Interview

Hollywood Outsider: Jim Jarmusch

JIM JARMUSCH has given us films like Down by Law or Coffee and Cigarettes – and an entirely different view of America than the one most people are used to. Jarmusch has made music before, but now he has released his first album with his musical project Sqürl – in part because he no longer wanted to have anything to do with the movie industry. In our interview, the seventy-year-old independent director reveals that he intends to continue filming anyway. Fortunately for us.

  • Interview
    Marcel Anders
  • Photo
    Contour / Getty Images
So, are you giving up on Hollywood, or why are trying your hand at being a musician right now?

Hollywood really is kind of dead – or dying. But that was the case even before the pandemic. For me, it’s gotten harder instead of easier with each film I make. It’s really a drag hustling the money. It’s gotten worse and worse. But now I have two new scripts, I have a film project I’m working on and we’re preparing to shoot later this year. For the last two years or so, however, I was fed up with the film world. So I published a book of my art, I had a show at a gallery in New York, and I made some music. But now I’m dying to shoot again. It’s just that life is too short to deal with the stress of some corporate asshole constantly cutting your budget during shooting. I just don’t need that.

Aren’t there any good films out there?

Sure, they’re out there, you just have to find them. At the moment, I’m addicted to the Criterion Collection, a great film library for cinephiles here in the U.S. I sometimes watch like five films a week at least. A really great recommendation is Decision to Leave by South Korean director Park Chan-Wook. His movie before that is called The Handmaiden, which is also an incredible film.

“I’m dying to shoot again. It’s just that life is too short to deal with the stress of some corporate asshole constantly cutting your budget during shooting.”
Jim Jarmusch
Thinking about the decline of the film industry, is streaming the biggest problem?

I’d say so, yes. The studios are no longer producing movies for the cinema, but for Netflix and other streaming services or for their own pay TV channels. Quality takes a backseat, and reviews, audience numbers and everything else no longer matters. And of course because you don’t have to invest as much.

So is your band Sqürl a way of saving money? After all, the band has created additional soundtrack for some of your films.

No, not at all. Actually, I know some incredible musicians that I’ve worked with for film scores, so it wasn’t a question of saving money. That’s not my concern, because I make deals with people like Neil Young and RZA where they work for kind of a scale, but I then let them own the music. That works for both sides. But when I was making my film The Limits of Control, I just couldn’t find the right music. I was scoring the whole film with existing music from Black Angels and stuff like that, and for some of the shorter scenes I just made some music myself.

Like the scene where a guy goes to an art museum, looks at a single piece of art, and leaves – and that happens like three times. And then the editor, Jay Rabinowitz, said, “Why don’t you and Carter just make some music and see if it works. You’ve got nothing to lose.” So we did, and it worked. We later took that music and recorded an EP under the name Bad Rabbit. We thought that was going to be a one-time thing, but we kept going. We, that’s my producer Carter Logan and me. We just kept going and made music and changed our name to Sqürl. Anyway, we like doing soundtracks, but we also like doing things that interest us without thinking about what it all means.

“We’re not twenty years old anymore and we don’t want to conquer the world with our band. But the band is important to us.”
Jim Jarmusch
So why did it take so long to release your debut album, Silver Haze?After all, Sqürl has been around for almost fifteen years.

We don’t really have a plan, you know? We kind of do things as they come to us and as our schedules align. So far, we’ve played a few live shows and have recorded four EPs. And at some point, we just felt like we really wanted to do an album. And so we did. Of course, we’re not twenty years old anymore and we don’t want to conquer the world with our band. But the band is important to us. And we’ve been at it for a long time.

With a collection of songs that are like little scores? Like soundtracks to imaginary movies or movies you haven’t shot yet?

They are, in a way. Music is very visual to us, so we like this kind of synesthesia of certain things suggesting other things. Film is so related to music, more than any other art form, because ( … )

→ Read the full interview with Jim Jarmusch in rampstyle #30

rampstyle #30 Blue Skies

rampstyle #30 Blue Skies

Nach »All Summer Long« jetzt das Folgeheft »Blue Skies«. Schlüssig. Denn wenn man etwas mehr über den britischen Singer-Songwriter Chris Rea weiß, schließt sich damit ein schöner Kreis. »Blue Sky« ist eine von Reas Lieblingsmetaphern. Der blaue Himmel das Bild für einen hoffnungsvollen Blick auf das, was kommen wird.

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