Who is Kimric Smythe?

A) Is he a steampunk magician?
B) Is he the neighborhood accordion repairman genius?
C) Is he a punk rock roboticist?
D) Is he a bovine pyrotechnician?
E) Is he a TV star?
F) Is he the personification of an East Bay Maker?

Why, you guessed it!  Kimric Smythe is G:   ALL OF THE ABOVE! We’ve done our best below to provide some backup to these assertions, but if you want t0 see for yourself what it feels like to be around a Renaissance Maker Man, you’ll have to come visit Kimric Smythe’s prime space at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire.  Now for the evidence:

A) Is he a steampunk magician? Kimric helped build and plumb and fancify the Neverwas Haul, the fantastic and fabulous Victorian house-on-wheels.  This is Kimric’s steampunk era, Kimric stepping out into the world of early-industry fantasy and innocence, a celebration of “an era when technology and exploration fueled the imagination of the Continent, and gentlemen and ladies of leisure set out in pursuit of the strange and wonderous.”

Kimric actually excels in steam power applications, has made steam-driven calliopes to buggies to whistles,  and will be bringing a range of steam powered devices and whirlygigs to the EBMMF.

B) Is he the neighborhood accordion repair genius? Why indeed, Kimric is the fair proprietor of Smythe’s Accordion Center in downtown Oakland.  Kimric and some friends have also designed and built the best accordian amplifier on the market (a dubious distinction in some people’s minds, but certainly a feat of maker prowess).  If you visit the Accordion Center, you’ll find Kimric has an incredible array of gorgeous accordions for sale.  And for sure if you have an accordion that needs love and tender repair, someone has already probably told you to take it to Kimric.

C) Is he a punk rock roboticist? Certainly.  Or something like that.  Kimric has been a team member of the legendary machine performance troupe,  Survival Research Laboratories (SRL), for over 20 years.

SRL was born way back in the late 1970’s by Mark Pauline along with Matt Heckert and Eric Werner. Along the way an astounding array of Bay Area artists have made their way through the SRL clutches, learning tricks and skills, and putting on often outrageous displays of remote control debauchery.  Kimric persists, and always brings solid quirk to SRL shows.  He’s good at dynamic and funny props that taunt the machines, as well as for providing irritation like an excruciatingly loud jet engine on a forklift—or the Kimric Kill Kart with its 6-barrel shockwave cannon.

D) Is he a bovine pyrotechnician?
Most early “Burners” remember Kimric.  He led the pyro design and detonation of the Man at Burningman throughout the 1990s.  But even just this past Burn, Kimric worked with Temple of Flux to design the pyro for their 2010 Burningman temple. (Image courtesy Extramatic.)  Kimric is also fondly remembered for the legend of the Java Cow, a early morning playa apparition offering unadulterated caffeine.

E) Is he a TV star? Why yes, of course. Back in the 2000’s, Kimric led a winning Junkyard Wars team, meeting the challenge of building a machine using a car and a soccer ball to play golf.  (!?)  Kimric’s idea was to build an industrial version of a tennis ball pitching machine, and with his dad by his side, Kimric not only wooed the audience of millions, but his team won the challenge.

F) Is he the personification of a Maker? Yes.  He can’t stop and you can’t stop him.  It’s in his blood and his genes and his clothes.  If you’re still on the fence about his qualifications, come see for yourself at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire.

>>Kimric’s tophat photo courtesy of Lisa Swehla

10 responses to “Who is Kimric Smythe?


    I friggin LOVE your work! I friggin LOVE this guys work!

  2. John William Vincent Law

    Birth of Steampunk?
    Kimmerick sat at the Hotel Utah Bar after the SRL Crime Wave show in February of 1996. Much of the crew had narrowly avoided the fate of Mark Pauline & Mike Dingle (they were arrested for terrorism related charges – later dropped). We were thirsty. Kim saw a tiny dust and cobweb covered steam locomotive on the back bar shelf above the booze. He asked the barmaid if he could hold it. He filled the boiler up with beer, lit the candle beneath. For the next hour or so as we drank more & more, the little engine ran up & down the length of the bar as patrons and drunks lifted their drinks for it to pass.

  3. SRL in Phoenix Arizona, 1996. The day after the show. We are all hungover, barely managing to pull the burnt and decimated set apart, culling out and herding the shattered machines. It’s hot and little dust devils keep spinning around the lot where we are working. Nest thing you know, Kimric has buniged a giant orange nautical smoke bomb to the back of his bike and is chasing the dust devils, the orange smoke rising in the desert air like a tornado tail behind him. That’s Kimric. Bungie jockey, tornado chaser.

  4. 2003 Black Rock Hardware Store: A Study in Contrasts. You guys made me giggle round the clock. For a solid week. That tub was gross!

    -Proud Member of 2 Tub Clubs.

  5. Kimric and Mom n’ Dad Smythe arrive on the playa, Burning Man 2007, Tuesday night, literally just as the man goes up in flames early:
    “Well! This is one of the few times in my life I can legitimately say that it was, in fact, on fire when I got here.”

  6. I seems impossible to narrow down a favorite from his endless stream of fantastical projects, but the title of his local TV show “Things That Might Fly If You Put Enough Rockets On Them” comes to mind. Then there was the time that I saw a picture of him and Shannon O’Hare on the steam buggy featured on the Colbert Report as part of coverage for the Escape From Berkeley race, prompting Steven Colbert to claim that the buggy was “run entirely on beard clippings and pink slips”. Said buggy also single handedly raised hundreds of dollars at a benefit when Kimric and Shannon turned it into a hot dog cooker. You can’t bottle this kind of ingenuity – unless of course Kimric himself figured out a material that could contain it.

  7. One one of my first dates with the man now known as my husband, we were walking through an art gallery and the heel came off my shoe. I though the date was over, but Brian said, “don’t worry my friend’s an accordion repairman and his shop is nearby, he’ll fix your shoe.” And before I could finish explaining I didn’t believe he knew an accordion repair man, I wasn’t sure there was such a thing as an accordion repair shop, and this fictional character certainly couldn’t fix my shoe, we where at Kimric’s shop. There this Kimric guy, talking seamlessly, fixed my shoe, gave a monologue, I think about tubas and/or home-made fireworks.
    Eight years later that shoe is still fixed. Thanks Mr. Smythe.

  8. For the few years that I’ve known Kimric, he has personified my favorite Kimric comment “It’s not supposed to do that!” by creating situations where he makes dangerous so much fun! Keep up the good work!

  9. Kimric is the only person that you can walk up to and say, “I want to propel a 3-story house at 7mph” and have him answer with 12 different ways of doing so! He has enabled the Neverwas Haul crew to create the impossible…and then repair it repeatedly. If it hadn’t been for Kimric and his crazy antics, my life would not be normal, but it certainly wouldn’t be as adventurous.

  10. I had the pleasure of camping with Kimric and the Never Was Haul group this year at Burning Man. What a great crew of people! I loved Kimric’s home brew with the funny label and really enjoyed seeing his pyro work at the Temple of Flux. I will post some images of the pyro in the coming weeks at http://www.flickr.com/playarazzi Seeing other aspects of the man I can only say “what a talented guy”!

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