jib kidder is one of the monikers multimedia collagist Sean Schuster-Craig uses for his art, whether he’s making chalk graffiti murals or musical mosaics. Schuster-Craig grew up in Georgia and was inspired by the Southern hip-hop scene—which he later paid homage to with his online anthology Twankle and Glisten—and, via a stint in Ann Arbor, Michigan, ended up in San Francisco. He self-released many albums, as well as mixtapes under theKid Slizzard name, but didn’t issue his official debut album until 2008. All on Y’all was released by States Rights and was accompanied by All on Y’all: Da Mixtape! One of the album’s songs, “Windowdipper,” turned the alert sounds from the Windows operating system into a booty bass anthem; Schuster-Craig’s cut-and-paste video for the track became something of a viral sensation, and the song also appeared on the Fox Network’s dance competition show So You Think You Can Dance?. With the money he earned from licensing the song to the show, Schuster-Craig moved to Los Angeles for a year and worked on three albums, including Lossy Angeles, Beloved Forever Calling, and Music for Hypnotized Minds, the latter of which was released by Asthmatic Kitty in 2011.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I’m a collage artist in many media. I work in audio, video and on paper. Collage frees you from the normal constraints of time—you can work in three directions. I’ve tried hard to not get too good at any one thing so that I am free to do many things.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I’m working on raising a son. I’m trying to instill in him a lust for life. I’m doing it mostly by throwing him up in the air, or shaking my long hair in his face, like a carwash, or making pillowy animals that are larger than him and appear to swoop down from the sky and jostle him around. I’m also trying to keep my plants alive. Anything that comes into contact with the air out of my windows gets covered in a black dust and it’s been a dry and dark winter. So I have been tending to the plants, helping them persevere. Or other plants, which have come to disgust me, I have destroyed them. All of these plants grow mushrooms in their pots because of this Home Depot soil. I have no idea why there is fungus in this Home Depot soil.
What are you currently watching on Netflix/what’s on your Netflix queue? I (Almost) Got Away With It and Locked Up Abroad.
What is one of the bigger challenges you and/or other musicians are struggling with these days and how do you see it developing? The big challenge, the only challenge, is steering clear of the bullshit. The bullshit is anything that is failing to reduce the distance between you and the music you make, while claiming to be in service of this music, regardless. The way I see it developing is more and more bullshit, bullshit on top of bullshit, huge innovations in the manufacturing of bullshit, a Moore’s law of bullshit.
How did your interest in music begin? My Mom was singing Opera when I was in utero. I hated when she would sing opera. My interest in music began the moment I first hated opera.
If you had to explain your music to a stranger, what would you say? I might find myself explaining to this stranger what a sample is, and they might be making the same uncertain face even after I have explained it, even though it’s very simple, and not even a very new idea, sampling, though they are not trying to express their confusion so much as understanding it perfectly well while performing confusion as a polite way to express distaste. Between a musician and a stranger’s vague notion of music the gulf can be huge. And talking can grow it. If I tell them I sing, they might think I’m good at singing, when actually I’m not. If I tell them I’m bad at singing they might think I’m bad at music, which I’m not. If I tell them I am an artist, who does music, that I am a musician who prefers to approach music like art instead of like music since approaching music like music is a way of being a jock and I was always alienated from being a jock on account of being weak and sickly, then I’ve said too much and have become uncomfortable. So I would be very vague about what I do so as to lead this stranger to guessing themselves and then no matter where they really take it I would say yeah exactly all the same and bring up what is universal: the weather, the day of the week, or flaws in the elevator’s mechanics.
Do you get fan mail? What’s been the most exciting thing you have received from a fan? I do have a small number of enthusiastic fans spread out across the world. They send me emails. From Poland, from Scotland, from Honolulu. I write back too long to them. One fan sent me a glass bowl that says “jib kidder”. Now I intend to buy a bong from him. I’m more financially secure than I used to be now, so I can buy luxury items such as a bong.
What do you do when you’re not working on music? I work on videos or use steel wool to scrape off the black layer of the grey metal trays that sit between the flames and the grates on my stove. I read Thomas Bernard novels and try to make sense of little scraps of paper I have written little bits of my dreams on upon waking.
If you hadn’t become a musician, what do you think you’d be doing? Cheap and strong alcohol in the morning. Insignificant job at the hospital, hotel or travel plaza. A pursuit of solitude, but the decay kind of solitude, not the growth variety.
What are you listening to right now? Fantastic Palace Early Recordings (1979-1987) / Hello the Mellow Man (1988).