NXTSTYLE’s 2020 Songs of the Summer: Kota Banks “Yes”
INTRODUCING NXTSTYLE’S 'SONGS OF THE SUMMER,' HIGHLIGHTING OUR FAVORITE TRACKS WE'VE DISCOVERED THIS SUMMER. OVER 70 SONGS FROM NEW AND INDEPENDENT ARTISTS FORM OUR SUMMER 2020 SOUNDTRACK. TODAY WE FEATURE KOTA BANKS. THE AUSTRALIAN ARTIST CAUGHT OUR ATTENTION WITH HER FLOATING POP SINGLE “YES” WHICH IS INCLUDED ON HER RECENTLY RELEASED EP SWEET & THE SPICE. LEARN MORE ABOUT KOTA BANKS AND HER ECLECTIC STYLE IN OUR FEATURED INTERVIEW.
“Yes” is a very infectious single that talks about going against your instincts in a situation. Take us through the creative process and your connection to it that led to it being a single.
Thank you! “Yes” definitely explores going against your instincts, in this case within the context of a romantic relationship. That’s something I often do because I’m highly optimistic and emotional, and I write a lot of songs about my tendencies to overlook red flags, but this time I wanted to make a song about it that wasn’t judgemental; that just embraced this character trait of mine… so that’s why despite the line saying “I should say no”, the song feels warm and tender and romantic! It’s my “rose-coloured glasses” song if you will, lol. My connection to the song didn’t come from the concept necessarily though, it came from the sound of it – the way it constantly made me feel. It really stood the test of time – I wrote it a while ago and was still just as obsessed with it years later, and in these uncertain times, it felt important to release a favourite of mine!
I could definitely see this song placed in a TV commercial and beyond. If you had a choice what would be the ultimate sync placement for “Yes”?
I kind of see that for this song too! To be honest the ideal would be like… the scene in The Notebook where Rachael McAdams and Ryan Gosling have that big passionate make-out in the rain, but I feel like that ship has sailed, so any romance film, or any TV show where two star-crossed lovers have a moment!
Your 4-track EP ‘Sweet & the Spice’ is an eclectic collection of works showing the different sides of your artistry. From Pop and Dance to singing and rapping it has it all. What was your goal in creating this EP? Do these 4 tracks collectively speak to a message or story? Did you have any interesting moments during the creative process?
To be honest there was no goal with this EP – except me using music to cope with the really unstable environment that was the early half of 2020. I was bouncing from style to style each day because each day I felt like a different person experiencing foreign emotions – I felt erratic and totally disconnected with the world around me and so I guess the disjointedness came out in my music as well. Their collective message in that raw creativity is beautiful, and I don’t think I should have to tame / narrow down songs for the purpose of making a “cohesive” body of work. Cohesion seems to be the yardstick for creative excellence these days, and a purpose of this EP was to adamantly defy that! I never want to insult my listener by assuming they’re so unidimensional they only listen to one genre of music – we’re much more complex than we give ourselves credit for!
There were a lot of interesting moments in the creative process – I worked with different producers on each song, which is a little different for me, and each collaborator definitely has their own quirks and creative process. It was really fun to discover my unique chemistry with each new collaborator – I always say I never write the same way, or the same song twice, and if you take a look at some of the BTS videos I’ve posted about how I made the songs, I think that’ll probably make even more sense.
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``YES`` NXTSTYLE'S SONGS OF THE SUMMER
One thing that’s for sure is that Australia is the home of great music as we see in yourself and other artists we’ve covered. We love learning more about different music cultures especially abroad. Talk about the Australian music scene and what you most love about it. As an artist talk about the support it shows for new artists. Are there any artists we should look out for?
Yes! I actually like that the Australian music scene is quite tight-knit, it’s nice to know everyone and form personal connections with people in the same industry because it’s small-ish. I do think we have some growing to do to push social agendas that are important. More bla(c)k people hired in industry positions, more bla(c)k, female and LGBTQ representation on festival lineups are some examples. Ziggy Ramo is a really talented indigenous artist that has a lot of beautiful, powerful things to say – he’s not necessarily new but he’s someone people should check out if they haven’t heard of. Some other really talented artists on the come-up that are still criminally underrated are Ninajirachi, CXLOE, Saint Lane, Yergurl, Vetta Borne,
Of the talented artists, songwriters, and producers out there is there someone you would really love to collaborate with next?
