Being an indie artist in modern times can be quite the adventure, as learning how to win over an audience becomes a challenge. For New Jersey (now Los Angeles based) indie rapper Kosha Dillz, he spent this past summer on the Vans Warped Tour and expanded is networking base in front of a new audience he has spent the past few years building up.
So how has the Warped Tour treated him? “So far so good – it’s a cliché answer but after yesterday we’re learning a lot every day. This is the third show and it went really well. We got a nice set and we’re alternating our sets too so everyone’s getting a different experience.”
“We’re learning how to promote ourselves. It’s a different beast out here. It’s not like anything I’ve ever done. I’m grateful for that but also I’m a novice here. I may be experienced at what I do but out here I’m a newbie and it’s nice to learn a lot. I love learning,” he said.
Dillz originates from Edison, NJ and was born to Israeli immigrants. While his musical origins began in rap battles in New York City, he gradually incorporated his Jewish roots into his music and slowly shaped his sound into something a bit outside of the norm in the hip hop world.
“I grew up in New Jersey so not New York. People think it’s New York. I grew up rapping in New York starting up. I would drive up to the city or take a train. I did mostly sports, like wrestling and soccer. [I] wrestled in college, then I had a big stint with drugs, addiction, jails, institutions, and then came hip hop and became a hip hop a mania. It was a hardcore hip hop and underground hip hop festivals in the Czech Republic and Eastern Europe, and winning rap battles in the rap battle scene. I was finding success late. We didn’t have social media when I was seventeen. It was a whole another world.”
Rapping in English, Spanish and Hebrew is something that sets Dillz apart from the pack. Fusing his cultural roots with his surroundings in New York and New Jersey has inspired him to create his music in a way to introduce listeners into his unique yet eclectic world.
“I really try to embrace the culture part. I understand that I’m very different to people, so I say let me do something special. Let me try to do something different that no one else is doing and be dope. You can do different stuff like standing on your head, but I don’t think that’s dope. If you are making an amazing song that’s completely different from everyone else, so I was the rapper in Hebrew and Spanish – I was known for that. It sort of has a street hip hop flow, and freestyle at all shows keeps it like who knows what’s going to happen and create that space and energy. I think you have to do that when not everyone knows you. It’s show and prove out here. You have to tell them you’re dope and let them know what’s up.”
Dillz has made a career of releasing his own music through Murs’ label Murs 316 and is running a Kickstarter campaign for his forthcoming album.
“The rapper Murs helped put out my last album (Awkward In a Good Way) digitally. I just did a Kickstarter for my new project called What I Do All Day and Pickle. It’s kind of a spoof on Velvet Underground and Nico.”
“The songs I’m performing are from Awkward in a Good Way, my album with Murs. It has Murs and Gangsta Boo (of Three 6 Mafia) on there, and I also have some tracks from Varsity Blues. It’s called “Varsity Blues.” I’ve got “What I Do All Day,” which features Flint Flossy from Turquoise Jeep, a real big YouTube sensation. I have a lot of songs with vocals on them, like singers experimenting with R & B. Just creating music and getting it out there.”
He admits that events like Warped Tour have pushed him to work harder to reach new fans on every step of his adventure. Every step of the way has helped him shape his approach on how to reach new fans.
“I was addicted to the hustle and the DIY nature of things and the personal interaction. I was always good at that. So on Warped Tour, I did a tent called Bring It Back. It was a hip hop tent and all elements of hip hop, breaking, graffiti, DJing, MCing, and dance. They’d stop people and start a show. Then you’d get a big crowd and making it look good for photos and everyone would get nuts. Next thing you know people are watching it. People enjoy watching the others that are working hard to get where they are.”
“On this tour, on the set it’s another beast because the heroes are the person that is travelling, passing out the fliers and helping others. In no other culture is there anything where people are like ‘I’ll help you get stuff out of the trunk’ or ‘do everything for free’ so people can hear my music. The platform has been created to reach over a half a million people of likewise weirdos that’s gonna be like ‘yeah!’ Does this world exist? It does exist. It’s Warped Tour. It’s all different kinds of music – Eminem, Yelawolf…Katy Perry, Rancid, Green Day…so many different kinds of acts. At least on the hip hop reign, I’m filling in big shoes and I’m doing pretty good. So far so good and it’s only gonna get better as we go on.”
Dillz learned how that a family oriented environment like Warped Tour has helped him reach new fans. The ethic behind helping one another has rubbed off on his in a positive way
“It’s a very family oriented thing. It’s a great example for regular music because it should be family oriented – Like I support you because I want to support you. Ideally you would support me too. You can do whatever you want but this is spoken for so of course you’re supporting other people.”
“One thing I’m doing is I’m leaving my promotional stuff around by the bands. I want to make sure the bands know when to come see me. Getting the respect I deserve on the musical level – people know me for the hustle but not everyone for my music. This is a great time for them to hear my music. That’s what I’m really so happy about because to be given a proper opportunity for promotion – this is it.”
He admits that punk rock was something he was also somewhat exposed to at an early age as well. “The first show I ever went to was sort of punk rock. It was punk rock. I was going to say a New Jersey hardcore show. Our neighbor was in the band. I headbanged until my neck got so sore. I remember it. I only remembered that story on this tour.”
“Then I did hip hop starting at 17 and performing. Now I’m rocking all over the hip hop, the rock, [and] indie rock. I really graduated from pop. I really love pop music. I’m trying to write a hit song. I would love that everyone loved a hit song that people like. So that’s cool.”
Lastly, Kosha Dillz shared his interaction with metal and punk with his music. While his sound leans more towards hip hop, he is open to collaborating with other artists.
“I did a remix over GWAR once. Years ago I rapped over GWAR. If anyone wants to work with me and say ‘hey man…let me get you on this’…I’m just grateful people step to me and ask me. If it interests anybody or if anyone out there is listening…it doesn’t matter if they’re small or big…I like anything that’s dope. I would like to do something with Knuckle Puck or Man Overboard because they’re from New Jersey.”