Kawaiisteez: Interview with Small World LA

Kawaiisteez: Interview with Small World LA

1.What inspired you to pursue a career in music, and when did you first realize you wanted to be a musician?

I was inspired by how fun it is to create music! As a kid I would write lyrics and create sounds with anything I could get my hands on. The feeling of euphoria when a bunch of different sounds come together to create something beautiful meant a lot to me before I could even articulate that feeling. When I got my hands on a DAW and used it for the first time, I knew this was for me.

2.What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced as an emerging artist, and how have you overcome them?

The first biggest challenge I had was believing in myself. I always created music that I would like to hear, but It was always very different from what was popular. Although I would have people who liked what I did, I would always be so discouraged to create and share with it due to the fear of rejection. However, now I am confident. I know I create something special although it is different, I am craving out a lane for myself, and the positive reception is affirming that. With that being said, the second biggest challenge has been finding my audience. Since I create a niche sound, I have to look for individuals who are trying to hear a new sound, which means I have a lot more groundwork to do to find an audience. However, this approach has helped me create good personal relationships with listeners and artists alike.
3.Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and how have they shaped your sound and style?

In middle school, I was obsessed with Bone Thugs n Harmony, I always joke and say that was my boyband phase because they inspired me to just start rapping. MF DOOM is also a huge inspiration, and has been since I was a kid. His off kilter flow, witty lyricism and rhyme schemes blew me away, as well as the production that he was featured on, particularly on MM..FOOD. Carly Rae Jepsen inspires the catchy song writing and pop influence I like to create, which can be grounding for some of the experimental music I create. Toro y Moi inspires me to explore many different sounds and importantly to have fun while doing so whether I want to add a psych rock influence to my tracks or maybe even house music. Currently, JPEGMAFIA is inspiring me to keep pushing for my own niche and to stay consistent. The list goes on from oldies, brazilian funk, vaporwave and more. I just love music and I want to put the sounds I love into what I create.
4.How do you approach the songwriting process, and where do you draw inspiration from for your lyrics and melodies?

Since I consider myself a producer first, I think about what sound I want to have. I really like textures so that's where I start. Will I have a lofi vibe, funky vibe, or maybe even a futuristic house type of vibe? Once I go about the soundscapes, I create the drums and melodies in my tracks simultaneously. After that I start with a flow, a rhyme scheme and then lyrics. I like to think of my voice as an instrument and a part of the production process so I will do whatever I think sounds good and I take that approach whenever I feature on someone's track as well. I draw inspiration from my life experiences, as well as what I hear. I started off as a heavy sampler so hearing sounds and altering them to something different is what inspires me the most. However, If I'm struggling, I will just noodle around on my guitar until I find a melody.
5.What can listeners expect from your upcoming album or project, and how does it differ from your previous work?

Listeners can expect to have fun! I bring forward and fuse a lot of different soundscapes and genres that folks may not hear very often in hip hop. I love genre bending and catchy bops, since I still have that pop aesthetic. The instrumentals will also have a lot of details pertaining to the textures and sounds that should be enjoyable for producers as well. This project is different from my others because not only am I at my most confident, I am also spending a lot of time on each track to try to put out the best end result that I can. I also learned how to play the guitar and the bass since my last release so a lot of that will be featured in the songs I create.
6.How has your background or life experiences influenced your music and artistic vision?

I grew up around a ton of music and a lot of dancing. Whether it was at a family reunion, a barbeque, road trip or even cleaning up the house, music was always playing when I was growing up and it was all different types of music. I also grew up using the internet a lot so I was exposed to a ton of music that was not playing in my region. This expanded the taste and range of music that I liked. I went down so many music rabbit holes. Still do
7.Can you talk about a particularly memorable or inspiring performance you've had, and what made it special?

In 2018 my friends and I threw a backyard show called "Rigamarole". We had a small line up of artists that performed with me and my friends headlining with our group called SAF at the time. It was so much fun! We had about 100 or so people show up and the best part about it was that I was just there performing with my best friends. It was really a core memory and it made me want to continue performing in front of a crowd.
8.What do you hope listeners take away from your music, and what message do you want to convey through your art?

I want to show people that you can have fun with music. To live is to experiment, and I choose to do it with music. I want to encourage people to draw from their inspirations and push themselves in anyway they can.
9.How has the music industry changed since you first started, and how have you adapted to those changes as an artist?

When I started everything was based around a label and it was not so accessible to get yourself out there and to be heard. Now with the internet and all these platforms it is so easy to connect with anyone. The only challenge with that is that it is saturated. But because of that, I have made so many connections with people who create music!
10.How has the music industry changed since you first started, and how have you adapted to those changes as an artist?

It sounds corny but just be yourself. Create the music that you want to create and that you want to listen to. Be you. I started making music because I wanted to make tracks that I want to hear. It creates authenticity and it helps you really express yourself. Have fun and create what makes you happy. Also join a community. It is really important, and it is a tangible way to feel the impact your music has, even if it's with one person.
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