We had the good fortune of connecting with Fleece Kawasaki and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Fleece, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Craig Ferguson once said in his autobiography American on Purpose “between safety and adventure I choose adventure,” when I read those words I took them as a mantra that I in many ways continue to live by, and I’ve found that for me there’s no other way to do it. Moving to LA is the number one example that comes to mind, I came here on such a whim, I literally made up my mind to come here a month before I actually made the move. I came out here with little saved up and knew that I’d find my way, I have this unequivocal faith in myself that life will work out even if things seem scary/unpredictable, and that all my missteps will lead me to somewhere new/great.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
While my name is Kiazi Halpern, I perform and release music under the moniker Fleece Kawasaki. When I was growing up in Bed Stuy it was rare to find other black folks who were into indie rock, and guitars and anime and the like, but strangely I feel as though I’m among a generation that was inspired by Toonami and MTV. Growing up however I felt isolated, and I’d always been a bit of introvert, focused on writing and drawing as my original intent was to be an animator/graphic novelist. I’m very proud that I’ve in some ways become an actual professional musician, that dream seemed so far off to me when I was growing up, I didn’t know a single musician at that age. I’m also fairly proud of my debut release, I mean, for me to finally finish something is huge, because I’ve always been my own biggest critic, which in turn only served to hold me in place for an exceedingly long amount of time. To get where I am now I had to teach myself guitar, and figure out how to book shows and as someone who had no connections to music prior to learning it all seemed quite daunting and impossibly far away. Honestly getting here was finally just a matter of taking a leap of faith and putting myself out there, which I did by busking with my friend Jeremy Jones on the LA Metro, while working on recording my own original music, that translated to shows, and other opportunities. If you have a dream and you’re afraid to go for it just do it! If anybody tries to talk you out of your dreams they either never had a dream or they gave up on theirs.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Okay so you’re visiting LA? Here’s the plan (pre-and post Covid): Clifton’s Republic in DTLA for Happy Hour, then perhaps exploring little Tokyo? Day two, hike at Griffith Park, it’s cliched but cmon the views from the observatory are incredible, there’s also some great food spots in Glendale! Day three, Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City, that place is so anachronistic and amazing, and almost beyond description, while in the area maybe check out Kenneth Haan Recreation Center. Day four: okay you should really just try Dave’s Hot Chicken if you’re someone like me who wants to eat a chicken sandwich but you’re put off by the politics of chic fil a! Any location, maybe stop at a dispensary and enjoy the wonders of legal THC in our humble Shangri La that is Los Angeles. Day Five Alamo Drafthouse baybeeeeeeee, see a movie, get some good food in ya, it’s all there. Day six, brunch at Sal’s in Hollywood, then keep on Melrose and have a beach day in Santa Monica. Day seven, by now you’re stuffed, wined and dined, but have I mentioned the quality of the street tacos here? Get some goodness in you and then get out town Ya silly goose! Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My producer/primary collaborator Layne Smith helped me bring my first release to life, when I moved out here I came with the intent of finding those who could do what I could not, and the knowledge and techniques he brought to the table proved invaluable in making The Desert Flower EP. a reality, and he continues to help me, we are currently working on the full length follow up Fake Frowns From Happy People. On top of this he plays music in Glass Beach, who are a kick ass LA based group churning out some great content and they’re all around great folks! If possible I’d also like to shout out Jeremy Jones who played viola on my EP, the guy is a genius in everything he does, and has a lot of focus on his music. When I first moved here we began busking together and that definitely changed the trajectory of my experience out here for the better

Website: fleecekawasaki.com

Instagram: Instagram.com/fleece_kawasaki

Twitter: fleece_kawasaki

Facebook: Fleece Kawasaki

Youtube: https://youtu.be/Fb3HVnkETe4

Image Credits
Leronna David Asambadze Nikita Belomestnykh

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