Kiyoshi Discusses The Evolution of Music, Collab Goals, and His Latest Single, "Unwind"
Breaking into the music industry is no easy fete, but for artist Kiyoshi you may think otherwise! The multi-faceted and beyond talented artist spent a few moments with IdentifyLA to discuss the latest!
The following has been edited for continuity purposes.
Which artists inspired you the most and why?
The Roots, Common, Saul Williams, Kirk Franklin, Busta Rhymes, Twista, D’Angelo, OutKast, Eminem, and J Dilla. They have amazing lyrics, style, soul, and creative skill unmatched by many.
I love lyrics that make you think and style that gets your soul moving and head nodding. And when the music complements all that to produce a euphoric soulgasmic, it’s life changing.
Is your family supportive of your career?
Yes, they really just want me to be sustainable, responsible, and have enough money to save for my future. They know and understand I’ve been passionate about my music since I was young. They all believe in me and my talents. They all want the best in me and to succeed and be happy.
Is there any kind of formula or method you use to write a song?
Yes, there are multiple formulas and methods I use. Generally, I usually find a beat or instrumental and then write a chorus to that and typically 2 16-Bar verses. This changes depending on the message and how much I need to get off my chest. There may be an intro and/or outro and bridge as well. I may also collab with musicians and that can modify the formula and structure. It can be very simple and sometimes be a very complex process.
What is your routine before you go onto stage?
I usually practice my songs hours beforehand and do visualization meditation practices, imagining myself on that stage performing for the people and tapping into the feeling of what it feels like rocking the crowd. Moments leading up to the time I’m on stage, I find a quiet place by myself and I do some yoga stretches. (this gets my blood flowing and body loosened up as I do a lot of dancing when I perform). It’s important for me to get grounded and focused and take some deep breaths to clear any clutter and worry from my mind.
Then I gather my band/musicians/manager/crew and I lead us all into a collective group prayer to bring us all into oneness and set intentions, show gratitude, and unify us to rock that stage. It’s get me amped up and is a ritual I’ve done for years. It helps a lot!
What is spirituality to you?
It’s a way of life. I don’t believe it’s something far-fetched or out of our grasps. God is everywhere and apart of us. We are, in essence, spiritual beings experiencing a physical reality...and also a divine extension/emanation of God. Since we are all souls/spirits living in this world, I feel that the best thing we can do is live this life to the fullest by treating our temples/bodies with love by getting our health on point, thinking thoughts that serve us, being of service to others, and living righteous as much as possible in each moment. It’s also about accepting that we all have flaws and to acknowledge those shadow aspects and to stay the course even during times when we feel like shit and want to give up. Our human experience is one of contrast, a dark and light spectrum where we have the choice to paint color with deliberate action and will for the better so we can see the good and bad and then take a reset breath and step back and truly see our individual life pictures as cool pieces of art. One day at a time. Finding gratitude and living our highest expression and truths through this life journey.
How does your spirituality cross over into your music?
My music is always a reflection of my life. As a young teenager, my first raps I ever wrote were Christian raps. I performed sometimes in church so I grew up rapping “conscious” or with inspirational messages. I also listened to underground Hiphop so I enjoyed coming from a foundational underlying message of unity and social justice.
Spirituality to me is more a way of life and bettering ourselves each day even when we fall short and so this naturally bleeds into my music and lyrics. Ziggy Marley said it best “Love is my religion.” That’s what you FEEL in my music: the Love, the Realness, the pain, the joys, the human SPIRIT...thus spirituality, in essence.
At what point as a musician did you realize that you wanted to do positive music?
When I first started writing poetry and raps at 14. I knew then.
So you are a rap coach, what exactly is that and what is your method to teach others?
I teach and coach people how to activate their voices and soul gifts, using rap as a tool for personal development. They learn the basics of rap from learning how to count bars, to learning how to freestyle and also how to write, perform, and find their voices. It’s rapping they are learning but so much more than just that. I assist others in overcoming fears, sparking creativity, learning to be more confident on stage, writing songs, becoming more of an overall embodied and expressed person.
I have a 5 step pillar process we go through during my rap coaching sessions and we usually work together on a multiple week program depending on my clients’ goals and what they are looking to accomplish whether it’s learning how to create a song, improve a song, or just get stage ready and feel more confident in front of others. It’s a lot of fun.
Do you believe anyone can become a rapper or musician, or are you born with it, is it teachable?
I believe anyone can become both a rapper and a musician. It’s proven that anyone can learn techniques and enhance one’s skills. It’s all about practice and getting the right guidance and open mind to allow oneself to take themselves to the next level.
What are some sacrifices you've made along the way to be successful?
Some sacrifices include having to quit jobs or having to call in sick to jobs, limiting time with girlfriends, working extra long hours in the studio, getting less sleep, not being able to go out with friends because I’m working on music, etc. The list goes on. On the path to success, there will always be sacrifices of some sort.
How do you think social media and music apps have changed the way we find new artists or listen to music ? Are you against/for music apps and why?
They have totally revolutionized our game and paradigm as we know it. We can do everything from our phones so everything is more accessible and way easier to market ourselves compared to 15-20 years ago. It’s amazing in that we can record music, promote our music, and build & connect with our audiences all from our phones...and find new music to listen to from all over the globe. It’s a beautiful thing.
I am for music apps. Although the artist aren’t making much money nowadays from streaming, we are all now exposed to a plethora of extraordinarily good musicians and music from all walks of life.
What are some mistakes or lessons that you have learned along the way?
I spent time paying for a college degree that could have been spent going towards my music and business careers. I worked jobs that hindered my success and spent time in the past chasing girls instead of investing in my future. I made bad financial decisions and could have saved and built businesses that could allowed me more financial freedom.
For those wanting to get started in a music career, what recommendations would you have?
Follow your dreams and your heart no matter what. Find your niche, and what makes you tick and execute. Keep going forth with your passion. Be creative and find ways to finance & sustain your dreams/goals. Utilize social media and modern technology wisely instead of letting it control you. Build a team, surround yourselves with people that support your vision, and find mentors to keep you in the right direction. Visualize, take action, don’t delay, believe in yourself, write down your goals and just freaking go for it. We only live once in this lifetime. Might as well live it to the fullest. Know there will always be downs and ups like a rollercoaster; just stay in it, have fun, and enjoy the ride.
When is your next album coming out?
Im releasing a remix EP on November 11th alongside my Buddha Music Group affiliate DTO who is releasing his album on the same day on 11/11.
I also plan to release my new single “Unwind” sometime in late September or early October as well as release a new music project sometime early 2020.
What known artists would be a dream for you to collaborate with?
Stevie Wonder, Janet Jackson, Common, Black Thought of The Roots Crew, Andre 3Thousand of OutKast, Mos Def (Yaasin Bey), Radiohead, Eminem, Miguel, Anderson Paak, D’Angelo, Phonte of Little Brother.
Any upcoming events?
Yes! I have a 4 page spread inside American Airways, American Airlines Magazine that comes out October 1, 2019! Also, on November 11th at the World Beat Center- San Diego, California. My team Buddha Music Group will be having our show “Radiance.” I’ll be performing in this amazing theatrical production alongside my musical comrade DTO. It’s a stage show that tells the story of a war veteran that experiences a life crisis and struggles during the military who then finds love and yoga.
Anything else you want to add?
Contact me for bookings at your events and also if you or someone you know is interested in rap coaching lessons.
Keep living your truth and expressing yourself to the fullest. Boom!