KOHH’s Ever Evolving “Business and Art”

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Photo:Shin Hamada、Interview&Text:Yu Onoda、Edit:Keita Miki

October last year KOHH released his third album 『DIRT』, but he didn’t stop there. With his recently released 『DIRT II』, KOHH built upon his 2015 album with 9 new tracks and 7 remix tracks with MURASAKI BEATZ.

Trap beats, going back and forth from life to death, and screaming. He’s evolved again at an increasing speed. With a strong rock influence and a compromise with art, the fruition of his recent endeavors are the sensational tracks “Die Young” and “Business and Art”. Beck’ new song “WOW”‘s trap beats has been dragged into the pop field in 2016. Rather, it come through the trap beats field, we speak with KOHH about his new exhibition.

I never want to be asked, “why does this track end up like this?” Lol -KOHH

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– You’ve sung about money, women, and parties from the beginning and have shifted towards life and death. With your song “Business and Art” from your new album 『DIRT II』, you sing more about art than money. It’s seems like there’s been a change in your mood. What do you think about that.

KOHH: People contradict themselves. That’s life. There are songs with me singing about money, and singing about art, etc. There’s a change in the mood? I wonder about that. I don’t know though. At least what I can say is that’s what I was thinking and feeling when I made those songs for this album.

– Okay, so what is this art that you’re talking about?

KOHH: What is art? That’s the same as asking what is life? Just thinking about that is kind of ridiculous. So, I don’t know. I think there’s different types of art and if someone thinks that art is something to make money off of, then that’s a type of art too. If someone thinks that something is art, regardless of what it is, then it becomes art. So, art is a convenient word.

– In everyday life, for example, at what moment do you feel that something is art?

KOHH: When someone listens to my songs and they feel something, it doesn’t matter if it’s different from what I intended them to feel, then that feeling in and of itself is right. It’s not artistic to have a creator try to explain their works. Considering that, interviews as well aren’t artistic.

– Trying to use words to explain away something created from feeling is unrefined,yeah.

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KOHH: Yeah. You can’t explain that moment when something feels like art. What you can say is though, you can’t feel art though explanations. I never want to be asked, “why does this track end up like this?” lol

– I think that music videos are also one form of art. The end of last year you organized a one man live called 『CONCERT & GALLERY』at the LIQUIDROOM and turned it into a gallery space. For your newer album, you used a poster made by Suzuki Chikashi and other artists as promotional material. What do you think of the connection between music and visual art?

KOHH: You use your ears to enter the musical world and use both your eyes and ears to enter the visual world of music videos. That’s why I’m using that poster for advertising. lol. It’s advertising that lots of artists helped me put together. And last
year’s LIQUIDROOM exhibition was just a gallery. There really wasn’t a point, I just exhibited pictures I drew. People who saw my pictures got just that. Nothing more. I just displayed a portion of what I drew. If it’s a track I suppose the same thing could be said.

– Have you been drawing for quite some time?

KOHH: Yeah, I’ve been doing graffiti and what you for a long while. But, actually using a canvas to paint was something that I first started about a year ago after I went to an art museum. When I went, I wasn’t focusing on this and that detail, but after I left, I had this feeling of “I gotta do this proper if I’m going to do it”. If I want to paint or draw, I’ll do it. If I want to sing, I sing. For me personally both are the same type of fun.

– You sing about only doing what you want to do.

KOHH: Yeah, and that’s all. One track doesn’t take several days. I may write lyrics or start recording without writing anything down. I don’t think too deeply about it. At any rate I’m going to make a new track. There’s no relation between how the track will turn out or if I’m contradicting something.

– And then, this recent “Die Young” piece of work is infused with a heavy, rock metal tracks. That and the warped, shrill vocals are quite the impact. Can you tell me what led to you creating that?
KOHH: I wanted to make a song like that after I started listening to rock. “Die Young” was made for me by TeddyLoid. The song that featured him – “Break’em All” – was similar. We made that one together.

– Sometime last year you spoke of THE BLUE HEARTS during an interview. You also spoke about lyrics by Kurt Cobain and other rock legends. Did you listen to rock before that?

KOHH: No, I didn’t listen to rock at all. But I was surrounded by people listening to rock and wearing rock T-shirts. I would wonder what type of bands they were so I would look them up and listen to their music. There’s different types of rock and there’s some good stuff. I got to know some since passed rockers: Kurt Cobain, Sid Vicious, Jimi Hendrix, etc. Each one has their groove. I picked up on their goodness.

– What do you mean by that? You mean the writers’ characteristics and souls blended into the songs they make?

KOHH: Yeah, there’s that and the usage of sounds I’ve never heard before and their way of singing. For someone like me who’s only listened to hip-hop, there’s definitely an impact. I’m left with several moments of “dude, what is this?”. So yeah, I thought I would try something similar.

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– “Die Young” is a rock track. More than your approach to rapping and singing, the rock like shouting that you managed. The other day, you made an appearance at BOILER ROOM wearing a Marilyn Manson T-shirt. Your live performance reactions and moshing …that energy was on display.
KOHH: It was that for sure. That was great, no doubt. There was probably a rock influence on that live performance.

– We’ve been talking hip-hop, rock and art. One other artist that comes to mind is 『Yeezus』’s Kanye West. What about you? What type of artist do you think Kanye is?

KOHH: I think he’s Kanye West. lol. There’s nothing more, nothing less. Kanye is Kanye, KOHH is KOHH. This album compiles lots of similar types of songs, but there are songs that are completely different. The album’s tracks don’t reflect my most current feelings. Everyone knows that there are lots of different types of songs. The songs on this album are just a few of what I have. There’s lots of cute and fun songs out there, and depending on the timing I’ll listen to them or not.


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3 Disk set(2 CD’s + 1 DVD)Limited Edition:¥3,100 + tax
2 CD set Normal Edition:¥2,700 + tax
■Track List
01. Die Young
02. I Donʼt Get It (feat. J $tash, Loota, Dutch Montana)
03. Business and Art
04. 暗い夜(Dark Night) (feat. Tommy Lee Sparta)
05. Born to Die
06. Needy Hoe (feat. Dutch Montana, Loota)
07. Hate Me
01. Dirt Boys II
02. Living Legend II
03. Mind Trippinʼ II
04. V12 Ⅱ
05. Tattoo入れたい (I Wanna Get Inked)II
06. ビッチのカバンは重い (Bitch’s Bag is Heavy)II
07. Hiroi Sekai II
1. Die Young(Music Video)
2. Business and Art(Music Video)
3. Dirt Boys II(Music Video)
4. Dirt Tour at F.A.D. Yokohama(Live)
5. Dirt Tour in Jamminʼ Nagoya(Live)
6. Behind the Scene in Jamaica