An Interview with Jimkata

Recently, KWVA Volunteer Sophie Cettina had the chance to chat with Jimkata, an electro-rock trio out of Ithaca, New York. After a brief hiatus, the band is back together, and recently self-released their latest album, In Motion. Sophie has her own music blog, A Perfect Playlist, where she has an extensive collection interviews artists and carefully crafted tracklists! Check out the interview below, and take a look at her blog for even more content!





Jimkata is a three-piece band from Ithaca, NY. After a short hiatus, the band self-released their latest record, In Motion, which is a flurry of synthesizers, echoing vocals and light, snappy guitar riffs. Fans of bands such as Bleachers, Walk The Moon or Bad Suns will appreciate Jimkata’s upbeat, infectious bass and tracks that incorporate a number of styles—funk-electronic, a bit of alternative, and a touch of 80’s influenced style synth-pop. Songs on the album such as “Jumping Out of Airplanes,” or “Wild Ride” are fast-paced with a heavy dance beat, while the smooth melodies of songs like “Synapses” are slower but still feature a funky, driving rhythm. I was so excited to interview this band–I’ve had their latest record on repeat the last few weeks!

A Perfect Playlist: How would you describe your sound?

Evan Friedell, lead singer of Jimkata: We call ourselves electro-rock.  Basically, it’s synths, guitars, and electronic production all smashed together, but with its roots in classic songwriting.

 APP: What’s the story behind your band name?


 Packy, Aaron, and I have been playing together since we were kids. At some point when we first started writing our own original music in high school, we needed a name for a gig in the local park. We were spending a lot of time recording with a friend of ours and one day he introduced us to this ridiculous movie called Gymkata. It’s  a really cheesy American made Kung-fu movie starring 1984 Olympic Gold Medal gymnast Kurt Thomas. In the movie, he must use his unique art of gymkata to defeat the fictional Eastern European country of Parmistan…hilarity ensues…  SO, when it came time to toss names around, “gymkata” made us laugh at first…but then we thought, “hey that actually has a ring to it,” and it’s stuck ever since.

APP: Who are a few artists in the music industry today that inspire you?

J: One of my favorite artists is My Morning Jacket. We like the idea that you can be great songwriters and producers, create well respected albums, but also have a raucous live show and an organic following of loyal fans.  There are a lot of artists that I admire, but the ones I admire most tend to cross genres and demographics to bring people together.

APP: I heard that you recently went on a hiatus from performing. Can you tell me a little bit about that? How did the break help you further develop/define your sound & style?

J: We went through some line up changes over the last year, and ended up having to take the fall off from touring while we figured out how to continue playing as a three-piece.  It was our first time not touring in quite a few years, and I think it ended up being a blessing in disguise. It gave us a chance to refocus, plan the album release more effectively, and set our intentions as a group going forward.  Then, as soon as we decided to go forward as a three piece, we just started rehearsing like madmen. After playing our first few shows this way, I think we’re really hitting our stride stylistically as musicians. I had a lot of time to practice singing and playing, and we had time as a group to perfect all of the sounds we use in our live shows.

APP: What’s your favorite song off your latest record, In Motion? I’ve had “Jumping Out of Airplanes” on repeat all this week. Love it.

signing2J: Awesome!  Ya know, I think that might be one of my favorites as well.  I often feel self-conscious about songs in that I never know if they’re really done. Especially with lyrics, it can sometimes feel like I could edit, over think, and basically doubt myself forever.  This record came together really quickly and I didn’t even have much of a chance for any of that. Sometimes, when you trust the first feeling or thought that comes to mind it’s just meant to be and you shouldn’t mess with it too much.

APP: Who were some of your musical inspirations as a kid, and who are they now?

J: I was a huge Michael Jackson fan as a kid.  Still am. I looked back on that recently and realized he really was the king of the 80’s and 90’s.  I don’t know if there will ever be a pop star of that magnitude again. I loved Paul Simon’s Graceland and I had a couple early hip-hop tapes that I wore out.  I’m all over the map now in terms of musical inspiration.  Sometimes it’s just one song by an artist that grabs me, other times it’s their whole way of being and going about their career. I also love Radiohead and Kendrick Lamar. I admire the fact that, given the top of the charts celebrity status he had, Kendrick chose to create such a socially, politically and musically meaningful album. He could have just made some record label created crap that was calculated to sell but he chose the more challenging route.  To me, there aren’t enough artists like that right now.

reflection2APP: Who had the best performance on the Grammy’s this year, in your opinion?

J: Didn’t watch all of it, but I did catch Kendrick Lamar’s performance and, again, amazing. He’s just pushing boundaries, making statements, and remains seemingly humble despite the immensity of his fame.

APP: What would each of you being doing if you were not pursuing a career in music?

J: I really don’t know. When I was a kid, my first goal was to be in the NBA.  Then I got older and my next goal was to be a musician. I definitely didn’t make the NBA…so now I’m a musician.

APP: I am currently a volunteer for the on-campus radio station at my school, and I recently did a review of your new album that just came out this month. (I loved it, obviously.) We are planning to play it on KWVA pretty soon. Have you ever heard one of your songs on the radio? If so, what was your reaction?

1454263538-jimkataJ: I have. It’s a little trippy.  At first it’s exciting, but then I gotta turn on my analytical, self-critical brain and think about if it sounds good enough to be played for a wide audience.  Then I try to turn that off and be like, “chill out and just enjoy it! Your song is on the radio!!”

