Getting To Know – Kohla
Edinburgh’s Kohla has been working away in the studio during 2019 and has just released her fourth single ‘_Gorgeous’. With her live debut taking place at Sneaky Pete’s in December we thought we would take some time out and get to know her better.
A&A – Hi Kohla, For those who don’t already know, tell us a bit about yourself?
Kohla – Hello! I’m an artist from Edinburgh. I make music, often categorised as alternative R&B. I also work with dancers and I’m a graduate of the Edinburgh College of Art, specialising in painting/drawing.
A&A – Where does the name come from?
Kohla – I was looking for a stage name that alluded to the style and sound of my music; something dark and smokey. ‘Kohla’ was a play on charcoal. I went through so many names before I settled on ‘Kohla’ – it needed to be snappy, memorable and also original on all the music platforms!
A&A You released your latest single _Gorgeous last week. Tell us about the track.
Kohla – I’m a new artist and I’m still developing my ‘sound’, so this track is a little experimental. I was listening to a lot of 90’s trip hop over summer, such as Tricky, Moby and Massive Attack, and decided to work on a more retro sound. It has a lot of feminine vibes and also a chill, seductiveness inspired by Janelle Monae and Grimes. I’ve been working on my production skills, so naturally I’m becoming more experimental with instruments and effects. My producer Dave (Lost Oscillation) was great at bringing out a contemporary vintage feel to it!
A&A – You are playing your debut live show at Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh on 20th December. This isn’t any regular gig. What can people who’ve bought tickets expect?
Kohla – We started show rehearsals back in summer – it’s so different adding choreography to a performance and it takes a lot of time! I work with two fantastic dancers (Natalie Bullions and Natalie Divine), and it’s been really exciting seeing the songs come to life, visually. I also have an amazing backing band (Lily and Gordon of L-Space) who are tech geniuses. I feel very fortunate to have such a great team as the show is like nothing I’ve done before! I wanted it to feel like more of an event than just a regular gig – and obviously selling out 6 weeks in advance shows that there’s an audience for originality.
A&A – This is your 4th release as Kohla. What is your writing & recording process?
Kohla – I’m self taught on all instruments and I play by ear. For me, I find this as an advantage as I tend to just explore an emotion, which I think is the most important part of songwriting. I find it really similar to painting – it’s all to do with composition. I’ll start by writing on piano and then I’ll take a demo on logic before booking studio time with Dave. Dave brings in all the technical skills that I lack – he can play piano properly and is such a genius at production. He has a lot of patience with me which I’m grateful for – I describe sounds as being ‘spikey’ and ‘hollow’… luckily he doesn’t judge me too much.
A&A – and who are your musical influences?
Kohla – It’s hard to narrow down my main influences as I like so many different genres of music, but obviously FKA Twigs, Tinashe, Grimes and Moby are massive influences for me. I like a lot of contemporary music with an underground twist.
A&A – We love discovering new music here at A&A. What have you been listening to lately?
Kohla – Me too! I’m listening to a lot of Lolo Zouai (trap R&B), Doja Cat (rap/pop) and Rosalia (flamenco R&B). I really admire artists who have creative control; these three women take such care of their production and visuals. Rosalia is also an incredible dancer – check out her videos for ‘Malamente’ and ‘Con Altura’.
A&A – If you could work with one artist or producer. Who would it be and why?
Kohla – I’d love to work with Grimes – she’s so inventive with her work. I love watching videos of how she creates songs; she literally bashes instruments and hopes for the best, then manipulates them in post production, which is pretty similar to how I work. She also draws, so we could make an epic cover art if we ever collab’d.
A&A – 2020 is upon us. What are the plans for next year?
Kohla – I’ll be working on new music to release next year – I’m actually in studio next week finishing off a track. It’s important for me to keep my sound evolving, so I imagine this time next year I could be making something quite different. Aside from that, I think we are going to book some more live shows, seeing as there’s been such a demand.
A&A – If you could describe Kohla in one song, what would it be?
This is an impossible question, so I’m just going to say my favourite song which is Feel Good Inc by Gorillaz. I’ve loved that song since it came out 15 years ago; its timeless and such a mix of genre.