NightjaR (AKA Jimi Goodwin From Doves)

Mala Leche

Image of NightjaR (AKA Jimi Goodwin From Doves) - Mala Leche

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Blessing/curse. Division/unity. Love/hate. It’s in the context of a polarising 24-hour, digitised, globally connected world that NightjaR finds its wings. NightjaR being the nom-de-plume and smudged rainbow constellation of collaborative copy-and-paste sound-wrangling and hip-hop from Jimi Goodwin. But it’s here and it’s Mala Leche.

Mala Leche (Spanish: Bad Milk) is 16 tracks of beats and bars, vocals provided by some of the hip-hop artists at the very top of his own, personal home listening lists and interludes that throw back and forth through eras and genres in sometimes playful, occasionally awakeningly abrasive styles. How did it all come together?

“The good thing about social media is that it makes everyone available. Everyone has their contact details or their management’s contact details on their profiles. I could literally just email or DM someone.”

Goodwin has form in this, his chosen arena. Anyone paying attention to his extra-curricular activities at the same time his ‘day job’ in the still-active Doves presented him a third UK No.1 album in 2020 will have noted his production, as Coup Diablo (“Bollocks, that name! I don’t know what I was thinking!”) on Pan Amsterdam’s Ha Chu album in the same year. Improbably connecting the nocturnal, lamp-lit laboratory vibe of a home studio at the foot of England’s Peak District with Miami, Florida, Goodwin and Pan Amsterdam linked up once again this time around, with the one-time jazz musician-turned rapper’s authoritative prose and trumpet gracing first single, Space Bar and album closer, Glove Department.

Much like the basis for many of Mala Leche’s new-era collaborations, the two have never met in person, yet the creativity flowed easily through fibre optics and across time zones.

“I like clever wordsmiths,” says Goodwin, “not just cusses and Pan is exactly that kind of artist. He’s The Don. Full respect to him, he got fed up with the jazz scene he was part of, frustrated by the bullshit. He’s gone and called it out and done his own thing. You’ve got to admire that.”

Kindred spirits. NightjaR finds Goodwin, whilst not breaking ranks as a member of Doves (“They are my peers, man!”) in the same way as Pan rejected the accepted notions of local jazz circuit, it’s something that visibly lights new creative fires in him. “I make a beat every other day. There’s no agenda, nothing obscure or clever, it’s just instinctive. There came a point when I considered getting these rappers involved… to bring it out of it just being me on my own… YOU CAN’T DO THAT JIMI! Turns out that I could!”

First fruits borne of the collaborative seeds sown on Mala Leche are heard on the album’s second track, Baby Don’t, where both Birmingham, UK-based rapper SonnyJim and Detroit’s Quelle Chris commit their voices to a tantalisingly brief (only 2m 14s) NightjaR beat laced with chiming, crystalline melodic motifs. The two rappers had already put out music in combination, drawing Goodwin’s ear with the SonnyJim’s 2016 release, Mud In My Malbec, featuring Quelle Chris on the track, Dorchester. Bandcamp has proved revelatory while constructing the new NightjaR world, with these discoveries, Pan Amsterdam and others coming directly through that platform.

Not all commitments have come without the warmth of personal encounter, however. New York’s Homeboy Sandman, skimming studied street verse over the stand-up bass-driven track, Pirates, appears on the album following a personal, if chance encounter. As Goodwin recounts, “I was in New York in 2017, just exploring the city on my own. One day I’d been in touch with Homeboy Sandman, just exchanging messages, just asking if I could send him my beats. Same day, totally by chance, I come out of the subway and bump right into him! Whatever the ways of contacting these rappers I’ve been able to put together my dream team.”

Closer to home, the unmistakable voice, meter and lyrical proclivities of Sleaford Mods’ Jason Williamson land, without ambiguity, on Blood Red Dead. With the peal of a repeating, distorted guitar lick and a single, grounding organ note, Williamson’s Nottinghamshire brogue is welcomed through a longstanding sense of mutual interest and respect. Of the same generation, compatible politics and frequently lost in a world of instant, all-too-public messaging, the pair are long-time acquaintances.

“We’ve never met in person,” admits Goodwin, “but we’re on the phone to each other all the time. I was blown away by what he’s done on ‘Blood Red Dead’. It’s totally ‘him’. I admire people who are just like ‘fuck you!’ and working and living with that sense of conviction. Just people who can completely be themselves.”

Much like Sleaford Mods, Doves or any band name, NightjaR is a useful alias in the process of Goodwin becoming, like Williamson, completely himself. After percolating over seven years and finally facing the prospect of going public, the name crept from corners of inspiration linked to both voodoo doctor Dr John’s unsettling, 1968 debut album, GRIS-grisand the bird of the same name. Nocturnal creatures camouflaged from discovery while roosting in the daytime, and ascending to mythical status for an ages-old reported ability to steal milk from goats, the enigmatic bird is a well-chosen totem to Mala Leche’s similar sense of post-dusk mystery.


Side A:
1. Broken Saturday Night
2. Baby Don’t Feat Sonny Jim & Quelle Chris
3. Burnt Up Nights
4. Piano Heights Feat Pruven, Vast Aire & Burgundy Blood
5. Smashing Little Boat
6. Pirates Feat Homeboy Sandman
7. Harlem Dream
8. Blood Red Dead Feat Jason Willamson
9. Sylvester
Side B:
1. Space-Bar Feat Pan Amsterdam
2. The Fuck It Boogaloo
3. Anything Something
4. Thee Omen Feat Homeboy Sandman
5. Mala Leche Feat Guilty Simpson
7. Glove Department Feat Pan Amsterdam

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