Indie Artist Interview: JIP

Welcome to another edition of Le Café Music Blog’s Indie Artist Interview. Today, we’re joined by Jim from a dope-ass rock band, JIP.


Ryan: What’s up Jim? Thanks for joining us today. I understand there are four of you guys in JIP. How about a little introduction?

Jim: Singer / Songwriter / Rhythm Guitar: Jim Gwynn
Drums & Percussion: Mike Charbonneau
Bass: Bruce Smith
Lead Guitar: Spencer Watson
We’re all from one of the Chicago Burbs.

Ryan: It’s your 20th anniversary this year, tell us about your plans for the year

Jim: JIP started as a solo project in 2001 by Jim and quickly turned to Spencer for help on the second album. Bruce wasn’t on our last record Last Call and said we should so another studio album. Then Mike said…let’s release a song a week.

That turned into the 52 song weekly release that is happening this year EVERY Monday on YouTube:

Jim: So many awesome opportunities came up including all the celebrity songs that will start to be released next week. Essentially I asked each celebrity what you think JIP sounds like and then wrote a song based on their response. It was silly and so much damn fun. These weekly songs are ALL leading up to our Full Length Studio album due in Summer 2021 which is in process at Million Yen Studios with Andy Gerber in Chicago.

Ryan: That is so f*cking awesome. You guys are just casually hopping on Zoom with Jack Black.

20 Years of Rock

Ryan: 20 years. I’ve wanted to throw a few band members out of a window after working with them for an hour. How have you not killed each other by now?

Jim: We like each other and don’t ask a lot of each other until it’s game time. I’ve been friends with Spencer for 25 years. Mike for over a decade and Bruce for 6 or 7 years. In my mind we are friends first.

Ryan: That’s awesome, man. Nothing better than a band that just gels on and off stage. So you guys are writing and releasing a new song every week? That’s gotta be hectic. What’s your process for that?

Jim: The process is as hectic as an effin’ pandemic. I wrote over 100 thoughts / songs in the past year. We were also pent up since our last record came our nearly 6 years ago. I kept chasing opportunity and things that made me smile. This is how the Kenny Carkeet (Awolnation) & celebrity stuff all happened. I edited down what was going to be on the ACTUAL record in the Summer of 2021 as my favorite and most fun of the bunch. I’m so pumped for this record to see the light of day.

Ryan: What is your favorite track you’ve ever released?

Jim: We’re best known for Rock Hard Soul which is awesome. The fact that Rock Hard Soul opened a comedy special that got almost a million hits, and that Dian Bachar is in our video is the coolest. My best memory is recording the final track of our last record Last Call called Unknowns. We played that song live and I really thought that was the end of the best thing I would ever do. Hence the title of this new album called, Thought This Was Over.


Ryan: Who are your biggest musical influences?

Jim: 90’s alt Rock. I’m a Q101 kid and my dad woke me up with AC/DC. I taught myself how to play guitar because I didn’t want to sound like anyone, but you can hear influences in my vocals or structure of songs. Local H, Oasis, Semisonic, Tracy Bonham, PUSA, and Ben Folds come to mind. Being serious does not mean you can’t have fun.

Ryan: Hell yeah, man. I remember hearing Hell’s Bells for the first time when I was like 9. I think I had an out of body experience. Those are some great artists to be influenced by. Give me one artist you would love to collaborate with.

Jim: Scott Lucas is the first and easiest answer. He is Chicago to me.

Life Outside of Music

Ryan: What do you enjoy outside of music?

Jim: Being a dad. Seeing life through new eyes has been amazing and it’s also a full time job. My wife and I are still in the mode of teaching him things we love. Other than that stand up comedy and podcasts occupy the day alongside working my “real” job.

Ryan: Congrats on fatherhood, that’s awesome. Ah, real job. What’s the weirdest day job you’ve ever had?

Jim: I’ve slung pizza at the best of establishments across Illinois

Ryan: What were you like as a kid?

Jim: Playful and inclusive. I still operate as a chameleon just as I did then. I still want people to have a good time together even if we don’t agree on everything.

Ryan: That’s a great attitude. We need more people like you in this world. If you could go on a date with any other musician, who would it be?

