Get To Know Mokita [Interview]

Ian Hansen

Nashville based singer-songwriter and pop artist, Mokita has blessed his fans with multiple quality releases this year with his most recent being the positive and uplifting, “Happiness.” Get to know more about Mokita below:

What was the creative direction of your recent single, “Happiness?”

I wrote that with one of the guys I write everything with. Most of the songs we do come from conversations and talking about life. It stemmed conceptually about how easy it is to base your happiness on the next thing. I want to be content where I’m at and not looking for the next thing. We wrote it last fall on a guitar. I sat on it for a couple months. We wrote the lyrics already, and I was inspired one day and pulled up the voice memo on my phone and tracked the whole thing. It was quick production wise, and I went with my gut. That song happened pretty quick.

What is the biggest thing you want your fans to gain from not just this single but your music in general?

When I first started doing my project, I would try to compete with other artists. It’s like a game of comparison or having my music sound a certain way. I think the more music I’ve put out and the more I’ve tried to write about everyday life and find my niche, the more I’ve realized what people relate to. I want it to feel very conversational and like I’m talking to someone.

How important is making music you like?

You have to start with what you like. Again, it’s so easy to compare yourself to what everyone else is doing, but you have to pick what you like and go for it, and it feels like it always translates.

Take me through your musical journey from the beginning. What got you into music in the first place, and what is it like seeing it take off?

I started playing piano when I was five or six, and that is what got me into music. My dad is a pastor, so I got in the church singing. I picked up guitar when I was 12 to impress a girl. It kind of stuck. I started writing at around the same time, and I really fell in love with music. At 12 to 16 is when I started playing in bands, writing my own music, and recording my own music. I went to college as an English major and didn’t go for music. I worked at a casino for two or three years after college. One of my buddies moved to Nashville to write, and I was like, “Cool, I kind of want to chase music and see if I can do it.” I moved as well, and I started for the first few years bartending and writing music whenever I could. It turned into where I was paying the bills. I started the Mokita project around the same time. My initial process was not singing. I thought it would be cool to do a project like Calvin Harris. I put out one song with someone else singing on it and realized I had no desire to do that. I transitioned back full circle to the singer-songwriter pop thing I’m doing now. I just feel blessed I get to do it for a living.

Take me through the move to Nashville and what you’ve learned since being there.

The biggest thing about me moving there was the songwriting aspect of it. I wanted to become a better songwriter. When I first moved out here I was writing with whoever I could. I think that was huge for me because I was able to see so many people who are better than me and see them write songs. I feel like the melodic side of my brain was strong, but it was the lyric part that was important for me being in Nashville. I enjoy living here. It’s very chill and the pace of life is my speed. It’s been a great town to do music in.

Who or what inspired your sound to what it is now?

A lot of it came from all of the music I was listening to. I went through a lot of phases. In high school, it was a lot of the pop-punk emo stuff. Then I went through another phase where it was like John Mayer, Jason Mraz, James Taylor, and a lot of singer-songwriters. Then I went through a period where I listened to a lot of early 90s grunge and Nirvana. I was always excited to discover music. All of those bands shaped how I form songs. Reading a lot of stuff inspired me lyrically to write about different topics. Sound wise, trying a bunch of stuff. I would play a bunch of stuff, and I made beats. I fell in love with certain aspects of music.

You just wrapped up a tour. How was that?

It was my first time being on tour for the Mokita project. I had no idea what to expect, but it was an absolute blast being able to hear people’s stories and hearing how my songs have affected people. Connecting with these people in person was so inspiring to me to keep going and making this music.

What was your favorite city?

A city that surprised me was Columbus, Ohio. It was so lit, and they were so hype.

Where does your name Mokita come from?

When I was looking for words for my, back then, dj project, I was Googling a bunch of different words that were specific to a culture. The name means a truth that people know but don’t discuss. It’s from a language in Papa New Guinea.

What can fans expect from you in the future and what goals do you have?

I’m trying to finish a bunch of songs and an album. I am writing new songs, and that’s it.

What do you do in your free time away from music?

I love playing tennis, golf, and running. I own some real estate back home with my brother which is a nice escape as well. I love food too.

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