Improv Interview: Ronald Jenkees

Mikey 38 comments
Improv Interview: Ronald Jenkees

As promised a little while ago, we sealed an interview with 'The Improv Guy', AKA Ronald Jenkees. Ronald has been busy cutting his new CD but was kind enough to make time to answer your questions. Many kudos!

A big thanks to everyone who submitted questions for Ronald. We put the most interesting and thoughtful ones forward, and threw in a few less serious ones for good measure. Ronald also informs me that he has completed work on his CD, so if you like what you have seen on , then be sure to check it out. Anyhoo...on with the interview!

Do you come from a professional musical background?

Not at all but everyone in my family is big into listening to music. But then again, who isn't?

How long have you been tinkling the ivories?

Between the ages of 4-6 years old, I begged for a little one-octave keyboard in a toys-r-us catalogue. I got it for Christmas and I played the heck out of that thing. I kept getting modest upgrades for a few birthdays and Christmas up until high-school. But in college it was up to me to make the upgrades. :) After college, I could finally afford a decent upgrade.

What software and setup do you have?

Software: I do all of my arranging in FL Studio. Software issues and inspired playing don't mix very well but with FL Studio I have had little "downtime" trying to figure something out or dealing with tech issues. Plus it's cheap and you get lifetime free upgrades. I also use various (mostly free) soundfont instruments and VST instruments.

Hardware: Korg Triton LE. I think this keyboard is geared for techno (not what I want) but it's got enough sounds on there to be of great use. I don't use the arranging/sampling features on there at all. I usually just use it for midi and recording wav files into FL Studio.

Describe the first moment when you realised you had become an internet phenomena.

Internet Phenomena is a strong phrase. But I remember the day I realized I had a few folks watching my videos. I came in late from out of town one weekend and checked my Gmail. Based on all the new YouTube comments/subscriptions, I knew something was up. I was pumped - I had been featured on Digg's video page and I love Digg so that was a big deal to me. After that, Bill Simmons (ESPN) asked me to write his podcast theme. That was another really cool break.

Who are your musical influences or heroes?

This is a tough question. It's hard to say but I love Led Zeppelin. I really like some of the old Parliament-Funkadelic CD's. Both of those groups are pioneers in their own right. So much original stuff there, especially with Zeppelin.

What feels better - a synth keyboard or a real piano?

Probably a synth, but that's because I play that more lately. However, sometimes it feels better to sit at a piano with no distractions because you're forced to play. And that's it. You just play - no Window's box, no email, no right-clicks.. Just you and the piano. It can be more challenging, but it's fun.

Do you play any other instruments? What are they?

Not really. A tiny bit of harmonica and that's it.

Can I download some of your music?

I finally put up my digital download store where you can get a few 192kb DRM-Free MP3's, or buy the whole album for $10 in a zip file. You can also preview the music before you buy it. My Digital Download Store:

I read you have a CD on the way. What can we expect on it? When can we get it?!

Yes, it's on it's way! The physical CD's are going to look really cool! I went with the digi-pack format so it'll look a little more spiffy than your average jewel case. It cost a bit more to get them made, but I wanted the packaging to be unique.

Did the positive feedback from Youtube have a part in your decision to make a CD? Or was it something you already planned to do?

The YouTube feedback played a HUGE role - probably 99%. I always wanted to do this, but with people asking for it it made it a lot easier to take the risk and spend the money to get some CD's pressed. Tons of thanks to those that take the time to say nice things in comments - I read them all and they still mean a lot. They helped me get my butt in gear and get a completed product up for sale. Thanks a million for the encouragement. I mean it.

What's the coolest thing that's happened to you as a result of your new found fame?

Lots of folks tell me that my music inspires them play more music. I'm sure a lot of that has to do with my goofy looks. When people see me, I can imagine them saying "if he can have fun with it, so can I". That is the coolest thing ever because I know what it feels like to need some inspiration and never thought I would be that for people.

Is making a living as a musician something you have considered?

Oh yeah! But my primary goal is to have fun with it first. Then, if something comes out of it, great. If not, nothing is lost. Music is hard work sometimes, but in my opinion, it should come with a decent amount of fun.

If you could jam with anyone, alive or deceased, who would you choose?

Probably The Doors or Led Zeppelin. Their keyboardists are amazing and know how to compliment a song perfectly without taking over.

What advice would you give anyone starting out in the music business?

