious school?
j.h. that's really strange, yeah i did - really early on. i used to live in africa and i went to a school called st. peter's... it was a catholic school, and it was all run by nuns... i get this sort of image thing: i like the imagery. and i think it's incredible that something so obviously a fucking fairy story from thousands of years ago... like, if you think of the world without any faith - without any god - it would fall apart. and it amazes me that you can use something that is so obviously a fairy story, and it just still... sorry am i offending you?
l.d. (laughing) god, no!...
j.h. ...i'm not sort of seriously into satan - that's stupid - i'm not at all... i listen to loads of really, really old blues records like robert johnson and blind willie johnson, from like, the 30's... and they sound really haunting, y'know this old guy tapping his foot, and singing like... he's possessed! and they all sing about god, y'know like lordy lordy and all that. i listen to it all the time and i just like it - i wanted to write my own version of it; 4-track jesus which is about how it's all a bit silly... fuckin' praying...(laughter)
l.d. so can we expect to hear you making some 'scary' music, now?!
j.h. yeah... i've got my moog working... i've got a theremin - this guy in camden makes 'em, they're really little ones, not full-size ones... but i really like spooky music. i'd like to do the music from a horror film.
l.d. mmm, there's a need of, say, 'dark' music, cos of all that britney spears type stuff that's around!...
j.h. yeah - i just don't know where people get their energy from to write music like that, y'know... i'm as likely to buy a record like that as i am likely to buy one of those storybook cassette things.
l.d. ...have you had a chance to look at this site yet?
j.h. no, i haven't got access to the net. well, my friend's got it... i looked ages ago - you came to the gig at the ulu didn't you? yeah, cos after that i looked it up but it didn't exist!...
l.d. well, that's cos i'd only written one page or something when i'd spoken to you at the ulu!..
j.h. ...and there's this other guy [doing a fiji site].. but i don't know if he hates me or something, but he hasn't done anything on it for ages so every time i look at it, it has the same things from last year... did you design your website yourself, then?
l.d. yeah, i did everything myself.
j.h. i'm gonna look at it tonight. it had better be good, or i'll phone you up and fucking complain!...
l.d. great - you'll be sending me death threats then?!!... hmmm, running low on questions! - what about plans for world domination?!!
j.h. um, nah i'm not that interested in world domination... i know i keep banging on about it, but i'm so bored of this recording thing - i don't mean bored of the music, just bored of it not being finished, and that's the only thing i can think about really. and i keep getting promised all these things that when i deliver the songs this is gonna happen and that's gonna happen so... i'd just like to be in the position where i'm not doing one-off little gigs. so far it has been alright... i dunno, there was a point up until the first ten gigs were all sold out, and i felt really like: "hey - this is great!" yeah, i just wanna get back into playing bigger places.
l.d. where do you see yourself in five years?
j.h. um, new york.
l.d. that wouldn't be bad... as fiji?
j.h. i dunno.. i think actually, going back to this sort of egomania thing - that's what i liked about it when it started: it was sort of my thing - my thing musically, and my pseudonym was fiji. and now it's become more of a band - and as soon as i'm in a band i wanna be in another band.
l.d. can't you be without a band?
j.h. yeah, but i can't cos i need people to do things for me... i'd like to keep doing this. yeah, but i wanna move to new york, really. i wanna get this record deal in new york and then move over there.
l.d. they take art more seriously...
j.h. yeah, over here, if you do any art... it's like "why are you doing it"? a friend of mine's a painter and she sells more work - makes more money than most people just do in crap jobs...
l.d. have you done any visual art?
j.h. not really... but i'm really into photography...
l.d. what about the covers of singles etc. do you design those?
j.h. yeah, all those are my photos and stuff. and i like screen printing stuff. i just really like to hand printing stuff. i love screen printing.
l.d. and besides, that makes it all your own then, with the music and the covers...
j.h. yeah. i like all that stuff when you get faults and things, especially with screen printing, y'know..
l.d. ...maybe you should just go by your name, jamie...
j.h. yeah maybe. i thought about that but knowing me i'd want to be different - not stuck with my own name!..