This month we're excited to spotlight singer and songwriter Isken Cosip. Learn how he developed his unique sound, how he stays inspired and what to expect from his upcoming EP titled "It's Pronounced [eye-ken] EP". Enjoy!
Q: Where do you call home?
Q: Where did you grow up?
Q: When did you write your first song?
I wrote my first song about 3 years ago.
Q: How did you get started in songwriting?
Inspiration. I started writing songs for this girl I once dated. She had this aura about her that made me speak poetry. Of course my poetry at that age usually started with the word "dude". So I started to write songs instead.
Q: Did you have any parents, siblings or was someone else in your family musical?
My parents are very much into music. My father was in a band in the Philippines when he was younger. As time grew, it became a hobby of his, but his passion never ceased. And my mother used to be in a dance troop when she was younger. We would have car rides where all four of us (including my younger brother) would just sing harmonies by the Beatles.
Q: What is your songwriting process typical like?
I typically start out with a chord progression. From that point, I'll figure out what kind of story fits the mood of the song. Then I'll add lyrics. I'll run it through a couple of times. I'll sleep on it and review it again. Every once in a while, I try to be clever with the words just to see if anyone catches it. I'm a big fan of wordplay after all.
Q: Do you have an ideal setup for writing music?
For me, as long as there's space and I have my guitar and my phone available, I'm good to go.
Q: What book(s) or blogs are you currently reading?
I've been reading Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. Every once in a while I'll pick up Pablo Neruda's compilation books. Once I get online though, blogs I tend to read are more often than not sports related.
Q: Who are your top three favorite artists or songwriters?
Can I do 5? I am a big fan of The Beatles, Jason Mraz, John Mayer, Jimi Hendrix, and Sara Bareilles.
Q: What album are you currently listening to?
I keep revisiting Live in LA by John Mayer. I like listening to him live. He takes it upon himself to change his songs around every time he performs. It's always a unique take on already existing songs that he's done.
Q: How do you stay inspired?
I like reading stories a lot. There's always something to be told, even if it seems to come from the most mundane of situations. Maybe it's a girl from a coffee shop, maybe it's bad date, maybe it's the couple at the bench where the dude gets slapped in the face. Maybe it's the hardcore biker helping the old lady walk across the street. Stories are every where and I like looking at things deeper to see what comes out as an inspiration.
Q: What's your biggest challenge as a songwriter?
I'd say my biggest challenge is boredom. While it's ideal to stay productive all the time, it's also almost never the case. There are times when I do get bored. Inspiration is not there, sometimes even mobility isn't there. Boredom blows.
Q: What time of day do you prefer to write your music and where?
I usually write late at night when it's quiet. I prefer a cold room with plenty of space because I tend to walk around and be weird, saying things to myself. I like a place with a chair and a couch or a bed where I can easily sit up straight if I lose focus or just drop myself thinking. I also like a place that's clean. I can't think straight if there are random dust bunnies running around.
Q: What's your favorite memory as a songwriter or musician?
It came recently. I had performed at the Columbus Songwriters Association Finale Showcase. There were 22 songwriters on the bill that night, as well as industry active judges from Nashville and Columbus. These were some of the best songwriters in town and just to be associated with them was an honor. I ended up taking 2nd place overall that night, and I was on such a musical high. For me, it meant that everything that I had been working for was validated. These industry professionals know music and they said that I belong there. It also feels great to know that the audience have my back. I didn't know a majority of these people but they had a lot of nice things to say about my music. I mean, what's the point of calling it Pop music if the crowd doesn't deem it popular.
Q: How do you maintain your professional growth?
In music, there's always somebody better. These words are eternal. I try to stay humble and keep a professional relationship with everyone I meet, knowing that there's always something I can learn from someone.
Q: What are some of your greatest accomplishments to date?
Apart placing 2nd from the Finale Showcase, I'd say it would be the upcoming release of my first EP, "It's Pronounced [eye-ken]". This will be the beginning of a journey that I have always dreamed of. After months of hard work, planning and sacrifice, it's finally here. I consider it an accomplishment because not everyone takes this next step. I want to keep moving forward and this is a good start.
Q: If you could provide any advice to up and coming songwriters, what would it be?
Keep going. There are always gonna be detractors to the music that songwriters write. Sometimes, some opinions don't matter and shouldn't hold you down and shake your confidence. I encourage up and coming songwriters to believe in their product, keep learning, and never pull back.
Q: What online tools do you use today for songwriting?
I like my phone. I use apps to write lines that randomly get in my head and the Voice Memos app to record melodies that I can use in the future. That way, if I'm ever blocked, I can always reference my past ideas.
Q: How does Frettie benefit the songwriting community?
It goes back to learning. Keeping in contact with other songwriters, even if it's just listening to their songs makes me, as a songwriter, think about things from different perspective. Everyone can share the same story, but tell it in a different way. And Frettie allows all of us to share it. By doing this, everyone grows at a much higher rate.
Q: What can we expect from your upcoming album?
Haha. I think people will feel a good kind of confusion. The songs that I included in the EP are all so different from one another, that it can stand alone on its own genre. I can go from bubblegum pop, to funk, to slow blues, and even a lullaby. But I'm all about making music, and the Beatles is one of my all-time favorite bands. They have done almost every genre available at the time. I like that approach because it doesn't restrict or funnel me in to one sound.
Q: If you could pick a favorite song from it, what would it be? Can you tell us more about the process and experience of writing that song?
They're all my babies, so it's really difficult to pick one. But I do enjoy listening to "Sweetheartbreaker" the most. It's an honest story of the girl that inspired me to write songs in the first place. And the melody and mood captured thegirl. Very playful, very happy, dynamic and full of life. It was also the song we had the most difficulty with as far as recording. It's not technically difficult from an instrumental perspective, but more of problems that came along with it. The final product is something I am happy with, because the whole experience made the song worth it.
Q: What's next for you?
We are gonna be having an EP release party on March 29 at King Avenue 5. It's gonna be a big event and we will have an opening band TBD. After that? The world is our oyster.
Q: Thanks for your time Isken. We look forward to connecting with you on Frettie. Where can readers find you online to keep updated on what you are doing?
I am always available online. Readers and audiences can find me on twitter: @iskencosip. You can also visit my website at iskencosip.com. Also please check out my videos on YouTube. And on March 19, "It's Pronounced [eye-ken] EP" will be available on iTunes.
Q: Care to add anything else?
Thank you Frettie. You guys have been great. Thanks to CSA for giving me such a great support system. Thanks to my mom, my dad, my brother, and the rest of my family. This dude is about to make you guys proud. Much love and peace everyone!