Jimmy R. Landry Biography
Written by Author Linda Landry (sister)
"I went from my office in A&R at Elektra Records -
NYC overlooking St. Patrick's Cathedral, to touring
the country as a struggling artist sleeping on floors,
and then to signing a record deal with EMI..."
One day, when Jimmy Robertson Landry was four years old, he found his sister's purple-flowered hippy guitar lying on the living room couch. He put it on his knee and picked out a Stones tune he'd heard on the radio. Hours later his sister found the guitar - and Jimmy - but she never got the instrument back.
"I basically picked it up and never put it down," Jimmy says. "I used to sit for hours and try to play all my brother's records. Eventually my mom got tired of listening to that thing (or could not watch me any longer with a purple flowered guitar) and she bought me my first electric guitar from Sears." She also signed him up for lessons, but he quickly got bored. "What I really wanted to do is write my own music and put together a band." By age 11 he'd done both, starting "Lazarus," his first band in New Hampshire.
The band was a quick success in the Landry's small neighborhood (Lazarus had a repertoire of two-and-a-half songs - the half song being Freebird), and it wasn't long before Jimmy was playing in more serious local bands. Throughout high school and college, he continued to progress as a song writer, a singer, and a musician while adding piano, bass and drums to his musical vocabulary. He eventually landed in New York City playing guitar for the band Hidden Persuaders now (known as Splender -J Records) and signed his first publishing deal with Hit & Run Publishing London. Soon afterward, he accepted a job in the marketing and radio promotion division of Elektra Records, working with such artists as Moby, Tracy Chapman, and Phish. Eventually Jimmy ended up promoted to Elektra's A&R Department in NYC where he developed a national talent scout program and presented new talent to President Sylvia Rhone and VP of A&R Nancy Jeffries. In 3 years he reviewed over 15,000 demo songs and scouted countless showcases of unsigned artists. All the while his passion for being an artist stayed with him. "I was developing talent for Elektra and watching the excitement," Jimmy says. "But I really wanted to still be out there, working with serious bands as an artist & producer myself." Keeping his day job at Elektra, he got busy writing and started a new band with an old college buddy from Maine, Shawn Tooley. He also managed the band.
The band was immediately productive, recording and touring around the US. Their debut record sold over 14,000 units and was played in large markets around the country. Several songs made their way to various radio stations and television shows including the hit TV show Dawson's Creek. But the band's touring and recording schedule eventually overpowered Jimmy's job at Elektra. "I couldn't be two places at the same time, so I put everything on the line," Jimmy says. "I left Elektra to pursue the other side again (the other side being a struggling artist.) It was a hard decision, but at that point my own music and the band had to come first. I went from my office at Elektra overlooking St. Patrick's Cathedral to touring cross country in a minivan 12 times. Once I loss a coin toss to Shawn and ended up sleeping in a dog bed while Shawn got the luxury of a box spring for his winnings."
Jimmy and Shawn moved to Boston, away from the distractions of New York City, and focused on taking the band to the next level. Their hard work paid off. Within six months they were offered a major label recording contract with EMI. In the year that followed, they concentrated on writing and recording new and old material in various studios in the US and Canada with producer Dale Penner (Nickleback, Holly McNarland, Econoline Crush.) But just as the band was preparing to mix a new record in Los Angeles with producer/mixing engineer Jack Joseph Puig, EMI went through a major reorganization and dropped many bands from the label, including Jimmy's band.
Jimmy is now producing/engineering/mixing other artists, as well as recording many of his old and new songs. He remains an "artist's artist" and greatly enjoys the collaborative process of making and sharing music. "I’m really enjoying working with young talent now. I've been there and I feel like I can help people get to where they need to be faster. When working as a co-writer I really try to connect with the artist. I use different approaches with different people. It's almost like psychology. When I'm hired by a manager or a label to write with someone, I try to pull emotion out of the artist by figuring out what that artist is truly feeling inside... current life situations, past experiences, stuff like that. Then I match music to those emotions. From there things just seem to always come together. This way, the artist that I'm working with is really singing something she/he is feeling. I believe this helps the conviction of the performance during the recording process. I know it sounds a bit deep and probably sounds a bit weird to some people. It's hard to explain, but it works for me and it has always worked well for the artists I have collaborated with in the past. I think my strengths lie in the ability to help artists write better choruses and verses to old songs and ideas, as well as writing musical bridges that work well leading into those new parts. I'll often be working with an artist that has a song with a great verse with a chorus that goes nowhere. I will help the artist write a great chorus that sometimes does not seem to fit in the song until I write a bridge that leads into that new chorus. All of a sudden we have a new song with new life and great parts all around. This is an exciting moment. I like to think of it as helping artists help themselves with new songwriting ideas and methods. With the way the industry is today, it's so important to have strong songs as an artist. With technology the way it is, I can make anyone sound good sonically as a producer... but I believe recording is a waste of time and money unless the song is great. It all starts with the song and then everything else falls into place."
- Bio by Author Linda Landry