Backstage with: Kooma
BACKSTAGE WITH: KOOMA | KOOMA MUSIC on SPOTIFY | HELSINKI, FINLAND 🌍
Main influences on making music?
Musically Flume, Linkin Park, EDEN, PVRIS. I get a lot of influences from visual art as well since it challenges to create fitting soundtracks for certain scenes or photos. Music videos directed by Zhang & Knight, meme-ish animations by PilotRedSun and visuals on the releases of Japanese label FLAU are currently my fountains of creativity.
Would you be able to describe the electronic and hip hop scene in Finland? How did you start making music and how has the scene evolved in Scandinavia over the years?
To be honest, I don’t follow those specific scenes too much here in Finland, unfortunately. I know that both of the genres are more mainstream than what they used to be 10-15 years ago but that’s about it. I personally started making music because of the sound of Pendulum in the early 10s. At the time the fast-paced drum & bass played by a band felt mind-blowing to me.
Seems that as an independent artist you are really thriving where other artists are learning, each one of your releases gets thousands of listeners on Spotify and your monthly listeners are over 70K! Can you share any learning on how to independently reach a mass audience and best practices you learned on the way?
From my personal experience collaborating with other like-minded people is single-handedly the best way to reach bigger audiences.
I would encourage artists to plan out how to get on user-based Spotify playlists, and to be clear, I’m not talking about the ones that have 10-100k followers. Instead, figure out how to secure spots on hundred different playlists with about 100 followers. I feel like those lists are more intimate and effective in the long term and they affect the algorithms really positively.
Cover songs are also a great way to introduce your sound to the world: the original artist provides an existing listener base and you can simply flip the song to your own liking.
Can you tell us a bit about the origin of Kooma, how did you get started and what guides you in your brand and online persona?
The original name of the project was The Deepest Thoughts, which is pretty self-explanatory.
The purpose of the whole thing was, and still is, to express my thoughts through music.
The alias just didn’t resonate with me after a while so I changed it to Kooma, which translates to coma in English. I like to think that my brand presents sleep-like states while wide awake, varying from the voices of sleep paralysis demons to “What does flying in a dream mean?” soundscapes.
What does the work & recording process look like for Kooma? What drives you in making your music?
Messing around with different melodies on my guitar or keyboard is where most of my projects start. Surprising visual and sound aspects tend to trigger the need to play those instruments.
What are the feelings, emotions or messages you would like your listeners to take away when listening to music you make and produce?
You’re not alone.
Much of your workflow is around producing and working with collaborators. How do you choose the collaborators you work with? What attracts you to certain collaborators and what does the workflow look like when working with collaborators around the world?
I’m trying my best to collaborate with the people who’s music I’m personally listening to or who would fit on specific vibes. For the most part, the collaborative process itself is just playing catch with the audio files via email or Facebook until the end result is something that both parties are happy with.
What is your next music project? What excites you most about it?
Right now I’m working on two music videos for my mixtape “Stages of Hypothermia” and a couple of tracks with Joey Nato and Avy. I haven’t released anything with Joey before so it’s pretty exciting to see what the listeners think about our creations!
Has COVID influenced your work as a musician? How are you adapting to a new era in music making?
Performing live isn’t really something I’ve done too much in the past so I must be one of the few musicians who haven’t been affected by the pandemic. Most of my revenue comes from digital streaming platforms and music licensing companies and I haven’t seen any downfalls in either area. At least now I have a good excuse to just stay inside and create new music!
Recommendations for up and coming artists to take and treat their art as a business?
Set short- and long-term goals, be consistent and don’t make excuses.
Are you currently at the stage where you can support yourself financially from music? Is this a goal for you?
I quit my day job at the beginning of June in 2019 and I’ve been living off music since then. My income isn’t only reliable on Kooma though since I have another alias called Less Gravity.
Who are your favorite collaborators & people you just love to work with?
Veela, To NY, Skywalk and DNTST are always my go-to collaborators. I’m also lucky enough to have my girlfriend by my side whenever I need help with music videos! Shoutout to my elder brother too who goes by the names LuffyMcDuck and Juhq. Hopefully, we’ll work more together in the future combining his drawings with my music.