Grammy Winning Sebastian Kole Q&A
Q: Who is Sebastian Kole?
A: “Lets see.” Sebastian Kole is a singer, songwriter, producer and a big brother. Basically, that’s my most important job; is being a big brother.
Q: How old were you when you started singing/ writing music?
A: The first song I remember writing was when I was five years old. My Mom said I wrote one at three, but I don’t remember that song. So yes, the first song I remember writing was at five and I wrote it for the kids in my church choir and yeah, I’ve been writing ever since.
Q: Tell me about an opportunity that you had to write a song for someone. Who was it and how did you get that opportunity?
A: The first major song that I wrote that like, did something big, was in the 6th grade. I wrote a bunch of songs for my school and one of them was selected for a K-Swiss competition that won everybody at my school a pair of shoes. *chuckles* I thought I was the best songwriter on the planet at that point because I won a national competition; and you couldn’t tell me much then.
After that I started writing for a couple gospel artists I just kind of knew around town and my first major artist I’ve ever written for, was Jennifer Lopez and that happened almost by happenstance. A friend of mine who was signed to a label at the time, ended up coming home and we hooked up over that summer to write some hooks and one of them made it to J.Lo.
Q: What inspires you?
A: People inspire me. Um, I love telling stories. I love hearing people’s stories. Going into a session with me, it’s almost like a therapy session because I’m really intrigued by your story. I’m interested in what your story is and how you want to tell it. That’s really my favorite part of my job. Hearing new stories and figuring out new ways to tell that story, different genres in which to tell it in, and different melodies, the phrases…
We only get to write a couple of songs, right, I like you, I dont like you, I love you, I used to love you; stuff like that. And just coming up with new ways to say that. Not just cliché true but true to that person’s experience and thus true to life experience. So, when you tell the story, it doesn’t sound JUST like everyone else’s story. There’s a reason why they call you to write so you have to show what that reason was. What was the benefit of me writing the song, versus everybody else?!…
Q: Your social media presence is undeniable. Are you involved in any podcasts currently?
A: Nah! I really kind of want to be but I’m not very technology savvy so that’s why I don’t have a podcast. But I do this thing on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays on Instagram live with a friend of mine named Landis Green. We just get together and talk about relationships and other stuff. I probably should learn how to put together a proper podcast and just go with it. I do like social media because it’s a lot of fun but if I made it into something like a job, I wouldn’t be as fun. So, I just have a good time with it.
Q: Okay so, back to the music. Tell me about your Grammy nominations. How many Grammy nominations and awards do you have?
A: So let’s see… Two R&B Albums of the Year, I worked on with Ledesie when she won the R&B album of the year, and John Legend and the R&B album of last year, nominated for Reggae Album of the Year, didn’t win. This year I’m nominated for Best Soundtrack for the United States Versus Billie Holiday Movie Soundtrack. I wrote two songs on it and actually sang one song on it called The Devil and I with Charlie Wilson. So, I’m really excited about it.
Most people don’t get excited about soundtrack work but soundtrack work is how I got into music. The first song I did for J.Lo. actually, ended up on the Step It Up 4 Dance Revolution Soundtrack. I’ve always really liked movie soundtracks so I’m really excited to be nominated for that. I also write all the stuff for Alessia Cara’s first album, when she won Best New Artist. I’ve been around Grammys and have been getting Grammy “noms” for a while now.
Q: How does it feel to be watching a television show, it’s ending, and then your song plays?
A: That is probably one of the strangest feelings I’ve ever had in my life. Anytime I’m anywhere and hear anything I wrote, the first thing I do is pat down myself to make sure it’s not playing from my phone, cause you know, you get a song back and its done, and I would’ve listened to the song for months before it came out. I might not have known it was released that day so when you hear it, you’re like, “oh wait, I know that song.” The only person that knows that song is me. To hear it somewhere else is the weirdest feeling. It feels like someone broke into your brain, but it’s really enjoyable.
Q: What are you currently working on?
A: Actually, tomorrow I will be meeting up with Leslie Odom Jr who starred in Hamilton, whose starting a new project. A couple of upstarting artists, one named Ayana Lee, I’ve been doing a lot of work with her as she has a couple of singles out right now. I’m just kind of bouncing around, meeting new people, and working with a lot of upstarting artists.
There’s another artist named Bennet.. that’s on Atlantic and we have done some stuff together and going to finish her album at the top of the year… Just moving around and seeing where I can be helpful which was really my goal. Just to be as helpful as I can.
Q: Tell me about your most memorable performance.
A: I’ve had a lot of memorable performances. I would say the most memorable performance was when I had a chance to perform with Allesia at the Hangout festival in Alabama, this big music festival. This was like before she was first really getting popular and she let me come and perform with her which was great.
And again, hearing your song on the radio is weird, because its like someone is in your brain, but it’s a difference hearing something you wrote being played on the radio, and then hearing thousands of people singing it. It’s like, “Whoah! How do you all know that song? Like.. all ya’ll know that song?! That’s crazy!” That was really big. Probably one of the craziest things that has happened to me. Hearing that many people sing something that came out of your brain is just weird.
Q: Where do you plan to take your career in the future?
A: Really… That’s a hard question. I don’t really know. I’ve been getting into some executive work now because I want to be a part of helpul young artists naviaget this system. Its kind of a weird time to do it because things are so different. People are doing things independently that they don’t really need a lot of the red tape that major labels provide. So they can just go straight from their room into the marketplace.
I think because of that sometimes a young artist may miss out on developmental things, like things that will just make them an overall better artist. Things that make them better musicians. I want to get involved with helping people do that. Help them better express their truth. So, that’s probably what’s next for me is the executive stuff.
Q: If you weren’t writing music, singing, or performing what would you be doing?
A: Writing music, singing, and performing. I would be doing it at church or somebodies bar. This is all I’ve ever wanted to do in life, but I do have other interests. I own a restaurant, bar, and a couple of other businesses but that’s because music has made me enough money to where I could afford to do it. But this is all I’ve ever wanted to do. If you ever come to Birmingham, stop by Bar Sebastian’s and Michaels Steak and Seafood, come check us out. We will be there!