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K-Pop Crossover: Grammy-Nominated Hip-Hop Songwriter Kay Cola Opens Up About Her Love Of 2NE1 [EXCLUSIVE]

By Tony Sokol | June 05, 2014 06:29 PM EDT

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Kay Cola is a professional lucid dreamer, according to her Twitter page.

And the Los Angeles singer-songwriter has been living the dream; Cola is constantly working, and working with A-List artists too. She's sung on tracks for Eminem, written with Dr. Dre and had a song on an album that was nominated for a Grammy Award for Album of The Year.

The daughter of renowned jazz and classical musician Hubert Laws grew up with an artist's discipline, rehearsing and practicing for hours. But all that woodshedding didn't isolate Kay from other types of music.

Among her influences, the soulful singer lists rock and country music and, most recently, K-pop.

"I recently got into K-pop and it's pretty awesome," Cola told KpopStarz on Wednesday in an exclusive interview.

"I love 2NE1 and I really like their new song 'Gotta Be You.'"

"I like the beat of the song, how the intro had a little bit of a hip-hop vibe and heavy bass," she added. "It went into a little bit of techno. It was almost like three songs in one."

Kay sees a lot of similarities between her own brand of music and the K-Pop artists.

"I grew up listening to a different genres of music and I like that they combine different genres in their music," Cola said.

Why does she feel K-pop fans should check out her music?

"I have lyrics that a lot of people can relate to and catchy hooks and catchy melodies," Cola said.

The singer-songwriter also loves country and rock music and appreciates that both trace their roots "to gospel and rhythm and blues." Cola cites Coldplay as an influence, sings the praises of John Mayer and loves the music of Rascal Flatts.

She says her father, Hubert Laws, one of the most recognized flute players in jazz, was critical in her developments as a musician.

"One of the things he taught me was about work ethic and practicing," Cola said.

"He practices about four hours a day. The industry [today] is very different. He's been doing it for over 50 years and he's still learning new ways to sound better."

Cola says she brings that work eithic into the studio when she's singing on tracks for superstars like Eminem, as she did his 2010 track "Not Afraid."

"That was a really cool experience," Cola said.  

"[Eminem] was there. He's very humble. He was really cool about everything," she said. "He's a bit of a workaholic, so he got right to the next song. But he made sure he got what he wanted from the song and brought his energy into it."

Hip-hop legend Dr. Dre was a recent mentor for Cola. She was called in to write demos. Though she's not sure if her song will make the album, she believes the experience itself was enough.

"Writing with him and being in the same room with him, that energy was just amazing," she said.

Opening for Ne-Yo on a tour of Japan was another high profile experience Cola describes as "amazing."

"The fans there are so loyal and awesome," she said. "We did a couple of short tours out there also, so I got to really experience Tokyo."

When it comes to her own songwriting process, Kay likes to shake things up.

"I sometimes have the lyrics and the melody in my head then we can create a track around that," she said. "Other times it starts with the track and I'll use the chord progressions in the track to influence my melodies. [The style of the tracks dictates] my inspiration towards the subject of the song. It's always about something I went through or someone close to me has gone through."

This means it sometimes gets too personal.

"I go in," she laughs, "I literally have written things that people have exactly said to me. I get pretty deep."


Cola's next album is slated for release on July 7.

"I'm still working on the album title," she said. "It will be a seven-track EP. I'm very clear with the guys that I work with. They fit into the whole vibe of what I'm going for...my movement and brand is about empowering people, females in particular, to say what's on their minds and do what they feel." 

"The world can be extremely judgmental and I want to open up the platform for other people to feel comfortable with being themselves and just be free to create or whatever they want to do without being scared of the judgment of this world. Just go for it."

You can hear Kay Cola on Soundcloud.

Tagged :  kay cola, Eminem, Dr. Dre

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