Minneapolis, MN

Kobenz Talks Latest Single, Working with Katy Rose, and Much More

Meikhel

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Kobenz is an Alternative artist from Minneapolis, MN. Kobenz's artistic journey only started a couple of years ago. In 2020, Kobenz was hospitalized following an attempt at taking his own life. He had been battling major depression and PTSD stemming from an abusive partner. As he could no longer handle his course work, Kobenz dropped out of school and took to poetry as a form of therapy. Poetry soon turned into music, and Kobenz began to amass a cult-like fanbase following his release of "Sour Lemon," which is a rework of the 2004 Billboard hit, "Lemon," by Katy Rose. Kobenz's "Sour Lemon" garnered millions of streams, was spun at major radio stations, and was featured on countless media outlets such as EARMILK, Visual Atelier 8, The Hype Magazine, and HipHopSince1987. "Sour Lemon" was also chosen by Rock legend Oli Sykes of Bring Me the Horizon as one of his top five picks for the Spotify editorial playlist, "Misfits 2.0." Kobenz capitalized on the success of "Sour Lemon" and followed up with several critically-acclaimed releases that raised his status in the underground scene. Kobenz recently completed a tour with mainstream Alternative artist Call Me Karizma. Kobenz's latest release, "Diary of a Simpy Kid," has already racked up over 150,000 streams in its first week. Kobenz's unique, gritty, and emotive sound is what the industry has been missing and waiting for.

With his single, “Diary of a Simpy Kid,” out now, we took some time to hear more from Kobenz. Read below to learn more about Kobenz, the story behind his single, and what’s to come.

Hi Kobenz! Let’s start with how did you get your artist name?

I came up with the name, Kobenz, as a joke. Before I started making music, I made a SoundCloud under the name, “Kobenz,” and the inspiration was like a combination of Kurt Cobain and Lil Peep (both artists have gotten me through some rough times and are inspirations to me, not just in music, but more so in identity/style).

What city are you from and where are you based now?

I’m originally from Wantage, NJ, but moved to Minneapolis, MN for college in 2017.

At what point in your life did you decide to pursue a career in music? How did you get started?

I decided to start making music following an abusive relationship during the beginning of the pandemic. My partner was severely mentally ill, and we were both practically trapped inside with each other 24/7, which led to her mental health deteriorating. At the time, I was in nursing school, and following our breakup, I was just too shaken up to continue. I turned to music and poetry as a form of therapy.

Has your upbringing played a role in shaping who you are and defining your sound today? If so, how?

I would definitely say it has. I was raised by very conservative parents and was sent to Catholic school, where I was forced to lose any and all identity. I had to keep my hair a certain way, wear a suit, certain socks, keep my tie short, and couldn’t have facial hair. It was very strict, which definitely fueled a lot of rebellion against conformity.

How would you describe your sound to readers who may not be familiar with you?

I feel like my sound is a mix of Layne Staley, John Lennon, Marilyn Manson, Kurt Cobain, and then new age Alternative artists like Lil Peep, Ghostemane, Suicideboys, etc.

Do you have any hobbies outside of music? What do you do to stay creative?

I enjoy playing chess, going to the beach, traveling, clubbing, and hanging with friends. One thing I do every day to stay creative is freestyle to YouTube beats, and try and come up with melodic vocal hooks.

Who are some of your main musical influences?

John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Chris Cornell, and Lil Peep.

What are some of your future music career goals?

I’m not really sure at the moment. The point in my music career that I’m currently at is a make-or-break stage. I could either move on to that next plateau of where I could be surviving solely off my music or have to start thinking about the future and going back to school. However, I would love to be able to support myself solely off my art and do it full time.

Who would be a dream to collaborate with?

My dream collab is with Ashnikko. I love her music, style, and attitude.

Now onto your release, “Diary of a Simpy Kid.” What inspired this song?

This song was inspired by a more recent partner that I split with back in February. During our relationship, my life was extremely hectic, and I was still struggling with a lot of past trauma. This resulted in me seeking a lot of emotional connection, and they were just not able to provide that. However, my high school girlfriend who moved to MN with me originally, and I ended up spending a lot of time with them, which really hurt my then partner. The song is almost like an explanation for the hurt that I caused and an apology.

What is “Diary of a Simpy Kid” about in your own words?

It’s a twisted, complex love story about two people who care for each other, but aren’t getting what they need out of the relationship. It’s also about not having the strength to break away when you both know it’s best that you do.

What is your favorite lyric in “Diary of a Simpy Kid” and why?

“I don’t wanna hurt you ever again tell me what you want I can be your man, I can be a man.” The lyric is very real as I’m feeling extremely weak for betraying my partner, and I’m trying to do whatever I can to make it up to them/take care of them as they had no one else either.

What message do you hope fans take away from your music and from “Diary of a Simpy Kid?”

I just want people to feel the pain in my voice. It’s a technique called primal scream therapy. John Lennon introduced it to the U.S. during his Plastic Ono Band era. It can be very therapeutic to hear another person’s pain. It makes you feel as if you’re not alone.

What’s one of your proudest moments of your music career so far?

My proudest moment has to be having a song on the mainstream radio where I could listen in my car. That was so cool.

What would you say are the greatest lessons you’ve learned so far?

The music industry is brutal. There are lot of people who will tell you that they can make your dreams come true, and 99% of the time, they have exterior motives. Don’t make music based on what you think people will like, make music for yourself and be authentic. If it’s real, someone will listen.

What’s next for you? Are you working on any upcoming projects, or do you have any upcoming shows that we should be on the lookout for?

I am working on a sequel to my biggest song, “Sour Lemon,” with Katy Rose. I don’t have an expected timeline, but it should be out around September.

Where can we follow you on social media?

My Instagram is @goth.sin. That’s really all I use, currently. I dislike social media.

Before you go, let’s ask you something random. If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?

If I could go back in time, I would have stopped trying to find “my sound” and just went with the flow. I probably would have released more songs.

Thank you for the great interview; wish you much continued success!

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Meikhel is the founder and CEO of the record label, management and public relations company M.E.I. Recordings. He is also the founder and CEO of the apparel brand Psalm Infinity.

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