Indie Songstress Kathy Zimmer Unveils Mesmeric New Single + Video for “Moonwalk”

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Nestled within the eclectic enclave of New York City’s Lower East Side, Kathy Zimmer, an indie singer/songwriter of profound resonance, jubilantly heralds the release of her latest EP, “Debris.” Collaborating seamlessly with her accomplished bandmates Eric Sanderson and Tom Zovich—known for their instrumental roles in shaping the soundscapes of Augustines and Pela—Zimmer weaves a tapestry of musical enchantment that defies conventional categorization. Her evocative vocals, intertwined with lyricism that paints vivid narratives, create an immersive indie rock experience that stands as a testament to artistic innovation.

Originating from the serene expanses of rural Nebraska, Kathy Zimmer’s journey is underscored by a Master’s Degree from the venerable Cleveland Institute of Music. Despite her roots in the heartland, Zimmer has embraced the vibrant rhythms of New York City, where her artistry has become an integral part of the city’s rich cultural tapestry. At the heart of her celebratory showcase is a 12″ vinyl record, housing the melodic confluence of two EPs, aptly titled “White Noise/Sparkling Smile,” providing attendees with a tangible keepsake of Zimmer’s musical prowess.

Rock n’ Reel Magazine, in a testament to Zimmer’s singular impact, has bestowed upon her the title of the “latter day Joan Baez,” an accolade that underscores the depth of her influence within the indie music milieu. Echoing this sentiment, The Roots Music Report lauds Zimmer’s songwriting as “at various turns enchanting, haunting, and soothing,” a testament to her ability to craft sophisticated compositions that resonate across a spectrum of emotions. As Zimmer continues to ascend within the indie music echelons, her artistry stands as a beacon of creativity and expression.

In an exclusive series of interviews, Kathy Zimmer delves into the creative process that underpins “Debris,” offering insights into the thematic nuances and collaborative synergy with her bandmates. These interviews provide a rare glimpse into the artist’s mind, unraveling the inspirations that shaped her musical odyssey and the meticulous craftsmanship that defines her work. As audiences immerse themselves in the ethereal soundscape of Kathy Zimmer, they embark on a journey guided by her distinctive voice and the emotive landscapes she paints with her lyrics. It is an odyssey marked by artistic ingenuity, rooted in the heart of indie rock’s ever-evolving narrative.

Congratulations on the release of your upcoming EP, “Debris.” Can you share the creative process and inspiration behind the music, especially considering its unique flavor of a lovely voice singing descriptive lyrics set to indie rock? 

