Pulling together the grit of metal and the passion of hip-hop, Tokyo based artist Nayokenza pulls influences from a wide variety of genres to create his experimental sound. Genre-wise, “Gnarly” has an unprecedented number of influences. Within the walls of a single track, things move from neo-classical to hip-hop to hard-core metal, whilst always darting back to almost cinematic moments. The production sees things lean in an experimental direction, there’s delicacy and grit combined, the organic and the industrial join forces, and all the while there’s melody and rap walking hand-in-hand to lay out the thoughts and the issues of the moment.
As “Gnarly” progresses, the experimentation evolves, the artist offers these questioning lyrics alongside of personal observations and considerations. The speed with which the vocals are presented makes it difficult to catch every line the first time around. There’s also something quite haunting about this spacious soundscape in contrast with the relentless energy of the vocals. The creativity throughout “Gnarly” is immense and the presentation of the concept comes through in more than just the lyrics. With each new listen to “Gnarly” you’re likely to catch or stumble upon some line or moment that passed you by before. Nayokenza is creating something unfathomably unique right now. Well worth exploring for anyone who craves artistic expression!
Listen to “Gnarly” on Spotify here
Welcome to BuzzMusic Nayokenza! It’s such a pleasure to feature your music! How would describe the music scene in your hometown for your specific genre?
Hey BuzzMusic, thanks for having me. That's an interesting question. *chuckles* Am I allowed to have two hometowns? In Orlando, where I'm from, I would say that the music scene for the kinda mixed genre music that I was doing was pretty good. Even though a lot of venues might cater to specific genres and tastes, a lot of the concert-goers in Orlando are very open-minded musically. I always loved playing shows there.
In Tokyo, where I live now, it's kinda similar. There are 1,000 and 1 live houses (live music venues) out here and it's easy to find something for whatever you're into. The audiences out here are very open and keen on new sounds etc.
We loved checking out “Gnarly”! What can you tell us about the creative process and inspiration of this particular track?
Thank you. I appreciate hearing that. Honestly, "Gnarly" was an exercise. For the past couple of years, I've been playing music with my band (the) ocean and i. "Gnarly" was a song I originally intended to write in a band format but decided that it would be better off as a different song for a different project. So I decided to approach it in a more streamlined, Southern gothic fashion and the end result came out as "Gnarly".
You’re definitely an artist that stays away from the norms of mainstream music in their lyrics! What overall concept does “Gnarly” hold? What do you hope your listeners take away from it?
For me, I wrote "Gnarly" as a way to try my hand at old school Hip-Hop braggadocious bravado. I just wanted a song that I could play to pump myself up and make me feel good. I also want to share that feeling with my listeners. I would love for people to listen to this song and feel stoked on themselves as well as empowered to face any challenges in their lives.
We can imagine that your performances are incredibly energetic with the sound you have! Have you performed anywhere, and if so, how is the vibe in your crowd?
Returning to my solo project is a fairly new thing. My team and I are planning some Nayokenza shows in the near future. (as well as continuing to play shows with my band) However, at the moment I can definitely say that the shows my band and I have played have been nothing short of incredible.
In Tokyo, we have been lucky enough to play to diverse audiences, from all Japanese to all foreigners, to a mixture of both. The energy has always been great.
Having audience members or the other bands that we play with, acknowledge us and like what we do is one of the best feelings in the world. I want to keep making music that connects with people and share experiences with them in a live setting.
Thank you so much for chatting with us! We’re looking forward to hearing more and hopefully catching a live show in the future! Do you have any events or shows you’d like to talk about?
I will be continuously dropping new Nayokenza music until the end of this year. So please check out my Instagram, Spotify, and YouTube for new info, songs, and visuals.