The grandson of a famous Haitian singer and a self-proclaimed vagabond, Koda channels his free-spirited personality in his music. Initially crafted as a side-project, Koda’s penchant for hook-laden ambient dream pop caught the attention of over 20 million streams and with it, calls from music supervisors all over the world.

That success led to the a one-way ticket from Colombia to Los Angeles, where Koda would spend the next few years buried in the studio, writing 100s of songs as he developed what would eventually become his? ?debut LP,? ?i? ?hope? ?this? ?makes? ?us? ?better?.? ?The project marks a return to his rock roots, a blend of vocals-driven neue-gaze, post-rock, and alternative electronica.

We asked Koda to put together a playlist of tracks that inspire him, including some music he picked up on while living on Colombia to b-sides from hip hop stalwarts OutKast. Tune in below.

Soft Hair – Lying Has to Stop

I am OBSESSED with this song. It’s pure bouncy, bubbly fun. It has this absurdist youthful Spongebob aesthetic to it- it’s actually insane, and the lyrics are so pointed and goofy. Connan Mockasin is a genius; I saw him once at UCLA, and halfway through his set he brought out Sergio Flores (the sexy sax man) and he was shooting roses into the crowd from his saxophone, it made so much sense. Everyone is sleeping on this song – it’s the only thing that makes sense in this fucked up reality.

Dámaso Pérez Prado – Caballo Negro

I was stoned out of my mind when I first heard this – It plays at the beginning of Santa Sangre; there’s a brilliant, literal bird’s eye view shot over the circus and this song choice is perfect. I don’t have much to say about this one beyond its perfection when married to those particular images. I spend a lot of my time writing music to picture and i don’t think i’ll ever get it this right.

Outkast – Prototype

Has there ever been a sadder, sexier song? I think not. It’s so many things at once and it’s one of those things you have to repeat 3-4 times every time it comes on. I’ve listened 3 times trying to find the words to describe it – it’s just so simple and succinct and the groove is incredible. Did André 3000 play bass on it?

Cibo Matto – Birthday Cake

This perfectly encapsulates the 1990’s. I’m very terrified of having children one day, and I think it has something to do with the way she’s pleading with her son in this. It’s so raw, and the kooky organ really hammers it in. It’s featured in this Japanese video game Jet Set Radio Future and that soundtrack was very formative; serving as precursor for the whole Bristol sound trip hop thing (for me).

The Mars Volta – Televators

I first heard this on a college music mag compilation CD courtesy of my dad, and I think it was the first time I really cried because of music. It was so beyond (in scope, in sound, in musical maturity) pretty much everything I was listening to at the time, and Cedric’s crooning absolutely destroyed my soul. Confession: I used to get picked on hard for my curly hair and used to either straighten it or cut it until I got into this band. It was always either too frizzy or too dirty or any number of things, and none of the bands I listened to looked anything like me. Then I saw The Mars Volta, and Cedric had this huge curly mess going, and he was SUCH A BADASS. It all clicked for me then. I don’t think I’d be singing today without them as role-models.

Radiohead – Daydreaming

This is an obvious pick. Thom Yorke is this huge role model for me and the depth of emotion on this track is shattering. It feels like my hero’s heart is breaking into a million pieces – it’s one of those things you hear and think “what’s even left for him?” It gave me this lingering fear of love and loss that’s hard to cope with. I can’t relate with it yet, and I’m terrified now of the day I can.

Nine Inch Nails – 20 Ghosts III

This has to be my favorite mood piece – the way it washes in and out – the techy nightmare world it paints a picture of. It’s night personified. Weaving in and out of traffic. Heavy Rain. I always picture some Lynchian horrorshow. I want to direct a music video for this some day – I don’t really know how, I just want to. This is such an ungroovy playlist now.

Krzysztof Penderecki – Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima

There’s a shame to this song. Even if you didn’t know the title you’d know what it was about, you can feel it in your core – this great evil we unleashed. My connection with music is mostly emotional and rarely intellectual – so i’m not the one to reflect on this piece in writing beyond saying “oh my god”. Haunting in the worst way.

Koda Socials: