Here’s How Jim E-Stack Made His Super-Catchy Heartbreak Album

Photo by photo by Griffin Snyder

The producer takes us track by track on his new EP ‘It’s Jim-ee’

For producer Jim-E Stack, a lot has happened since 2014, the same year he put out his debut album, Tell Me I Belong. The now-25-year-old left his home in Brooklyn, New York, for the sunny shores of Los Angeles, which in the last few years has emerged as a sort of ground zero for artistically ambitious pop-minded musicians. It’s the city where Stack, who was born James Harmon Stack, met Ariel Rechtshaid, the Grammy-winning producer who signed Stack to a publishing deal and who led him to HAIM, who then let Stack contribute production on "Want You Back," the lead single from their sophomore album Something To Tell You

But the most significant thing to happen to Stack during this time was the end of a long-term relationship. That breakup was the catalyst for his brand new EP, It’s Jim-ee, a collection of minimalist electro-pop earworms that features contributions from Charli XCX and Rostam Batmanglij. Each song represents a different stage in the breakup—Stack’s first-ever—and here, he takes us behind the scenes and details how each of the songs was created. 

"Deadstream" was just a drum idea at first. I wanted to use a big snare like in an '80s record, but I wanted to re-contextualize it. I loved how indulgent snares like those made a Ready for the World or Michael Jackson song feel. I made a drum pattern then I started playing to it on my keyboard. I played and played and eventually, I found some chords that hit something in me. I just let go from there, and the song came together naturally. The slap bass, the vocal chop, the guitar. "Deadstream," informed everything else I made from there.

"Moments Noticed"
I think "Moments Noticed" started with drums, too. I wanted to make a beat that felt like a really slow jungle song. I channeled a positive feeling into this song with the major chords on the piano, the guitar. A couple months later I was in L.A. at Rostam's. He and Charli had been working on his remix of "Deadstream" that night. Rostam pulled up the "Moments Noticed" instrumental, and Charli sang some ideas on it that I loved. Rostam produced her vocal, and I took it from there.

"I Did the Best I Could"
Francis and The Lights' It'll Be Better is one of my favorite bodies of work of all time. I always loved how unadorned and in-your-face his drums are in those songs. My drums on "I Did the Best I Could" are fully just me trying to do my version of an It'll Be Better track. I put in those guitar hits that remind me of "True" by Spandau Ballet. I added some chords that felt sweet and a bass line under it. It came out like a bittersweet love song.

"Forgiven" began with a vocal part I had been sitting on—it's the only song that didn't start with drums. I looped it and started playing that bass line on this synth, which I first used on "Deadstream." The progression figured itself out pretty naturally. The guitar and saxophones make it feel intimate to me.

I think I started "Dreamt" on my couch in Brooklyn. I feel like most of my ideas started there. Now they're starting on a different couch in L.A. I wanted to make some linear, driving drums that still felt human. I made that simple kick-snare pattern with some of my staple sounds and started layering little motifs and textures on it from there. I quickly got this hazy vibe from the track as I was building it out. The chords never really resolve, and that made it feel like a daydream to me. A briefly entertained thought. There's this yearning feeling in the vocal chop and its tone.

"Deadstream (Rostam Version) feat. Charli XCX"
A friend passed along an early version of "Deadstream" to Charli, and she quickly became a fan. Charli helped me out wherever she could–sharing "Deadstream" with anyone and everyone, getting me into the studio with people. I could be wrong, but I don't think any big-time artists support other artists they're into like she does. I met Rostam in L.A. through a couple different mutual friends. He asked for the "Deadstream" instrumental to lay some vocal ideas down it. I was coming back from another friend's studio late one night, and Charli hit me up saying she and Rostam were recording at his. I went over there, and they played me the new song they had written to "Deadstream." Hearing their vocals on it for the first time, it immediately felt so different from anything else out there. Rostam has such a unique perspective musically, and that really comes through on this song. When he and Charli collaborate, I feel like they make stuff you wouldn't hear from them respectively as solo artists. That's why I think Rostam's version of "Deadstream" is so special.

Photo courtesy of Helen Sloan/HBO

"And now our watch has ended"

In a thoughtful tribute on Instagram, actress Emilia Clarke said goodbye to Game of Thrones, and her character, Daenerys Targaryen.

Clarke posted a gallery of photos including some group shots with the rest of the cast, as well as a closeup of Dany's intricately braided hair, and a still from the show. "Finding the words to write this post has left me overwhelmed with how much I want to say but how small words feel in comparison to what this show and Dany have meant to me," she wrote, continuing to say that "Game of Thrones has shaped me as a woman, as an actor, and as a human being."

"The mother of dragons chapter has taken up the whole of my adult life. This woman has taken up the whole of my heart," she wrote. "I've sweated in the blaze of dragon fire, shed many tears at those who left our family early, and wrung my brain dry trying to do Khaleesi and the masterful words, actions (and names) I was given, justice." She also gave a nod to her father, who died in 2016, saying that she wishes he was still alive "to see how far we've flown."

Clarke finished by thanking her fans, telling them that "without you there is no us... I owe you so much thanks, for your steady gaze at what we've made and what I've done with a character that was already in the hearts of many before I slipped on the platinum wig of dreams," she said. "And now our watch has ended."

Photo courtesy of HBO

Don't reusable cups exist in Westeros?

Apparently, no one could keep their drinks off-set during the final season of Game of Thrones. The show, which has been known for its meticulous editing, has featured a Starbucks coffee cup in an episode, and now, a plastic water bottle. Someone get these characters a reusable cup!

Yes, in the final episode of the series, there's a disposable water bottle hidden in plain sight in one of the scenes. If you look closely enough, you'll see the bottle peeking out from behind Samwell Tarly's leg in a scene where many characters were arguing about the fate of Westeros.