As an independent musician, I don't have the experience of being "in the business". However, I would suggest to read all you can about it (the business side of things) and make sure that's something you are prepared to work hard at. There are lots of risks and a ton to learn. Be sure about it, then give it a shot!

Did you end up buying the Yamaha Motif XS8?

Eventually I'll get that or something very similar. Sometimes the anticipation of buying it provides me with short bursts of musical inspiration, so no hurry.

Will you join my band?

Thanks a lot for asking, whoever you are! Being in a band would be a ton of fun someday, but right now, that's not what I want. I envy the folks on stage that get to put on a live concert, but for now, I'm really happy doing what I'm doing. That's not to say it's still not tempting.


Update: Ronald's album reviewed

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Wednesday 18th July 2007 | 10:47 AM

Thanks for interview. Gonna get the record now!

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Wednesday 18th July 2007 | 10:57 AM

Mmmm...DRM-free. Nice one dude.

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Wendy W

Wednesday 18th July 2007 | 12:14 PM

This is the best $10 I ever spent. I have watched his youtube performances with delight but the album is so much better than I expected. Ronald should consider a career in movie sound track composition cause there are some amazing epic tunes on this album. Just brightened my day.

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Wednesday 18th July 2007 | 07:34 PM

I am pleasantly surprised! Worth the full $AU11.50

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Friday 20th July 2007 | 08:36 AM

Listening to the album now. I absolutely love it. I can't wait until his CD is out so I can get a few hard copies.

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Adam Pieniazek

Friday 20th July 2007 | 10:31 AM

Great interview. Really shows that apart from his superhuman music skills, he's just an average guy having fun doing what he enjoys.

Franken, the DRM-Free made me laugh a bit when I first saw it on his site...classic.

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David Gifford

Friday 27th July 2007 | 07:07 AM

Everyone knows it by now, I think. Be it his swank grooving beats, his man on the street snippets, or his conflicts with birdsnakes and uncooperative matches, Ronald Jenkees has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is the greatest thing that ever lived. No one else comes close. Can't wait to see his first appearance on the David Letterman show.

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Sunday 29th July 2007 | 06:55 PM

Finally got the album and its pretty darned good. I hear Ronald is going to be the Letterman show.

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Thursday 2nd August 2007 | 11:18 PM

I followed him from the very beginning... His music is awesome, and so is he. He's not just playing music, but he ís the music... It doesn't come from his fingers, it comes from his soul.
I sometimes have that too, but I'm not good or anything, I just love watching, listening and getting inspired.
Thanks Ronald and thanks for the interview!

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Thursday 6th September 2007 | 05:32 AM

The guy's name is Benjamin Feltes, and he went to Murray State. He originally had an alt named "Big Cheez" but after disappearing has come back with a vengance as "Ronald Jenkees". Got to say, YouTube is the perfect venue for ol' Ronald.

In case people think this is just a rumor, you can independently confirm this in the following way:

1) Go to BigCheez's site. Find picture of him on poster here (

2) Go to Ronald's site. Find picture of him on CD cover here (

3) See that pictures are same.

4) Go to, do a WHOIS for '' (BigCheez's website), see registrant - Benjamin Feltes. (Ronald's domain info is hidden, so no good there).

5) Scroll halfway down on this page (;a=view&i=1003&r=;client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&hs=KxK&q=%22benjamin+feltes%22+cheez&btnG=Search).

See post by Benjamin Feltes a.k.a. BigCheez. Murray State e-mail address.

6) Now that we're satisfied they're one and the same, read BigCheez's old blog posts and understand that it is a character, as mentioned in this post (


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A Superfan

Thursday 13th September 2007 | 08:40 AM

Who cares who he is? So he's got a stage name -- I don't think I'd want to be blasting my name all over YouTube either.

This guy rocks and I'm glad I bought his CD!