APP: Anything else you want to say to readers of A Perfect Playlist?

J: Thanks for listening!!!

Jimkata will be performing with X Ambassadors and Robert Delong on May 16th at State Theatre of Ithaca!

Check out my fave track by the band, “Jumping Out of Airplanes” here:

The Best Pop Songs On Classic Rock Radio, Pt. 1

By Daniel Bromfield
DJ Daniel of Deep Ambient Hour with Daniel, Wednesdays 3-4 pm, Winter 2016

I was raised on classic rock and classic rock radio. But anyone who knows me well knows I have a lot of issues with the very rock ideal I was raised on.

Members of the group The Doobie Brothers huddle together backstage at the 22nd Annual Grammy Awards presentation in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 1980, after they garnered four Grammys. Their “What a Fool Believes” was named record of the year and also won top songwriting and arrangement honors for group member Michael McDonald, third from left. McDonald shared song-of-the-year award for the tune with songwriter Kenny Loggins, not seen. The Doobies “Minute By Minute” was named best pop vocal performance by a group. (AP Photo/Lennox McLendon)

(AP Photo/Lennox McLendon)

Rock is conservative, macho, and generally hostile to anyone who isn’t a white, straight male despite having been indisputably invented by African Americans, many queer and female. It holds up a standard of authenticity that ultimately praises fakeness as long as your fake-out is rootsy and manly enough. And, frankly, most classic rock sucks aside from a few established institutions (the Beatles, Pink Floyd, the Stones, Zeppelin, Prince, Michael Jackson, the CSNY camp, etc.), most of whom have good enough albums that I’d rather just put one of those on.

But I’ll be damned if there aren’t some gems lurking on those preposterous “are you ready to rock” classic rock stations. And sometimes, in hope of catching them, I find myself tuning in and weathering all the washed-up DJs and underage sex odes just to get to great pop songs such as these.

Boston – “More Than A Feeling.” “More Than A Feeling” is a celebration of the mind-obliterating power of music – a point it makes good on with its crashing wall of sound. Even Brad Delp’s most virtuosic wails are mostly just part of the texture. It’s one of the least cock-rocky of all hard rock anthems; Delp’s lament for a lost love is free of either anti-woman vitriol or overwrought blues melodrama. And though this is the sort of music that could only be made by technically proficient studio veterans (the band was largely manufactured by guitarist-producer Tom Scholz), it doesn’t make you marvel at the skill of the players so much as how their work fits into the amorphous blizzard that is “More Than A Feeling.” It’s practically shoegaze, but Kevin Shields can only dream of writing this good a pop song.

The Doobie Brothers – “What A Fool Believes.” This is one of those songs someone clearly put a lot of effort into. The chord changes are jarring and almost painfully gorgeous. The bridge is a tired repose that echoes the protagonist’s futile attempts at rekindling a lost love. The video-game synth that climbs to the heavens on the chorus is simply one of the single most beautiful keyboard sounds ever committed to record. Capping it all off is the weathered voice of Michael McDonald, whose wisdom and poise here feel untouchable. Some rock songs are more than the sum of their parts. This one just happens to be made of such finely wrought individual pieces, working together in such perfect harmony, that the product could never be anything less than stellar. 

Grand Funk Railroad – “Some Kind Of Wonderful.” Everything out of Mark Farner’s mouth here is woefully generic and sung just as so. He describes love in purely physical terms, calling his woman “little” and affecting just about the worst mock blues voice imaginable. What matters – and what makes “Some Kind Of Wonderful” one of classic rock’s most interesting creations – is the music. For a little over its first half, the song is just Farner’s voice and a bass-drum groove that’s as compulsively danceable as it is austere. (Also, please tell me Tame Impala haven’t heard it.) But at 2:19, the chintzy organs enter, and sex meets God as Farner and his buddies turn their voices to the sky. Rock stars have been equating love with religion for eternity, but rarely have they done it this convincingly.

Norman Greenbaum – “Spirit In The Sky.” Norman Greenbaum wrote this gospel pastiche in 15 minutes, which isn’t surprising given the lyrics. But this thing definitely wasn’t produced in 15 minutes. “Spirit In The Sky” contains some of the most remarkable noises ever committed to a pop song, from the disembodied choir to the cash-register sound effect to that iconic, relentless fuzz riff. It’s four minutes long, which I would argue is generally too long for a pop song, but the subtle ways the song shifts direction keep it sounding taut and breezy. Listen how the choir elevates the texture upon arrival, or how the riff comes back in only hesitantly at first after the solo, as if peeking into the room to make sure it’s on cue. Among psych-pop productions, “Spirit In The Sky” deserves as much respect as anything by George Martin or Brian Wilson.

War – “Low Rider.” So little happens during “Low Rider” it’s infuriating. For its first two and a half minutes, the only changes are in the lyrics. If you think that’s what we’re supposed to focus on, keep in mind the horn riff is a full fifty percent longer than any given vocal passage. So it continues to plod along. Then after (gasp) a new vocal melody comes in, a Skinemax sax solo enters – only to disappear just as quickly. “Low Rider” is a tantalizing and often infuriating pop song, but to those who have heard it enough times, those changes at the end are orgasmic. And there’s something to be said about a song that maintains its mystery in spite of being so ubiquitous. This really is one of the strangest classic rock staples.