Like many great bands, Kotadama (Japanese for “spirit of words”) arose out of its founders simply wanting to find an outlet for the songs they’d been writing. “Around the time I was studying for my university entrance exams I started bugging my parents for a guitar, and then I learned how to play,” says Chris, who with Evan and their two sisters grew up on their family’s 100-acre rural property in New South Wales, Australia. “I talked Evan into learning to play the drums, and we started working out U2 songs and other covers. We started writing our own stuff pretty soon after that.” Before long, the siblings had converted a nearby farm shed into their own recording studio and were hard at work crafting the songs on Dichotomy.
And what songs they are. Sweeping, high-gloss epics that truly belie their composers’ youth. Uplifting and melodic, they reflect their composers’ obsession with age-old, universal themes: the relentless ache of unrequited love; a young man’s attempts to make sense of the world; that intoxicating, tingling rush of a first kiss. There’s “As I Am,” a driving, lay-it-on-the-line statement of self-belief with massive hooks and keyboards that sparkle like distant stars; and “Earth Vs. Man,” an atmospheric, introspective think-piece that Chris describes as “a bit of a warning to mankind.” And then there’s “See You Tonight,” Dichotomy’s first single. A yearning ode of romantic separation with a soaring, heartbreaking vocal by Chris, the track was picked up by New York’s KISS-FM in May 2009 and quickly became the station’s most requested song.
And for Kotadama things have been happening quickly, indeed. After becoming finalists in Europe’s 100% Music Songwriting Contest, the band appeared at the Kansai Music Conference in Osaka, Japan; was nominated for a Los Angeles Music Award; saw the video for “See You Tonight” air on CBS, NBC, FOX, and other American TV networks; played an acoustic showcase in the UK; won first place in the international Festival4stars songwriting competition; and received invitations to perform at the Barcelona Acció Musical festival in Spain and in Canada and the US. In 2009 the band partnered with top producer David Kershenbaum (Duran Duran, Tracy Chapman, Bryan Adams).
“Every decade or so there is a musical group that comes on the scene that takes your breath away,” raves Kershenbaum. “Kotadama is that kind of group.”
Recently the band added two friends, bassist Scott Mallard, 28, and keyboardist Clint Fish, 25, Chris and Evan have been busy working on more music; in fact, Kotadama already has material for a second album. “The goal is still the same as when we started,” explains Evan. “To write songs that resonate with people of all ages.” One listen to Dichotomy shows it’s a goal Kotadama knows exactly how to achieve—with an approach that will take the band straight to the top of the charts. And beyond.
How do you describe your music to people?
we have much trouble on this topic... i guess we could say its soft melodic alternative rock, we are still yet to find a good comparison to other stuff out there.
Tell me about how you originally got into your craft.
After being inspired initially by the rock group U2, Chris was keen to give the guitar a go and soon got...Evan on the drums. after learning covers for a while the inevitable addiction of writing our own stuff became our new driving force defining the band, what it was all about and what it could represent through the medium of music.
What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
besides for creating a new song, probably just chilling out with family and close friends by our fire tree.
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
i think initially establishing ourselves on a global scale and building a sustainable fan base
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
well, we had plans to either study mechanical engineering in acoustics and vibration, studying constitutional law, and a career in bio dynamic agricultural.
In what way has your community impacted your development as a musician?
none really. i think the people in our area are irrelevant as far as the music's concerned, but probably our environment itself in which we live and write the music has a significant impact on the themes and the point of view in which they are wrote.
What other artists out there do you love?
U2, coldplay, the verve, enya.
What does your future hold?
well in the near future, our debut album release, followed by touring is what on the cards.and in the distant future i hope we can be successful enough through music to keep sharing our messages through out the world and experience it along the way. i would hope that irrespective of what measure of success, we as band, as writers and as human beings stay true to our beliefs our passions and dreams.