Music and design

@kappa_jotta

Where does the name Kappa Jotta come from?

It doesn't have a very special story, sorry to disappoint. There was a time in my area, I'm from Cascais, from the C-line, in the suburbs, and people used to call me "Cota", like "Cota Janeiro", "Cota Velhinho", "Cota I don't know what”, "cota here", "cota there"... And my surname is Janeiro and then there was a time, when I started making sounds and I wanted to release my own sounds and I had to have a name and everyone called me Cota Janeirinho and so it became Cota Janeiro but not Cota, not Janeiro and it was like "Kapa, Jota...". C and J didn't look good either, then just the Kapa or just the Jota didn't look cool either and then it was a bit aesthetic like, I wrote it, and it looked cool, there...Kappa Jotta.

You are one of the most important names on the hip-hop/rap scene in Portugal. How do you see the expression of hip-hop and rap culture in our country?

I'm not important anywhere! Not even at home anymore. I see (the evolution) more and more, I see the kids coming up. I noticed a lot in my generation, when people started to rhyme it was a battle with the beat, it was like the beat fighting one way and the rapper fighting the other, you know? To fit in, to make the scene fit. And nowadays kids, the first song they release, usually comes already fitted with the beat, everything comes with flow. Auto-tune is also a tool that I think helps them nowadays. I don't really understand it, but I see that the kids play with it and you need a skill, it's not just - ah, you put auto-tune on and you're singing really well. You need to have a skill and be comfortable with it and dedicate yourself to get it done. Some people use it just for aesthetics. There are people like Dino d'Santiago, he's not hip-hop but he's from the urban culture, he sings stupidly well and has auto-tune and you listen to the songs and it's really auto-tune. It's an aesthetic question. I think that the urban music scene itself, not only hip-hop, is in extreme evolution, both in Portugal and abroad.

How do you define yourself as a musician and what are the biggest influences on your work?

I don't really consider myself much, you know? I don't have much time to think about it. Imagine, I am a very simple person and I think that as a musician I am also very simple, maybe a bit more perfectionist. In the music part than in the life part, in the life part I'm a bit more laissez-faire, in the music part I'm a bit more focused. I don't really know how to explain it, it's really hard to characterize me as a musician. In fact, what stresses me in life is my work. What a person has to think around everything the public doesn't see. The public sees a three-minute song - I've been thinking for two years about how I'm going to release that three-minute song. Of course I have musicians that have influenced me indirectly, I also have people from my area that have influenced me directly, but the biggest influence, this is a bit of a cliché but it's true, is what you go through in life. For example, the time of the pandemic, I find myself thinking "I have nothing to say! What am I going to write about? They're sending me beats and I'm like "Yah, I'll write." but then I start thinking like "What have I done in the last six months?" I even think I'll talk about the other years but then it's complicated. So the biggest inspiration ends up being, it's cliché but it's true, it's life, it's what you go through in life.

Do you think fashion and music can go hand in hand? What do you think can be the influence of one and the other in their respective fields?

I think so, both are lifestyle. And lifestyle comes together. You go to a fashion show and there's music on, right? You go to a music video and you see that people are trying to be a little bit on trend, or even trying to create a trend. Because obviously you want people to see your video, you want to look cool in your video so I think it's a perfect combination of one thing and the other.

What is the cause that you consider most yours? What is your voice and what is the message you try to transmit through your music, your work and everything you do, be it in a work and creative context or more personal?

Music came into my life to get things off my chest. Not to give a message or anything, or to say anything to anyone but to release my demons, let's say. I talk a lot about my life, about my mistakes, about what I have achieved, about what I want and aspire to achieve. So it's a bit like that scene of don't do what I did, look, I did this so if you have two fingers on your forehead, don't do it, do the opposite because I didn't behave well. It's a bit like that, and I think I have a lot of this thing about what I've been through, what I am, a very motivational thing - not a motivational "do it for yourself bro" thing. No, but maybe what you hear in the songs, and you see what I've been through and you see what I've achieved - not that I'm the greatest rapper in the world or in Portugal or whatever - but I think what I've achieved is cool, analysing my difficult voice, analysing my difficult type of music, etc., that I think ends up being a motivation for kids to see like "yeah, this guy, if he made it, why shouldn't I? Which is also kind of what motivated me to push into music, not what influenced me but what motivated me as a job was seeing other artists make it.

How would you define modern Portuguese culture?

I would say that the Minister has to give us more money. If she doesn't we'll all go to the bankrupt and there'll be no more modern culture or anything else.

What do you see as the role of brands, like Overcube, in the voice that modern Portuguese culture should have regarding music, diversity, disruption, inclusion and so many other areas essential to development?

Music is an expression of you, expressing what you feel, what you are. This is reflected in your music, when you make your music it ends up being almost a reflection of your being. And I think clothes also say a lot about a person. It's not that it really dictates what you are, we're not going to judge anyone by their looks, but the way you're dressed, whether you have money or not, and money has nothing to do with your good taste or your personal taste, but I think clothes also reflect a lot on the person you are, so the two things come together very well. So, I'm dressed like this - you're already making me look cool. It's logical, it's normal. Maybe tomorrow I'll show up in a suit and tie and someone else will think something else of me. These are two extremes. But what you wear as a matter of habit, in your daily life, dictates who you are. If you wear a lot of colours, you are usually a cheerful person or someone who is looking for joy; if you wear a lot of black, you are a more serene person. The colours of the clothes you choose dictate what you want to convey. So much so that in a lively music video, or a summer music video or something, people are usually more colourful. In a winter clip, or one where you want to send a more straight message, people are usually wearing black or more neutral colours. About brands, I'll be honest, I think brands could be more inserted in the culture. That's what I think. This is what Overcube is doing, I think very few brands do it. Brands normally, especially the big brands, don't value Portugal, because Portugal is small, etc. And they usually use the campaigns they do abroad and circulate them here instead of doing it with local people, which would probably draw a lot more local public to the brand in question. So I think brands end up losing out there but I think it's also very much in evolution. For example, me in 2017 having a sponsorship, a rap guy having a sponsorship, this wouldn't fit in anyone's head. And it's 2021 and we have a rap guy doing ad campaigns for supermarkets. Mainly clothing brands can gain a lot of exposure through music videos, through interviews, concerts that artists give to thousands of people and I see few artists with sponsors and support and doing campaigns for brands. I think this has yet to evolve further, although it is already evolving.