FEATURED ARTIST – Koizumi
Interview With Koizumi
Interview By: Dennis M. Kelly
Dennis: Hello Josie, it is so nice to get to chat with you and get to know more about you and the band. How are you today?
Josie: I’m great! Actually, I’m at an anime convention right now answering these questions on my down time. I’m a big anime fan and the band just played anime central this year. It was a blast.
Dennis: I bet! So, tell me where it all began with you in music…. The good old fashioned inspirations and all that good stuff.
Josie: I grew up in music. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, so my older sister would constantly go to Broadway auditions in the city. From there, my parents discovered I could sing too, but I went a different route. I fell in love with ’90s and early 2000s rock, bands like Good Charlotte and Green Day.
Dennis: Did you take any lessons for your beautiful voice or great guitar playing?
Josie: My dad gave me a few vocal lessons when I was a kid and sometimes they were tough and stern, but in the long run it really helped my voice grow.
Dennis: It definitely shows, your voice is solid and strong.
Josie: Thanks! For guitar, I picked up my first guitar at 13 and taught myself rhythm.
Dennis: Sweet! When did you meet Cody, Mike and Tim and how long after that was Koizumi formed?
Josie: Koizumi was formed back in 2012 in Florida, but life happened and I kept moving around. I lived in Japan for a few years then came back, moved to Chicago and that’s when I decided to bring Koizumi back from the dead with new members. I met all my band mates the good old fashion way, Craigslist! But honestly, through a lot of hit and misses with band mates these are the guys that will stick around forever.
Dennis: That is good to hear. What are their backgrounds?
Josie: I’ll let them answer that for you!
Mike: I got serious about playing bass just after high school, but I had always wanted to be in a band long before then. Along with formal lessons, I spent a lot of time playing my favorite songs in the basement. Some of my best memories are playing the Cranberries “Ode to My Family” and Oasis “Supersonic “in front of the turned off t.v., seeing my reflection in the screen.
Cody: I always had an interest in music, but when I started playing Rhythm Games in middle school I was exposed to a lot of different types of music which inspired me to try making my own electronic music when I was 15. That led to an interest in learning music theory and a variety of instruments including drums, bass and piano, but guitar has always been my favorite, and I found inspiration from bands like Muse, Radiohead and Tame Impala.
Tim: He was just a boy with a dream. A destiny laid out before him. He knew that one day, he would become the salvation of rock and roll. A beacon of rhythmic strength and stability amongst his peers and the public that sought to dash his hope of being the next great musical Messiah. “I’m gonna make it mama!”. “I’m gonna be the greatest rock star they never saw coming. ;)
Josie: He’s got jokes haha, but honestly Tim has been playing drums forever with all types of bands in all types of places. He’s a funny dude with enormous talent.
Dennis: No kidding, but you’ve gotta have a bit of a sense of humor in the music business, right? So, Koizumi is a Japanese Anime character that changed your life for the better… can you tell me more about that and how that helped define the band?
Josie: Yes, Koizumi is the main character from the anime “Lovely Complex”. I fell in love with anime in the early 2000s and it started to shape everything about me. I would write songs from storylines and I would relate to so many characters but Risa Koizumi (the character), was one of those situations where I was in this dark place emotionally and I remember watching her go through all these heartbreaking situations and rejections, yet she would rarely let it get to her. I just thought to myself “Get up, move on and use this pain to write music again” and that’s how it defined the band and the music.
Dennis: With only 3 or so years on the Chicago scene, you’ve already been doing great work making a big splash with your sounds. How many shows does the band have under its belt so far would you say?
Josie: Because we formed in the middle of Covid, our focus went into building a list of songs and really learning them. We didn’t need to go through that experimental, ‘find your sound’ phase so once venues started opening up again, we were ready. So I would say since mid 2021, we’ve had about 12-15 shows!
Dennis: What have been some observations about the Chicago music scene you have seen already; how easy or challenging has it been for the band so far?
Josie: I moved to Chicago 4 years ago because I absolutely love the music scene here. I’ve noticed that it’s really not about being better than someone else, it’s about supporting each other. I’ve been in music scenes where it was always who can bring in the bigger crowd or sell more tickets and coming to Chicago made me realize that it’s all about local support. It’s a little challenging to fit in when your genre is boundless but we’ve had plenty of great support.
