It has been a stellar year for Washington’s Kozmo. With releases on ShadowTrix Music, Street Ritual, and Never Slept, along with performances at countless clubs and festivals, it’s safe to say he’s making an excellent name for himself.
And for good reason, too: as one of a handful of artists pushing American styles of halftime (that’s halftime drum & bass for anyone not in the loop), Kozmo is bringing a new sound to the underground. His upcoming EP with Bay Area imprint, Muti Music, demonstrates this perfectly. Entitled 20/20 Vision, it features four all-original tracks infused with his special blend of dub, hip-hop, and psychedelic, glitched-out mania. Fellow Washington native, Subduktion, makes an appearance as well, and it’s always a treat when these two collaborate. This is some of Kozmo‘s best work yet, so we strongly encourage checking it out below. We were also lucky enough to catch up with the young beat hustler for a quick interview, which can be found after the jump as well.
Peep game and be sure to support this radical up & comer if you’re feeling the vibes!
First off, I’m curious about the EP’s title; is 20/20 Vision a subtle reference to Ivy Lab and their 20/20 LDN imprint?
Totally. Ivy Lab has been an absolutely huge influence on me and my song writing for a couple years now. Not only are they providing us with a fresh sound that everyone is very excited about, but their branding and everything else is sleek and on point. Also, once Ivy Lab debuted 20/20 LDN, they made themselves the first label in the UK that primarily sticks to this style of halftime. They may or may not have inspired me to do the same thing in the US…
Tell me a little about your origin story; when were you introduced to the scene and what kicked off your musical career?
Before I got into electronic music, I played saxophone in middle school. Ska and reggae bands were listened to on the regular alongside heavy doses of rock from bands like Tool. Naturally, once I heard the riddim vibe and the heaviness of dubstep for the first time, I was hooked; the rest was history. I had a close friend introduce me to bass music festival culture which revealed to me how much I needed to be a part of that. After that, it was just study, study, study.
What was the first piece of electronic music you can remember hearing? Did you love it or hate it?
Shit, the first piece I ever heard would have to be some Prodigy song. “Firestarter” comes to mind. I know I loved it. The problem was I didn’t even know it was an electronic song at the time. The amen breaks and instrumentation had me believing it was just a real band! Fast forward a few more years and I’m exploring the likes of Amon Tobin and Eskmo (plus the whole dubstep thing i.e. Rusko + Bassnectar, etc.) and realizing that I’m actually drawn to all electronic music.
How did you choose the name ‘Kozmo’? Did you go by anything else before taking that name?
Kozmo has always been my solo name. In fact, it was spray-painted on a telephone about a block away from my house where I grew up in Tacoma. I would walk by it frequently and one day decided it was there for a reason.
When you’re in the studio, what is your creative process like? Was anything different on this EP in particular?
My music process is nothing special. I’ll just take a sample that inspires me (either something I made or something I found) and just embellish on what makes that sound so great. I’m that guy in the super market that can stand there and hear a song being made from the combination of the footsteps of customers, beeps from the checkout counter, the sliding door opening/closing and a baby crying all coming together. I use that same mentality when I write; ultimately, I just try to make musical sense out of all the sounds in the Ableton project in front of me. That’s why I love collabs and remixes so much actually. I just have to make what is right in front of me into something new and exciting.
Who influences and inspires your music? Is there anyone making waves (or rather, .wavs) you think we should have our eye on right now?
The whole halftime movement. At this point, I’ve pretty much beat the term to death (around here we call it “Wonk” though). Ivy Lab, Noisia, Shades, Fracture, and Sam Binga have all been some of my biggest influences when it comes to song writing. Before all that, Amon Tobin & Eskmo have always been my two biggest influences. Their use of granular synthesis really helped me to listen and explore sound in ways I never did before.
Any big plans for the remainder of 2016?
December will be huge. I’m still gonna keep the announcement loaded in the chamber for now, but yeah, I’ll definitely be going out with a bang this year!