‘Kotadama’ is Japanese for “spirit of words,” a fitting description for the young and talented Australian band consisting of musicians Chris Brown, Evan Brown, Clint Fish, and Scott Mallard. Having first learned to play the guitar and drums only four years ago, brothers Chris and Evan Brown have already compiled an impressive resume with their band “Kotadama,” including a nomination for the “Hollywood Music In Media Awards” for their hit single “See You Tonight.” After two years of work, “Kotadama” is now completing production on their debut album entitled Dichotomy.
Sonic Eclectic: You have experienced an impressive amount of success in only four years time as musicians. What originally compelled you to teach yourselves how to play the guitar and drums?
Kotodama: Yeah, it’s been quite a journey so far, we were inspired to pick up some instruments after watching a live performance by U2 on DVD, (rattle and hum), the song “Where the Streets Have No Name” to be exact. Since then, we just wanted to play and cover U2 songs, and eventually that led us to writing our own music.
SE: Seeing that you are still young, have your parents been supportive of your decision to become musicians?
K: Absolutely! We could not be doing what we are doing without the amount of support they have given us, (oh yes can we borrow some more money, Dad?)
SE: When you first began writing your own music, who were some of your influences?
K: U2 was basically our only real influence. We didn’t think about what genre we wanted to be in, we just started creating what we thought was good music with good lyrics…and no random rap sequence in the middle.
SE: When you start writing your music, what exactly is your creative process?
K: With us there has never been a specific routine or creative process when writing music. It just happens at the most random of times, (like when we wait 20 minutes for Pro Tools to boot every time we restart it). Though, generally, we draw our theme and lyrics from the vibe generated from the music. We also live on an amazing property, which is where our studio is as well. It’s so peaceful and calming and creates a really positive environment to work in.
SE: Is there a specific time every day that you set aside to write your music? Is it difficult to motivate yourself to write or does a passion for songwriting make it easy to get in a creative mood?
K: There’s no specific time set aside to write music, it just happens. Because we don’t make an organized time to write music, there’s no need for motivation. When we randomly start writing songs, there’s enough self inspiration and excitement to create a mood. Some of our best songs, we think, were conceived by watching sporting events or movies.
SE: Are there specific themes that your songs are usually about? Is your music personal?
K: Yes, each song has its own theme, some are broader than others, like the love ballads. Definitely, we think our music is personal, whether it’s an actual experience or an observation, thought, feeling, or just something that we want to express.
SE: In relation to theme, is your new album “Dichotomy” about something specific and important to you? Is it a concept album that tells one big story (in the vein of The Beatles “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”)?
K: Sgt who? (just kidding, love the Beatles). The album is a mix of love songs and power ballads with perhaps a general theme that is the world–the strangeness of our world, our place as humans in this world, and the ability of ourselves to shape our destiny. We cautiously say that most of the themes are somewhat profound and of relevance to many. Of course we can only aspire to themes like “I Like Big Butts” or “If You Seek Amy.”
SE: How competitive is it for you as an up-and-coming band in the music business? Is it tough to get spots playing bigger shows?
K: Absolutely tough. Many radio stations are controlled by the labels and its impossible to get air time unless you pay, or sacrifice your first born son, (actually my dad would consider this as an option as it would solve two problems for him). As far as gigs go, it has not been difficult to get a reasonable number of local gigs. But the larger venues are controlled by agents who have their “favorites” and the “catch 22” effect kicks in. We’re not too concerned about gigs at this stage, (although we love playing live), as we are quite engrossed in writing and recording for some time yet.
SE: Now that you have been nominated for and have won several songwriting awards, including the prestigious “Hollywood Music In Media Award,” do you feel pressure to live up to your hype as artists?
K: Not really we…err..too much pressure! We’d be lying if we said it doesn’t make the gut churn just a bit.
K: Not any more, at first we were very intimidated by the overall apparent complexity, the jargon, the constant requirement to massage the egos of the recording gurus, etc. Now that we have partnered up with David K. we enjoy every minute of recording. In fact, we now probably waste significant valuable time in the recording studio kidding around and ragging on each other about their apparent lack of competence in their chosen profession.
SE: Do you plan on experimenting with your sound in the future and evolving as a band? Do you see yourselves trying different things with each new song that you write?
K: Absolutely, although we have already roughed out another two albums worth of the Kotadama type sound. We have played around with remixing club version of some of our music and that’s quite exciting and perhaps a future direction.
SE: Do you like the direction that popular, mainstream music has been heading in recently? Is there anything that you want to change about modern music?
K: I hope this won’t offend the mainstream music artists, (we have the greatest respect for any artist who can get their music heard), but let’s face it, the modern music industry is an industrial type machine that just keeps churning out the same crap. The same four chords, incomprehensible lyrics and lots of semi-naked chicks, (mind you we are not unhappy with that aspect). You like what you’re used too and we all listen to the result of good marketing, not necessarily good music. The music video industry and shows like channel V boldly tell us what’s hot, what’s cool, and what we should listen to. One wonders if the hosts are real people or 3D holograms programmed by the labels.
SE: What about your music distinguishes it from all other music being produced right now? What do you feel is unique about your songs?
K: Good question and our last response may help answer this. We would like to think our music is melodic, moving to listen to, evokes an emotional response in the listener, or at least that is what we aim for. We would also like to think that our songs have some meaning and can actually affect the way people feel. We would like to think our music is more than just chewing gum for the ears. In the end though, music is subjective and not everyone is going to feel the same way about it.
SE: Lastly, what is it that you love about music?
K: There are so many great things about music. We love that just one song, and everybody has them, can resonate with you in ways you wouldn’t think possible. They have ability to inspire you, empower you, enlighten you, or in some way have an eternal affect on your life.
For more information on Kotadama including a list of their upcoming shows and clips of their music, go to www.kotadama.com