Dennis: How about your single, Animus, how did Animus set itself apart to be your first single compared to your other songs?
Josie: Animus was picked for the first single because it was the first song that Mike, Cody and Tim all had a hand in creating. We have enough songs for an entire 12 song album and plenty to choose from but that song was special to us because we created it together. We also thought it was a great start introducing the many different genres we dip our toes into. Pop/rock can go either way and this was a great start on the rock side of things.
Dennis: Tell me a bit more about it and more about the topics of your other songs, what is Koizumi about lyrically speaking?
Josie: Animus itself, I wrote when I felt this desperate need to be with someone. Lust and love go hand and hand, so I felt like I had to write a song about feeling both at the same time. Our album title is called ‘Erotomania’, which defined is believing someone who is unattainable is your soulmate, so I’d say, Koizumi lyrically and the songs on the album are very closely related to that word.
Dennis: How about that incredible Animus video, let’s not forget how great the video is for that and am I correct that you used cell phones and a drone to make the video? Tell me more about it please.
Josie: We did! We used a Google pixel, a drone and a Sony A6400. It was completely self funded and we rented out the amazing Broadway theater in Milwaukee for the day.
Dennis: How have fan responses been at shows and to your video?
Josie: We can’t believe how well received the video has been. We woke up over night and we had 14k views! It was a shocker. It’s all been positive so far. People understanding and appreciating the phantom of the opera inspiration was a plus. Fans at shows are the best. You always feel so humbled when you get complimented on your voice or on the original music. It happens a lot, and that makes us keep going.
Dennis: When do you think you’ll release your first EP or full length album?
Josie: We do have a full length album in the works, but we are releasing our EP first in full by August. We are coming out with a new single every month with a new video until the full release of the EP.
Dennis: Cool! What are some aspects of each of you that you won’t find in a typical band biography?
Josie: I think when it comes to me, the biggest thing that sets me apart is my love of anime and video games and how I use that to inspire my song writing. I think it’s important to represent that community in this industry.
Mike: I love rock n roll history, and rock n roll stories. I studied music business in college, and have worked for a couple different musical equipment manufacturers. Between the two, I was fortunate to meet many people with inspiring and entertaining stories about their time in music.
Cody: Guitar Hero got me interested in guitar. I guess a video game changed the direction in my life too.
Tim: Allegedly, I’m an enormous dude with funny talent. It’s pretty unique.
Dennis: Ha ha! Queue the rim shot! So, ‘Hey Arnold” was a big influence on you, is that Right Josie?
Josie: Ha ha, oh you found my personal YouTube didn’t you!
Dennis: Yes, indeed I did.
Josie: It’s definitely my favorite ’90s cartoon that I have a crazy obsession with. I grew up in the ’90s and in elementary I was Helga Pataki, ya know just without the one eyebrow. I just love that show.
Dennis: What is Koizumi’s go to social media channel? What have you gotten the best results with?
Josie: We get the most engagement on TikTok, but we are just as active across everything! Twitter is so strange though. You’re like standing in a massive room with a megaphone just like everyone else and hoping someone’s able to hear you.
Dennis: Twitter seems absolutely useless (to me anyway). What are some personal and band goals you’d like to accomplish within the next 5 years?
Josie: My personal goal as a songwriter is to get this music heard. To have someone say “I can relate” or “This is my go to song when I feel a certain way” is all I really want personally. As far as the band goes, We want to release our full length album, get on tour with a big band and hopefully be able to really put our foot in the door and become that big band ourselves.
Dennis: How about gigs, do you have a lot of shows lined up for the year, if so, where?
Josie: We just played Anime Central which was a big deal to us. We take shows as they come but so far we are focusing on creating music videos and releasing our EP. We want more content to put out on social media.
Dennis: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Josie: We have a new music video coming out next month for our next EP single “In Love With The Enemy”. But before that, you should check out our latest single “Animus” streaming on all platforms as well as the music video on YouTube.
Dennis: Thank you very much for taking the time Josie, it has been an absolute pleasure and I wish you all the best!!
Josie: Thank you so much for having us! We really appreciate it!
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