Addie Kosten creates catchy, electronic-infused pop music with emotional depth. It’s the type of songs you’d obsessive over after hearing on a friend’s playlist. But in the Indianapolis music scene, pop is a style often left in the background. Kosten recently recorded a live set for Small Studio Sessions and WFYI’s Adam Gross spoke with her about breaking through and making a statement.
Adam Gross: How do you feel being a pop musician in Indianapolis and kind of trying to push to the forefront of the local music scene?
Addie Kosten: I mean, I always knew I wanted to do pop. I just didn't realize how poppy I would go. And I think that a lot of that has to do with there not being a real pop structure here. Or foundation, is what I'm trying to say. So like, I'm an Enneagram Four. And so like, we're always like, trying to be different and you know, just obnoxious sometimes. I love you, Fours. Sorry, but we are. I love the energy that comes with a pop show. Like I can make a song that sounds completely different than another one. Some of them are super fun and super positive. Others are like, “I'm just gonna stay in bed all day and be sad,” you know? You could do whatever you want with pop music, which is awesome.
Gross: A lot of pop music, I feel like the perception is that it's made all on the computer without real instruments. What's the difference for you between playing just with a laptop, or with a band behind you?
Kosten: It's way different. At first, everyone's like, “oh, you're doing pop music. That means you can just like, you know, you and a computer and maybe like, just do a little piano and keep all the money for yourself.” And I’m like, “it's so boring,” and I'm not harping on anybody who does that. But just for me, I love like, just vibing with people who are really good at what they play. I can play instruments, but I don't like to perform playing them because I just feel like I'm so stuck in a place. And so the fact that other people are providing that live music vibe, I love that. It's so much fun doing it with other people. I just, I love it.
Gross: You work in the park realm. And you're also pretty vocal about your environmental activism. Does your work in parks or your environmental activism make its way into your music at all?
Kosten: I’m actually, I think, about to re-release this song. So one of my first EPs was called the “Orange Willow” EP. And there was a song called black gold that I wrote when I was in Cuba. Because that's what they call oil there. It’s literally just about the environment. How we're just completely closing our eyes to the issues that we have. And that was about 10 years ago, so things are even worse now. But like social issues, especially environmentalism, are always at the foundation of when I'm writing a song. I realize not everybody wants to hear about that every time. So not all of my music is based in that. But if I can write a song that's going to talk about saving the planet, I will.
Gross: The last song you played today, “Minimum Wage”, that seems to be politically motivated perhaps?
Kosten: It is very politically motivated. It started almost as like a love song but ended up being very much about income inequalities and just the juxtapositions between what I feel my friends and I and the people I surround myself with go through, as opposed to, like, what Elon Musk is doing.
Scroll through Small Studio Sessions page for every session, with both audio and video versions. You can also catch these performances on WFYI's Small Studio Signal Boost weekly program, airing on WFYI 90.1 Saturdays at 9 p.m.
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