There are too many. I love the British scene – perhaps a grime or pop artist from London! I’ll get back to you on this lol.
With the challenges that 2020 has brought, has it changed your perspective on life and relationships? Has the events of this year influenced your songwriting?
It’s definitely helped me flourish creatively – there is less travelling, I’m not playing as many shows, and so I’m free to put all my time into experimenting with new ideas, concepts and sounds in music. I’m listening to more music, and having received a grant earlier this year, was able to purchase a whole bunch of new studio equipment that is really helping me bring my ideas to life.
In terms of my perspective on life and relationships, I wouldn’t say anything has changed dramatically, but we definitely react to the world around us, and can choose whether that reaction is negative or positive, so for me it’s just been more of a subtle shift of priorities: I have free time so my brain has the energy to confront emotions I would have previously been too distracted / busy to process. I’ve also been able to de-stress over the past few months and re-learn how to be present. There have been some real pluses when I put everything in perspective.
Whether it’s an album, being around certain people, or an activity, what is one thing that has helped you move forward during the pandemic? Anything you can suggest for others?
For me it was spending more time with my family (for some people that’s a chosen family) and writing poetry and music! Just making art and creating my own world to exist in, because this world isn’t really working for me in 2020! I’ve been taking online courses, reading more, watching old movies, etc. Highly recommend all of these things – even if your profession doesn’t involve that much creativity, I really believe that each human has enormous creative potential and now is a great time to tap into it and express yourself.
As we head into the second half of the year what can fans expect from you for the remainder of 2020?
I have some visuals from the EP coming in the next couple of months, I have a body of work dropping with one of my favourite collaborators, we haven’t announced it yet so I’ll keep the name on the low, but that is something I’m really excited about. I would love to tour at some point this year if that’s possible given everything, and there’ll be an album next year.
Is there a charity that means a lot to you that you urge others to look into? Any particular connection you have to it?
There are so many. But – Unicef is a united nations run organization that provides humanitarian and development aid to children worldwide – Yemen is undergoing arguably the most disturbing crisis in the world, Unicef is one of the only organizations working on the ground there. You can donate a one-off sum or a monthly fee. There are many Black Lives Matters initiatives, here is an index of fundraiser and petitions: it depends how you feel you can contribute at present:
KOTA BANKS' Top 5 songs this summer:
- Summer Walker “SWV” – it’s soooo sexy and effortless.
- Br3nya “Plenty (Too Trendy)” – this makes me want to get drunk and shake my ass.
- Rina Sawayama “Comme Des Garçons” – this whole album is nuts but this song is just very viby and interesting and multifaceted
- The Code “Selfish” – He’s so cool, he writes, producer, mixes and masters everything himself – this one hits home on every front and I just want to dance and cry at the same time.
- Chip “Sparko” – this is just soooo fun and addictive to bump
Listen to all of our featured artist’s favorite songs of the summer on our special Spotify playlist.
Kota Banks’ ‘Firsts and Favorites’
First concert: Kylie Minogue when I was 5.
Favorite Album: The Slim Shady LP by Eminem, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye or Clouds by Joni Mitchell
First song you fell in love with: Lost Without You by Delta Goodrem! / every song the whole Innocent Eyes album <3
Favorite Concert: Stormzy’s Gang Signs and Prayer tour!
First performance: I’ve been performing for as long as I can remember, I don’t know!
BROWSE ALL OF OUR ‘SONGS OF THE SUMMER’ INTERVIEWS
MUSIC IN 2020 INTERVIEW SERIES
WE INTERVIEWED MUSIC PROS AND TASTEMAKERS TO GET THEIR PERSPECTIVE ON WHERE MUSIC IS HEADED AND TO DISCOVER WHAT NEW MUSIC THEY'RE LISTENING TO.
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THE ‘NEXT IN MUSIC’ PLAYLIST
Discover a wide range of new music we’ve recently added including our featured songs of the summer. Follow the ‘NEXT in Music’ playlist on Spotify, Apple Music, and SoundCloud.