Eclectic Vocalist, Kolton Harris Discusses New EP, "4 Freedom"
Harris Discusses His Songs that Call for Immediate Action Amid Social Justice Issues in America
By Bridney Casillas
A songwriter in the truest sense of the word, Kolton Harris' artistry is never wasted. Every word, every beat, and every pause has a purpose that is placed intricately throughout his latest release, 4 Freedom.
"It was a very inspired process and everyone gave their heart and soul to see it released," says the Groton, Connecticut native.
Released on July 4, 2020, 4 Freedom, touches on the topics of police brutality and 400 years of white supremacy includes songs with impactful titles such as "I Can't Breathe," "More Than Apologies," and the fan-favorite, "Together We Will Win."
"The message becomes tangible in this way and humanizes it while not losing the political reality of its actualization," says Harris, 27.
The instrumentation of Together We Will Win is what Harris describes as "superhero theme music" and sounds like a band of warriors who are getting ready to fight. It has a unifying sound, along with synths and grooves that are perfect for radio airplay.
"It grooves and floats you like you are on a cloud with some thunder and lightning. When it was finished, we were elated that it came together so dynamically."
Black Joy (the single version) took the longest to finalize and record, according to Harris, who says it was a battle to get the right sound. The EP was produced by Harris, and his frequent collaborator, Jaden Williams handled composition and various instrumentation.
Additional production, engineering, mixing, and mastering was handled by Zachary Koval at Lunara Studio in Connecticut. The project took less than a month to create and release all five songs. As far as his creative role goes, Kolton served as the creative director, songwriter, and visionary vessel.
The cover art was created by Connecticut-based artist Roshane Stephenson. Stephenson listed to some unfinished versions of Harris' songs and painted what he pictured the album cover to be.
"After seeing his work, I knew that he had to be the one to make the cover art... The result is the powerful work we see today," says Harris.
The name, 4 Freedom derived from a thought Kolton had around what freedom for Black people in America currently looks like, and he summed it up into four things: Reparations, Rights, Representation, and Respect.
The four R's are a part of an umbrella under which the many cries for freedom equate to and can be viewed across various industries and sectors in society.
The progression of the EP takes listeners on a journey through the current social climate as it relates to racism and the realities of social justice issues. Every song is explicit in addressing the harshness of what is happening in our society, starting with "I Can’t Breathe," and ending with "Together We Will Win" which is a call to action for everyone to come together.
"I think it is far more important for them [White allies and the media] to internalize the message of the value and sanctity of lives in the midst of injustice. It goes deeper than the movement, I want to see a transformation."
Harris considers the whole process of his project to be a highlight because of how quickly "it all came together," as well as the final listen with Koval at 7 AM on the day he needed to submit the EP onto streaming platforms. Harris says he and Zac looked at each other with sleepy eyes and smiled, each giving an affirming nod, which he refers to that moment as being serene.
"As an artist, I am a student of emotion, narrative, and the many greats who paved the way for opportunities like this. During the process, we found ourselves channeling Fela Kuti and a myriad of others who evoke power through sonic expression."