For Music by Kota, the year of 2021 has already been one for the books.
Having designated the official start to a highly promising musical journey back in January through their debut single, “Lucy,” that was soon followed by their 4-track EP Innocence, the band doesn’t seem to want to slow down. And who could blame them? They’ve got their foot in the door, and they’re ready to come in full swingin’ with a rock n’ roll fervor doused in sweet, sweet soul and blues. And if that isn’t the perfect opening for their latest single “Fine Line”, I don’t know what is.
Detailing an endless pursuit for someone/something that only turns out to be a mere waste of time, the track takes you through the energetic and immersive instrumentation cast in resounding drums, rich vocal harmonies, and grinding guitars — including one wildly impressive solo. It’s one of those songs you’d look forward to hearing in a live show, eager to sing along to the chorus’ lines “Take another step off the edge, baby / You know we’re walking on a fine line / But together, just me and you / We’ll make it through eventually”. No doubt a crowd favorite.
Consisting of five members — Dakota Jackson (lead vocalist and who I assume to be the influence for the band’s name), Conner Blakley (keys and vocals), Ryan Young (lead guitar), Bryton Wallace (drums), and Alex Taylor (bass) — Music by Kota has this wonderful capability of expressing sheer passion not only through their performances (something to be expected from the majority of artists) but also through their produced recordings, which is a hard feat that even the most widely known artists haven’t managed to expertly convey.
The spirit bleeds through each mix like it can’t be helped, transforming your bedroom, kitchen, living room, heck, even your car into a live venue experience that makes you want to snag a ticket to their next show if only to obtain the real thing. It’s hard to believe they haven’t been doing this for years, with the way the band’s chemistry lights up a stage, as well as your speakers — and I’m talking even the shitty earphones you’ve magically retained since 2013. Yeah. They’re that good.
With a lot more to learn about this group, I’m privileged to have gotten the chance to ask them all there is to know about who they are, where they’ve been, and where they’re going.
This has been quite the year for you guys. So far, have there been any pinnacle moments that have affected you most?
This first year as a band has been absolutely incredible. One thing that we can say is there hasn’t been a single “pinnacle” moment that stands out. It has been a countless build of connecting and playing with some of the greatest people! Whether it be a fan, a local promoter, or another band we cannot thank you enough!
Who or what inspired you to form a band and pursue a career in music?
The five of us have been playing music together for the bulk of our lives. We initially started as a cover band and played every local bar, restaurant and party we could find. The main spark for us was the reaction we got after playing our original music. There is nothing better than seeing others genuinely connect with songs that you write and perform. Since we released our first single back in January we have received nothing but love, and that’s what drives us.
Your summer consisted of plenty of live performances at various Tennessee hotspots. Can you pinpoint a show that you enjoyed playing the most and why? Whether it be the venue itself, the energy of the crowd, etc.?
There are several shows that stand out considerably to us, however there is one that we all can agree was the best show to date. We played a venue in Memphis called The Achi House. It’s really just a big backyard and the community comes out to see bands from all over. This was the first major show where the crowd sang along to our music, cheered for an encore and genuinely cared and appreciated who we were as a band. Its shows and fans like this that really give you a drive to work and create.
Can you dive into the concept behind your newest single, “Fine Line,” and how it came to be?
“Fine Line” is a great song that tells a story about wanting something, or someone, that just isn’t really worth it. The lyrics, “take another step of the edge baby,” represent the risks we will sometimes take in life to try and get something that looks good from a distance. Musically its full of vocal harmonies, bluesy guitar licks and a catchy chorus. We all feel that this song represents the bands sound well.
How does the writing or recording process of this song compare to that of your previous releases?
This song really came to life in the studio. We went in to record and didn’t really have the structure lined up yet, all we had was lyrics. It was fun to watch the song evolve while in the studio. It’s now one of our most fun songs to perform live!
Can fans expect to see it on an upcoming EP or LP?
We thought about this a lot. We knew we wanted to release new music but we weren’t really sure how we wanted to do it. We are glad to announce however that our debut LP is currently in the works and will be released for you all to hear in early 2022!
What is a long-term attainable goal you hope to achieve as a band?
We honestly just want to make a comfortable living doing what we love. Music is something that we all want to eventually make our full time job and we can finally see that it’s obtainable. We are hoping this goal can happen in the near future.
What might the rest of 2021 have in store for Music by Kota?
Music By KOTA has lots planned for the closing of the year. Following “Fine Line”, we have 2 more singles leading up to our LP release in 2022. Also, be on the lookout for more live shows and merch drops, and who knows, maybe we will see you on tour next summer! We love everyone we have crossed paths with so far and cannot wait for what’s next.