rhythma - sean michael imler

Biographical and Performance Info


Rhythma crosses the boundaries of rock, folk, pop, jazz and Americana and combines this with lyrics that inform, challenge, and attract audience members who are interested in social change and alternative media. In the tradition of the traveling storyteller or griot, Sean Michael's lyrics are driven by, wrapped and re-wrapped in rhythm, revealing complex, continuously shifting perspectives.

Musician, lyricist, songwriter, and producer, Sean Michael Imler AKA Rhythma, traveled through Europe for over 6 months with his guitar and a 4-track machine-composing, singing, performing, and recording when he was just 21. He began the fusion of his artistic and musical talents in Santa Cruz, California, while he was an art student at UCSC and an African hand drum student of Arthur Hull's. Heavily influenced by African traditions he became an mbira player, studying with every master from Zimbabwe that came thru the area. He also played marimba for five years with the Kuzanga ensemble. Sean Michael continued to compose music, all the while absorbing and integrating the rich and diverse rhythms of the Santa Cruz World Music scene.

Sean Michael's influences spring from his youth in Hollywood, where he began playing classical piano at age 8 with the encouragement of his mother, who held band rehearsals in their living room and earned a living wage singing in LA nightclubs. As a teenager, he bought a nylon-string guitar on which he practiced classical music, and demonstrated an early aptitude for fusing diverse styles by learning songs by the Misfits and Minor Threat (and playing these same strings in a punk band). Sean Michael's influences now range from classical Middle Eastern music to South American and Caribbean derived slave music to the 1980s gothic, punk, and ska that characterize his own Southern California roots.

Sean Michael spent years learning and refining the technical aspects of tracking and recording before releasing his first self-titled CD, Rhythma, in 2005, which is comprised entirely of music he wrote, played, sung, and recorded. On his 2009 CD, Between the Lines, he collaborated with cellist Harry Gilbert, a member of the eco-folk-rock quartet, Sagewing, and the Composers Ensemble in Los Angeles. For this CD, Sean Michael has also teamed up with Gary Kehoe, drummer, and Marcel Menard, percussionist in the Santa Cruz based band, Sambada; Boris Burtin, keyboardist for the Bay Area Jazz band, Code Name Jonah; and Charles K. Brown, a singer/songwriter from Nashville.

When he is not composing, collaborating, or performing near his home in San Jose, Sean Michael works as a prototyper for Yahoo! and performs all over the United States on his acoustic guitar. Imler prefers alternative venues like resorts, cafes, festivals, and campground gatherings, where listeners are willing to engage the part of themselves that is playful, relaxed, and open to transformation.


In live performances, Sean Michael is a guitar player and singer. Other instruments that Sean plays are bass, keyboards, percussion, and beat programming.

Rhythma Discography

Between the Lines - Rhythma Records RCD-02 - 2009

Rhythma - Rhythma Records RCD-01 - 2005


AC/DC, Adam Ant, Aha, Ali Farka Toure, Aqualung, Aretha Franklin, Art of Trance, B52s, Baaba Maal, Bassnectar, Bauhaus, Belle and Sebastian, Ben Harper, Bill Laswell, Billy Squire, Binary Finary, Bjork, Black Sabbath, Blancmange, Bob Marley, Brett Dennen, Brian Eno, Broken Social Scene, Burning Spear, Caia, Carol C., Cat Stevens, Chameleons, Chicane, Clarence Clemmons, Cocteau Twins, Damien Rice, David Gray, Dead Can Dance, Deedrah, DJ Tiesto, Djivan Gasparian, Dumisani Maraire, Fleetwood Mac, Forward Kwenda, Frederic Chopin, Fun Lovin' Criminals, GBH, George Harrison, Godspeed You Black Emporor, Hallucinogen, Harry Chapin, Infected Mushroom, Iron and Wine, Iron Maiden, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, Jeff Buckley, Jesus and Mary Chain, Jiao Gilberto, Kaki King, Karl Denson, Keane, Keller Williams, Led Zeppelin, Lewis and Clarke, Lights in a Fat City, Love & Rockets, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Manno Charlemagne, Mansour Seck, Marillion, Marvin Gaye, Mercury Rev, Michael Brook, Michael Franti, Michael Hedges, Misfits, Nusrat Fate Ali Khan, OMD, Patty Griffin, Paul Simon, Perry Farrell, Pete Namlook, Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd, Preston Reed, R. Kelly, Radiohead, Ray Lamontagne, Richie Hawtin, Rush, Sade, Sam Cooke w/ The Soul Stirrers, Sambada, Shpongle, Sigur Ros, Simon & Garfunkel, Sinead O'Connor, Soft Cell, Soulwax, Sound Tribe Sector 9, Sparks, Spearhead, Spiritualized, Spool, Steely Dan, Stella Chiweshe, Stevie Wonder, Sugar Cubes, Sun Kil Moon, Syd Barrett, The Arcade Fire, The Beach Boys, The Cars, The Chemical Brothers, The Cult, The Damned, The Doobie Brothers, The Eagles, The Folk Implosion, The Kingston Trio, The Mission, The Tao of Groove, The The, This Mortal Coil, Tosca, Triumph, U2, Unkle, Velvet Underground, Whitney Houston, Wilco, Xavier Rudd, Zero 7

