Joanna Sternberg Channels Their Inner Baby Penguin with “Pimba” – AdHoc

Joanna Sternberg Channels Their Inner Baby Penguin with “Pimba”

Check out the uncannily earnest Flash-animated video.

Then I Try Some More, Joanna Sternberg’s full-length debut, isn’t for the faint of heart. Sternberg, who has extensive training in electric and classical bass, turns here to stark piano and acoustic guitar to tell stories of abandonment, insecurity, and addiction. “Trauma’s filled up my body now,” they warble on “Nothing Makes My Heart Sing.” Track after track, Sternberg tries their hardest to let all that pain out.

And then there’s “Pimba.” Told from the perspective of the littlest penguin in the Antarctic, it could easily pass as a tune meant for kids—apart from the self-flagellating songs that surround it. “I am small, but that don’t mean a thing,” sings the “sometimes ignored” Pimba: “I know what I know what I know.” If it sounds a little cloying, it’s supposed to be. “When I do it live,” says Sternberg, “I beg people to laugh. I’m just like, please laugh, it’ll be awkward if you don’t.” 

The track’s visual has its own strange humor. A crudely rendered and Flash-animated Pimba sings us their song from atop a block of sea ice, their beak somehow stretched into a smile. Complete with flurries of gigantic clip-art snowflakes and uncomfortably abrupt zoom, the video has an aesthetic somewhere between elementary school and avant-garde. Like the song it accompanies, it has a sincerity so extreme it verges on satire.

Via email with AdHoc, Sternberg shared the playful origins of “Pimba.” “I wrote this song while I was hanging out with my friend Felix Lemerle, [who] is an amazing guitarist and composer,” they explain. “I was trying to make him laugh and annoy him at the same time, and it worked! While I was doing imitations of singers and improvising silly melodies and lyrics and playing guitar, the entire song came out of me all at once.” The video was drawn and animated by friend Harry Rubin-Falcone, “a visual artist, animator, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist” with whom they attended kindergarten and LaGuardia High School. Check it out below.

Then I Try Some More is out now via Team Love Records. Joanna Sternberg plays their record release show at Alphaville on August 18, with Miwi La Lupa, Utsav Lal, and Allegra Krieger.