Foreigner in a new land.
By EmmoLei Sankofa
Kimi Katiti (she/her) is a visual & musical artist, raised in different corners of Africa, & currently residing in North Hollywood, CA. If she’s not creating, you'll most likely find her skateboarding or with her nose buried in a book.
Describe yourself in 3 words:
Reserved, Different, Curious
Can you tell us a little bit about your playlist?
My playlist is driven by the percussive afro-rhythms of House, Dance/Techno, Kwaito and Hip Hop. These sounds carry the sort of energy that reaches deep into my soul to pull out my true, unhinged self. There is a wide range of languages present to reflect the different cultures that have shaped my style.
You’re from Uganda. What’s the music scene like there and how has your background coupled with your time in the US influenced the way you create music?
The music scene in Uganda is rooted in the nightclub scene, hence a lot of it falls into the Afrobeat and Reggaeton genres. Those often tend to be the rhythms I gravitate towards first in my songwriting. The US, however, has taught me to marry that foundation of rhythm to chord progressions and melody in order to evoke emotion and story. It has also taught me to appreciate the science behind Pop.
Tell us about your album “Wholly Wander”. What inspired it?
“Wholly Wander” is an eclectic, sonic collage that I released in 2018. I drew from an array of sources such as UK Grime, Progressive Rock, Funk, and 2000s Gangsta Rap. Lyrically, I depict my struggle as a foreigner in a new land, and use these different soundscapes to emulate the sense of drifting from one pain to another.
You’re an AMAZING painter. How does that side of you affect or influence the way you interpret and create music?
Thank you so much! I would definitely say that the discipline that comes from patience and repetition in visual art is directly transferable to my music-making process. I then notice that the bolder I get with abstraction and color, the more risk I’m willing to take in my musical experimentation.
What prompted you to revert back to using your name, Kimi Katiti, versus your previous stage name Nyonyozi? What does Nyonyozi mean?
Nyonyozi means ‘Star’ in my tribal language, Runyankole, and it was a nickname given to me by my late grandmother. I reverted back to my name, Kimi Katiti, because while I felt that I had more to deliver through different outlets like painting and producing, I didn’t feel as though the stage name transferred to those other facets as well as my actual name would.
We noticed that you recently graduated from the Art Institute of California – Hollywood. What challenges have you encountered as a fresh grad that’s also balancing a cool job at The Recording Academy and buzzing music career?
I would say that I have struggled with finding the time to get inspired the most. I can manage blocking out time to work, but soon enough I’ll feel like I’m running off of anxiety and fear to get stuff done, rather than being fueled by faith, hope and love. I never create work or perform in a way I’m proud of when I work from a place of fear. I realize now that it’s very important to take time out to rest and to get inspired and then return to the grind.
If you went back to the Art Institute to speak to current students seeking to pursue a career in the music industry, what are the top three pieces of advice that you’d give?
Put yourself out there. Volunteer for as many opportunities as you can, and intern even once you’re out of college. Set up informational meetings over coffee with people you look up to and be diligent in attending networking events.
Don’t force it. Once you’re out and meeting people in the industry, the temptation to beg for handouts from folks is strong, but don’t do that. It takes time to build relationships and trust, so read the atmosphere and go with the flow. Also, do your best to not put others down in order to make yourself look good; there’s room for everyone to win alongside you.
Enjoy the journey and define your ‘why’. Why are you in this industry and what does success look like to you? Once you have defined your ‘why’, you can go on to appreciate your lane and your gifts. When you’re in this frame of mind, you'll eventually ditch comparing yourself to those who are running a completely different race.
Last question! If you could pick an artist to design your house from the ground up, who would you pick and why?
At the moment, I’m a fan of the whole Palace and Thames aesthetic, so it would be interesting to see how artist/skateboarder/model Blondey McCoy would design a house. (I also want random ramps everywhere, lol!) More specifically, I’d love to see pastels used in a masculine way; I feel like that’s the direction Blondey would take.
Kimi Katiti’s Latest
New single, ‘Fixer’, drops 5.26.19.