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COLORSXSTUDIOS TAKES NYC: KOJEY RADICAL

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COLORSXSTUDIOS TAKES NYC: KOJEY RADICAL
By ATL Digital

The first-ever COLORSXSTUDIOS live event is sold out. At National Sawdust, the COLORSXSTUDIOS team prepares for their first foray into live performance. Outside, it’s an evening far too cold for early November in Brooklyn, but inside, the energy is warm and palpable. The performers and their teams filter in for soundcheck, everyone hugging and kissing upon arrival. Within minutes, it feels like we’re all at an eagerly-awaited family reunion. That the performers are quick to call COLORSXSTUDIOS family isn’t surprising. The Berlin-based music platform is oftentimes the first to show support for the artists they’ve excitedly cast their spotlight on. And being a part of their first live show, in New York City of all places, means something. Niara Sterling opened the night with a DJ set. For British rapper, Kojey Radical, and for Sudanese-Dutch Gaidaa, it’s also their first-ever performance in the United States. At the intimate venue, when the artists take the stage, the geometric, modern backdrop is drenched in color. It’s a taping come to life, with the performers breaking through the 4th wall. We sat down with Kojey Radical, Dua Saleh, and Gaidaa to find out what it’s like to be a part of the milestone event.

KOJEY RADICAL

Music as communion is important to Radical, and so when he leaps onto the stage with complete and total unbridled energy, the audience reacts accordingly and unravels. They jump, they dance. The intimate space heats up quickly with the frenetic energy. It’s Radical’s first U.S. show, but in a move of absolute confidence, he drops the music for a few seconds and we realize the audience is singing along, word per word. As a foreigner, to get an audience in New York City is impressive. To then see that audience sing your lyrics, well, that defies any expectation.

Speaking with Radical, he dives into a discussion about suicide, just as eagerly as he playfully tries to recall the name of the famous, American landmark he’s thought about peeing at. His willingness to connect seems directly correlated to his personal ethos that we should all be looking out for each other, and that we should all be open and receptive to our neighbors. “Let’s just fucking talk about it,” he exclaims at some point. Later, on stage, he stands on a speaker, one hand on his hip, the other wrapped around the mic, as he explains, “Honesty is very important at shows.” 

We sat down with Radical to discuss dance as an escape, why it’s crucial to discuss mental health, and how this Brooklyn performance with the COLORSXSTUDIOS  family came at the exact right time for the iconic performer.

It’s your first performing in the U.S. What does it mean to you?

I think it’s a bit of a rite of passage. New York is not an easy audience. That’s the culture I come from. The U.K. is not really cut out for everyone. You got to be good, really good. It’s a very saturated market. And I think for me I always wanted to test my ability, my passion in all kinds of audiences, all crowds, and nations. We’ve managed to go almost everywhere else, so here we are. Let’s get going. 

I heard you’ve got your visa for a year!

Yeah, I’m going to come back next year. I want to go see the South a little bit. I want to go down to Dallas, New Orleans, Atlanta and do them spaces. The Grand Canyon. I want to see that. I want to see if I can pee in it. *laughs*

What’s it like to do this with COLORSXSTUDIOS?

COLORS is family. They’ve been super real and transparent about their support over the years. I think the greatest thing about all of this is that energy and the time aligned for both of us. They’ve grown so much as a platform as opposed to when I first got in there. And I’ve grown so much as an artist. I’ve come full circle. I’ve got to this point where I can present something new. I love them, man. 

How do you think your growth shows in your new album?

For anyone who’s listened to the old ones, the growth is from track one. Live instrumentation, the rap, and the subject matter, the energy, the confidence. It starts way more boisterous than my last project in 2017. Ultimately, I wanted people to hear the confidence in the growth. You never stop growing. It’s still happening now. 

Every day, every conversation, and every experience that I have helps me grow as a person. I think you can give people these snapshots, little checkpoints for them to reflect and see how you’re doing, and how you’re getting on and how they’re getting on. People forget they grow to the music too. There are records that remind me of really important times in my life because I banged them out that morning. 

I was listening to the new record, and it’s very fun to listen to. You get hooked from the very beginning. But you know, you’re talking about serious issues and well, mental health. Why is it important for you to discuss that in song?

