James Thomer is an LA-based musician/composer, filmmaker, intermedia artist, and sometimes comedian. He has a BA in English from UC Berkeley and an MFA in Composition & Experimental Sound Practices from the California Institute of the Arts, where he studied with Eyvind Kang, Clay Chaplin, Ulrich Krieger, Michael Pisaro-Liu, Scott Benzel and others. 

He produces and performs under his art rock/psych pop project “James The Fifth” and released his debut LP Days of Wine in 2022 on Mutation Records (US) and Tearjerk Records (Aus). With these releases, he self directs and writes his own music videos – which are often comedic, narrative-based videos with elements of absurd, surreal slapstick. He has toured in the western United States and frequently performs as a guitarist with bands in Los Angeles.

In his recent music, he is interested in breaking down his own practice as a composer, songwriter and performer, looking for new ways to explore genre and form. He explores the chameleonic fluency of style that exists in his repertoire as a modern musician, and thinks of how music exists in new contexts, such as film, media, collage, or collective understanding. The result is Zorn or Zappa-like experiments that attempt to marry the languages of tonal songwriting, free jazz, pop culture reference, and idiomatic genre study with equal parts studied musicianship and playfulness. 

His intermedia work often plays with notions of the real, fake, and the uncanny. In this work, he is interested in creating alternate realities, fake stories, and distortions of history, combining creative writing, conceptual art, video, and installation art within the backdrop of his musical experience. These works  operate on a spectrum between parody and full-on replica, and are often simple-sounding jokes painstakingly executed in real life. Examples of this work include: hosting his own (fake) funeral on campus at CalArts, creating a biopic about a young Dr. Phil, and an installation recreating a 2007 Democratic Primary debate. 

© 2023 James Thomer