INTERVIEW: Getting To Know Up-and-Coming Artist Teknokai
I had the chance to sit down with rising artist Brenden Fowler this week, the musical genius behind Teknokai. Brenden, a genderfluid artist hailing from West Tennessee, is gearing up to bring us his debut album, and we’re more than excited to hear it.
Brenden, who amusingly mentioned the name Teknokai came from mispronouncing a video game, is the picture of calm-before-the-storm. Despite his easy-going and charming personality, it’s easy to see that anything from making music to talking music is what makes him buzz.
He stated that his biggest influence would have to be the 90’s grunge era, drawing much of his vocal and lyrical inspiration from Chris Cornell. But what truly makes Brenden a unique artist in a world full of aspiring musicians?
He’s doing it all by himself, from writing the lyrics, to producing the tracks.
To hear him explain his production process is to bear witness to someone who is incredibly passionate about their craft. He mentioned that he starts with a few pre-recorded samples and from there, the sky is the limit for Brenden. One listen to any of his songs shows that he knows his way around a studio. “Production is really my thing. I’m not a good song writer,” he laughs, “but I like to think I’m pretty good at the studio side of things.”
Lyrically, his songs are created in a similar fashion. “I take a phrase and build on it and say it in a bunch of different ways,” Brenden told me. His most popular song, Faith, was originally titled Trust with the concept being, “I wouldn’t trust me if I were you.” Brenden faces songwriting in a head-on fashion, stating, “Whatever makes me sad, I just start singing into the microphone.”
His favorite song that he’s put out so far is actually a cover of Utada Hikaru’s Simple and Clean, stating that he loved working with Harmony Engine to create a stacked layer effect on the vocals. With as much work as he put into covering this song, one can understand why he says that the highlight of his music career so far was seeing that song hit 1000 streams on Spotify. A snippet of this track can be found below.
When asked what artist he would like to go on tour with as their opening act, Brenden’s face lit up as he told me about another local band from West Tennessee called Music By KOTA. The indie group, best known for their single Lucy, recently played a show in Atlanta for the first time. “Another inspiration really,” Brenden says, “having friends that are at that level.”
Growing up, Brenden could be found with a guitar in his hand from the age of two. He credits his love of music to his father, who works in radio. “It’s my identity,” he says.
What can we expect from Teknokai going forward? Brenden was happy to share that his album will be titled A Million Faces, and he expects to be putting in a lot of work over the summer. The musician also regularly works on projects with other groups, and has been in the music program at The University of Memphis Lambuth Campus which he cites being a “really small, but really powerful program.”
For the time being, Brenden is happy to be working on new songs and enjoying the sense of accomplishment in doing what he loves. “I recently found my high school journal, and found a list of things I wanted to do before I turned 21. Well I’m 21, and I’ve done ALL of them.” He’s put out several singles, played live shows, and hit his streaming goals.
It’s safe to say that we’re more than excited to hear what Teknokai has next in store for us. In the meantime, you can listen to all of his released on Spotify, Apple Music, and more.