Being a musician during a global pandemic is not without its difficulties. With touring on hold for the foreseeable future, many artists have been forced to take some time to create, reflect and regroup. From across the globe, Sydney’s B Wise and London artist Kojey Radical are experiencing similar dynamics as they navigate the current situation.
Following up from their stellar single ‘Think Twice’, we chimed in on a Zoom conversation between the two artists and listened in as they took the time to chat about how they are staying grounded, keeping motivated during a global pandemic and which Australian artists get Kojey’s co-sign.
B Wise: Kojey, what’s happening?
Kojey: Not much man. Just the daily challenges bro. Daily challenges.
B Wise: I hear you there. What have you been finding the most challenging at this point man, with everything that’s been going on?
Kojey: I think breaking the rhythm is the most difficult challenge. I was always used to being busy, it was always “I haven’t got time to do this, I haven’t got time to do that.” I was used to that feeling and then that stopped immediately with the whole lockdown. I was preparing for a lot of life changes at the same time, which were going to disrupt the rhythm even more. Either way, sometimes in life you don’t get to pick your holidays. Say you’re at work yeah, if you don’t use up your holidays they will say “you gotta go for two weeks bro or we’ll get in trouble.” So essentially it’s like a holiday, but it’s really a holiday. It’s like going on a holiday to Ninja Warrior.
B Wise: Yeah, straight up. It’s like Survivor or something. You are forced. One thing I struggled with those first couples of months was how to engage my audience and things like that. I kind of went into a bit of a work shell, if you know what that’s like. But I saw you were able to bring your audience and your fans in.
Kojey: Just about, man. When this whole thing started, I went into borderline depression because I was on the road. I was on a run.
B Wise: You were on tour and that.
Kojey: Yeah. I was in the middle of a run and it felt like I’d caught an injury or something, how suddenly I had to stop. I was doing the American side of the tour, coming back to do Europe and that’s when the lockdown started. I was meant to play like three festivals. I couldn’t go collect my bag. First world problems. Rapper problems, you know what I mean?
B Wise: I think that’s a justified problem, but it is what it is. There were a lot of bad losses I think for a few people.
Kojey: Yeah, you’re right about that.
B Wise: I always say when one door shuts, another door opens. I think if anything, there are a few little beauties that can actually happen when you take time. When you’re on tour and everything like that, it gives less time for family, or less time for real friends or even just take a moment for you. So from what has happened, has there been any positives for you?
Kojey: Oh 100% man. My work and tour schedule was so busy that I was not going to necessarily be around to prepare properly for fatherhood. My son is two weeks old as of this conversation.
B Wise: Is that right? Congratulations.
Kojey: Thank you, man. If life did not go the way it has—actually we worked out that there was a very high possibility that I could have been performing on stage the day that he came. I can’t imagine missing that moment now that I’ve lived it and experienced it, I understand that there’s probably nothing in life more special than that moment. It kind of puts a perspective on things and the way I look at the importance of some things like work, money, and all that stuff. It’s important but it should be secondary to the experiences that you create with your family. I think the lockdown gave me a lot more time to mentally, emotionally, and physically prepare for fatherhood.
B Wise: I can understand that and respect that. I am yet to experience fatherhood, but so many of my friends and peers around me have so I just live through them in that sense. I wanted to flip the topic real quick. We spoke on the phone, but I was super appreciative of having you be a part of ‘Think Twice’ and how the song came together. One thing I wanted to ask you though is how much do you know about the scene over here? Are there any artists that you follow? You’ve been out here too.
B Wise: One of the guys that works with FBi radio, his name is Tommy. He was like, “Bro I brought Kojey out here, I was the first one to bring him out here”.
Kojey: [Laughs] Yeah man. I’m tapped in. I like to think I am anyway, maybe I’m a couple of years behind but I like the fact that scenes emerge in place you don’t expect them to. Where they have their own culture they have their own history and values. I remember the first time I even went over to Australia and New Zealand. I was shocked. I’ve met up with a few people. Kaiit, Manu Crooks, the Cool Out Sun boys, obviously Tommy. I linked up with Remi, Anfa Rose, Sampa, Mellowdownz out of New Zealand, that’s my guy. I was tapped in!
