Garrett Kato Offers Introspective Track-by-Track for ‘Kumamoto’

If this is your introduction to Garrett Kato, you will need to be prepared for a unique blend of folk-pop that delivers reflective musings on love, life and vices.

On his new EP, Kumamoto, the Canada-born, Australia based artist pays tribute to his Japanese heritage with a powerful look at triumph and trauma, past and present. The album was written during the turmoil of 2020, and the songs were a way of coping with an uncertain future.

“Australia was on fire,and soon after, a worldwide pandemic hit that changed the world for the foreseeable future,” he said. “I began thinking of what generations before us went through, about my grandparents; victims of internment camps of World War II. How strong people can be, despite overwhelming odds.”

This third effort follows his string of powerful releases, including the sophomore album hemispheres, which then saw him perform sold-out shows alongside Damien Rice and Ziggy Alberts and amass over 65 million worldwide streams.

Kumamoto drops July 9, and if you dig it make sure to pre-order!

“Be” (check out the video)
This was one of the fastest songs I have ever written and produced. I woke up and found it on my hard drive the next day. 

When I wrote the song, the world was changing so rapidly, it was hard to not have a level of anxiety and stress daily. It wasn’t until my six-year-old daughter asked why I was so sad and said I shouldn’t, because it’s a beautiful day and we are going to play. It was like she pulled me out of this dark maze into a space of calm and tranquility. With the production, I wanted to give playfulness to the piano and an innocence that is often forgotten once we get older. I feel there is wisdom in kids. They look at the world in such a simple way and often it is that simple. 

“Never Be Us”
My inspiration for this track began when my family and I were locked down because of Covid-19 and we were watching news coverage of the Black Lives Matter protests. My daughter asked why everyone was angry and burning the city down in America. I did my best to explain a very complex issue about the fabric of our society to a six-year-old. My intention was to caution her in being too judgmental towards people of different religions and backgrounds. She didn’t understand why people would treat others differently because of their skin color or race and said that would never be us. When I was tracking the vocal my other daughter Mieko was asking me for something (I have a home studio), and her sweet voice bled into my vocal track. I listened back and thought it was beautiful. So this is my daughter Mieko’s very first feature on a track. 

“Past Life”
Falling in love can be the most surreal and spiritual experience on earth for humans.
Japanese beliefs in reincarnation claim that we travel with our loved ones and even adversaries through generations and lives. We are meant to learn a lesson from our time in this life to open ourselves up to a higher place. These were often the words that were spoken to me by my semi-drunk Japanese grandpa at most family get-togethers. So, when meeting seemingly new people, there is a chance you’ve spent a lifetime together, and while our bodies and minds are clueless, our souls tell us otherwise. This train of thought recently was brought on when my daughter asked what happens when we die. This was my best explanation for myself, so I decided to share it with her and write a song about it. 

“Firestarter”
I wrote this song online over the Covid-19 lockdown with songwriter Ainslie Wills. We wrote it over two days with a certain old-time nostalgia in mind for the chords and melodies. The idea behind the song was to create a sense of longing for human connection which was something the world needed in the time of lockdown.  The lyrics seemed to fall out so easily for two people who had only met each other for the first time a day ago. It was the first time I had written a song with someone online completely. I was skeptical at first, but it worked out. It’s a whole new world now. 

 “Hard Times”
I wrote this song with a friend in LA named Jake Newton. It was the first time we had met and hit it off instantly with one and another. The song started from a baritone guitar riff and quickly grew into a narrative of falling away from someone so close. We had a great time talking about how crazy Hollywood was where I was staying and how often people lose sight of what really matters in pursuit of greatness and fame. We both had friends who had sacrificed so much for their careers and dreams only to have no one standing with them in the hard times. It’s something I always like to keep in mind, to name a price for your dreams. If it’s too high then it’s not worth it.

“Delusional”
Delusional was written with Gordi (Sophie Patton) over Facetime during 2020. Sophie is a doctor and singer-songwriter so naturally, we began talking about Covid-19 conspiracy theories and the mass state of hysteria the world was in. I had recently seen a documentary about people suffering from schizophrenia and how they would believe things to be true that were delusions. We came to some conclusions in our discussion that blossomed into the song that we are all slightly delusional from our overconsumption of media and fear-fueled echo chambers of social media algorithms.

The idea that it is getting harder and harder to decipher what is reality and what is fictional is becoming harder to comprehend. It’s not a negative song per se but more of an observation of where things are heading. Life is becoming more convenient and confusing every day. 

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