In Conversation with Gotu Jim
Interview by Snigdha Bansal
📸 by Lin Woldendorp
Breakout hip hop star Jim Lageveen, known popularly as Gotu Jim isn’t your average artist. Armed with a degree in social geography, he has managed to catch the pulse of what it is that today’s Dutch youth want to hear, and he gives them exactly that, without it being his intention to do so. We managed to catch him at his studio in Treehouse, and asked him about music, being young, and his interest in broedplaatsen.
Hi Jim, what brought you to Treehouse?
So we were looking for a new spot in Amsterdam, because we have another studio at the Singel. And we needed our own spot, since we share that space. When somebody told us that they're looking for tenants here, we thought it seemed like a nice place. We applied, and we got the studio. Now I’m here at least two to three times a week.
And do you think it helps to be here?
Definitely. We have a lot of friends who rent studios here actually. Most of them are musicians as well. So there’s a lot of interaction with them and it really helps to be in that space.
Interestingly, you wrote about your thesis about incubator spaces, so what was it like to work in one?
What was really funny was that I started looking at potential topics for my thesis, and I had a couple of friends inside a breeding ground already in Amsterdam, so I thought, “Okay, I'm gonna do something with that. I can interview them, and then after the interviews, I can plan a session with them to make music.” So it was a win-win situation.
I also already had my own space so it was easy to find the people, but I found it really interesting to do in the end and so I was really happy that I chose a subject that was close to my heart. So it helps even more that I get to be here. Having done my thesis on it helps me with a lot of background information about this place but also about the whole system in particular.
It's not something you think about if you haven't studied it in that much detail, you can just go about your day, but I often think deeply about how it works.
What interests you the most about this concept?
I think the most important thing, in the end, is that creative people get an affordable space in Amsterdam to work on their own things. So that's the most important thing about all the creative breeding spaces. Because if you don't have these places, nobody's gonna have a studio or even a spot. And although every artist has their own style when it comes to working with other people, I think the connection between different people in the creative breeding space is also a great plus.
You got this studio right before the pandemic, you said. What has it been like to be a young artist in this time?
I finished my studies last year, during the first half of the corona crisis, and then I wanted to do music full time. And I'm still doing that, but if all the shows are going to be canceled this summer as well, then I’ll probably have to find something else to do. I know everyone was affected by the pandemic, but it was very direct for me since I couldn’t do shows any more. There’s basically no more work.
So did you take that time to create new music?
It came with its own ups and downs. I usually get a lot of inspiration from real life situations, or going out or just doing things. And because I wasn’t doing much, it got a little bit boring. I had to find other ways of inspiration, which takes time. But the challenge is, how do you get inspiration out of your own head rather than the things you experience?
Did some of that struggle inspire your recent EP?
Yeah, we worked on an EP that came out a couple months ago. We wanted to have songs that were very playable, so they’re heavy songs that are to be very nice when we play them live, whenever that is. And then later this year, we're doing a bigger album. But we're still working on that and exploring how it's going to sound.
How would you say your music has evolved since you started?
I'm also three years older and have had more experiences in life, along with a lot of thinking this year. So evolution is natural.
But when you start, nobody listens to your music, and once people start listening to it, you
also start thinking about that and start doing things differently. I wouldn’t necessarily call it the pressure of being popular though. It's just that you become more thoughtful about the things you say, because you know people are gonna hear it, that's for sure. You're not doing it just for yourself, which changes the way you make music.
Being very young in the industry, does that ever get to you?
Not really, I'm just really happy that I'm still young. But also, we lost two years, around two years now. So I am already much older than when I started before the pandemic, but I still have the same experiences. So there's an even wider gap between how old we are and the things we have experienced.
Is there something that you would tell other young people thinking about doing what they really want, be it music or another unconventional choice?
First, you have to make music because you really like to do it, and because it's fun to do. And then if it somehow connects, it connects. And then you can work from there. If your mind is focused on having fun with making music, then it's gonna be alright.
Listen to Jim’s latest EP Gouden James here.