Jim: Tracy Bonham. I had my chance once upon a time and stayed true to the one I was with. Tracy was one of the first singers I heard that made my skin tingle. We worked together on a track on our album Year X, but I’d love to spend a week in a studio with her.

Ryan: You’ve got good taste, my friend.


Ryan: Other than the new song every Monday, what are you doing to stay connected to your fans during the pandemic?

Jim: Letting them know we’re still alive and giving away free shit. Every Monday is a new song this year and every Wednesday is a free thing in our Facebook Group

Ryan: Free stuff is the best stuff. Now, obviously, there aren’t many performance opportunities. Hypothetically, If you could do a gig in any city in the world today, where would it be and why?

Jim: I would headline the Metro in Chicago. Playing that stage for the first time was a dream. I’ve been across this country and no other venue has made me feel the way the Metro does. It has a lot to do with memories of being 15 and seeing Stabbing Westward in that place alongside the 100 other shows.

Ryan: Man, I lived in Chicago for a minute when I was young and broke. That’s one spot I just never had a chance to check out. It’s on my list for sure.

Going To The Movies

Ryan: I know you’re into comedy. What’s your favorite comedy film of all time? Not best…favorite.

Jim: Orgazmo. There is no other choice for me. It’s why my best friends Eric & Spencer are linked together. “I am Sancho”

Ryan: Yes! Haha that movie is hilarious. If they made a movie about your band, what actors would portray you guys?

Jim: Me: Tom Everett Scott
Spencer: Ben Affleck
Mike: David Arquette
Bruce: Nicholas Hoult

Coming Soon…


Ryan: What’s next for you guys? Other than the movie…

Jim: We’re going to lead up all of these Monday releases to our 8th Album in the Summer of 2021. I hope it sees light. I’ve given everything for this to be fun and easy to listen to. This album is everything to me right now.

Ryan: Thanks for joining us today, Jim. I really appreciate it. Anything you’d like to say to our readers before we wrap it up?

Jim: Thanks for giving us the time of day. Please play along and listen to these songs on Mondays on YouTube at
Keep an eye out for our record coming this Summer called Thought This Was Over It’ll place you right back in the sweet spot of 90’s alt rock and make you smile.

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Indie Artist Interview: Sam Phelps

There are so many undiscovered indie artists out there that deserve to be heard. As an artist and A&R myself, I understand the importance of exposure in this industry. And not in the “perform for exposure” way. Independent artists need an audience now more than ever.

I also really enjoy discovering new music and having the chance to hear these artists before they blow up. I want you guys to discover these artists with me, that’s why I have started Le Café Music Blog’s Indie Artist Interview Series. That’s a mouthful.

Are you ready to meet our first indie artist?

Introducing: Sam Phelps

Sam is an independent singer-songwriter out of Brooklyn, NY. He recently dropped his brand new 3 track EP on all streaming platforms. I’ll let Sam tell you all about it.

Photo by Courtney Sultan

Indie Artist Interview Time!

Ryan: Welcome, Sam! Thank you so much for joining us today. Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Sam: My name is Sam Phelps. I’m a singer-songwriter from Kentucky. My hometown is Pulaski County. It’s a dry county…not like, “you can’t buy alcohol on Sunday…?” No, you can’t buy alcohol. Period. Legally anyway. So I got to experience bootleggers and real moonshine from time to time. I threw a backpack out a window at 17 and never really went back. I’ve lived in Brooklyn the last few years and it feels like home for now.

Ryan: Damn, man. I’ve been to little towns in Kentucky exactly like that. Definitely a massive change from a small, dry county to New York City. So, tell us a little about your latest release.

Sam: My latest release is a 3 song EP titled “Talking To A Friend.” It’s basically a nostalgic look at relationships I’ve had the last few years. One ending in a bad way.  And two others that have been over for years.

indie artist interviews sam phelps
Photo by Courtney Sultan

Video tolerated by Courtney Sultan

Favorites and Influences

Ryan: Heartache is a bitch…but it can lead to great music. What is your favorite song you’ve ever released?

Sam: That’s a tough question. Maybe I Can’t Sing, because it was kind of the moment when I found the direction I wanna go in when it comes to songwriting. Or Talking To A Friend, for the simple fact the song came out of nowhere and wrote itself in minutes.

Ryan: I really enjoyed both of those songs. I can feel the personal connection in your lyrics. Who are your musical influences?

