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Interview with Ida Kudo

Ida Kudo is a Danish/Japanese "Scandinasian" pop newcomer who has her forthcoming EP 'PROUD' releasing on April 19th via Nordic Music Society. I caught up with Ida to talk all about the EP's creation process, working with Andrew Hunt and what she wants listeners to take away from listening to the EP.

Hi Ida, how are you?

Hey Elin. I'm alright, thank you for asking.

How would you describe your sound to the readers?

My sound is a mix of pop with subtle Asian influences for instance hooks, in some harmonies or intervals. The sound of the new material is quite dry but very vivid, almost all sound sources are live recorded so it's quite organic. Also, I have some elements of organic percussion or beat in my new sound that gives a feeling of liveliness and people or a gang or group putting life into the music. For instance, we (me and the producer, Andrew Hunt) used the sound of Double Dutch skipping ropes in one song, and multiple-layered claps, stomps, and even breaths to give it an organic 'gang'/group feel. 

Who would you say are your biggest musical influences?

Ether Bob Marley or Björk. Bob Marley for his messages and the positive vibrations, Björk for unique self-expression and a force of nature that represents a different power of femininity than what is the norm in the entertainment industries. 

How did your music journey start?

I was 4 years old when I started playing Suzuki violin. Classical violin. I played the violin til I was about 17 years old. Then I switched to popular music because of shoulder and back injuries from the violin. And because it was more important for me to express my unique voice than to play something other people have written and decided on how should be played. 

Your new EP ‘PROUD’ is out on April 19th, congratulations! It has been described as “a collection of songs that carries strong and timely political messages of empowerment through feminism, conservation and ecology, and more.” How was the process of making this EP for you?

It was like going to the real school of music. The producer Andrew Hunt challenged me to find new ways of writing and that brought out something new. The messages and songs are just digging a bit deeper into me as a person and artist than previously. So I was challenged to be more direct with messages, what I have to say, what I really mean. And less pleasing as to 'is that a proper thing to say in pop music'. I was also challenged to try new things musically, that's why the sound is a bit different from my previous work. For instance, the verses in the new material are quite intricate and a bit complex, also genre wise I've been challenged to let go of my quite conservative ways of interpreting pop and I was challenged by my producer to mix genre a lot more in this new material. 

What’s the song you are most excited for people to hear from ‘PROUD’?

I was excited about 'The power that is woman' because I feel the collaboration peaked with this song. This song represents the best from the merge of me and the producer's collaboration I think. When it comes to lyrics, melodies, and overall arrangement. I also think it's an important song and a unique song. So I'm very happy with it and happy to share it with the world. 

That being said, I secretly love 'Proud' (the single) maybe the most. 'Cause it's so badass and unapologetic. And it's got that hip hop feel to it that is something i really love.

So maybe it's actually 'Proud' the single. 

What was it like working with Andrew Hunt on this EP? What is it you love about working with him?

It was a very big, thorough, and intense process. Like I wrote before, a bit like the 'real' school of music. I was just challenged on every parameter; songwriting, recording, sound, arrangement, genre, really everything.

It's something I will never forget. Andrew is an extremely dedicated producer. I never met anyone like him. He'll put 2000 percent into one project until the body of work is so unique and the best it can be from the collaboration. 

It was quite hard for me at times 'cause I'm so used to doing things my own way and creating my own sound, but I think there was something really deep and profound in the process of making the record with Andrew that has changed me as a musician in a good and more mature way. It's so rare to meet people in this business with the level of dedication that Andrew has. And that's something very special. The thing I love the most about working with him is that he took me away from all my boxes of how I think a pop should be created, should sound, what one can say in a pop song, and expanded that vision. That's why the lyrics are so good in this new material, 'cause I was pushed to be way more brave and honest. I love that. 

Do you have a favourite memory from recording this EP?

I'm not sure I have a favorite memory of the recording, but one favorite memory is from Andrew's studio. It's got this window with a really good view over East London. And I just loved being in that studio looking out the window as we were there writing and recording the whole day, seeing the lights change, the sun set, the little windows light up around the houses. Even seeing the season changing while we were recording the record. 

What’s something you want listeners to take away from listening to ‘PROUD’?

The material is good, it may not be a super easy first listen, and you may have to listen a few times to really get into it. But you can trust the songs: they are so well made and they are so good. They are so good in all aspects: songwriting, lyrics, arrangement, production.  There is so much music being released all the time and a lot is very 'fast calories'. These songs have true substance, you can rely on that. 

You also have a new single ‘The Power That Is Woman’ is out now! Why was this a song you wanted to write?

It's odd, I didn't know I wanted to write it until we were jamming song titles. And that title came up. Then I was just rambling about the title and what I had at heart, and I found out I had so much to say. So many opinions, thoughts, visions, and a profound message. So I didn't know I wanted to write that song. I feel it was more a song that wanted to be written and me going 'okay, I guess that's what's really in my heart and on my mind, let's make it a song then!'

Can you explain more about the inspiration behind the lyrics for this song?

I think a lot of us in our everyday lives sense the things that are off in the bigger picture and structure of modern society and the way the world is being led by some few powerful authorities. I think also most of us are intelligent enough to understand when things are being done unfairly or inhumanly. And I think a lot of us keep that anger and feeling of injustice in our subconscious. Writing the song opened up my subconscious and made me realize I was really angry. That I think there are some key people in managing the structures of the modern world that are doing a shitty job and putting profit before people is an old and unsustainable childish way of leadership. I guess the time right now is somehow mature for us to say 'We had enough of the bull****'. It's simple; the one who's got the power to lead the bigger picture must put people or humanity before profit. It's really quite simple. And if they don't then we'll need a change of leadership. Women in dominant leadership roles are something new, an undiscovered potential. The old ways are exhausted, we need new inspiration and new ways of thinking. That's why the song says 'A kind commanding femininity, changing the way we used to lead...'. We need a new era of leadership. Feminine values such as compassion, preserving, and caring for life are what we need as a foundation of our decision-making for the future of our world if we want our world to be sustained. That's why the song supports a power and leadership that's feminine.  

Do you have a favourite lyric or line from the song?

'A kind commanding femininity, changing the way we used to lead, taking action. Got to recreate the trust in leadership we must have compassion

What’s next for you?

Playing all the songs live with a beautiful band and enjoying them live. It's a lot of work to create the songs. You need to really enjoy them live as a 'reward' to yourself for having worked to so hard to make them great. 

And lastly, what music have you been listening to recently? Anything you can recommend to us?

I only listen to the Beatles at the moment. So that's not really anything new. Sadly my dad has just passed away, so at the moment, all I wanna hear is the Beatles, 'cause that was the music we connected about. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions for us, it’s really appreciated!

You're very welcome!

You can listen to Ida Kudo here.

You can follow Ida Kudo here.

All things After Midnight can be found here.


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