Influenced by the likes of Hendrix, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, Music By KOTA merge blues and rock with soul undertones. Based in Memphis, Tennessee – that’s in the US, by the way – Dakota Jackson (vocals), Conner Blakley (keys and vocals), Ryan Young (lead guitar), Bryton Wallace (drums) and Alex Taylor (bass) are breaking boundaries with their unique sound. We speak with Dakota Jackson about their new EP Innocence, early memories, musical inspirations and more.
OSR: What drew you to music?
Jackson: Each member of the band was drawn to music in different ways. What is important about us is how we found music together. Bryton (drums), Ryan (lead guitar) and Conner (keys and vocals) started out as a cover band in high school. Later in college, the four of us met and began working together playing every local bar, restaurant and coffee house we could find. However, it wasn’t until after we graduated when we started taking our original work seriously. We then picked up Alex (bass), also a student from the college where we all met. The Music by KOTA project was born.
OSR: What inspires you to make music?
Jackson: The whole idea of being able to create something that can alter someone’s emotions in any way imaginable. The fact that I can tell a story and write a melody to affect someone in that way inspires me most.
OSR: What can you tell us about your EP Innocence?
Jackson: Innocence consists of songs and stories describing the circumstances that everyone goes through in their youth. Innocence isn’t just the title track to the EP, it’s the concept behind every song. The EP is full of both fun, 60s blues-inspired songs and slow drifting stories describing the hardships of being young.
OSR: If you could change one thing about Innocence, what would it be?
Jackson: We are all very proud of the EP. However, I think we can all agree that more time with each song would have made it a stronger release. After our debut single ‘Lucy’, we were so eager to have more of our art out there.
OSR: I’m sure you have a plethora of songs from which to choose when creating an EP. How did you choose these four tracks?
Jackson: They were the first four songs that we started playing together as a band. It only made sense to start with those four.
OSR: Do you believe song placement is important when creating albums?
Jackson: I feel that an EP or LP is meant to tell a story listening from start to finish. So, to answer your question, yes.
OSR: What do you hope people take from Innocence?
Jackson: I hope people can listen to our songs and relate to the feelings each song leaves behind. As an artist that’s the most important thing of all.
OSR: What is your earliest memory?
Jackson: I want to answer this question in a sense of music with the band. My earliest memory about this group of musicians was when Bryton (drums) and I were sitting in the cafe before class one day. We both looked at each other and said that same thing, “let’s start a band”. We didn’t know it yet but that short phrase would hold so much weight in the coming years.
OSR: Describe Music by KOTA in one sentence.
Jackson: Music by KOTA is a group of five guys out to share their love for music and have a great time doing it.
OSR: Do you have any message for our readers?
Jackson: If you follow us, thank you, you mean the world to us. If you are hearing us for the first time, we hope you enjoy our music and can relate to the stories we present. This is just the beginning for us, so stick around!
OSR: Do you have any future plans?
Jackson: As I said before, this is just the beginning. In the last few months, we have done nothing but write and record. We are so excited for our next project to begin taking shape. Most importantly we can’t wait for you all to hear it.