Tell us a few things about your new EP Zen. What is the story behind it?
I’ve been planning the Zen EP since the start of 2021 after I signed with Pacific Records at the start of 2020. It was around this time that I really started to carve out my style and find my voice in music. And although the EP is new to everyone, it’s a compilation of songs that I’ve been sitting on for a long time. I’m just stoked to finally release it. The story behind Zen is just my journey in finding happiness within myself. It’s a very introspective and self-aware EP, and what I’ve realized is I write best with subjects that are relevant to people who are conscious of their own self-care and self-love. So you can expect a lot of that in it.
Which song of the album reflects you the most?
All of the songs show a glimpse of myself but I think I’m the most vulnerable in “Who I Am”. “Zen” probably comes right after, but “Who I Am” really discusses my exploration to find self-love and try to be happy with myself. It’s especially close to my heart because it’s an overview of why I started focusing on my mental health and self-love.
Artists and people who have influenced and inspired you?
I think a lot of my current musical influence comes from Kota the Friend, Cory Wong, and R&B/Soul groups like Durand Jones & The Indications and St. Paul & The Broken Bones. But Kota definitely inspires me the most.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced as an artist so far?
The biggest challenge I had faced and continue to face is the uncertainty of all of this. “What if this music stuff doesn’t work out?” is a thought that regularly enters my head, and I’m sure it’s the same for a lot of artists. I think it was partially what kept me from switching gears and putting my all into my music. Prior to 2020, I had been making music for more than 10 years but it wasn’t until recently that I made the effort to put my music out there. I think I’ve put myself in a situation where I’m closer to saying “At least I gave it a shot” than “What if this doesn’t work out?”.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
You’re going to f*ck up a lot, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it… it’s not really advice but I think it would help with my self-criticism.
What is the story behind your name?
Kubota is my last name. Growing up as an Asian-American, I didn’t have a lot of Asian role models. Representation in media was sh** for us. What I saw on TV was what formulated the perception of Asians in other kids’ minds, so my ethnicity made for easy points as insults. At a very early age where I was trying to assimilate with American kids, I began to disassociate from my own ethnicity and ultimately lost interest in my culture. As I grew older and began thinking more independently, I learned to be proud of my ethnicity. I feel embarrassed to have thought otherwise and my friends probably don’t even know I went through this, but now, they know damn well that I’m proud to be Japanese/Asian-American, and I’ll carry that proudly within my name. Sorry for the long-winded story. There’s still a lot to it, but that’s why I chose Kubota as my artist name.
One last thing we should know about you?
I genuinely don’t know what I’m doing with my life. 😀