It’s important to me because I almost died. I almost died from sadness and that is a terrible way to die. I’ve seen people die for more. It’s unfortunate to grow up in communities where you’re constantly reminded of death and how heavy these things are and how much they weigh on people. 

One of the most important things about that record wasn’t even something that came from my experience but that came from someone that had been supporting me for a long time. It’s the best story in relation to “Can’t Go Back” on that record. I started speaking about my depression, my anxiety and he feels okay enough to come to me and have a conversation. 

That day, that morning, he tried to kill himself. It didn’t work. He spoke to me that evening ‘cause he was going to try again that night. I talked him out of it. Two days later, his girlfriend tells him he’s about to have a baby. Meaning he would have been dead before his baby got here, if he gave in to those demons and those voices. Being able to have an awkward conversation and speak so freely about it, helped him dramatically. Like I was at the baby shower. It’s like beautiful.  I have a real rapport with the people that support me, so it’s deeper than just music at the end of the day. If I’m going through something, you’re going through something too, let’s just fucking talk about it. 

You’re a professionally trained dancer. Music and dance are completely linked for you. Do you find that you can express yourself better in one medium than another?

Right now, my preferred medium is music. I started dancing when I was nine, because my sister went to university for dance, then came back and opened her own dance school. It was a way for a lot of kids to put energy to good use when they could have been just running about. I always think of dance as safety, as therapy, as escape, as freedom. I’ve never seen it as a tool for anything apart from healing. Everything else was the repertoire, film and stuff, and being able to direct and write music. Being able to use all of these mediums that again bring us all back to the idea of communication. 

Art transcends language, you see what I’m saying. Any tool that you can use to help bring people together in a world that’s really divided is probably really useful. Maybe that’s why people like it. I haven’t really figured out why people like my shit. But I like it, so it’s okay.

What do you hope people take away from this performance?

They don’t have a choice about what they take away. Their life is different after they see me perform. I stand by this statement. I tell everyone this. I almost give people a forewarning before I start performing. After these 45 minutes, you’ll think about life differently, you’ll enjoy things more, because you’ll care less about things that aren’t important. You’ll unlock this part of  yourself that you didn’t know was there. Has always been there. Screaming, screaming to get out.

  • The first-ever COLORSXSTUDIOS live event is sold out. At National Sawdust, the COLORSXSTUDIOS team prepares for their first foray into live performance.
    All Access
on November 21, 2019 - 10:44am

The first-ever COLORSXSTUDIOS live event is sold out. At National Sawdust, the COLORSXSTUDIOS team prepares for their first foray into live performance. Outside, it’s an evening far too cold for early November in Brooklyn, but inside, the energy is warm and palpable. The performers and their teams filter in for soundcheck, everyone hugging and kissing upon arrival. Within minutes, it feels like we’re all at an eagerly-awaited family reunion. That the performers are quick to call COLORSXSTUDIOS family isn’t surprising. The Berlin-based music platform is oftentimes the first to show support for the artists they’ve excitedly cast their spotlight on. And being a part of their first live show, in New York City of all places, means something. Niara Sterling opened the night with a DJ set. For British rapper, Kojey Radical, and for Sudanese-Dutch Gaidaa, it’s also their first-ever performance in the United States. At the intimate venue, when the artists take the stage, the geometric, modern backdrop is drenched in color. It’s a taping come to life, with the performers breaking through the 4th wall. We sat down with Kojey Radical, Dua Saleh, and Gaidaa to find out what it’s like to be a part of the milestone event.

KOJEY RADICAL

Music as communion is important to Radical, and so when he leaps onto the stage with complete and total unbridled energy, the audience reacts accordingly and unravels. They jump, they dance. The intimate space heats up quickly with the frenetic energy. It’s Radical’s first U.S. show, but in a move of absolute confidence, he drops the music for a few seconds and we realize the audience is singing along, word per word. As a foreigner, to get an audience in New York City is impressive. To then see that audience sing your lyrics, well, that defies any expectation.

Speaking with Radical, he dives into a discussion about suicide, just as eagerly as he playfully tries to recall the name of the famous, American landmark he’s thought about peeing at. His willingness to connect seems directly correlated to his personal ethos that we should all be looking out for each other, and that we should all be open and receptive to our neighbors. “Let’s just fucking talk about it,” he exclaims at some point. Later, on stage, he stands on a speaker, one hand on his hip, the other wrapped around the mic, as he explains, “Honesty is very important at shows.” 