Sounds Like

Aqualung, Ben Harper, Brett Dennen, Cat Stevens, Damien Rice, David Gray, Harry Chapin, Iron and Wine, Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, Lewis and Clarke, Love & Rockets, Michael Hedges, OMD, Paul Simon, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Ray Lamontagne, Simon & Garfunkel, Soft Cell, Spiritualized, Steely Dan, Sun Kil Moon, The Doobie Brothers, The Eagles, The Folk Implosion, The The, This Mortal Coil, U2, Wilco, Xavier Rudd, Zero 7

Favourite Songs

Hallelujah - Written by Leonard Cohen, performed by Jeff Buckley
Bad & The Unforgettable Fire - U2 - really the whole Unforgettable Fire album
Clarence Clemmons - Serenity - really the whole Peacemaker album
Cinquante Six - Ali Farka Toure
Tjilpi - Lights in a Fat City - really the whole Somewhere album
Deedrah - Reload album
Perry Farrell - Song Yet to Be Sung album
Shpongle - Tales of the Inexpressible and Are You Shpongled albums
Madagascar - Art of Trance - really the whole Voice of Earth album
Richie Hawtin and Pete Namlook - From Within I album
Spool - self titled album
Chicane - Behind the Sun and Far From the Maddening Crowds albums
Carol C. - First Impressions album
Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World - written by Arlen, Harburg,
	Weiss, performed by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
The Tourist - Radiohead
Fake Plastic Trees - Radiohead, really every Radiohead album
Dave Dudley - Tosca
Heaven is Ten Zillion Light Years Away - Stevie Wonder
Troy - Sinead O'Connor
Birthday - Sugar Cubes
What Are You To Me? - Unkle, really the whole Never, Never, Land album
Sanctum Sanctorum - The Damned
Djivan Gasparian - Duduk Flute From Armenia album
Kayleigh/Lavender - Marillion
Passion - Peter Gabriel
Mhuri Ya Maraire - Dumisani Maraire
Mustt Mustt album - Michael Brook w/ Nusrat Fate Ali Khan
Hallowed By Thy Name - Iron Maiden
Heaven and Hell - Black Sabbath
Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven album - Love and Rockets
B52s - Wild Planet album
Lagartija Nick - Bauhaus
Third Uncle - written by Brian Eno, performed by Bauhaus
Passion of Lovers - Bauhaus
Pins and Needles - GBH
Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin
Kashmir - Led Zeppelin
Going to California - Led Zeppelin
Battle of Evermore - Led Zeppelin - every Led Zeppelin album
Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
Comfortably Numb - Pink Floyd - really every Pink Floyd album
Everthing by Bob Marley
Swamp Thing - Chameleons
Dead Can Dance - all albums
Perly Dewdrops Drop - Cocteau Twins
Love's Easy Tears - Cocteau Twins
Hitherto - Cocteau Twins
From the Flagstones - Cocteau Twins
Carolyn's Fingers - Cocteau Twins
Aikai Guinea - Cocteau Twins
Song to the Siren - written by Tim Buckley, performed by This Mortal Coil
The Hem of His Garment - Sam Cooke w/ The Soul Stirrers
The Cult - Love album
Father and Son - Cat Stevens
Where Do the Children Play - Cat Stevens
Sloop John B - written by The Kingston Trio, performed by The Beach Boys
Albatross - Fleetwood Mac
The Hardest Walk - Jesus and Mary Chain
Romance of the Telescope - OMD
Enola Gay - OMD
DJ Tiesto - Just Be album
Take On Me - Aha
Torch (extended version) - Soft Cell
What! - Soft Cell
I Will Always Love You - written by Dolly Parton, performed by Whitney Houston
Green Hell - Misfits
Halloween - Misfts
I Turned Into a Martian - Misfits
Last Caress - Misfits
Skulls - Misfits
Venus in Furs - Velvet Underground
Djam Leelli - Baaba Maal and Mansour Seck album
Tower of Strength - The Mission
Magic Power - Triumph
Last Resort - The Eagles
1999 (Goureyella Mix) - Binary Finary
I Say a Little Prayer - Aretha Franklin
Cats in the Cradle - Harry Chapin
My Sweet Lord - George Harrison
Bluer Than Midnight - The The
By Your Side - Sade
I Believe I Can Fly - R. Kelly
Tadzungaira - Forward Kwenda
Sexual Healing - written by Marvin Gaye, performed live by Ben Harper
Here Comes the Grump - Adam Ant
Waves - Blancmange
Knowbody Knows - Billy Squire
Ayiti Pa Fore - Manno Charlemagne
The Weaver - Rhythma