The Nashville-born singer on lyrics, relationships and leaving a legacy.
All clothing by DSQUARED2, shoes PHILLIP PLEIN
Mokita was always going to be a musician. Growing up in the church, performing factored heavily into the American singer’s childhood, and this laid the foundation for a career in music that is set to propel him to worldwide acclaim. “I was thrown into music from a really early age thanks to the church,” Mokita – whose real name is John-Luke Carter – explains. “I also used to play piano and guitar there, so I was always around music. My parents also play. They never had formal lessons but everyone has a good ear for music. I think just being around music constantly was super influential.”
The influence of Mokita’s instrumental upbringing is clear in his songs through his creation of folk-laden pop bangers with irresistibly catchy hooks and the type of melody that’ll be humming around your head all day. Citing singer-songwriters such as John Mayer and Jason Mraz as musical inspirations, Mokita gives a lot of importance to his writing, which is often autobiographical, introspective and – at times – very personal. “The stuff I like writing and making the most is the same stuff that I enjoy listening to,” he explains. “Emotional, honest type lyrics.”
Latest single “London” is the perfect example of this. “I’d recently gotten out of a relationship, and it was weird being in a place that I’d talked about with this other person and seeing it for the first time away from that person,” he describes. “It was weird because I kept seeing them everywhere and thinking about what they’d like and what they’d want to see.”
All clothing MICHAEL KORS, coat DRIES VAN NOTEN
I’m struck by the honesty with which Mokita speaks and ask him if he ever finds it scary to open himself up so candidly in his music. “It’s always scary,” he asserts. “I always get nervous before a song comes out, especially if it’s about a specific person. It’s weird, it’s like sharing a piece of your journal with the world!” Why does he do it then? The answer, as with many musicians, is the unrivalled outlet music gives to these emotions. This is perhaps why the songwriting side of things is so dear to Mokita. “It’s definitely therapeutic,” he explains, “especially the process. When I’m writing it, it’s the most cathartic.”
It’s not just the lyrics of his songs that Mokita dwells on. Like the rest of us, he’s also a sucker for a good melody. “I’ve always been obsessed with melody,” he gushes. “I really like strong melodies that make you feel something without even having to hear a lyric. That’s why I love the music side of it a lot, and making it the emotional side.”
This is where the pop side of his music comes into play, and the combination of catchy tunes and meaningful lyrics has rendered Mokita’s songs true to the genre’s title. His penchant for writing bangers has also resulted in his songs garnering millions of listens worldwide, and this interconnectivity with fans is something that excites him. “To see a song that you wrote in your bedroom helping somebody get through a tough or emotional time, that part’s really cool.”
Mokita’s humble nature is what makes him, and subsequently his music, so likeable. When I ask what he wants his musical legacy to be, it’s no surprise that his answer is just as appealing. “I just want to be known as someone who was an honest person, and a nice person that loves people well,” he beams. “Once you get down to legacy, I don’t really even care about the music.”
Mokita’s new single “Kiss & Tell” will be released globally by Armada Music on March 8th.
Taken from the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Rollacoaster. Available to pre-order now.
All clothing DRIES VAN NOTEN