BE THE LEAST YOU THAT YOU CAN BE
I live here in the hills because I don’t want to be anywhere else. There are 9 million people in London, 3 million in Berlin, 8 million in New York, 21 million in Lagos. That’s a whole lot of people, a whole lot of neon, an army of cars, mountains of plastic, oceans of oil. That’s a whole heap of trouble right there. I’m not saying it’s better or cleaner or less trouble out here, but it’s definitely quieter. I’m outnumbered by animals and plants and that’s a good thing. I’m surrounded by furred and feathered and leafed neighbours. I live amongst them and mostly we get along. I try and be the least I can be. Bring the least disruption, the least intrusion, the smallest footprint, do the least prettifying; shut up and be still.
I lived in London, I lived in New York. I moved here to not be there. I came here so I could make a certain kind of art and music, so I could write a certain kind of book. If I lived there I would write about there and there’s too much written about there already. I didn’t want to be rich or successful or fulfilled or content or admired or loved. I wanted to be here. I wanted to be cold and not cold and lonely and not lonely, happy and not happy. I wanted to be amongst an unhuman world.
So now I write books and make prints and release records. It’s not good or bad, it’s not noble or corrupt. It’s a life. I walk around the place and I'm worried and often scared and I have an affection for a great many things.
WHEN I LIVED THERE
There was no better job, anywhere in the world, than working in Record City. It was New York City, 1979, and I was 17. I’d come from Texas, a place I disliked, and suddenly there I was, on a different planet; the world was big, unimaginably big, a tormenting sprawl, and I was skinny.
Record City was a huge mess of a shop. And like all good record stores, it was only peripherally about selling records. It’s primary function was as a safe haven for outsiders and loners, a place where taste was discussed and formed. A place to listen to Ornette Coleman and Morton Feldman and Burning Spear. To Betty Carter and Conway Twitty and The Art Ensemble Of Chicago. A place where people tried to be different.
As a teenager I spent as much time in record stores as I did in school. Record stores let me be who I wanted to be; this qualified me, I reckoned, to work in one. I was basically unemployable, I had no special skills; I knew a lot about a lot of stuff that was of no interest to most people.
Working in records shops told me who I was. Told me who I wanted to be. I never made any money but I amassed a lot of records. Which I sold. Then amassed again. Then bought again. And on it goes. I can’t walk past a record shop without going in and have a peek. They’re my natural habitat, my college, my neighbourhood. They’re familiar, threatened, peripheral, nearly extinct, full of arcane and necessary stuff. Just like me.
At Record City each employee had a section below the counter where we hid our own stash. Records came in and were immediately claimed. My section, in the beginning, contained mostly country, reggae and jazz. I remember a sealed copy of Friends And Neighbours by Ornette Coleman. Also the last Lefty Frizzell album. There Stands The Glass by Conway Twitty. Also Leon Thomas and The Abbysinians and Dan Penn. I had a hellava collection. A little bit of everything. It was while working there that I fell in love, unexpectedly, with disco. I spent my nights at down town clubs, summoned by those minor keyed strings. Losing myself. Eyes closed, arms high, feet swivelling. The way you can in the dark, amongst strangers, in a new city.
From New York I went to London; I lived there for twenty years until I escaped to a remote plot in mid-Wales. I now live in a mostly unpeopled place, a place of wildness, of mistakes, of grass and rocks, of attempts, of almost. I’m secret here among the crags and hills and wind knocked trees.
Bespoke Print On Demand or Delux Print On Demand - Our ordinary print on demand covers existing Jeb Loy Nichols prints, music, art & books on demand and you can visit the store HERE. - but as we have had with the incoming requests this is your chance for something different. I'm happy to cut one off blocks if there's something you need! Someone asked for a Smokey Robinson print and I said, absolutely. The creation of a new block might take a little time, but it's worth it. You receive the first print - from the hills to your house! Please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss what's possible.