Having started her musical journey at the tender age of 4, kotoji learned the piano from her classically-trained mother. Eventually, she developed a keen interest in pop rock, alternative rock, indie rock, power pop and Japanese rock, which crystallised her musical identity in the aforementioned areas.
kotoji pursued higher education in Sheffield and London at the age of 18, and also contributed to a number of student projects with the school—ranging from co-songwriting to back-up vocals and even assisting in vocal directing. She has since continued to further her songwriting and production skills independently, along with delving into soundtrack composition and production for small friend projects.
This week, we speak to kotoji on the five songs of her life.
Tell us your name, and how you’d describe yourself to someone whom you’re meeting for the first time.
Hi there, my name is kotoji and I’m an independent singer-songwriter musician from Singapore! I’m turning 25 this year and no I’m not Japanese – I’m pure Chinese-Singaporean (but I’m able to speak/read/write Japanese at a very basic level haha).
What are the five tracks of your life?
1. My World – Avril Lavigne
2. Robinson – Spitz
3. Like A Fire – SHINee
4. Barely Legal – The Strokes
5. Your Best American Girl – Mitski
I would have included some other options but not all of them are available on Singapore Spotify due to region lock lmao.
Why would you consider this playlist to be significant to you?
Each song represents a stage of my musical progress or main musical influences during those periods of time, with Avril being one of the first prominent female artists to have been my introduction to music at around 8 years old and Mitski being my biggest and main influence right now or in recent years.
Funny because not too long ago I was just having this conversation with a group of my close friends, and man was it hard for me to choose! (it still is!)
Pick one track and tell me your fondest/most interesting memory of it.
SHINee is probably the only artist in this playlist that doesn’t seem to fit the bill of consistency here, but they are extremely significant to me and the bulk of my teenage/education-based years! I actually got into them during the Ring Ding Dong era around 2009/2010, but till this day, Like A Fire is probably one of, if not, my favourite SHINee song ever.
I remember hearing it for the first time while I was listening to their album The Misconceptions of Me, and I was just blown away by the groove, the arrangement, of course their impeccable vocals and vocal arrangement (have you SEEN their live performance of this song???).
In my opinion, to this day, no other Kpop group has had that level of consistent quality in their discography like SHINee. I guess I chose to talk about this track too because I wish I could write/arrange songs that are more Pop or Funk in nature, but I’m very much a Rock-based writer hahaha. Maybe, who knows, in the future after gaining more confidence, I might be able to produce such works.
If I had asked you this question 10 years ago, what is one track that your then-self would have picked as your favourite?
Extra Kingdom by Kra. They’re a Japanese visual-kei band and are actually one of my favourite bands ever (well, at least when Mai was still their guitarist). I absolutely adored and looked up to them when I was a teenager and I still love them till today.
If this track were available on Spotify, I would’ve included it in the playlist instead! It was the first ever Kra song I heard and further cemented my love for Japanese Rock music as a whole (although I do have a whole lineup of Japanese acts that fuel that love as well of course).