After the successful release of his recent single Another One, Perth based rapper and singer, Kuda Mic, caught up with Grok for a quick chat about his background, the challenges facing the music and arts industry, and what keeps him motivated.
How are you going in these crazy times?
I’m going as well as I can be right now. I am keeping myself busy with several projects, but uncertainty is probably the hardest thing to deal with. Other than that, I am coping just fine.
Give us a brief background on yourself. How did you start off as an Artist?
My favourite question.
Let me start with a bit about myself. My name is Kuda – short for Kudakwashe, but you can imagine the headache that can be, *laughs* and I was born in Zimbabwe. I moved around a bit when I was younger and that includes growing up in Kenya and Uganda, two extremely beautiful places I recommend people to visit – after Zimbabwe of course.
My music journey started when my older brother came home from boarding one summer and he had a couple of schoolbooks full of rhymes. I studied them until I understood the rhyme-scheme and the flow and copied that for a while until I could exchange his words for my own. I then used what I learnt to perform an original piece for my Year 9 music exam and I fell in love with the whole process from there, especially being on stage. The rest has been a long and exciting journey and it just keeps getting better.
So, how has the reaction been so far for your latest release, Another One?
It’s been largely positive among those that have heard it. People tend to feed me back the hype they feel from me so I can never gauge just how much they are feeling a track. Based on feedback directly from people I shared the song with, they enjoyed it.
What’s the story behind the song and is there any particular message you are trying to pass across?
I am so glad you asked. ‘Another One‘ is a continuation of my musical journey from my first single. My first solo single ‘Follow‘ helped me kickstart a new part of my music journey and that song was about encouraging listeners to follow my story. ‘Follow’ ticked so many long-term goals of mine that I was just dying for ‘Another One’. Another single. Another video. Another show and another step towards some of our bigger goals.
What’s the ideal setting for listening to the song?
It’s a bit of a hype song so I would say turnt (with a T) all the way up in the car. That’s probably the perfect setting for it.
What are some challenges you face while making music?
The biggest challenge I have had to date is picking and choosing what to record or release.
I once heard that Future had hundreds of unreleased songs at a certain point over the past couple of years. When I first heard that I did not believe it, but if I had unlimited time to record all the ideas I have, I could probably get to that number myself! The question of whether they would all be bangers is a different story, but there are a lot of projects waiting to be completed and a whole lot more that did not even make the cut.
The challenge then comes into play when trying to decide what to give your audience next. At this point, I have been pushing myself to show my creative versatility and range. So that means taking on new projects while some others sit on the stove and simmer a little bit longer.
Thinking back on that, I now think the biggest challenge is finding the time to record all my ideas!
What have you done individually to maintain your presence in the Perth music scene?
One thing that I learnt to do last year was to use my energy and good vibes to meet people. By putting myself out there a bit more, I met some incredibly talented creatives in their various fields, and it seems to have opened up new doors for new projects, collabs and even shows. That all started with me just going out a bit more and showing love and support to other local creatives.
How do you go about your creative process?
I have tried to switch things up recently because I had such a rigid process in the past. I would get the beat and feel it out, which would typically give me the vibe of the song. I would then come up with a hook and then that would lay out the theme of the song. Then I would tell the story through the verses.
In recent times I have tried to step away from that because I have been feeding off other artists and producers. Now when I hear the beat, the first thing I do is record myself vibing to it. This may come out as words, but usually, I get a feel of how I am going to ride the beat and flow through the entire song. At that point, I am typically feeling something by way of the theme and emotion of the song, then I start to formulate how to communicate that through the words.
The beat does most of the work. Shout out to all the producers out there that give their beats names like, “nightmare” or “Sunday drive”. That usually gives me an idea of the mood or the vibe the producer was in and it is usually really close to how I feel when I start vibing to it.
What motivates you as an artist and performer?
Tough question, just because there is so much. I am motivated by the idea that using the gift that God gave me might be the most effective way for me to make a difference in the world. It drives me to maximise what I get out of it so I can maximise what I can give back. It is also because I feel like society has put us in a position in which people can go through their whole life doing something they do not love.
If I, a young man from Zimbabwe can make his dream come true, I hope that can inspire others after me to chase their dreams and to do it the right way. I feel like we have probably lost a lot of generational talents over the years because they felt that they needed to give up their dream and get a “real career”. I am motivated by the idea that my music could provide joy, comfort or even something relatable to people out there. Like I said, too many things.
Can you give any tips or advice to struggling young musicians who are worried about their livelihoods?
It took me a while to figure it out myself, but the moment you get half-decent at managing your time, nothing is stopping you from working to fund your dreams. You will definitely have to sacrifice a little when it comes to sleep and “free time” but if you have a passion and you are willing to do anything for it, you can work around going to work and making money. Just put yourself in a position where your creative time is uninterrupted. It would help to have a job you can leave at work. I have always been in positions where I had to take work home, which makes it hard to place boundaries on creative time, quality time (with your partner if you have one), and work.
Achieving balance is hard, but it is possible. Communicate that with those around you so they don’t feel like you are neglecting them. Then knuckle down and chase that dream with everything you have got.
In your opinion, what do you think needs to be done to save both the music and arts industries?
I’m not sure how much this would help, but I think there needs to be more exposure at the High school level. As we start identifying what we might want to do for the rest of our lives, it would help to have access to the various styles and genres of music and arts in general. I don’t think Hip Hop in any form has been taught in school. Or even songwriting in general. At least not at my school. But when young people uncover these gifts they might have, it would be nice to have easier access to mentors or workshops to be able to explore that further. I don’t know if that would help but it would be a start.
I am pretty keen to see what others think of this because I would be willing to support any solid ideas in that regard. Part of my goal is making music more accessible for the next generation so anyone willing to champion that with me, is always welcome to discuss those ideas with me.
How can readers now support local artists?
There are several ways to do this. For starters, where possible, identify some local artists you like and support them through social media by doing the easy things such as liking, commenting and sharing their content. We live in a digital world where regardless of the quality of music, the algorithm dictates your success and there is not much an artist can do without a fan base to help them break through those algorithms. That increases the chances of the artists’ work being exposed to new ears, giving them a chance to be heard and grow their audience.
In addition to that, do a Kuda and go out and enjoy the live music scene. The better supports the local live shows receive, the more live shows they will be put on, thus giving local artists more opportunities to showcase their work. And that cycle continues with the idea being that more showcases, means more chances to be heard and to generate new fans.
What’s next for you?
I have got a lot of projects that I am excited to show everyone because they are going to be quite different from what my listeners have come to expect. My producer Paolo (PMBP Music) and I have been pushing ourselves to our creative limits and I am loving what is coming up. Now that we have got our studio fully up and running, we want to put out more music than we did in 2020. Much, much more.
Think of 2020 as the pre-game, warm-up, and now it is game time.
Stream Kuda Mic’s latest track below!