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Wednesday 19th September 2007 | 12:52 PM

Ronald Jenkees - Benjamin Feltes - it doesn't really matter if it's an act or not. What matters is we have this genuine person that plays from his soul and shares this in the most positive manner possible. There's so much talent out there; unbelievable mind blowing talent but the people with this talent tend to have an arrogance about them - imagining they are above, on a different plane. Not so for Mr. Jenkees. This old soul is the most genuine - positive person I have had the pleasure of watching/listening to. I've spent hours watching his YouTubes and could not stop grinning from ear to ear on every single one of them. He has this uncanny ability to make you feel good. You walk away from the computer feeling light and free. His music is simply mind blowing. There's not much music that leaves you in awe once you are finished listening. I've had his album and only his album on my iPod for a couple of weeks now and it NEVER gets old. Because his music comes from the soul it touches you in a different way. One that most wouldn't understand; it strikes a chord with the subconscious mind and leaves you feeling like you've just taken the best 'happy pills' medicine has to offer. Ronald Jenkees has inspired so many people to have fun with music and play more - including myself. I've never been inspired like this. I'm a pessimist with a bad attitude towards this world we live in but when I'm finished watching/listening to Ronald Jenkees Im the happiest person with the brightest outlook. It is amazing. Check out his YouTubes and if you like what you see and hear - which you will - support this wonderful artist so he can continue inspiring people all over the globe. I can't wait for his second album!

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Thursday 17th January 2008 | 08:14 AM

Ronald is the man. Top marks for a great interview. How did you score that!?

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Saturday 1st March 2008 | 10:13 AM

Yeah, Ronald is a persona.

But I think it's a great persona and some great things are coming out of it...

Like he says...

"Lots of folks tell me that my music inspires them play more music. I'm sure a lot of that has to do with my goofy looks. When people see me, I can imagine them saying "if he can have fun with it, so can I". That is the coolest thing ever because I know what it feels like to need some inspiration and never thought I would be that for people."

He's inspired me!
Peace out internets :)

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Saturday 19th April 2008 | 10:40 AM

A stage name? Scandalous! Oh wait, ever hear of Paul David Hewson, Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, or Cordozar Calvin Broadus, Jr.?

You might know them as Bono Vox, Sting, and Snoop Dogg.

Go for it Ronald, I wish you every success!

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Li'l, Johny

Wednesday 7th May 2008 | 04:49 PM

Well I guess there is nothing wrong in using a pseudo name in music. However I guess what was most misleading with Benjamin's alternate profile is that he presented himself with a first and last name which could be sort of misleading. Perhaps he would be been better off calling himself "Jenkees" short and sweet .

I also find it rather disturbing that all the links provided have been removed, altered or changed which sort of makes it look like someone has taken the initiative to cover things up.

Whatever the case, the guy does have the gift of music there is no doubt about it. However, its also worth saying that the best approach is an honest approach no matter what people may or may not think of you.

two cents

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Saturday 17th May 2008 | 07:32 PM

I have just looked at a few of his youtube vids and he genuinely has some fun and it's reflected in this interview.

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SuperJenkeesFan (=Alias!)

Tuesday 1st July 2008 | 04:44 PM

Personally I don't care if his name is "Rump Ranger Ronnie!" Just as long as he keeps pumpin' that keyboard!!!

The dude is awesome. I'd have a stage name too. There are a lot of great people in this world, but a few sick-o's always seem to spoil the fun!

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Monday 18th August 2008 | 02:49 AM response to this comment by spoiler. All of your links are 404 errors :P thanks for nothin.

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Friday 29th August 2008 | 04:04 AM

True!!!! (by the way thats not a real site) The boy got skills!!
p.s. snoop dog is a first and last name too!!

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Saturday 3rd January 2009 | 05:40 AM

it turns out, ronald jenkees is barrack obama!

who cares.

he makes amazing music and that is all that matters.

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Tuesday 3rd March 2009 | 11:19 PM response to this comment by spoiler. Finally a youtube video that shows how Ronald Jenkees is a fake.

Spread this vid.



Wednesday 4th March 2009 | 06:55 AM
235 total kudos response to this comment by jenkeesisfake. I'm the guy who interviewed Ronald here. I can say with certainty that I and many others bought his music because you know - we liked the music - not because he was a loveable character.

The persona may be an act - you and I don't really know - only he does for sure, but even if it is, let me throw a big resounding "so what?" at you. It's irrelevant.

He makes awesome music, and that's why people buy it. Heck I think Lilly Allen is cute and has an interesting personality, but that's not enough for me to buy her CD because I think her music is bollocks.

The bottom line is that even if this were true, you're probably going to find his fans won't be reacting the way you hope they will. It's just not important.

Kudos for doing your research though.

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Philly Gurl

Wednesday 4th March 2009 | 12:25 PM

Who is the real jenkeesisfake? Early Gates of The Ray Gradys. A struggling punk band here in the philly scene.

Here's a tip Earl, don't spam me (and apparently everyone else) trying to bring another musician down that is obviously doing far better than you are. You just lost a fan.