Sam: I’d have to say guys like Steve Earle and Tony Rice. I love a good sad song.

Ryan: Sad songs are my favorite. I’m kind of emo like that, I guess. Now, I want to talk about collaboration. If you could collaborate with one artist, who would it be?

Sam: Steve Earle!!

Ryan: Man, I would love to hear that. I can definitely hear his influence in your music. It would be fun to see what you guys come up with. What is your collaboration process like?

Sam: It sounds fun and inspiring, but I haven’t actually done it yet.

Ryan: Solo all the way. Nice. If anyone reading this would like to collaborate with Sam, check his links below! Speaking of “collaborating,” if you could take one artist out on a date, who are you picking?

Sam: Probably Tinashe!! Cutie!

unsigned artist interview
Happy Valentine’s Day to the cute couple

Life Outside of Music

Ryan: What are you doing when you’re not making music?

Sam: I like to read. Try to exercise a little. I kinda keep up with the fights.

Ryan: Nice. I hate exercise. So we’ve heard a bit about your life back in Kentucky. What were you like as a kid?

Sam: Not what I wanted to be. Didn’t get to have a lot of imagination. Had to stay focused. Nerves were a mess a lot of the time.

Ryan: Sorry to hear that, man. Imagination is the best part of being a kid. Being from a strict small town with a strict family must have been hard. I could imagine there were some interesting day jobs in Pulaski County. What’s the weirdest day job you’ve had?

Sam: Probably car salesman lol. I realize that’s not a weird job but it was for me. I hate dress shoes!

Getting Back to Normal Life

Ryan: It’s been a brutal year for all of us…it’s been especially brutal for artists. What are you doing to stay connected to your fans during the pandemic?

Sam: Trying to keep some social media stuff going. I wanna start doing a short IG live once a week or every other week.

Ryan: That’s a great way to do it! What if music wasn’t an option? What would you do?

Sam: Ouch! Don’t say that. But if that were the case I’d like to do something kinda secluded. Work on the water somewhere. Maybe fishing voyages on the ocean!

Ryan: That’s cool. I couldn’t do it. I get super seasick. Worked on a cruise ship for 6 months and thought I was going to die. As much as I hated that, I would kill to perform again. If you could perform in any city in the world, where would you go?

Sam: Probably Rapa Nui! Just to go back there.

Ryan: Ah, Easter Island! I’ve never been to Chile, but it’s on my bucket list. I’d go for the food alone.


Ryan: If you had to pick your “last meal,” what would it be?

Sam: Sushi. Sushi for sure. I had never had sushi before I moved to New York ( don’t know if I’d ever heard of it.) A girl took me on a date to a sushi restaurant and I plowed through a piece of sushi with a fork! She laughed at me and I was so embarrassed. It was definitely a “fresh off the farm” moment. But I loved it and eat it whenever financially possible now lol.

Ryan: I hear that. Sushi isn’t easy to figure out the first time haha. So you’re in New York…I gotta ask, what’s the best pizza in Brooklyn?

Sam: Oof. In Brooklyn I don’t know, but Proto’s in the lower East Side is clutch.

Ryan: I just looked at the menu and started drooling. Then I saw the New York prices. Yikes! Money is tight these days.

Final Questions

Ryan: So, here’s a deep question. What keeps you awake at night?

Sam: Wow! Regret. Nostalgia. Concern.

Ryan: All valid reasons. Good answer. What’s next for Sam Phelps?

Sam: Recording more music. Hopefully a little touring. Hopefully no more 9-5!

Ryan: Preach it, brother. Do what you love. One last question for you. Is there anything you want to say to our readers?

Sam: Anyone who’s ever been encouraging, I really REALLY appreciate it. It means literally everything to me. It’s what I want to do. It’s the only thing I know of passion and love.

Ryan: Awesome. Thank you so much for joining us today and for being the very first artist in Le Café Music Blog’s Indie Artist Interview Series! Congrats on the EP!

Follow and Listen to Sam Phelps!

Here is Sam’s new EP, Talking to a Friend. Tell us what you think in the comments!

Follow Sam on Instagram

Subscribe to Sam’s YouTube page!

I also want to give a shoutout to Courtney Sultan for setting this interview up. If you ever need to organize your life…look her up.

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