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Dntel (aka Jimmy Tamborello) produces music that merges the worlds of indie rock and electronica. Tamborello was a guitarist in the emocore group Strictly Ballroom and also a member of techno-poppers Figurine. In addition, he did time in the southern California groups Further and the Tyde. Tamborello originally started working as Dntel in 1994. Tracks he produced between 1995-1997 were released on the Phthalo label in 1999 as Early Works for Me If It Works for You. This was followed by the 2000 release of an EP that had been recorded back in 1994 called Something Always Goes Wrong. The melancholy, often haunting, and electronica-heavy effort Life Is Full of Possibilities arrived in 2002 on Plug Research Records. It featured contributions from Chris Gunst (Beachwood Sparks, ex-Strictly Ballroom), Rachel Haden (that dog.), and Benjamin Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie), among others. Tamborello moved to Sub Pop, also home of his other very successful project, the Postal Service, for Dntel's 2007 album Dumb Luck, which featured Gibbard, Jenny Lewis, Conor Oberst, and many other indie stars. The three-disc 2009 release Early Works for Me If It Works for You II compiled the original Early Works for Me and Something Always Goes Wrong with outtakes. 2012 saw the third album of proper newly prepared material with Aimlessness. The full-length album again featured cameo vocalists over Tamborello's twitchy beats, guests this time around being likeminded indie-electro artists Nite Jewel and Baths.
James Scott "Jimmy" Tamborello, more commonly known as Dntel /ˈɪɛ/, is an electronic music artist. He is sometimes cited as James Figurine, the co-programmer and vocalist for the electropop outfit Figurine. Other projects include Strictly Ballroom, Headset and The Postal Service. Tamborello has indicated that the name was not intended to mean anything. When asked to create a meaning for it, he quoted it as a shortened version of "Don't Tell" although he admits that this meaning is a bit of a stretch. There are some speculations on the name being based on the word Accidental (dntel), although Tamborello has not confirmed this origination.
Tamborello first began creating music in 1989, when he was in junior high school in Santa Barbara, California. His father — a jazz saxophone player and flautist — bought Tamborello a drum machine, a sequencer, a keyboard and an eight track recorder, primarily for the possibility to create music on his own. His mother, Joyce Menges was an actress in the late 60's and early 70's and starred in To Rome with Love starring John Forsythe, Kay Medford, Walter Brennon, Susan Neher, and Melanie Fullerton, and later in Now You See Him Now You Don't. Tamborello's father was a key songwriter for many Santa Barbara bands including Skillet, Chia Band, and Monkeydogg (with David Figurine, Lael "Scraps" Waqeneck, and Marc Hawthorne of the The Onion The A.V. Club). He recorded an album under the pseudonym Antihouse in 1993, and released it in 1994. He began work on the first Dntel EP in 1994, which was not released until later. During these years, Tamborello was a DJ and music director at KXLU, and engineered on several albums recorded at the station including "KXLU LIVE: Volume 1," for which he also designed the album artwork.
Around 1994, Jimmy Tamborello was also the bass player for a band known as Strictly Ballroom. The band was often described as "Enocore," as Brian Eno soundscapes were an important influence in their music. Strictly Ballroom recorded one album, titled Hide Here Forever, which was released in 1997 on the Waxploitation Records label. They released a single in 1995 titled "Dear XXX" on the Chou Chou records label.
A collection of the demos during the period of 1995-1997 titled Early Works for Me If It Works for You (1999) was released on the label Phthalo. The work on the first Dntel EP was released as Something Always Goes Wrong (2000), also on the Phthalo label.
As a pioneer of contemporary glitch and electronica, Dntel gained a cult following. After writing a track for the Voices in My Lunchbox collaboration for the Plug Research label, he was asked to work with them. He first released Anywhere Anyone (2000), a 12-inch EP.
He released his full-length album Life Is Full of Possibilities (2001). The album featured several guest artists on vocals, guitars and other instruments, including Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, Mia Doi Todd, fellow Figurine member Meredith Figurine, Chris Gunst of Beachwood Sparks, Brian McMahan of Slint and The For Carnation, and Rachel Haden of that dog. Probably the most well-received song was the Ben Gibbard collaboration "(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan", which led to a single in 2002, and later, the forming of the band The Postal Service with Ben Gibbard. The Superpitcher remix was voted the 17th best dance track of the decade by a Resident Advisor poll in 2010. Tamborello is also credited for programming "Take It Easy (Love Nothing)", a Billboard chart topper for Bright Eyes.
On April 24, 2007, Dntel released his third album Dumb Luck on Subpop Records to generally positive critical reception. This, coinciding with Death Cab For Cutie's release, Narrow Stairs has moved any future plans of The Postal Service recording past the end of the decade.
Tamborello is also the host of a regular music show called Dying Songs heard on the internet radio station Dublab.
On December 9, 2009, rollingstone.com named Dntel's side project, The Postal Service's "Such Great Heights" the 27th best song of the decade.
Tamborello is also part of Figurine, an electro-pop band consisting of Tamborello, now in character as James Figurine, Meredith Figurine and David Figurine. The three were high school friends and created music based mostly on the theme of long distance love, with an inventive electro-pop sound.
Tamborello also released an album under the "solo name" of James Figurine, entitled Mistake Mistake Mistake Mistake. This album is more of a downtempo electronica album which, despite the moniker, sounds more like a slightly less glitchy version of his Dntel work than his work with Figurine.
Tamborello uses a large variety of electronic equipment to create his sound. He uses Logic Pro for programming, a Rode k2 microphone for vocals, and Dynaudio Air series speakers. His studio has a glockenspiel, Avalon Design VT-747sp compressor, MicroKorg, Elektron Machinedrum, Vostok Matrixsynth, Elektron Monomachine, Vermona Retroverb, Empirical Labs EL8X Distressor Compressor, MOTU MIDI Timepiece, Vermona DRM1 MKII (drum machine), Dave Smith Poly Evolver Rack, Minimoog Voyager, two Motu 828 MKII, Mackie 1604 mixer, Kurzweil K2000 synthesizer, Jomox Xbase 999, Moogerfooger MF-104Z Analog Delay, DigiTech IPS33 Smartshift Intelligent Pitch Shifter, Nord Modular G1, an Omnichord, accordions, jingle bells, Line 6 Delay, and an M-Audio Radium MIDI controller.