As far as Benjamin/Ronald/BigCheese, you just helped him earn 10 more of my hard earned dollars. He rawks more than you; maybe you should take notes instead of trying to slam him for being smarter and better looking.

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Saturday 21st March 2009 | 10:32 AM response to this comment by Philly Gurl. oh snap

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Friday 24th April 2009 | 10:34 AM

is there a double-snap? i just bought the album, and although i am not sure why has vanished, or why the track "Derty" is clearly backing some christian rap cd made by a dude named Fish, or why big cheeze has vanished, or blah blah.

Would I rather "Ronnie" explain it? Yes.
Would I spend $10 on a CD with just his YouTube jams on it? Yes.
Am I wondering happened to CD#2? Yes.
Am I a bit freaked out that it's been 9 months since he has posted something on YouTube? Yes.

In a sea of facade-oriented, nasty, disrespectful musicians who are convincing folks they are "being real", am I OK that someone even PRETENDS to be nice, decent and respectful and sets an example of what "being REAL" can mean!



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Saturday 9th May 2009 | 09:27 AM response to this comment by spoiler. None of your links work dood. Makes you look kinda' stupid. Who cares?



Saturday 9th May 2009 | 11:21 AM
235 total kudos response to this comment by jenkeesisfake. Looks like the video has been removed due to a terms of use violation. Oh well :-)

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Monday 11th May 2009 | 09:41 AM

his beats are pretty sick, but maybe he should stick to producing and flag the rap bit? he will never be as good a rapper as ghostface, rza, guru etc but he definately has a shot at
rivaling the best producers out there ay...

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Thursday 11th June 2009 | 04:05 AM Evidence! Go to and search go from there

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RJ is the best

Tuesday 28th July 2009 | 02:53 AM

Stop posting broken links. Personally i think the broken links are made to make us think that someone is trying to cover it up. Personally I think RJ is genuine and a truely amazing musician whether hes got a fake name or a persona. And all the people out there trying to bring him down just because you are SOOO much worse of a musician (lets face it, you are.) you can go to hell. Sorry for being blunt and maybe a bit rude, but this has to stop.



Wednesday 9th September 2009 | 02:17 PM
1 total kudos | 1 for this comment

Ronald isn't fake he's just putting on a nice magic show for everyone,
listen to the trumpets of the heavens and arbitrate in peace brothers.

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Thursday 29th October 2009 | 02:54 AM

You guys are so dumb, if you think it doesn't matter that it's fake, and nothing but a marketing scheme.

Of course it matters. He would have never gotten popular if people knew he was normal.

But people don't want to admit that, because they don't want to admit that they couldn't be objective and treated him different just because they thought he was retarded.

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Thursday 25th February 2010 | 05:16 AM

I love Ronald Jenkees he is real, all u haters need to stop talkin shit!!!

If he wasnt real I would not have spent money on his CD, and plus false advertising is illegal and it says on his website he has NO MUSICAL TRAINING so theres no way hes a music student

you ppl are just jealous

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Sunday 23rd May 2010 | 06:07 AM

LOL - He must be starting to make it big time to have so many enemies trying to bring him down.

@ Jay "because they thought he was retarded" You've got to be kidding me! Obviously you're the one who is thinking this. I had a buddy of mine that looked similar and acted the same way as Mr. Jenkees and the kid was a computer genius, so I can honestly say that label of "retarded" never entered into my mind.

As to his musical abilities... I heard and loved his music before I ever saw him, so that wasn't an influencing factor initially. However, having since seen most of his Youtube vids... I've become a fan of his character. He engenders acceptance and inspiration - "It doesn't matter if you're playin' Mary Had a Little Lamb - Have fun!" Like others have said, if that's some sort of a created character WHO CARES!

I, for one am constantly striving to create a character myself. There is a person I am always striving to be and yet I frequently fall far short. That doesn't make me a hypocrite, it makes me human, but failing to live up to my ideals isn't an excuse to give up and just accept my base nature.

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Mr UNpossible

Thursday 17th June 2010 | 03:28 PM

I think that Ronald Jenkees has brought something wonderful to this world.

That is all that matters to me.

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Tuesday 7th September 2010 | 12:43 AM

He plays, he may be a persona/act, etc... but at least he has a degree of talent on the keys. "Stay Crunchy" is basically the song linked above.

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Saturday 5th February 2011 | 04:51 PM

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