Feel-good upbeat electro-rock flows through Jimkata’s Bonfires, released in July of 2021. With influences spanning from 80s new wave and 90/00’s hip hop and electronic, the band create a well-developed sophisticated palate to the ears. Playfully “dancy, melodic and energetic”, the music reflects the nature of the band, as I found out when interviewing them.
Like many other bands, Jimkata started out by covering songs by punk and grunge bands such as Nirvana, NOFX, Rage Against the Machine and Primus. Yet, besides this, they were also influenced by an array of different genres which was a perk of having grown up in the 90’s/00’s, “a time where genres were opening up and cross-pollinating. You could be a fan of vastly different artists at the same time. And bands were sort of creating their own unique, hard to classify sonic worlds – like Beck, Gorillaz, Muse and Radiohead. Music production technology has become exponentially more accessible too and I think that’s been a huge influence on us developing our sound”. A sound eminently contrasting to what they’d originally envisaged making.
Perhaps due to this, there is a diary-like element in listening to the evolution of their music, glimpsing past versions of their personalities in older songs. “You make music according to who you are in a moment and with what means and knowledge you have at that moment so there’s no sense in regretting anything. It’s a natural evolution. You learn as you go”. This can be heard in their maturing musical production and the varying nature of each song.
The cosmic musical calling was a subtle one for Evan Friedell, lead singer and guitarist for Jimkata, “It’s strange but I never felt like it was a deliberate choice. I started playing the guitar one day and this natural love of music found a way out. There’s definitely catharsis in making music and looking back at how I first started writing, I think it was a way to process some deeply complex and emotional aspects of life in some kind of coherent yet alchemistic way.” Through this, perhaps, the fans can see elements of themselves and their own struggles, something that makes this band and their music much more accessible to a wide audience.
Having just finished their US tour, they mention that the highlight of their career so far was the anticipation of playing again after both their hiatus and the pandemic, “especially with the isolation and struggle of the last couple years, the shows just feel much more meaningful and fun”. A humble band, Jimkata seem to be fan-oriented, revelling in the fans identifying with them and the reciprocal nature of live music.
Stumbling upon Malcolm.’s music was by pure chance, thanks to the ever-elusive ways of the Instagram algorithm. As soon as I heard the preview for his latest release, “Nobody,” I instantly wanted to put a spotlight on this up-and-coming artist. For fans of indie and surf rock, this one’s for you.
To start things off, how would you describe yourself and your music to a new audience?
Describing myself is definitely weird, but I guess I’m what happens when someone bases their personality on sitcom characters. I’m pretty introverted, I self deprecate a lot, I’m gifted at avoiding drama, and I’m in a constant state of confusion. My music is a little easier to explain. It’s mostly a blend of rock and R&B. I use mostly real instruments, and I usually put groove first. It’s pretty much modern soft rock.
You recently put out a song called “Nobody” (which is an absolute tune, might I add). What do you want your listeners to take away from the track?
“Nobody” is a song that’s all about contemplating being single. If fans can take anything away from it, it’s to not worry if you don’t have anyone, and don’t force yourself into anything if you’re not ready.
You also released your debut album Vibey Rock. back in May—congratulations! What was the overall process like, and what helped inspire each track?
Vibey Rock. was a long time coming. I had the idea for it after I released my first EP, Khaki, in 2017. That’s when I started morphing my sound into a more 70s style, using a lot of warm and bright sounds as well as a more organic approach. The first track that kind of pushed me in that direction was “Far Away,” and although it’s not actually on the album, it really showed me the type of vibe it could be.
“ADHD” was written after finally being diagnosed. It started mostly as a joke song, but it’s also just a good introduction to who I am. “Slow Motion” is a feel-good track about a crush, and also one of the best basslines I’ve made. The collaborator, RUSUR, is a guy I met online around five years ago after entering a remix contest for one of his tracks, back when he still went by Johnny Gr4ves. “Sorry Girl” was literally just me wondering if I could make a filler track, and “Manly Man” was what happened when I decided to try to make an early-60s sounding track; it’s all about making fun of my lack of traditional masculinity.
