Jim-E Stack has come a long way. Born and raised in San Francisco, the now Brooklyn-based artist born James Harmon Stack cut his musical teeth as a jazz drummer, but it wasn’t until he entered the world of solo production at the age of 16 that he found the freedom necessary to write and record how he wanted. After see- ing a set from Fade to Mind boss Kingdom in 2009, freeform DJ sets and hybridized club music planted the seeds of inspiration in the burgeoning producer. He made his first splash with a bass-loaded remix of Nuguzunguzu’s “Mirage”, and went on to release the bright and drum-focused Come Between EP, garnering acclaim from international DJs and tastemakers alike.
Following time spent in New Orleans, James moved to New York in summer of 2012, and started the slow process of sketching, refining, and developing the diverse tracks that would make up his captivating Tell Me I Belong LP. The album was equally fleshed out by looking forwards and backwards, which gives it the kind of purpose and cohesiveness many debut outings lack. In every corner of Tell Me I Belong, you can hear an artist who reveres classic jazz musicians like John Coltrane and McCoy Tyner, experimental pioneers like Steve Reich, and Detroit techno greats Omar-S and Robert Hood, but contemporary boundary pushers Arca, Oneohtrix Point Never, and Actress are no less inspiring for Stack. “More so than anything, it’s really on some personal shit,” he says of the themes woven into his debut LP. “The time period between leaving San Francisco and moving to New York was a tough time for me, and the music is kind of a reflection of that, the feeling like you don’t belong.” The music may speak about a kind of alienation, but it also abundantly offers the chance of collective experiences in the form of hard-hitting, club-specific dancefloor jams. That fearless juxtaposition is the lifeforce of Tell Me I Belong.