Interview: Koudi Talks "Immortality, Pt. 3", Future Plans, and Genre Labels
With June on its way out and 2021 officially halfway over, I'm already starting to think about my favorite releases from this year. Koudi's "Immortality, Pt. 3" is certainly up there.
This is an incredibly unique record, jam-packed with different musical styles and elements, that I couldn't wait to talk to the band about as soon as I got done listening to it for the first time. I was lucky enough to get to sit down (virtually) with Josh and Will, two members of the band, to talk a bit about the album, their influences, what's next for them, and more.
Can you introduce yourself to the readers?
Josh: Hey, I’m Josh, and I play guitar, lead vocals, and keys. My pronouns are he/they.
Will: What’s up, I’m Will. I play guitar and do a bunch of backup vocals, sampling, and percussion stuff, and my pronouns are he/they.
How did Koudi come to be? It looks like it started as a bit of a passion project/solo endeavor and grew into what it is now, but I'd love to hear what the "origin story" is!
Josh: After spending so much time inside during the COVID-19 pandemic, I knew that I wanted to keep making music even though I couldn’t have any of my bands over, so I taught myself how to record on GarageBand and took whatever shitty equipment I had at the time and tried to make an album. Most of the songs were avenues for me to vent my frustrations about this and that and it was genuinely cathartic.
It gave me a whole new perspective on music and shaped the way I write songs and convey emotions through them. After I was able to see people again, I knew I wanted to get more people in on this so I hit up some of the best musicians I knew and I tried to make it an actual band.
Congratulations on the release of "Immortality, Pt. 3" back in April! What has the general response been like?
Josh: A lot of people said this was our most adventurous project yet and I think they’re starting to understand a bit more of what we’re actually about.
Will: My dad said he really liked it.
"Immortality, Pt. 3" is the last of three home recordings that you released, hence the "part three", but the first two were not called "Immortality Pt. 1" and "Immortality Pt. 2." Where did this title come from?
Josh: The song "Immortality" off the first release is a really powerful part of the narrative theme and [the song] "immortality, Pt. 2" off the second is its inverted child. Both are central pieces to the broader concept running through the first two albums.
We thought it would be cool if we concluded our album trilogy like that. Puts a nice bow on top, you know?
Will: We’re all pretty big fans of The Microphones, and really Phil Elverum’s music as a whole, and a big part of his artistry is having different parts of his discography labeled as parts. The biggest example is probably how he has the song “The Glow” then the album “The Glow Pt. 2”. By going from the songs “Immortality” and “Immortality Pt. 2” to the album “Immortality Pt. 3”, like Josh said, it shows the running emotional thread through all of them, but it’s also our way of paying tribute to a major influence of ours.
The band's Instagram bio reads "Lofi-maximalism. Gaze-pop." Are those the genre labels you would give to yourselves as a band? Do you even think you fit into a genre?
Josh: I feel like so many big publication platforms and labels are looking for this monolithic sound relative to whatever genre they push. Someone with a big Spotify playlist will only put your song on there if you’re “indie-pop” or what have you.
It discourages a lot of people from just making the kind of music they want to make. Sometimes it feels like bands that actually try to mix things up or go for that “everything but the kitchen sink” kind of sound can never make it anywhere because people with platforms just don’t think that shit will sell.
I always wanted Koudi to rebel against those arbitrary capitalistic limits. We just make music that we like without thinking about genre constraints; we want to be true to ourselves and true to our art.
Will: About those labels, they’re really just dumb jokes of ours. Lo-fi maximalism comes from us listening to beautiful, densely orchestrated albums (like "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" by Kanye West or Fiona Apple’s "Extraordinary Machine") and wanting to do something like that but only having a laptop with GarageBand, a guitar, and some pedals. Gaze-pop is basically us taking a normal song with a pop structure and us layering tons of guitars and other tracks on top of it until it more or less becomes shoegaze.
What were some of your musical influences/inspirations when writing "Immortality, Pt. 3?"
Josh: I’d say in terms of guitar-based music, I was listening to a lot of post-punk and new wave: ESG, Gang of Four, DÏAT, Powerplant. I think that fueled a lot of the rhythms and aesthetics that we toyed around with.
Honestly, though, I was listening mostly to rap at the time. A$AP Ferg and MF DOOM were my go-tos. I got a lot of my inspiration for my general song structures from that.
Will: I was listening to a lot of rap too, MF DOOM for sure, Earl Sweatshirt, early Wu-Tang Clan. A lot of electronic music as well, like Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, and Dan Deacon.
Animal Collective is always a big influence on my approach to being in this band. I wasn’t listening to too much guitar-based music at the time, I think just Superchunk and Dinosaur Jr.
What's your favorite song off of "Immortality, Pt. 3", and why? Has the song or reasoning changed in the year or so since release day?
Josh: "Taking a Bath, Pt. 1" is probably my favorite. It’s one of my more personal and vulnerable pieces and being able to let those emotions out really helped me at the time. Plus, I was really proud of that falsetto part at the end.
Will: "I Am" has probably been my favorite since release day. It’s just an awesome closing track, just this all-encompassing wall of sound.
I remember the day we recorded it, I put on these guitar tracks, and we all just freaked out at how massive it sounded, we couldn’t believe it. A great memory to go with a great song.
As a band/project that started releasing music in the middle of 2020, I can only imagine what it's been like not really being able to play live shows due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Is there anything in particular that you're looking forward to about getting to play gigs again?
Josh: I’m most excited to just play house shows again. There’s just something so beautiful about the atmosphere that I haven’t experienced in a long time.
I think it’s that open community that you have with other bands and artists, they share their art with you and you give back. It’s such an amazing feeling.
Will: Same thing, more or less. I’m looking to just get the experience of playing house shows back.
It’s the best feeling in the world for me. Also playing “Immortality” and “Catie Has Friends in Nova Scotia” live.
With 2021 officially halfway over, what are you looking forward to most for yourself or for the band for the rest of the year?
Josh: My answer to this one is probably the same as my answer to the last. I can’t wait to play or even just attend house shows.
Will: Again, pretty much the same thing, I can’t wait to get back into house shows. Really happy summer is finally here; things are starting to look up a bit again, you know?
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me! Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Josh: I’d first like to thank you for these awesome questions. Strawberry Skies is dope.
Second, if you haven’t already, check out Sovietwave Records. They have some insane new wave artists, Grust200 in particular.
Will: Thanks so much for having us, and I’d just like to tell everyone to listen to “somewhere, someone, something” by postcard nowhere; b is my best friend and they’re one of the absolute best songwriters out there. Also, everyone watch the episode of Regular Show titled “The Postcard”...one of the best episodes of the show by far.
Once again, another huge thanks to Koudi for doing this interview with me! You can find them on Instagram @Koudi_Band and you can stream "Immortality, Pt. 3" as well as the rest of their discography wherever you get your music.
Be sure to let me know who you'd like to see me interview next by tweeting me @JENSESSlON! To be the first to know when new interviews are published, you can follow the blog on social media @StrawbSkiesBlog on Twitter, @StrawberrySkiesBlog on Instagram, and @StrawberrySkiesBlog on Facebook.