Q: Hi there! “VIOLET !” is such a fun song to listen to. It has such a cool mix of electronic, pop, alternative, singer-songwriter; the list goes on and on, as your sound is very unique. In your own words, how would you describe the type of music you typically create?
✦KENJI✦: I’ve struggled for a while to define music by genres. With the new wave of kids making music from their basements, it’s hard to group together songs into one category. That being said, I’ve been inspired by my friends in the underground hyperpop/anti-pop scene a lot this past year. In the years before, punk, Emo-Rap, and R&B artists piqued my interest. My music is just a culmination of the people who inspire me most.
Q: Can you tell me a little about the inspiration behind “VIOLET !”? It seems to be about a relationship gone wrong, but I could be wrong.
✦KENJI✦: I’ve always felt it important to leave song meanings up to the listener’s interpretation. The point of my music is to invoke emotion, and while I always have an idea about what the song represents, the more I communicate it, the more the song is limited. However, I wrote it while focusing on my tendency to blame other people for my own problems.
Q: If you were stranded on a deserted island and could oly have three albums, which would they be?
✦KENJI✦: I’ll always say ‘Nights’ by Frank Ocean, because his experimentality on the album never ceases to inspire me to take the weird route. ‘Bad Sports’ by Jean Dawson is another timeless album that makes me want to attempt things that have never been done before. I’ve also been listening to Glaive’s EP ‘All Dogs Go To Heaven.’
Q: I love the instrumental portion of this track, it reminds me of Crystal Castles & just old-school electronic music. Can you walk me through the production process of “VIOLET !”?
✦KENJI✦: Production has always been the fun part of making music for me. I typically start by making beats, because I’m better at capturing emotion through instrumentals rather than lyrics. For this song in particular, I remember starting with the main synth melody you hear at the beginning, and as soon as I threw the fast-paced breakbeat drums onto it I knew the song was gonna be unique compared to what I typically make. I stacked layers of distorted synths to create width, and used a LOT of multiband compression to make the beat more coherent. Then at the end, I decided another chorus would be too repetitive, so I created an entirely new hip-hop section at the end that takes inspiration from Lil Uzi Vert’s production. Transitioning from one melody into another has always made sense to me, and I think I’m gonna continue incorporating beat-switches into my music in the future.
Q: I’m always interrested by an artist’s musical journey. Was there a pivotal moment in your life when you decided to follow your path as a musician?
✦KENJI✦: As cheesy as it sounds, I never really believed I could make music as a career until people reached out to me. I always imagined myself as a rockstar, but I was taught through schooling that it isn’t an attainable goal. I started releasing music for fun in 2018, and around 2019 I discovered other artists in the same position as me, such as Xedrin, Jordan Everett, Eleanor Kingston, Buppy. We grouped together to form an online collective, despite the fact that we lived in different states. I was living in Grand Rapids, Michigan at the time, and I remember being so fed up with the monotonous routine of coming home from school and doing nothing. But over time, we worked and grew until we each ended up moving to LA in 2021. Now I’m lucky enough to live with the people who supported me most through this journey.
Q: What has been one of the highlights of your music career so far?
✦KENJI✦: I’ve certainly got a few. First of all, I’ve been lucky enough to meet a bunch of artists I listened to while growing up, including Brevin Kim, Nevi, and Sarcastic Sounds. LA is the best place in the world to make connections. I’ve also fallen in love with performing, and I’ve been working with other talented musicians to solidify a setlist for 2023. Kenji band will be performing near you very soon 🙂
Q: What would you like to tell your supporters out there?✦KENJI✦: For those debating on whether or not the pursuit of your passion is worth the effort, it is. People will try to make you feel as though you need to adhere to their standards and boundaries, and from what I’ve found, the way you make trends and waves is by blocking out the opinions of other people, and doing what your instincts tell you. Human instinct is the most important factor in your success. Do what comes naturally regardless of how much hate you receive.
Q: Lovely speaking with you, can’t wait for all the incredible music you create 🙂 Tell everyone what is coming up for you in 2023!
✦KENJI✦: After I tighten up a few things with my band, we’ll be performing in the LA area throughout 2023. I’ve also been working on creating a merch website called ‘AZIRUTH’ which will have its first drop within the next couple of months. I plan on releasing more than I did in 2022, so Stay tuned for some experimental content <3
Interviewed by Melissa Cusano