We sat down with Radical to discuss dance as an escape, why it’s crucial to discuss mental health, and how this Brooklyn performance with the COLORSXSTUDIOS  family came at the exact right time for the iconic performer.

It’s your first performing in the U.S. What does it mean to you?

I think it’s a bit of a rite of passage. New York is not an easy audience. That’s the culture I come from. The U.K. is not really cut out for everyone. You got to be good, really good. It’s a very saturated market. And I think for me I always wanted to test my ability, my passion in all kinds of audiences, all crowds, and nations. We’ve managed to go almost everywhere else, so here we are. Let’s get going. 

I heard you’ve got your visa for a year!

Yeah, I’m going to come back next year. I want to go see the South a little bit. I want to go down to Dallas, New Orleans, Atlanta and do them spaces. The Grand Canyon. I want to see that. I want to see if I can pee in it. *laughs*

What’s it like to do this with COLORSXSTUDIOS?

COLORS is family. They’ve been super real and transparent about their support over the years. I think the greatest thing about all of this is that energy and the time aligned for both of us. They’ve grown so much as a platform as opposed to when I first got in there. And I’ve grown so much as an artist. I’ve come full circle. I’ve got to this point where I can present something new. I love them, man. 

How do you think your growth shows in your new album?

For anyone who’s listened to the old ones, the growth is from track one. Live instrumentation, the rap, and the subject matter, the energy, the confidence. It starts way more boisterous than my last project in 2017. Ultimately, I wanted people to hear the confidence in the growth. You never stop growing. It’s still happening now. 

Every day, every conversation, and every experience that I have helps me grow as a person. I think you can give people these snapshots, little checkpoints for them to reflect and see how you’re doing, and how you’re getting on and how they’re getting on. People forget they grow to the music too. There are records that remind me of really important times in my life because I banged them out that morning. 

I was listening to the new record, and it’s very fun to listen to. You get hooked from the very beginning. But you know, you’re talking about serious issues and well, mental health. Why is it important for you to discuss that in song?

It’s important to me because I almost died. I almost died from sadness and that is a terrible way to die. I’ve seen people die for more. It’s unfortunate to grow up in communities where you’re constantly reminded of death and how heavy these things are and how much they weigh on people. 

One of the most important things about that record wasn’t even something that came from my experience but that came from someone that had been supporting me for a long time. It’s the best story in relation to “Can’t Go Back” on that record. I started speaking about my depression, my anxiety and he feels okay enough to come to me and have a conversation. 

That day, that morning, he tried to kill himself. It didn’t work. He spoke to me that evening ‘cause he was going to try again that night. I talked him out of it. Two days later, his girlfriend tells him he’s about to have a baby. Meaning he would have been dead before his baby got here, if he gave in to those demons and those voices. Being able to have an awkward conversation and speak so freely about it, helped him dramatically. Like I was at the baby shower. It’s like beautiful.  I have a real rapport with the people that support me, so it’s deeper than just music at the end of the day. If I’m going through something, you’re going through something too, let’s just fucking talk about it. 

You’re a professionally trained dancer. Music and dance are completely linked for you. Do you find that you can express yourself better in one medium than another?

Right now, my preferred medium is music. I started dancing when I was nine, because my sister went to university for dance, then came back and opened her own dance school. It was a way for a lot of kids to put energy to good use when they could have been just running about. I always think of dance as safety, as therapy, as escape, as freedom. I’ve never seen it as a tool for anything apart from healing. Everything else was the repertoire, film and stuff, and being able to direct and write music. Being able to use all of these mediums that again bring us all back to the idea of communication. 

Art transcends language, you see what I’m saying. Any tool that you can use to help bring people together in a world that’s really divided is probably really useful. Maybe that’s why people like it. I haven’t really figured out why people like my shit. But I like it, so it’s okay.

What do you hope people take away from this performance?

They don’t have a choice about what they take away. Their life is different after they see me perform. I stand by this statement. I tell everyone this. I almost give people a forewarning before I start performing. After these 45 minutes, you’ll think about life differently, you’ll enjoy things more, because you’ll care less about things that aren’t important. You’ll unlock this part of  yourself that you didn’t know was there. Has always been there. Screaming, screaming to get out.

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