Somehow I had a seismic shift as a songwriter during the pandemic, in which I no longer related with any songs I’d written pre-covid. And since I had nothing but time on my hands right then, I just started to write. Honestly I think there was something about me having no distractions at that time, and having no choice but to deal with some things that perhaps I’d been able to suppress before. Out of all that, a whole batch of new songs was born!  And this EP contains six of them.
The flavor of my music isn’t so much a strategic choice on my part, it’s just what comes out! I’ve always been drawn to poetic lyrics in music, so that’s where I start. My voice is just my voice. And, for my taste, indie rock seems to balance out the niceness of my voice. I don’t like sweetness overload, gotta take a little bit of sandpaper to things… and since I don’t really get that from my voice, it’s gotta come from somewhere else! Hence, some scratchy guitars and fuzz. That’s the sound that makes sense to me.
As a singer/songwriter based in the Lower East Side of NYC, how has the vibrant and diverse atmosphere of the neighborhood influenced your music, and do we hear those influences in your latest EP?
I can’t tell you how much I love walking out the door of my apartment straight into teeming life. I love people on the street. I love looking at what they’re wearing, I love listening to bits of their conversations and hearing any accents. I like that there’s still people out on the streets after midnight and I like that there’s still somewhere open where I can walk over and buy a carton of milk. I love that I can walk a block in any direction and see live music, burlesque, go to a dive bar, go to a cocktail lounge, go to a rooftop or fire escape to see gorgeous NYC views and then grab a pastrami sandwich at Katz’s at 3:00 a.m. Not that I do that last one all that often 😉 but I love that I can! It’s that energy that is in these songs; it’s the inspiration to DO something, to create, to pick up my guitar and contribute to life.
Having a Master’s Degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, how do you blend your classical music background with the indie rock genre, and can you tell us about any specific musical elements from your training that find their way into your work?
Music is kind of just music to me. Honestly I sort of have to TRY to hear genres, I don’t really care very much about classification. When it came time in my life to decide a major in college, there was no question. I couldn’t imagine not doing music. So, because I wanted to learn about music and learn to make better music, I majored in it. Then, in an academic path, the next step was to get a master’s degree, so I did. I am forever grateful for the world of music to which I was exposed in doing this… but then, upon graduating, I had to UNLEARN some things, in order to make music in my own authentic way. I think for every artist who hones their craft, there’s a period like that. Not that I’m comparing myself to Picasso, but Picasso learned to be a really good realistic painter before he unlearned those rules and made something really unique. I guess that’s what I’m after.
Being a native of rural Nebraska and now a seasoned New Yorker, how has the contrast between these environments shaped your songwriting, and are there specific experiences from Nebraska that resonate in “Debris”?
As much as I love the teeming streets of New York, I also love the open plains of Nebraska. I need both. Nebraska is all over these six songs, because I think some of the issues that boiled up within me during the pandemic were things I had to deal with that had roots in Nebraska.  One song specifically, “Wild”, was born of the fact that I was stuck in the city and unable to travel for so long during the pandemic. I need exposure to all those images in the lyrics, and at the time I was deprived of it.
Your bandmates Eric Sanderson and Tom Zovich come from notable backgrounds with Augustines and Pela. How does the collaboration with experienced musicians contribute to the distinct sound of your music, and what do they bring to the creative process?
These guys are such a gift to my music. They’re both fantastic musicians, and they elevate me when I play with them! I feel like I have looked for so long for bandmates who’ll listen to what I want and then have the ability to respond accordingly, and these guys do. Also the fact that they’re just more experienced and accomplished than I am pushes me AND supports me. Such a pleasure to play and record with them! Eric also served as the engineer and producer of the songs. A friend of mine said the other day that Eric GETS my music, and I second that.
The 12″ vinyl record of two EPs, “White Noise/Sparkling Smile,” will be available at your show. What motivated the choice to release your music on vinyl, and does it hold a particular significance for you?
I adore vinyl. I love the tactility of it, and I love the sound. My first experience as a very little kid with music was my parents’ records, and when I figured out that I could make my very own record with my very own voice on it, I just had to do it. This new EP Debris will just be streaming–at least, initially!–but it would be a pleasure to hear that at some point on vinyl too. We’ll see!
Rock n’ Reel Magazine has likened you to the “latter day Joan Baez.” How do you feel about such comparisons, and have iconic folk artists like Joan Baez played a role in shaping your musical identity?
I am beyond flattered to be compared to Joan Baez, and yes, to a certain degree I’ve wanted to sing like her, and Joni Mitchell, and I’ll even throw Kate Bush in there.  Joni and Bob Dylan have been hugely influential to me in lyric-writing. I’ve never wanted to sound like any of them too exclusively, because I want to sound like ME, but there are parts of them that I definitely aspire to. Those guys are all from my parents’ generation, but my parents weren’t really into them, so I discovered them on my own and took ownership of that music for myself.
The Roots Music Report praises your sophisticated song crafting. How do you approach the process of songwriting, and are there specific themes or stories that you find yourself drawn to consistently?
I just do my best to make my songwriting fully present. I try to quiet external voices and pay attention to what’s currently happening inside of me, and make sense of that on a page.  If my song crafting is sophisticated, I suppose that’s the influence of classical music in my brain. I don’t try to be sophisticated! It’s just what comes out, and what interests me enough to remember it. For the record, there are plenty of three-chord rockabilly tunes that I know I would never think of, and I think there’s a level of sophistication to those, too!
For those attending your celebration of the EP release, what can they expect from the live performance, and how do you hope to connect with your audience through your music on stage?
I try to stop time. I try to make people forget the snow they just trudged through or the boss who yelled at them or that unpaid bill… I try to create musical space that allows people to just be, for a set of music. That’s my aim.

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