The Ukranian newcomer on complicated crushes and her love for Nirvana.
Akine – the stage moniker of 17-year old Nicole Kozina – is derived from the Japense word “aki (旭)”, meaning “rising sun.”
It’s a fitting accompaniment to her uplifting, airy alt-pop sound, but Akine’s lyrics couldn’t be further from the throwaway hooks that stereotypically charactarise the genre. Her new, 5-track EP “Don’t Foster Fear” maintains a no-bullshit insight into the anxieties and chaos of growing up in 2018, with themes ranging from relationships to politics and religion.
Alongside its release comes an eerie and off-kilter video for track “Money In Your Mouth”, a pulsing, melancholic song that captures the internal conflict of reluctantly catching feelings for someone whose values you hate.
We spoke to the singer-songwriter about empathy, channeling her fears into creativity and what we can look forward to next.
Do you remember when you decided to pursue music?
I always sang at home as a kid. As early as 6 years old I can remember saying I wanted to be a singer. As for when I started seriously considering it as a career, I guess around the same time I started writing: 12 or 13 years old.
Congratulations on releasing “Money In Your Mouth”! What’s the song about?
Money In Your Mouth is about someone I had conflicting feelings about. On one hand I had a bit of a crush on him, and on the other I really disliked some of his character traits and what they stood for. It annoyed me that all the positives were drained out by egocentricity and obsession with money.
Do you have a songwriting process?
In terms of how I write, I think the process revolves around trying to find inspiration from as many different things as possible. I’m always trying to look for the best way to put across something that’s important to me, whether it’s to make others care about a subject or just get some pent-up anger out of my system. I usually write alone at the piano, but I’m now looking for different ways of writing so I can improve and evolve in that area.
How would you describe its sound?
With Money In Your Mouth we were going for a sort of 80’s disco vibe, moody with a deep bass but still upbeat.
How does the song fit within the rest of your EP?
The song “Money In Your Mouth” fits into the “Don’t Foster Fear” EP through the emotion of fear. Except this time it’s not about my own fears but someone else’s. This guy I wrote it about has been lead to believe that money and arrogance is the currency for respect and he is afraid to behave in any other way.
Have any other artists influenced you musically?
I’ve always really loved Nirvana and I get a lot of inspiration from their lyrics and melodies. The thing I really take away when I listen to them is their ability to create a mood while still being very direct with their lyrics. Same goes for Daughter, who are one of my favourite bands.
Why did you decide to speak out against societal problems in the EP?
I decided to speak about societal problems on the EP because it was what was on my mind at the time I was writing it. Like anything that worries you or brings on strong emotions, it was a source of creativity for me. I hoped, and still do, that if people hear someone who really cares about these issues and why they should be changed, they might question if they should care too.
Do you think it’s important for artists to use their platforms in that way?
I think it’s important for artists to write exactly what they want to write about. Otherwise, the process just isn’t enjoyable. Whatever subject matter is most interesting or touching to you at the time is what you would write about, whether it be love, sex or politics, it doesn’t matter. Of course I think that if you have something to say on the subject of politics or social issues, you should never be afraid to. Just because my opinion is showcased through my art, doesn’t make it any more sincere or important than a person who chooses not to bring these things up in their music.
How do you want people to feel when they listen to your music?
I would hope that when people listen to my music they feel a kind of empathy. It’s so important to be able to step into someone else’s shoes and care about what they are going through. It’s how I feel when I listen to my favourite songs. More than anything else, this helps me better understand other people and myself.
Can we catch any live performances anytime soon?
I certainly hope so.
Have you got any more music in the pipeline?
I have new music coming soon, which I’m really excited about. I’m currently working on the second part of the EP called “Breedlove”.
What are your aims after that?
My aim is to Ieep improving. I want to get better at everything I do. Touring and performing live is a big thing that I dream of doing, as well maybe collaborating with different artists.
Check out the video for “Money In Your Mouth” below.