Koji

7 Sep

“Music has become a life for me and I am eternally grateful for that.”

Born and bred in Pennsylvania, Koji is an artist who inspires many many people. His music speaks for itself, with it’s enticing arrangements and vocals that could give anyone goosebumps. He’s released four albums so far, but is not planning on slowing down anytime soon. Koji’s ultimate goal is to spread not only his music, but peace around the world. I recently sat down with him and learned more about this refreshing artist.

Q. Some of your songs tend to have a country-tinged melancholy. Any artists that you were into growing up (or currently) that influenced this sound?

A. My first concerts were Hawaiian and folk concerts and those experiences definitely have a big influence on my more acoustic material. As a teen, I found punk rock. Then my dad, who is a huge music fan, decided that because of all of the political punk coming out of my room, I ought to revisit folk music along side artists like Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Woodie Guthry. Alongside that, he put me on artists like Hank Williams and Johnny Cash.

Q. How about Pennsylvania? Have you lived there and grown up with any influential artists from the area?

A. Pennsylvania has produced a lot of amazing artists. Musically there are folks like Kid Dynamite, mewithoutYou, Dr. Dog, or the folks that I literally grew up with like The Wonder Years, Balance and Composure, White Wives, Doctor Destroyer, etc. Before doing music, I spent a year at the Tyler School of Art. I definitely draw a lot on visual artists. Keith Haring was someone who I’ve always looked up to. Really, every type of craft really pushes what I do in my music and fortunately for Pennsylvanians, our state produces a lot of greatness.

Q. When you first started writing music, what was your ultimate goal? Was it just to have some fun, or was it something more long-term?

A. My goal in writing music has always been happiness, harmony, and peace. It’s the same goal that I have in life. It’s never been about what I’d get professionally out of it, but more about what I have to give. In that way, music has become a life for me and I am eternally grateful for that.

Q. If there is one thing you wish your listeners could gain from your music, what would it be?

A. A lot of the time, I feel like I’m writing for the lost ones, marginalized and oppressed peoples, and the like. There’s a little bit of that in everyone. It’s my hope that people find or gain what they need to. They should also know how much their listening means to me, truly.

Q. You’re most commonly seen in photos with a guitar in tow. Any other instruments in which you dabble? Any instruments in which you wish to play?

A. I would love to play piano or cello. I think a brass instrument would be awesome too. At some point in my life, I hope I get to take action on those curiosities! For now, all I can do is sing and play guitar.

Q. Clearly, you love to play shows in your home state. Any other states you find welcoming and fun in which to play?

A. At this point, I feel like the whole world is my home. I’ve been shown so much love and I have fallen in love with so many places. We began doing these “Colormake Pop-Up Shows” during the Resolve Tour where people would ask us to stop in their town on the way to another show. So, in El Paso, TX, I gave a noon-time performance in a pizza shop full of kids because of Twitter. The same thing happened just recently in Jacksonville, FL in a park on the river because of Facebook. Every day seems to be an adventure!

Q. Do you have big plans for the future? Or is it more a case of “let the path form on its own?”

A. I’ve released four records in less than 12 months with no plans of slowing down. I have another small release that we’re working on for this year and then it might be time to start thinking bigger for 2012. It remains to be seen what will take place, but this is the most creative I’ve ever been. It’ll be amazing to see where all of this leads. 

Q. If you could play a show with any artist alive, who would it be and why?

A. It would really mean a lot to perform with Ted Leo. He’s a songwriter that I have a lot of admiration for. I even covered one of his songs on my latest release, Never Come Undone. He’s made a lot of music that means a lot to me.

Q. Is the music scene in Pennsylvania pretty booming?

A. Yes, it’s amazing! We have so many bands. This last weekend I got to see Title Fight’s release show where War Hungry, Cold World, Dead End Path, and The Menzingers all played. The next day I got to perform with Balance and Composure and White Wives who are also from Pennsylvania. On both dates, Touche Amore played who are from California. I think if you’d ask Touche or anyone else right now about Pennsylvania, they’d agree that big things are happening. I love where I’m from.

Q. If you were stranded on an island for the rest of your life and could only bring one of your songs to listen to, which one would it be and why?

A. This one’s easy. I’d bring, “Spring Song.” If you know it, you know it.

Here is a past performance Koji did while in Savannah, GA called “Minute 8.”

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