Image via thedemotape.com
Initially, I wanted to begin this piece with an introduction to who Koi Kurama is and what her music is symbolic of. But truthfully speaking, she is not that simple. She cannot be fully summarized in a paragraph, or two, and understood that way. When I first came across the South Florida artist, I was intrigued – Koi Kurama has a duality to her music that’s a rare find in an artist. She fiercely raps and smoothly sings. She’s tough, yet gentle. She’s strong, but also exposes her tender, fragile sides. She doesn’t allow herself to be seen in only one light and accepted as a particular kind of talent. In 2014, Koi Kurama dropped an 11-track project titled The Garden. In the introduction to this project, Koi sings “Walk into my garden, and you’ll really start to see who I am, who I be, who I are, what I’ve seen” in a serene kind of whisper over a MadBliss production. The project takes the complexities, the small and delicate beauties, as well as the clear and dominant sides of Koi Kurama and compares them to the colossal flora of a garden. If you’re looking for a better way to encapsulate the true essence of this multi-dimensional artist, there is probably none. There are levels and layers to her, and what she can do, and each release is a strong testament to that.
Koi Kurama is from Cleveland and is steadily building an online presence and following that grows stronger and stronger with each new release. Though she admits that Frank Ocean’s ability to create emotions through his music is admirable, her inspirations are not fully attributed to other musicians. Rather, she views the creations around her and trying to figure them out as inspiring. “Life in general is what influences my music,” she explains. “Not understanding why things happen the way they do, to understanding why everything happened the way it did. I look at everything as a lesson I can learn from & music as a way to express the process & outcome of it all in a more positive light.”
In our exclusive Q&A with Koi Kurama, she touches on the Florida music scene, she speaks of her challenges in developing her own style, and also delves into the immense passion that she has for expression….
For those that aren’t familiar, can you give a brief introduction of who you are?
KOI KURAMA I am Koi Kurama. I am from Cleveland, Ohio but I’ve lived in South Florida most of my life. I started making music the summer of 2013, when I met a music group called “ATF” (animetaskforce) via Twitter which was later dropped and turned into a collective called Chapter BLK. Musically, I’ve been writing for years, but I wouldn’t put myself in a box of just a “musical” artist, I also paint & write short stories or scripts but I like to dabble with my talents and touch a little of everything.
Something that many artists tend to struggle with is developing a musical style that they are comfortable with and that is appealing to the public. Did you ever face this battle?
KOI KURAMA I did, especially coming from Florida. When I started making music, a lot of people in my area didn’t pay attention to me, even when I started moving up in the game. At one point I gave up trying to get my peers to acknowledge me and decided to go out of state where I was getting a lot of love and support from. I didn’t think my music was for the Florida scene but after I started doing a few shows out of state I started getting more reception from my area.
Your ‘2016’ EP deals with darker emotions, society and it’s heavily introspective too. What was the making of that project like?
KOI KURAMA 2016 was literally the epitome of my year. The heartache, pain, stress and fears, it was everything I felt.
2016 was me trying to get over a lot, detaching myself from certain things and people. It was like a memoir to myself of everything that happened and what I was leaving behind.
A lot of times I feel like I’m constantly shedding my skin. 2015 to 2016 was a huge turning point in my life personally and musically so it affected me heavily. This EP was the hardship I went through and the benefits of coming out okay even when I didn’t feel like it most o the time.
What is your opinion on the music scene in Florida right now?
KOI KURAMA That’s a hard question; I’ve spent so much time ignoring the art or music scene in Florida, I feel like I’m just getting into it myself. The thing about the Florida art or music scene is that you either know somebody or you’re already up next on the scene – there isn’t much space for the people in-between. It’s neither good nor bad considering there are raw people here to come up, but egos and popularity statues also play a big role in if you’re seen or heard. Florida is based off finesse so sometimes it makes it hard for a lot of artist to actually come together as a whole and work because everybody has agendas, egos, and not enough respect for each other. Hopefully people can learn that everybody in Florida is in their own lane and really good at what they do. We should all be coming up together as a whole, but I feel like everybody is trying to fight each other for that winning spot.
Are there any artists that you’d like to work with?
KOI KURAMA Specifically, no. I love to work with people who love to work with me, and are passionate about their own work.
Being an emerging artist, making great use of the internet, I’m sure you have faced some challenges. What kind of platforms would you like to see for up-and-coming talents like yourself?
KOI KURAMA Honestly I just wish these creative directors who throw shows, have blogs and have a hand in power with helping the art community care a little more about what they take in and project out. A lot of time I see all these shows with the same line-ups or same 3 to 4 artists from the last shows over the years. I feel they are keeping the community stagnant and taking away from the artist themselves.
Sometimes it feels like the power of statues overshadows the need for talent, and with that no new talent is given the opportunity to shine because everybody just wants to make sure that it’s “lit”.
We as artists need the creative boards in our areas to have more faith in us and be willing to actually take the time to hear us, and believe in what we do. We are the next generation of who knows what, and we are down-played because we aren’t the next Lil Uzi’s or Playboy Carti’s… yet. So don’t sleep.
As mentioned, your music is introspective and it also reveals that you have a strong sense of who you are. What is something that you would like for people to take away from your music?
KOI KURAMA I just want them to feel something.
My music was always meant to express myself they way I couldn’t in words. My story, how I felt then, now, or even tomorrow is in my music. I want people to be able to relate to the struggle and still find reason to continue on the path to whatever it is you’re passionate about despite the circumstance or situation.
Life is always going to be like this but you’ve got to make lemonade out of lemons every time. I want to be that voice that gives [people] a little faith to keep moving forward, to help heal and shed light on.
Is there anything to look out for from you during the year?
KOI KURAMA Visuals mostly, I want to really work on pushing myself out my comfort zone & into sight for people to get a better understanding of who I am as an artist. This year I really want to take that next step on my own path to my dreams. So just look out for me….