For the past seven years or so, James Harmon Stack a.k.a. Jim-E Stack has been orbiting in the mainstream music world. Impressive collaborations with the likes of Charli XCX, HAIM, Empress Of, and Perfume Genius have made him all the more in demand as a producer and songwriter, but Jim-E Stack’s solo work truly speaks for itself as demonstrated on his EPs It’s Jim-ee and Tell Me I Belong. (He recently worked on Kacy Hill‘s latest single “To Someone Else.”)
Today, the San Francisco artist unveils a Daniel Antebi-directed visual for “A Man Can’t Know What It’s Like to Be A Mother.” He previously released the track on Mother’s Day as a tribute to his mother who raised him and his brother on her own after their father passed away. In an email to Highsnobiety, he told us about how the video showcases “the physical struggle of a lone woman pushing a several-hundred pound block of melting ice as a metaphor for single-motherhood.”
Jim-E Stack adds, “A woman expends all her energy raising a child into an adult, at which point that individual belongs more-so to the greater world than just their mother.” Learn more about the origins of the deeply moving single in our exclusive interview with him below.
Could you elaborate on the inspiration behind “A Man Can’t Know What It’s Like To Be A Mother”?
I tried to recount the night my father died from my mom’s perspective. She stayed home with my brother and me while my uncle spent the night at the hospital with my father. I sat next to my mom on our staircase while she waited up for my uncle to get back. At the time I was seven years old so then and for years to come I couldn’t understand how difficult that night and the burden of motherhood were for her. 20 years later I used the song to try to empathize with my mom and her experience.
What is your relationship like with your mother?
My mom has always been my greatest source of support. She’s the one person I can always count on to listen, to sympathize, and to pick me up when I’m down––without just gassing me up. She’s always encouraged me to grow. She still tells me books to read, movies to see, museums to check out. San Francisco was fertile ground for that.
What is something that your mother engrained in you that you’re proud of?
A sense of initiative. Growing up she taught my brother and me that whatever we wanted for ourselves, we had to go out and get.
Is there anything in particular that you want listeners to take away from this song?
I hope in one way or another the song resonates with any single-parents or children of single-parents out there, but it’s for everyone and it’s open to interpretation.
What else do you currently have in the works? Is the follow-up to It’s Jim-ee finally on the way?
I got a big group of songs that grows and shrinks and keeps evolving. It’s taken time and patience but it’s definitely closer to the end than the beginning.
You’ve worked with so many different artists from Perfume Genius, Empress Of, and Rostam to Charli XCX, Caroline Polachek, and Diplo. From your POV, what is the key to successful collaboration?
Everyone involved being themselves. Each one of us has something that the other 8 billion or whatever don’t. Sincerity is the only vehicle for greatness.
Going off of that, what do you look for in a collaborator?
A perspective that I don’t have. Lyrically, musically, stylistically, technically.