B Wise: It sounds like it! Even the Cool Out Sun crew, that’s N’fa [Jones]. He’s been doing it for time, opening doors for a lot of artists and things like that. He also messaged me on the side about ‘Think Twice’, like “Man this track sounds great, I can’t wait to hear this”. You’re pretty tapped in, but I think if you come out again it’s going to be a whole new level.
Kojey: I love travelling so much. Australia was the farthest I’ve ever travelled to. I fell in love with it and I came back a few times. I have been to Australia about three times now. I had a whole relationship with Australia. I was doing long-distance with Australia. [Laughs]
B Wise: Is that right?
Kojey: That’s what I’m saying bro. I was in love. I was in love with the city, the people. I was in love.
B Wise: Is there anyone on your list that you are trying to connect with, whether that’s someone here or just in general?
Kojey: I definitely want to get a record in with Kaiit. I feel like that is super-duper goals. Not to say I couldn’t just hit her up, but I want to sit with her and write a song, really write a song from the ground up. I think sonically she’s got this style that appreciates so many genres of music. Now that I’m thinking about collaborations, I have hit this middle ground now where I am in the early complacency—maybe it is not complacency, maybe it’s actually the hardest part. Back in the day, my instincts were like “just write that first verse, just write that bridge, just write.”
Now I’m like let me do the collabs first. Even though I’m only like eight per cent of the way through the album, but even the collaborations that we managed to get so far are like “Okay, I can make these things happen. It is not an impossible dream anymore.” I think Kaiit over there is the first person that comes to mind.
B Wise: She would most certainly kill it. Even Uno Stereo who produced our track together has been working with her in Melbourne.
Kojey: Oh cool.
B Wise: So growing up, who would you say was your GOAT artist?
Kojey: That’s tough because I am English so I grew up on American hip-hop, and UK hip-hop simultaneously. I feel like here, you have to have your UK favourite first and then you can like whoever after that. For me, it’s a hard toss-up between Ghetts and Kano. But then I think style-wise the person that influenced me the most was Andre 3000. What about you?
B Wise: All my early influences were West Coast hip-hop. My favourite rapper is actually Kurupt. Kurupt Young Gotti. He is my hands-down favourite. Then I like Pac, Snoop is a bit of a character today but Snoop is still in my heart.
Kojey: Snoop is basically the last samurai. He is the one that survived. I mean they are all still here with us, but in terms of being a household name—then, now, in the middle, in the future. He is the last Samurai.
B Wise: You gotta give him a GOAT card for that.
Kojey: You gotta give him a GOAT card, hundred per cent.
B Wise: I always take you as someone who is very well-spoken. Do you have any words of advice for people out there while they are holding out for things to get better?
Kojey: My advice to everyone at all times is to keep going. I had to rationalize something with myself earlier in my career because of the potential and the hopes that people saw what I had seen within myself. People expect a lot of things from you, just keep on going. I found something that I love doing. In an ideal world, I would do this forever. So what’s one day in forever? What’s two days in forever? A very small amount of time, even if it feels like the most difficult part so far. You always have to remember that it’s so far, as long as you keep going. You have already decided this is something that you love, and you want to do it forever. One day in forever is a very small amount of time.
B Wise: I can relate to you in that sense. Sometimes you think about how long you’ve been doing this, and sometimes you feel like you’re building momentum and something like this happens. You kind of blame yourself in a sense but it comes to a point where things are out of our control. There is no point worrying about something when it is out of your control. It’s about how you adapt to it and how you react to that moment.
Kojey: Every hill looks big until you get over it.
B Wise: That’s it, man. I appreciate you. Hopefully, we’ll link up when you get out here for a show.
Kojey: For real man.