James Acaster on making music: “I saw it as a strength that I didn’t know what I was doing.”

“I could be braver because I don’t know the things I should avoid.”

James Acaster
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Comedian James Acaster has spoken out about his plunge into the world of experimental music.

Acaster began this journey by making a mockumentary-style music documentary in 2020, which got cut short because of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, with ample time provided by the lockdown, he decided to make his ideas into a real album, with the help of a 40-strong collective named Temps.

Speaking to the Guardian about his venture into experimental music, he admitted he was “leaning into [his] naivety from the start”.

“I saw it as a strength that I didn’t know what I was doing. I could be braver because I don’t know the things I should avoid. But the project started out with me deliberately doing stuff I knew I shouldn’t do – not tuning the drums, not playing along to a click track, improvising – and that worked. You end up with little amateurish qualities that sound quite nice.”

The resulting work was a 10-track album named Party Gator Purgatory, a genre-melting mix of jazz, rap, synthpop and indie-rock, which according to Acaster, follows the death, afterlife and rebirth of a toy alligator.

The comic goes on to talk optimistically about his podcasts, books, live shows, TV appearances and music co-existing while staying true to himself. “I’m still being me making something,” he says, “and I like this just as much as any comedy show I’ve ever done.”

Acaster has not been shy in the past about his love of music – specifically all music released in 2016. This was the result of a breakdown in 2017, and to cope, he decided to listen to every album released during the previous year.

Considering this music binge, which caused Acaster to declare in his memoir as the “greatest ever year for music”, it’s no surprise that his album is so eclectic.

Party Gator Purgatory by Temps is being released by Bella Union on 19 May. Pre-order and stream the album via Bandcamp.


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