KOAD jaunty music video
[Photo by: Arturo Evaristo]

KOAD might be a brand-new name to you, but soon, this hip-hop rock star on the rise will be dominating your playlists.

The 18-year-old Indian-American artist just released his second single and accompanying music video for the powerhouse track “jaunty,” the follow-up to his rowdy, booming debut, “pots n’ pans.” Featuring undeniably catchy hooks, positive energy and a myriad of experimental synth sounds and beats, KOAD celebrates his roots proudly in the new release.

Read more: 40 new artists you need to hear in May

“This video, probably more than any other piece of content I’ve made so far, is all about my relationship with my culture, family and identity,” he shares.

In the colorful video, KOAD is styled in a traditional Indian kurta with the koala logo for his KOGO community on the back and performs a traditional bhangra dance with the San Fernando Valley dance troupe, which was choreographed by local South Asian bhangra student Amrita Patel.

 

KOAD jaunty music video
[Photo credit: Brett Prendergast]

It’s clear that KOAD is completely in his element in this music video, combining classic-rock sounds with modern beats and traditional Indian cultural practices with his vibrant personality. It’s truly the song and video you never knew you needed on your playlist.

Beginning as a high school dropout in his early teens and making music in his parents’ garage, KOAD is taking a major career step and is ready to crush a big show with his new tracks May 15. Catch KOAD along with artists such as ATEEZ, Wyclef Jean, Guapdad 4000 and more as they play IDENTITY 2021 Virtual Celebration: a night of performances and fundraising for the AAPI community.

You can stream the event Saturday, May 15 starting at 8 p.m. EST and watch as comedian Sherry Cola and rapper Dumbfoundead host the show. During the show, donations will be collected for Pacific Bridge Arts musical scholarships and the Gold House AAPI Community Fund for restorative justice. Tune into the virtual fest here.

While we wait to watch KOAD’s live performance, check out the high-energy music video for “jaunty” below, as well as an exclusive interview with KOAD about his influences, his future and his koala that makes several cameos throughout the video.

You exude infectious energy in both “pots n’ pans” and your new single, “jaunty.” Who or what influences your sound? What does your creative process look like when you’re writing and experimenting with new sounds?

Hip-hop birthed me. Artists like Kanye West, Tyler, The Creator, Lil Wayne, BROCKHAMPTON and Kendrick Lamar have shown me that it’s possible to create an idea that’s so unique to you and push that to a mainstream audience while still taking pride in it. My goal isn’t to be indie or nothing—my goal is to make timeless records that live beyond me, just like I saw my idols do. This is gonna be my way to achieve that and have the time of my life doing it because I’d be dead without hip-hop. I’m also very inspired by the genre of rock. Chuck Berry, James Brown’s groovy ass, and Bruce Springsteen all inspire me. My creative process when writing and experimenting is honestly just never leaving an idea out. I make a beat for myself, and then I rap over that beat, and then I spend [an] excruciating amounts of hours making it [into] one gorgeous art piece.

The music video for “jaunty” opens up with what sounds like a late-night talk show announcer bringing you onstage. Do you have a dream talk show or a venue you hope to play in the future? 

I fucking love James Corden. I fuck with that man. [Laughs.] Venue-wise, I’ve always wanted to perform at The Forum in Los Angeles because my first concert ever was the Life Of Pablo tour at The Forum.

What inspired the vibrant visuals of this particular music video? What do you hope listeners take away from your song?

I wanted this video to go from “zero to brown.” I hope listeners take away that I don’t gotta be a white dude with tattoos to be a rock star… I’m a gorgeous young brown man who’s rapping his ass off out of survival and love for this shit. I just want people to have fun while listening to statements that are taking steps toward embracement, not just acceptance. 

You made a huge splash with your debut song and will continue to grow in the music world. Where do you see yourself creatively or musically this time next year? 

I see myself touring and working on more music and finally getting my dream features on songs. I plan on being the most magical hip-hop artist in the world, so hopefully, I can dance on stages and give the magic that I saw acts like Michael Jackson do for me. This time next year, I will be rich as fuck and happy because I get to rap and dance for a living.

What significance does Benjamin the koala bear have in your music and in your life? 

Benjamin Kogo, my koala, writes all my music and takes all my royalties. My mother loves Benjamin Kogo more than she loves me. Benjamin Kogo really is everything to me. I’m not too materialistic, but if someone fucked with that koala, I’m throwing hands.

How are you preparing for the IDENTITY 2021 Twitch stream? What can viewers expect from your performance at this event?

Imma eat mad Indian food, smoke mad weed, call my mama up and celebrate with my dawgs at the KOGO home.

Did you add KOAD’s “jaunty” to your new alt playlist? Let us know your favorite part of the video in the comments below!