Originally from Houston, Texas, the Billboard-charting, Grammy-nominated musician, producer, and writer FKAjazz is back with an emotionally stimulating single, “From Where We Start (Feat. Brooke D. & Yoshiki Yamada).”
FKAjazz moved to New York in the early 2000s to attend the Manhattan School of Music garnering a decade of experience as a touring musician, music producer, and for a short time, a DJ.
Naturally, through this trajectory, FKAjazz evolved beyond the clichéd expectations of what it means to be a “jazz musician.”
His perspective goes further than just adding modern elements to what may be perceived as traditional music. FKAjazz is, without a doubt, taking the reins as one of the frontmen for the new evolving jazz scene. He takes traditional jazz and twists into a force that is uniquely his own with a hip-hop essence and fearlessly plays with precision and a passion that takes you on a musical journey like no other.
“From Where We Start (feat. Brooke D. & Yoshiki Yamada)” opens with the smooth and mellow elements of jazz music that instantly entrance us with the familiarity in the composition. You can hear a crowd of children acting as an element in the instrumentation with the distant ambiance of their bright and vivid presence.
We're struck by the sound of the Japanese language bringing nostalgia to the meaning of music that FKAjazz grew up on. Glimmering hi-hats, full drum hits, and the rhythmic bassline fill this piece by setting the pulsing tempo, while elements like the striking keys and saxophone are at the forefront creating the tone.
Brooke D sheds layers of remarkable vocals that trickle upon the music. The resonance allows for the most pleasant listen, and the effortless placement allows these vocals to shine as a centerpiece while permitting all of the instruments joined together to blend in melodious harmonies.
Throughout this sonic voyage, each instrument has its time to shine in the spotlight. When this masterpiece returns to the instrumental structure, we are graced with the power of the reverberated saxophone and the vocalization of Yoshiki Yamada leaving us with depth and layers to this story until the end of this composition falls upon us.
A sonic voyage is an understatement for “From Where We Start (feat. Brooke D. & Yoshiki Yamada).” We were so pleased to hear such a refreshing take on the bending of genres from these artists and we can’t wait to hear what is next in-store.
Stream “From Where We Start (feat. Brooke D. & Yoshiki Yamada)” here.
Hello FKAkazz, a warm welcome back to BuzzMusic and congratulations on the release of, “From Where We Start (feat. Brooke D. & Yoshiki Yamada)” This piece was truly wonderful to listen to. Could you please tell us how this collaboration came to life?
Thank you for having me again. It always fills me with joy to be on the BuzzMusic platform, so thank you! This collab was very organic and in a way that truly brought some life to my spirits. I first started working on “From Where We Start” towards the beginning of Spring (2020) right after I had to cancel a tour Noah MacNeil, Yoshiki Yamada and I put together for Japan. We went out to Japan the year before, in 2019, to do a short tour that was really fun and set out to do it again for March 2020. But, then...COVID rained on all of that.
I was really bummed out because Japan has always been a fun place for me to visit and tour. I’ve got some cool homies out there and always end up having some interesting little journeys. So, knowing that wasn’t happening I think I unintentionally planted the idea in my head that I’d do something that tied in that connection.
My process is usually the same. I’ll make a track laying out the general foundation of what the song should feel like, record most of the instruments and then build from there. This time though, because I wanted the foundation to sort of “come from Japan” I decided to ask Yoshiki, my bassist, to send me recordings of him playing a few ideas. I then took those recordings, found what I liked, chopped it up, performed a ton of sounds including pads and Rhodes keyboard on top of it, then I had Noah (piano) & Unkle Nephew (drums) record to that. From there, I had no idea who I’d want to work with to create the vocals and lyrics.
It literally took me months to decide. Finally, in July I was scrolling through my Instagram and Brooke D. had posted something I really liked. Ironically, she wasn’t singing in whatever it was. I don’t even remember. But I liked her vibe and literally said to myself, “she seems like someone I’d want to be friends with.” Lol! That was all it took. I DM’ed her on Instagram and the rest is history. Sidenote, we met about a year prior. She’s friends with JSWISS and came to a show I did that I had him on. But we just introduced ourselves to each other, swapped IG’s and that was it. This was literally the second time we had ever talked.
At the beginning & end of this record, we hear the beautiful Japanese language. What do the words translate to in English?
The words are simply a translation of Brooke’s lyrics. But it feels so different, right? I had my friend Momoka Yamazaki translate them for me. But funny enough, she was too shy to act them out for the voiceover. But our mutual friend, Ayaka Tokunaga who just so happens to be an awesome hip hop dancer, hopped to it. She did an awesome job. Maybe we’ll start an anime series together! LOL, kidding but you never know.
With the wide range of instruments and styles used, could you please take us into what the studio session looked like when creating this masterpiece?
Haha, this song like many of the songs I create and record all happen at my home studio. Same with the people I collaborate with. That was the silver lining of this crazy year of quarantine. We were prepared. We have gone to studios to record material. “Nothing At All,” “Lineage” & “Understood” (my 3 previous releases) were mainly recorded in a studio out in New Jersey. But that was just for fun, not a necessity. My band, Noah, Unk and Yoshiki, we all have to record setups in our places. So, fortunately, when quarantine hit the music didn’t stop. And it was the same with Brooke, she recorded her own vocals herself and sent them to me to produce and mix.
What does this song mean to you all as a collective and as individuals? What would you like the listeners to take away from it?
This song is about self-worth. It’s about empowerment. For me as well as most people, 2020 has been a challenging year. The past 3 years have been a challenge but 2020 hit on a level I don’t think anyone knew we’d see in this generation. With the Black Lives Matter Movement, all the senseless inequalities Black people have to face in America and around the world and a president fueling the flames.
With having to social distance and seeing people you love get sick and die from a virus no-one could understand for the majority of the year. It has all been a true challenge to keep fighting and to find joy in the day today.
This represents all those challenges personified in self-doubt, transformed into self-worth. For Brooke, that was something we were on the same page on right from the start of our collaboration. And it was interesting to see how she took those ideas and created a real story around it. It’s a story that is still unfolding in both of our minds.
What are you planning to work on next?
Well, “From Where We Start” is yet to be done. Friday, October 23rd was the official release of the music. But we just debuted the video. It’s the 2nd music video I’ve filmed, directed, and edited and I’m really excited to see how people react to the work.
In addition, Noah who aside from being a dope pianist is amazing at drawing actually created 2 short anime videos to go with the live-action video I created. It’s going to be pretty epic for people to watch. After that, I have a few new releases in the works. 2021 will be a great new year of music for sure. And there’s been some talks about us starting a Trew Culture fashion line. Much in store for the future.