We had the good fortune of connecting with NOKAMI and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi NOKAMI, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I never sat down and made the conscious decision that opening a recording studio was going to be my job. I had dropped out of college after one year with a passion for making beats and wanted to pursue it, but I just so happened to have some recording equipment and friends that wanted to make songs to my beats. I had a realization during my 2nd semester that I didn’t want a regular 9-5 job, and would rather go broke pursing my passion. Word of mouth took me from recording being a side thing to being my full time job in 2-3 years. I found that I really enjoyed the process of creating a beat in front of someone then helping them build a mixed song.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m most proud about my journey from casual beat making to running my own music studio full time. It started just as a hobby between me and my friends from high school, but when I got to college I realized I enjoyed it way more than any of my classes. I ended up dropping out to give myself a chance to make something of it. My friend Lov Tory was there every step of the way to push me to grow. I’m a very competitive person so whenever he would show me a beat he made that had some crazy technique to it, or a song where he vocally showed out, I had to go back and practice until I thought I was even better. I really didn’t intend on becoming an audio engineer, I fell into that role because I had a microphone and I made beats. A lot of my friends like Tory were rapping or singing and it just kind of happened. Over time through word of mouth, a couple artists turned into hundreds that I’ve worked with since then. It definitely wasn’t easy. It took a lot of turning down friends to hang out and telling myself I can’t just sit around and play games, or be lazy. I can take that time and turn it into a beat that can change my life, or record a song that can help me grow. I still miss being lazy, but it turned me into a workaholic and I’m always looking for the next project now.
Planet Kami is my focus now, and it is a universe I’m creating for artists to express themselves freely. My goal is to provide services for artists to create, release, perform, and grow all in one place. At the moment I’m centered on locking in with artists that want to start new songs fresh with me in the studio. We build the instrumental together, song write, arrange, mix, and turn it into a cohesive album. After that, we figure out how we can create unique live experiences for the projects. So many studios where I’m from just see you as a wallet to sell dreams to. I’m here to build with new artists so that we can create that next wave where everyone is like, “I wanna sound like THAT”. It took a long time for producers to get the same type of recognition that the rappers do, and I’d also like to do that for engineers. Mike Dean and Alex Tumay are huge inspirations for me because they’re so important to the artists they work for, that their music would not be the same without them. I want to follow down that same path and lead the way for up and coming engineers to take a more involved role in their projects. We gotta open up the curtains behind the rappers/singers and show that there’s a whole team behind them, just like how bands are.
At the same time, Planet Kami is an outlet for me to express my own creativity as an artist. I really started to engineer and produce so that I can eventually be my own one stop shop for making a song. Right now I’m deep into fusing rock, emo, hip hop, and experimental music to blend together my own identity. I have two projects on the way that combine all of those genres in some type of way. One of them is Rickstar, and the other one is called Lotus Hotel. Fashion is inseparable from my image and I love to put on crazy things that most people think you shouldn’t wear, that’s what Rickstar is all about. Lotus Hotel is what I’m most excited for currently, I’ve never heard this type of music made before and I’m ready to show it to the world. So far I’ve let my own work take a back seat to my engineering and producing, but soon I’m gonna go full speed and really come out from the shadows that I’ve been working in.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I like going to spots where I can meet more people like me, so I’m always going to music events around the city. Tapps Art Center was my favorite for a long time, there were so many dope underground shows going on and new music to catch. The best ones for me now are the low key events hosted by small time artists. I love seeing what new artists do and what their visions are. Really I just like being anywhere I feel like I can fit in. If the vibe or people seem off I’m on to the next thing.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Lov Tory is a friend from high school who pushed me to be the engineer and artist I am today. We both started making beats around the same time, and I’m a really competitive person so I’d always try and one up him. He was the first person I ever recorded. My business started from us just messing around on beats I had made. It’s crazy seeing the evolution from us just making freestyles over simple beats, into the full fledged singing projects we make from scratch now. He’s defi