Interview with JL Stiles

Interview with JL Stiles


Lamitschka:  Music has many new fans throughout Europe who
may be hearing about you for the first time. How would you describe
yourself and the music you play to someone who has never seen or
heard you?

JL Stiles:  I’m basically a ragtime finger picker and
country picker who writes in his own style, creates new rhythms
and melodies using those universal and fundamental techniques. I
like to think listening to me is similar to going home.

Lamitschka:  How was the last year for you? What were your

JL Stiles:  The highlight was the show where I released my CD
here in San Francisco, a little club called Cafe du Nord. We really
did the new album justice playing it live and the crowd reaction was

Lamitschka:  What is your latest CD and how’s it doing?

JL Stiles: My latest is JL Stiles Presents House of Murmurs

Lamitschka:  How did you choose the title for the CD?
Is there a story behind the name?

JL Stiles:  There is no big story behind the name other than
it reflected the kind of eerie psychedelic nature of the record

Lamitschka:  Do you write the songs yourself? If not, how do
you go about finding the songs for your CD?

JL Stiles: I write all my material

Lamitschka:  Please tell us about the songs on your album
(influences, etc).

JL Stiles: There is a heavy influence of Maybelle Carter’s
guitar style on this album though you might not peg it as such
because there are no country songs on there and my rhythmic approach
is much more varied.. I strum with the forefinger and pick with the
thumb on many of the tracks. I also employ my Piedmont Blues style
on here a la Mississippi John Hurt but again vary the rhythmic
approach quite a lot so you may not recognize it. The Blind Blake
thumbroll is employed on Song Beside My Grave to create the rambling
rhythm yet I accent a different beat than he would have done.
Basically I hear melodies and rhythms and these folkways styles
provide me the tools to bring ‚em out on the guitar and sing ‚em.

Lamitschka:  What is the difference between your last CD and
your current one?

JL Stiles: This CD was really played entirely live by me in studio
with the drummer so it has an authentic groove over which we laid
other stuff. I also had a producer named Etienne de Rocher on this
who brought a consistency to the sound and he added some beautiful
piano parts.

Lamitschka:  Your current single is being played by radio.
What do you feel is special about this song that makes people want to
hear it?

JL Stiles:  All in a Day is probably the single on this
record but it seems DJ’s are playing quite a variety off the
record. The song has an old soul but is very catchy with a straight
bouncy rhythm and live feel. I also think the bridge on it is
surprising yet natural, which I like.

Lamitschka:  What is your favorite song among all the songs
you have recorded and what’s the story behind it?

JL Stiles:  My favorite is probably Song Beside My Grave
because it is the song I want people to play as a remembrance of me
and there are few if any on earth who can play that style yet it is

Lamitschka:  Do you have any interesting stories about how
fans have been affected by your music?

JL Stiles:  Some have said they listened to me over and over
when healing from life-threatending illness and claim my music really
helped them recover. There is no higher honor than that as a

Lamitschka:  Who inspires you musically and how deep do your
musical roots run?

JL Stiles: Blind Blake is my biggest inspiration but he’s
dead. Seeing a great performer live is always an inspiration. For
instance, seeing Richard Thompson solo acoustic is an inspiration.

Lamitschka:  What do you think about today’s music scene
versus its post and where do you see it going in the future?

JL Stiles:  I have my local buddies here is SF who are
awesome and no ones knows, such as Chris Jones and there is plenty of
talent as there always will be. San Francisco is full of brilliant
artists who are making no money. In the past it wasn’t any
different, it seems. We have more outlets to get our music out
there but there are too many artists right now. I basically ignore
it all to remain sane and have some silence.

Lamitschka:  What do you think about today’s music industry?

JL Stiles: I don’t think about it much at all. I am only
interested in getting my music to people who want to hear it or find
something new. Licensing music is bigger than ever which brings in
money but again, the scene is overcrowded and few make any
substantial income. Today is perhaps the worst time ever to be an
artist. People are struggling under an international financial
tyranny and we have little money to devote to supporting arts.

Lamitschka:  If you had the chance to change something about
the music industry, what would it be?

JL Stiles:  I would destroy the use of money as an instrument
and only use money to facilitate the exchange of goods and services.
Essentially I would destroy all central banks.

Lamitschka:  Are you doing anything to take music beyond its
current borders or are you happy where it is?

JL Stiles:  I am always looking to expand. I am planning an
unlikely collaboration at present with a rock drummer star but I
won’t say who it is as it will ruin the surprise. My next album
will have lots of vocal harmonies and employ more innovation guitar
techniques, via the remarkable Blind Blake thumbroll.

Lamitschka:  What inspired you to become an artist?

JL Stiles:  I am a seeker of the fundamental, the hidden
nuggets of the universe and music is very much a part of that. I
want to feel connected, ultimately, and ironically, in this age, such
demands basically disconnecting with much of society as it is mostly
distraction and slavery in disguise.

Lamitschka:  What inspired you to become a songwriter?

JL Stiles:  I guess it was Zeppelin II, the album, perhaps
listening to Chuck Berry as a little kid. I always loved music and
imagined it on my own.

Christian Lamitschka (

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