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KO WIN – Fountain of Youth | Lush Tropical Pipes

Philadelphia-based musician Sean Cohen better knows as KO WIN presents us a stunning sunny jazzy lo-fi hip-hop beat with Fountain of Youth. KO WIN’s music has been in the lofi, chillhop, and jazzhop genres. KO WIN is a prolific music educator and middle school band director inspiring young minds to pursue creativity holistically. In this direction, he has been a quarterfinalist nominee for the Grammy Music Educator Award in 2021. On Fountain of Youth, we have KO WIN teaming up with fellow Pennsylvanian artist Ian Gordon John aka fwn. for a track with a laid back summer vibe.

KO WIN brings a stunning horn section to the track with trumpets, trombones, flutes and all on Fountains of Youth. The vibe on the song was inspired by Cohen’s trips down to St. Augustine. The song begins with a jazzy slow beat with guitars. The chillhop aura builds up to give us a catchy main motif hook. KO WIN’s signature use of brass and woodwind instruments. The track manages to balance technicality while expressing the right feel. We can hear restrain in terms of the arrangement with the right musical phrases uses at the right moment adding to the feel of the track.

Cohen has tasted stunning success with collaborative EP Dusty by Nature I and II with Azido 88 and Moon Ghetto with more than 10 millions cumulative streams on Spotify. The song got added to the Feel Good Beats Spotify editorial playlist as well further propelling KO WIN’s reach to wider audiences. The song is reminiscent of the rich horn work and evocative feels of Snarky Puppy. Fountain of Youth is a song with a tropical feel which will get you grooving and where you can witness arrangement prowess with musicality.

We get to talk with KO WIN on Fountain of Youth in detail.

1. You have been nominated as a music educator for the Grammies. As an educator, how does that affect your music making process?

Being nominated for a GRAMMY was a huge deal to me– many fantastic educators are always in the running for Educator of the Year, so it was an incredible honor to be considered for it back in 2021.  I love performing and writing music, but my true calling is teaching and mentoring students.  Playing a small role in young musicians’ lives to guide them through the world of creativity is a big responsibility.  I do my best to make music in a way that can hopefully inspire my music students to consider finding their own creative outlets– that can mean learning how to play covers at a local open mic, writing songs in a band with their friends, or just producing/mixing music at home in their bedrooms.  Music is for everyone, and I try to remind students that they can achieve amazing things if they set their minds and hearts to their goals.

2. What was the recording and mixing process like for Fountain of Youth? What was the imagery you had in mind for the song, like did you think that the song should sound like this or the music came first?

The recording and mixing process was fairly straightforward– Ian sent me the stems to the beat he initially put together, and then I recorded layers of horn melodies, and restructured the tune so it fit an appropriate narrative.  The flute parts are actually snippets of me playing and then re-sampled and triggered (similar to using a Roland SP404)– sometimes I do this to reimagine note patterns that I have played during the tracking process.  It’s kind of like playing a software instrument of yourself.

As for the inspiration and imagery, I was going for a summer vibe that would transport a listener all the way to St. Augustine.  I go there usually once a year with my wife… it is a fantastic town in Florida and the oldest settlement in the United States (its history goes all the way back to 1565!).  The sounds and melodies are intended to paint a picture of the beach.  Hopefully listeners can practically feel the sand between their toes when Fountain of Youth comes on.

3. You have released four singles this year, how do you maintain such productivity?

Sometimes when I compare myself to my peers in the lofi community, I feel like my creative output is pretty low!  I have some peers who release one to two tracks a week… I really admire how prolific and creative they are.  That said, I simply try to push myself to write when I need an outlet to release some emotions or energy.  Recording music is a very cathartic process and I try to allow that process to be organic.  I am challenging myself to increase my creative output this summer and beyond.

4. How did this collaboration with Ian Gordon John aka fwn. come about?

Many of the lofi producers and beatmakers are actually in Europe, so you don’t always get to talk to American musicians in the scene.  fwn. and I connected via Instagram, and quickly realized that we were both in the same area of Pennsylvania– we decided that we HAD to find time to collaborate!  Ian laid down a fantastic beat that he felt would work well with some brass/woodwind instruments, so he passed it over to me and gave me the opportunity to put a bow on the track.

5. How is the music making process different on this song versus your usual solo efforts?

When I am working on a solo project, my workflow tends to have a lot more circling back to edit original steps or processes.  Sometimes I can be a tough critic on myself!  For that reason, I love working with others and collaborating… because it is all about learning from your teammates and friends.  The lofi beats scene is all about empowerment through collaboration and I was really thankful to experience that with fwn. — it turned out much better than anything I would have done alone!

6. Your music feel reminded me of Snarky Puppy horn section and even some Hiatus Kaiyote. How do you balance the eternal feel vs chops question in music, that is, the balance between keeping music technically engaging while keeping it musical?

First of all, I am a huge Snarky Puppy fan, so that’s a great compliment!  Thanks for that.  This is an interesting question… I do think there is a way to balance technical engagement with organic musicality.  To find that, I prioritize simplicity– I always start my writing sessions away from horns, only with my voice.  If I can sing the melody and it gets stuck in my own head, I know it can be approachable to the general public.  Depending on the piece, I choose to lean into the simplicity or find opportunities to embellish with some added compositional creativity.  I aim to please all types of listeners alike!

7. We can hear your use of restraint in the song in terms of melodies, arrangement, etc How do you decide whether to keep a particular element or not to keep, or rather how do you approach silence in music?

 I always tell my students that in any piece of music, the absence of sound is just as important as rhythmic and melodic ideas.  Think about the best speeches delivered by great leaders… oftentimes, it is the pacing and pauses in speaking that actually creates the impact of the speech itself.  When I am recording, I try to listen to the narrative of the music underneath the horn parts I am laying down. I like to find opportunities to create a “dialogue” of sorts with the instruments, by using call and response and focusing on the contour of my melodic lines.  All the while, making sure the music has opportunities to breathe and not be too crowded– just like a strong speech!  It is important to note that fwn. did a fantastic job laying down a rhythmic bed with lots of space and opportunities to highlight silence… or to fill it.

Check off Ko Win’s Fountain of Youth here!

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Discovered via http://musosoup.com

Promotional Disclaimer: The content in this post has been sponsored by the artist, label, or PR representative to help promote their work.Promotional Disclaimer: The content in this post has been sponsored by the artist, label, or PR representative to help promote their work.

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Guitarist. I write on music and praxis.

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