We chatted with this unconventional artist about musical motivations, personal inspirations and the industry at large.
With a shimmering debut EP and growing track record of on-point singles on record thus far, Danish-Japanese artist IDA KUDO is continuously carving out a space for herself in the music industry as an unconventional queen. We talked with her about her most recent release, an alluring genre-defying EP titled Gold, as well as her inspirations and motivations for the future.
IDA… I just listened to your Gold EP and I have to say I love it! Can you share a little bit about the inspiration behind the collection as a whole?
I’m inspired by the meeting between pop and indie. The EDM-punch, 808 bass and the quirky samples of gun-shots (‘Wolf‘), katana-sword-sample (‘Killer‘), flageolet-pics of the guitar (‘Superstay‘), strange whistle sounds (‘Ghost‘) and crunchy flaming claps (‘Gold‘).
In other words: I like the organic indie sounds that kind of invite you into a strange universe in the high-end of the frequencies. And I like a solid pop bottom (bass, main beat). Vocally, I’m quite inspired by crossover vocalists who have that kind of tasty blend of pop and something indie-unique such as Santigold, Kimbra, Florence + the machine and the queen of them all: Björk.
Taking a bit of a step back for a sec – how did you first get into music? Has it always been a big part of your life or did you develop this passion later in life?
Started out playing classical violin at four years old. In my house, there was solely classical music. I was a teenager when I first heard MJ ‘Dangerous’, and found out pop could move me too. I had a separation from music when I was at the end of my teens. I just didn’t know if it was meant for me or if it was something I was just raised with. After being separated from music for one and a half years, I found I was losing some personality/identity. So I started writing songs and got personality back again.
Music is my passion but it’s maybe better described as a relationship, really. This relationship with music has exactly what any other long-term relationship has: ups and downs, profound love, things to work on, things that can open up and be freer, commitment, growth, and magic.
I love that your music basically does its own thing and transcends genre. What are some of your biggest influences?
BJÖRK! I wanna credit Björk loud and clear. I’m so happy to do this while she’s still alive. She has been the greatest mentor music-wise. She is definitely my greatest inspiration. She’s got the realness and rawness of mother nature, pure, unique and ancient. She understands how to put it into a pop-context, making it accessible but at the same time without compromising her artist identity. She experiments like no other and creates innovate and huge albums! Her voice beats anything. Other influences: Bob Marley, Erykah Badu, Nancy Wilson, Missy Elliott, Alanis Morisette, Joy Division, Radiohead, David Bowie, Santigold…
What about your personal background? Does your mixed heritage and culture have an influence on your music?
In harmonies, hooks and melodies you can find traces of my Japanese heritage. The minor-pentatonic marimba in ‘Killer’, the chorus-melody in ‘Wolf’, and using intervals like 4ths and 5ths (not 3rds) in verses in songs like ‘Ghost’ and ‘Gold’; these things are probably also from my Asian background.
From my Danish background, I think I got the aesthetics of going hybrid on genres. I want a fresh sound – something new. I think that motivation has some Danish influence in it.
I know every artist is different – what is the writing process like for you? When do you feel most inspired?
That’s very different. The ‘Wolf’ chorus came to me while riding my bike. I knew it was going to be a good song. ‘Ghost’ – that was the bass line that did it for me. ‘Killer’ started out with a beat. ‘Superstay’ started with me polishing my nails (shouts out to Maybelline) and the word ‘Superstay’ felt perfect to me. It was exactly what my feeling at that moment was like: I needed that person not only to stay, the person needed to ‘superstay’.
So it’s very different. It always starts with one thing that turns me on. If the spark is great enough, I know it’s gonna be a good song.
What excites you most about the music industry right now?
I’m not excited about the music industry. I’m terrified by it.
The first track which received a lot of love is ‘Wolf’ (music video above), and it is absolutely epic. Can you share a bit about the story behind that song in particular?
The whole thing is me being scared of my subconscious. Because I’m quite a control freak, really. So going into the big black forest is like letting go of control. It seems scary, mysterious and a bit terrifying. Who knows what I would meet, letting go of my control? Maybe a monster, the untamed animal inside. Would I be able to tame it? Or would it devour me?
The Danish music scene is growing and there are plenty of awesome artists making waves right now. Are there any other female musicians out there you think are killing it?
Artistically, I like Aurora – great nordic vibe and awesome voice. Very expressive. Billie Eilish‘s ‘when the party is over’ is another beautiful expressive vocal. Björk, just because she’s still innovating and I heard her at a festival last summer – she’s over 50, her voice INTACT, performance still energetic and present and absolutely beautiful innovative visual-stage-show.
Lastly, what’s your advice to women or girls who want to pursue music, or just women in general?
Take care of yourself! Don’t try to save or please anyone. Be persistent in working with yourself. You’re the only one who really knows you and your artistic identity. Be your own mum.