Another water bottle was spotted by someone else, hiding behind Ser Davos Seaworth's foot.

It seems that everyone was too parched on the set of the final episode to worry about a misplaced water bottle making it into the final shots. Some are speculating that the team left them in on purpose as payback to the writers for the series' ending.

We just really hope that everyone in the series recycles. If there are disposable cups and plastic bottles available in the fictional world, we hope that there's an ethical way of disposing of them. Otherwise, well, it might be more disappointing than the series finale itself.


Think about all the ways you've begged for ruin

I'll admit I can get a little possessive about full moons; I was born on a full moon, you see. I'll admit there's something that makes people go mad over a full moon and there's something in that madness that situates me, gives me a place to drop my anchor. I see the full moon, her one wide open eye, and think of the first gods—the cyclops and the titans—how they betrayed each other. The full moon reminds me that each of us walks this life having inherited the stories of the lives that brought us here, we carry moments of great suffering in our DNA and we carry moments of great joy too.

A Scorpio full moon is especially prone to these sorts of reminders, dancing partner to the Sun in Taurus, since both these stars are so devoted to the past, since both like to mine a wound just to see how deep it goes and how much they can stand to endure. It's true, too, that Taurus is the sign linked to the Hierophant in the Tarot. The Hierophant is a figure in service to Mysteries: guarding and teaching the sacred. The Hierophant is pre-occupied with devotion and desecration and so is Taurus. Steadied by worship and undone by violation, a Taurus knows that a cycle is a cycle, there's always a hunger that thrives in the devotional figure, that seeks to be defiled and, in that way, tested. What better consort, what better polarity, for an Earth sign like that than the watery depths of Scorpio? Scorpio, the sign of transformation, of the occult, of karmic debts, fertile and secretive darkness. Scorpio, the snake that eats its own tail, our sexual power and our sexual shame. Scorpio rules money and Taurus loves to feel wealth, to sense abundance, to roll around in the rich black dirt.

While the Sun goes down under the star of Taurus and Uranus activates Venus, so the planet of love can pour her light over the bull's horns, the Moon rises in Scorpio and we are tasked with acknowledging the many ways we begged for ruin. Is there a heaviness on your heart, dear reader? Wasn't there a time when, green as a new stem, you begged the world to give you something real to experience, to bring you to your knees with wonder and revelation? You must have known that you had to break the bud to bloom, you must have sensed—somewhere in that ancestral memory of yours—that to love something, to pour your life into something, is to prepare to lose it. That's the deal we've made with god, or what governs time.

Have you left a cup out overnight and awoke to find it brimming with memories of betrayal, of loss, of something you felt was owed to you and never retributed? You can drink from the cup of the past searching only for the taste of it, seeking only to sate your thirst for bitterness. It's your right to feel everything you feel, to remember everything that happened to you and everything you set into motion, everything you did. But, listen. The sun is warm and generous, calling new life out of the ground. You move over the Earth like a cloud heavy with emotion and memory, threatening pour, while night waits on the other side, smelling like freedom—sweet, sharp and ineffable—full of poison blooms. You can hold the truth of this wild living world, its sacred promise to consecrate you with beauty and ruin you with it too. You can sip from the cup of the past with gratitude for your past self—the one who gave her life so that you could rise again, three times as powerful and wise.

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Screenshot via YouTube

It's so good

Lana Del Rey released a cover of Sublime's 1997 song "Doin' Time," and she made it completely her own. That means it's the perfect combination of trippy melancholia and full-out lust.

According to Rolling Stone, the cover will appear in an upcoming documentary which will "[outline] the history of the iconic California band." In a statement, Del Rey said, "Not a day goes by that I don't listen to at least one Sublime song. They epitomized the SoCal vibe and made a genre and sound totally their own."

Bud Gaugh, a member of the band, "We are so excited to be collaborating with Lana on this. The smoky, sexy, and iconic sound of her voice breathes new life into one of our favorite singles." It certainly does.

My personal favorite part of the cover is the fact that Del Rey doesn't change the gender of the person the song is about, like so many musicians often do. Instead, Del Rey's intonation of "me and my girl, we got this relationship/ I love her so bad but she treats me like shit" is gay rights.

Listen to Del Rey's cover of "Doin' Time," below.

Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images

Sounds fake, but okay

In a new interview for Australian Vogue, Kendall Jenner makes the claim that being associated with the Kardashian name was a setback in her modeling career. Hmmm, that's funny, because power and influence usually works in their holder's favor.

In the interview, Jenner addresses skeptics who doubted that she would make it as a professional model. "A lot of people assumed that because I came from a 'name' that it was a lot easier for me to get to where I got, but actually it's the completely opposite," she says.

"I've always been the person to prove [critics] wrong, even when I was younger," she says. "I've always been a hard worker: that's in my blood. My parents raised me and my little sister to be that way and the rest of my sisters, too." In the profile, it's revealed that Jenner used to attend castings "simply as 'K' or 'Kendall' to distinguish herself from her famous family."

But keeping her name off her portfolio wasn't going to fool anyone, really. Her face has been on television for years, and it seems unlikely that a casting agent wouldn't know who she was even if Kendall didn't come out and say it. Perhaps Jenner was more closely examined and more readily criticized by people who doubted her, but I'm not sure I believe that she had a harder time gaining a modeling platform or booking big jobs, even if she didn't use her last name.

After all, Jenner was likely able to get into those big casting rooms right away because of her family's connections, and she was able to devote her time to pursuing that career because of the wealth they have. She would've had a much harder time making a name for herself if she didn't come from an influential family. She probably wouldn't get to be so selective about which shows she walks, and she definitely wouldn't be the highest paid model in the world.