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?
J: 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.
J: 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.
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?
J: 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:
Find the band below:
My interview is also featured on the homepage of KWVARadio.org. Check it out here.