News / Interviews

Teesa Houston of KOLAJ Talks Music, K-Pop Crossovers and More

By Leah Westbrook | August 09, 2016 10:10 PM EDT


KCON 2016 LA presented by Toyota promised to be the biggest and best. With a 3-day convention and 2 stellar concerts whose lineups boasted some of the hottest acts in K-Pop, KCON delivered on that promise, treating fans from the around the globe to a Hallyu experience like no other.

While there were many moments over the course of the weekend that made the convention memorable, none stands out quite as much as the incredible performances during the evening’s M Countdown concerts. Each artist and group who performed those nights delivered stellar performances, all memorable in their own right. But it was the special stages, in which artists made unique and often unexpected appearances on-stage, that left a more lasting impression.

One such stage took place during Eric Nam’s performance on Sunday night. After wooing the crowd with his sweet vocals and charming smile, Nam was joined onstage by a string of special guests which included ASTRO’s rapper, JinJin, f(x)’s Amber and Teesa Houston from the American EDM duo, KOLAJ.

We were able to sit down with Ms. Houston and talk a little about her music, the growing popularity of K-Pop and the possibility of doing more crossover work in the future.

KPZ: You recently released your hit single “Into You” with Eric Nam, which is fantastic, by the way. When you first started working on this track, did you have any idea that it would be so well-received?

Teesa: Well first off, thank you. "Into You" is one of those brilliant experiments that ended up turning out amazing! I think everyone was a little hesitant at first because this sort of collaboration was unprecedented, but since it's been so well received we feel very accomplished.

KPZ: Fuse has labeled KOLAJ as an upstart EDM duo while Teen Vogue has said your music has “a distinct style of music that can translate from a night out with your friends to a casual hangout by the beach. In short, you can basically listen to their music any time.” How does a duo with such a broad musical base come to work with a K-Pop artist like Eric Nam? Did you ever think you’d be making this sort of musical crossover?

Teesa: We're actually quite proud of being somewhat undefinable and having a sound of our own. This collaboration, which came about through Eric's brother, Eddie, allowed us to venture even further into very unexpected international territory. We had no clue we could tackle this kind of crossover, but it's been successful, and we may have even created a new sound along the way. I'm starting to think my talent is just mixing cultures together lol

KPZ: Before this collaboration, had you had any exposure or experience with K-Pop? Was this something altogether new for you or were you familiar with the genre beforehand? If you were familiar beforehand, which groups are your favorite?

Teesa: Mike and I have actually been big fans of K-Pop through the years. We actually wrote a song for kpop boyband, VIXX "Ottokaji". I loved SHINee, Girls Generation, Big Bang (I have a big crush on T.O.P). And actually a new fan of the Wonder Girls since they started playing instruments ;)

KPZ: You performed “Into You” with Eric Nam during Sunday night’s concert, at KCON and I understand this was your debut mainstage performance. How did you feel about that? Were you nervous? Excited?

Teesa: I'm extremely stoked and honored because I actually know how passionate and energetic and diverse Kpop fans really are! I oddly wasn't that nervous, even though the Staples Center is ridonkulous...I was just super amped! Being there beside Eric performing and feeling the audience's energy, it was just so incredible.

KPZ: Was this your first time at something like KCON? What are your thoughts on it? Did you had a chance to experience any of the convention itself?

Teesa: I actually went to KCON LA two years ago because VIXX was performing and I wanted to see what it's all about. It's grown so much, even since then! The KPop culture is exciting and addicting, which is why I think the convention has been so successful across the globe!

KPZ: Do you see yourself doing any other K-Pop collaborations in the future? Are there any groups or artists you’d like to work with? If so, who?

Teesa: We honestly never have a clue who we're collabing with next lol...But we are open! We know there are many talented Kpop artists out there. So G-Dragon, T.O.P, CL, hit us up for some K-Trop!!!

If you weren’t able to attend KCON 2016 LA this year, don’t worry, you can check out Eric Nam and KOLAJ’s performance here.


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