Q+A: 5 minutes with Kooma

Mixtapes are a great way for musicians to express their creativity. Free from concept, they often exhibit their maker’s freeform experimentation with different genres. Freefall is such a mixtape. Produced by 29-year-old Finnish producer Kooma, the tape extends to the analogue emulations of Lo-fi while grounding itself in the multi-voiced synth melodies of Liquid Trap, yet preserving a thread of clean beats and a complimentary sound selection.

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A Floating, Drifting Records signee, Kooma comes from Helsinki, Finland but has settled down in Fuengirola, Spain. He has honed his sound through collaborations with Monstercat vocalist VEELA, with whom he created the record ‘Sculpture’, which charted on Spotify’s Viral Charts, not to mention plenty of solo releases. Let’s continue to get to know Kooma:

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

Because of all the creative possibilities! I can just let my mind wander and explore endless ideas. Adventures of imagination make me feel free.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

It depends a lot: sometimes the sound sparks the idea, sometimes vice versa.

Does your material feature any collaborations?

Yes! Every song I’ve done with Veela has taught me so much and shaped the sound of Kooma into what it is nowadays. I’m eternally grateful for all the support I’ve gotten from her and her fanbase over the years. You can find the complete list of my collaborators in my Spotify’s “About” section.

What’s on your current playlist?

‘game point’ by weird inside.

‘Can’t be you’ by JOY..

 ‘This Is Why’ by Paramore.

‘Balling’ by EDEN.

‘MISA MISA!’ by CORPSE, Scarlxrd & Kordhell.

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

I’m not touring currently, but maybe in the future I’ll have an answer to this question!

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

Distortion, stereo imaging, re-sampling, and sample chopping are my most used tools when it comes to sound design. If you’re interested in my creative process, there are a bunch of production live-stream recordings available on my YouTube channel.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

I like to have a cup of coffee or ginger tea to start off the day. After that, the first thing that I try to create when I open up FL Studio is one inspiring sound or melody, for example, a chopped and re-sampled loop made out of my piano and guitar demos. During an ideal studio day, the next step would be drum programming but to be honest, it never goes like how I imagine it. Until the end of the day, I’ll just try to pick the best ideas that are bouncing in my head. I’ll just let those ideas take me wherever they are taking me.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

I think it was in 2017: I finished my business studies at University of applied sciences and played the last match in a badminton league in Germany. I finally had time to produce more music. When my second single with Veela dropped on December 27th, it got added to several different editorial lists and it charted on Finland’s and Canada’s Spotify viral lists. That got me so hyped: all I could think of was getting back to the studio to work on new songs!

Any emerging artists on your radar?

I’m waiting for the day when Olswel blows up big time.

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Music videos directed by Zhang + Knight, modern and contemporary art museums (Tate Modern in London and Moco in Amsterdam must be my favourites so far) and experimental beats by acts like Lorn, Clams Casino, Flume etc..

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

I’ve been moving around in Europe since February and for that reason, I no longer have a guitar that I can rely on. That has definitely changed my approach to creating songs. From hardware, I’ve been using teenage engineering’s OP-1 more than before. A VST plugin called “MISHBY” by Freakshow Industries is also a very important tool for me; I’ve been using it on almost every Kooma song for years now.

Any side projects you’re working on?

Less Gravity and Beats to See Bad Dreams To: the first one is for my lofi stuff and the latter one is for all the beats that don’t fit the current Kooma sound.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

I feel like I don’t have to flood the projects with unnecessary audio tracks anymore in hopes of making the song sound “better”. I just focus more on key audio tracks and compliment them with settle layers.

Break down the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

Audiovisual journeys.

Famous last words?

I have to go now. My planet needs me.

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Image credit: Samir Abya