Hidden Gems: Kona

It’s 10PM on a Tuesday night when I login to Zoom for an interview with the Arizona-based band Kona. The sleep that had been creeping up on me disappeared as soon as they entered the call with their excitement and passion for music, their band, and the future. “We’re just some dudes who make music together for all ears. We don’t play with the rules and do what we like to do.”

Being an up-and-coming band during a pandemic might seem like a scary and uncertain situation to be in, but for Eli Valdes (18), Caleb Valdes (16), and Slade Skousen (17) it actually had its perks, “It helped us finish the album because we were all staying at home in quarantine. Of course, we could have played a bunch of shows and grown our fanbase, but we got the album out which is good.” Though their first album ‘Bright Lights’ got released in early November, they kept summer close by opening the album with a song called ‘July’. “It was the first song that we all collaborated on which was crazy for us. That’s what makes this song so special to us.” ‘Bright Lights’ sounds youthful and resilient, which is not surprising since the band was still in high school during the making of their record. “The album is about trying to find your inner self, no matter where you are in life. It’s about facing both external and internal challenges.” One of the most interesting songs might be the ‘On The Roof’, which features a mysterious voice talking about music accompanied by a soothing guitar in the background. “I once sampled an interview of Julian Casablancas, who’s the singer of The Strokes, and knew I wanted to use that someday,” says Eli. “We always hang out at one of our buddies’ place and go to his roof to watch the sunset, so when we came up with the idea of making an interlude, we thought it would be cool to name it ‘On The Roof’. Those moments are a sort of pause in life to us, and that’s also what this song is on the album, it gives you a second to breathe.”

Not your typical boyband

In their Spotify bio, Kona is described as “not your typical boyband”. No matching outfits and coordinated dance move, just three guys who like to make music together and have big plans for the future. “We want to go on tour after the pandemic and take over the world . We want to play some shows in the neighbourhood but obviously our aspirations are much higher, like playing in cities such as LA. Growing up in Arizona, we saw big artists play in a venue called Talking Stick Arena. It would be great to see ourselves up there one day, which is an insane thought.” They formed the band late summer of 2019 and realised after a while that they didn’t have a name yet. “We started the band before we knew what the band name was, so we were like, “shoot we got to have a name”. Overtime we were playing at Eli’s house and his dog would sing and howl when we played music, so we thought it was cool to make that the name of our band.”

Text by: Ine Vanvuchelen

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