With The Band: A Personal Profile on Perth Musician Kopano
When I was 15 years old, I was politely asked to “speak” my song rather than sing it in the school play. Devastated, I made the startling revelation that I cannot sing. I like to think my creative talents lie in other fields such as the art as offending family members and the ability to drink wine like water. In conclusion. I’ve gotten over it. My Mariah Carey dreams are as far away as she is at winning that Oscar for, in my opinion an unspoken masterpiece, Glitter. Someone who can sing however, is my good friend and overall dream Kopano.
Kopano, or as her parents call her, Jemma, is a mix of Grimes-meets-Robyn who’s voice is as angelic as her taste for sequins and hair dye. Originally Hailing from South Africa but currently residing in Perth’s northern suburbs, Jemma invigorates what some may call a dull area for Australian music. Jem, as I like to call her, is not just a 10/10 friend but she is a hugely inspiring force in the Perth music scene. The first time I saw her perform was at a slightly dingy venue that smelt like pretentious art students (myself included) and stale beer. She was anything but stale. Her self-taught keyboard skills surprisingly polished beneath her voice. Her inspirations can be easily heard within many of her instrumentals in the forms of heavyweights such as New Order, The Pet Shop Boys and La Roux.
Even though she enjoys performing with her trusted keyboard and the overall sound it gives to each track, she states her voice as her most loved instrument. “All my life I have been involved with music and the arts therefore it only felt right pursuing a career as an artist. I have always been a fan of singing since I was a young child but I only started taking it seriously in high school when I figured out that I could pair piano with vocals and started writing songs to perform at school performances. I studied Jazz in high school as well which really made me understand how to control the tone and sound of my voice, that's when it clicked to me that the voice is an instrument that is just as important as any other.
My first thought once listening to her set for the first time was how easy she made it look. Apart from a rad mash up of Kylie Minogue’s 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head' and Coldplay's 'You're Always in My Head', not only is everything she performs 100% original, but it is honest. Her music speaks of missed loves and lost opportunities that resonate within any human who has lived, not just teenage girls. It could be easy to write Kopano off as another alt-pop, Grimes Wannabe but the authenticity that pours out of her voice at just a mere 19yrs of age cannot be mistaken. Above all, Jem’s determination to succeed will not allow any type of pre-conceptions, something her fans and everyone around her recognises.
Not only is she a genuine performer and an overall exquisite human being, she understands the impact artist’s may have over their fans. When asked about the origins of her stage name she explains, “I started going under the name Kopano in my final year of High School when I realised I wanted to pursue music as a career. Kopano was the name of my primary school actually and means united. I'd really like to become a strong female musician that young girls can relate to and the name, Kopano, I feel embodies that”.
Half way through 2016 and it has already been a huge year for Kopano. July of this year saw a huge progression in the way of her rising star. Opening for Melbourne’s multi-talented Banoffee provided the perfect opener for a fantastic evening. Fresh from touring with national festivals such as Laneway and Splendour In The Grass, Banoffee also released her 2015 EP Do I Make You Nervous, cementing her place as one of the brightest Australian stars to emerge.
A regular at local venues such as Babushka Leederville and The Bird on William Street Northbridge, Jem’s following has increased rapidly, with her sound cloud ritualistically listened to by me and fans alike, (mostly me). Kopano’s newest track, Night Drive, is a synth-pop dream that propels her voice alongside fellow talented Perth artist, Gryff. Not only is this a hugely exciting opportunity for Kopano, but it is also a taste of what her set at her upcoming Big Splash gig promises. Qualifying alongside 31 other hopefuls for the Big Splash Heats, she guarantees her stab at taking home $10,000 on the 11th of August will be her most ambitious yet.
Multi-talented with songs and sequins, she is a true dream. Not only am I proud to say I listen to her music, I am above all honoured (cheesy but true) to be her Friend. Keep on being awesome Kopano, Perth is cheering for you!