It has been a year since we last sat down with Kori James as he dropped his stellar EP, Tomorrow. Now, he is back again with more new music, and a visual to kick off the project. Earlier this month, Kori James dropped the SHIFT visual to set the tone for the new sound and music he is releasing. To coincide with the release of his new singles ‘Right Here With Me’ and ‘FWM’, we talked to Kori about his new music, his favorite Insecure character, his guilty pleasures and much more. Read our conversation with singer/songwriter/producer Kori James below. Be sure to listen to Kori James new music “FWM” and “Right Here With Me”
MaOD: From our last talk, we learned that you originally started out as just a songwriter. You eventually added artist and producer to your list of accomplishments. How do you balance being a songwriter vs being an artist?
Kori James: There’s definitely a duality there. I’m never just one or the other. When writing songs for other artists, it’s not about me. I relive their experiences and write their stories. When I get home, that job is done. On the other end, when I’m writing for myself, I’m completely dealing with my own shit and it tends to follow me home. How do I balance? Weed. [Laughs]
MaOD: If you could write a song for any artist, living or not, who would it be?
KJ: Not too many people know but I’m a big fan of jazz. Sarah Vaughan is one of my favorite voices of all time. Her tone and phrasing were just…out of this world. The way I tell a story through writing combined with her storytelling through singing would be amazing. If I die, I wonder if heaven got a jazz club…
MaOD: What is your musical guilty pleasure?
KJ: Selena Gomez. She consistently makes dope records.
MaOD: If you could create a playlists that embodies the mood of both of your new songs, “FWM” and “Right Here With me,” what eight songs would you choose?
MaOD: Can you walk us through your song writing process? How do you go from concept to a completed song?
KJ: I write from experience, so the song starts by simply living. I relive those experiences through writing. Sometimes with melodies. Sometimes without. Sometimes it all hits me at once: the production, lyrics, and melodies. Sometimes it takes days to flesh out what exactly I want to say. There’s no formula to the madness fortunately and unfortunately.
MaOD: Last year, you released the Tomorrow EP, how have you grown since then?
KJ: I believe everything has a natural course. As people, we grow as we’re exposed to and experience new things. At some point I had started to shy away from the natural rasp my voice has sometimes, but with ‘Right Here With Me’ I completely embraced it. I think it makes you feel me a little more. Tomorrow has this really cool vibe to it through out. I wanted to continue that, but really add more heart. I wanted people to hear me sing more. I wanted to challenge myself as a songwriter and an artist. ‘RHWM” and “FWM” are the products of that pressure.
MaOD: How did you approach creating the music this time around in comparison to your past works?
KJ: With these releases, I collaborated with some extremely talented creatives. I called my good friend, Darryl ‘GFather’ Humphrey, who co-produced ‘FWM’. My manager/best friend, Akeem Toure, co-wrote ‘Right Here With Me’. I really wanted the songs to be the best they could be so I called for reinforcement, where on Tomorrow, I wrote and produced everything.
MaOD: If “FWM” had a remix, who would you want to be featured on the track?
KJ: Gotta go with 6lack or PartyNextDoor.
MaOD: While we are on the subject of “FWM,” which character from Insecure do you fuck with the most, and why?
KJ: Ha! Good question. I’m definitely #TeamDaniel. I think he’s a good guy and I’ve been told that I’m the “captain of the good guys” [Laughs] Shameless plug since I used that as a lyric in FWM. But I think his character isn’t understood fully. Like me, he only seems to respond to what is presented to him. He doesn’t go looking for trouble and seems very sincere. That’s Kori James. But that could also change next season. Stay tuned. For the both of us.
MaOD: Let’s dig a bit deeper, in your song “Right Here With Me” you sing “this ain’t no ordinary love” who is the song inspired by?
KJ: You know, Sade is muhva to me. I’ve referenced her in previous work. But the song was inspired by love and none of mine have been ordinary. But I actually think most people don’t believe their loves are just typical. We all can relate to having something special at some point. That’s what I think makes RHWM such a good record.
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