“Same Mistakes” was written after I sent a drunk text to a girl and instantly regretted it. Luckily, she was in another country and it didn’t actually go through! “Leave Me Alone” is just an introvert anthem; if you’ve ever had your social battery run out at a party, you know the feeling. Next, “Lonely Sun” came after hearing Vampire Weekend’s “Sunflower.” I was just amazed by the complexity of it without it taking away from the overall feel-good vibe of it. Lastly, “Ride Again” is my favourite song I’ve made; it’s kind of a finale for songs about the girl most of my lyrics have been about. Writing this track helped me accept that we may never get back together, and it’s okay.
As we make these first few steps into the new year, it’s safe to say that it’s a relief to leave 2020 behind. As a musician, how did the year affect you?
Honestly, I got lucky this 2020. I rarely played shows before 2020, and I got a lot of time to spend making new music. Yes, not everything went well for me, but compared to other artists, I didn’t suffer many losses.
Livestream concerts became the norm last year as well. Do you have any plans of doing your own in the coming months?
I don’t think I’ll be doing any livestream concerts in the near future. I’m not against them, but I’d rather just wait until the world opens up again and, in the meantime, push my energy into making as much music as possible. The thrill of performing isn’t really there without a live audience.
Steering away from the super fun topic of COVID, I absolutely adore your sound. How did you develop it, and are there any musicians that helped inspire it?
I’m glad you like it! My sound choice is very inspired by classic rock and soul, while my songwriting mostly comes from alternative R&B. The artists that have had the biggest impact on my sound are definitely more modern ones, like Anderson .Paak, Childish Gambino, Harry Styles, Asher Roth, Rex Orange County, Leon Bridges, and Dominic Fike.
“ANTIGLOW” is a really incredible track, and I read on your Instagram page that you wrote it as a follow-up to an older song of yours called “Glow.” What drove you to write this newer track?
“ANTIGLOW” and “Glow” are set in the same environment, yet have totally different perspectives. When I wrote “Glow,” I made it with one of my best friends. We would go to a lot of local dances, and being the few kids that were good at dancing, we always killed it. Now, I’ve lost interest; it just doesn’t feel the same anymore. I don’t like showing off as much, I’m not big on hitting on strangers, and I suck at drinking.
The main connection between the songs is a callback line to “Glow.” The first line of it is, “It’s feeling like a disco,” so in “Antiglow,” I put, “It’s no longer feeling like a disco,” kind of as an easter egg for some of my older fans. It was actually my roommate Brody Larson that came up with the title idea, though! He’s also a musician and is obsessed with unique titles.
Another song of yours, “Jim & Pam (Goddamn),” has raked in over 70k listens on Spotify, and it was released just a couple of months ago in August. It goes without saying that this is an amazing accomplishment; did you ever expect it to receive as much attention as it has so quickly?
I’m super grateful that “Jim and Pam (Goddamn)” is getting the love it is. I kind of knew when I wrote the hook that it would be one of my more popular songs. So, I put more money into the ads for it than usual, and I guess the Spotify algorithm gods rewarded me for it. You can never tell how well a song will do, so I always hope for the best and expect the worst. Sometimes, it works out!
What can we expect coming up? Any more new songs on the horizon?
For new music, I’m releasing one single a month for as long as I can keep it going. I started doing that with “Jim & Pam” and have been keeping it going since. My next song, titled “Friends,” is going to come out on the 25th of January. I also plan on releasing two remakes of some older songs of mine that haven’t aged too well, those being “Pretty Please” and “Betty White.”
To wrap up, what would be your absolute dream gig?
That’s definitely a cool thing to think about; I think a big outdoor show would be super fun! Having it somewhere warm like Australia or Hawaii would make it even better. I don’t think anything else would suit my music better.