Brooklyn native KOTA The Friend has released his EP, Anything., and it created major buzz for the young cat. By creating things and being into music since he could hear sounds, he is a mastermind behind all of his visuals and creative direction. I caught up with him recently for the below interview, where he talks about his recent sold out show in LA, getting more in depth with EP, and how he started pursuing his music career.
RESPECT.: Who inspired you to start doing music? Why?
Pharrell Williams inspired me to start doing music. His sound is different, and it inspired me to start producing and making beats. I even started a band.
RESPECT.: What album changed your life to do music to pursue music? Why?
N*E*R*D* because by seeing sounds inspired me to pursuit music. It was just so creative and different. It made me want to be a producer and start taking songwriting differently. I started teaching myself instruments like guitar, bass and keyboard. I implemented all that in my music.
RESPECT.: What is the difference between your past EPs, Palm Tree Liquor, and Paloma Beach to the EP, ANYTHING., that is out now? Describe. Do you think there is growth amongst the EP’s?
In ‘Palm Tree Liquor,’ I was completely in the fog, trying to see clearly. I was dealing with a lot of demons, and it bled through into the music. I produced that entire project by the way.
In ‘Paloma Beach,’ I feel like the fog had cleared enough so that I could better find my way. I was able to deal with a lot of those demons that were kicking my ass in “palm tree liquor.”
In ‘ANYTHING.,’ I found my way out of the fog to a better place.I was able to appreciate the struggle that much more. The music is happier and more confident because I am happier and more confident. I also recorded this in a professional studio and had it mixed by Grammy award winning engineer BLUE (@mixedbyblue). So it sounds better than the first two projects. The growth shows.
RESPECT.: How did you come up with the name of your EP, ANYTHING.? Is there a reason behind it?
I called it ‘ANYTHING.’ for two reasons. One, I wanted it to have different sounds, styles and vibes. I wanted to make a project that didn’t have any rules and every track to catch people off guard in a pleasant way. Second, I was just so frustrated with the music industry, in which; I just wanted to make something carefree.. I didn’t want to spend forever trying to conjure up a title that the blogs would be into. I wanted it to be more about the sounds and the voices on the project.
RESPECT.: What is your favorite single off of the EP? Why?
My favorite single off of ANYTHING would be “Smile.” It’s the perfect song of its dope melody, calm vibe, good bars and beautiful chords. It sets the tone for the entire project.
RESPECT.: Any visuals coming out that you produced off the EP?
I’ll be producing a ton of visuals for the spring or summer. I don’t have anything at the time but they are coming soon!
RESPECT.: I see that you have performed a couple of weekends ago in LA, what was it like to see the growth from having a sold out show compared to your first show having 10 people there?
It was beautiful. The people loved it and embraced me. We sold out of meet and greet tickets as well. I must’ve taken 150 pictures and signed 100 posters. One of my fans came with his mother and she thanked me for being such a big inspiration in her son’s life. It was amazing. The progress from a year ago baffles me. While I have a long way to go, It made me realize I came a long way.
RESPECT.: What was the moment that you made you realized that this is for you? Explain.
When my son was born, I started thinking about getting a regular job and the thought of it made me miserable. I knew if I wasn’t making music, I wouldn’t be happy. It was then that I started going hard.
RESPECT.: What advice can you give to yourself back then about pursuing and following your career consistently?
It’s all about how much you really want it. The more you put into it; the more you’ll get out of it. Everybody’s path is different. Focus on yours.
RESPECT.: What is your definition of RESPECT.?
Respect is something earned by being a stand up individual.
RESPECT.: How did you come up with the artist name “Kota The Friend?” Describe
The name KODA is a Native American name meaning Friend. I really liked that name. I heard it in a disney movie “Brother Bear.” I used the Japanese spelling KOTA and added “The Friend” to my stage name because everyone needs a friend.
RESPECT.: What is next for Kota The Friend?
What’s next? The drop of ‘ANYTHING.’ was just the beginning. I dropped it all at once without releasing previous singles, because I wanted people to digest it as a whole. Soon i’ll be releasing a ton of content, in which it was curated by me, so that I can tell my story accurately and creatively.
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