From making beats in his bedroom to producing in the studio with big-name rappers like E-40, Roddy Ricch and SOB X RBE, San Jose producer Koast has come a long way without ever really leaving home.
Koast began 2023 with one of his strongest beats yet, the clubby “Perfect Timing” with East Bay rapper Iamsu! Next week sees the release of another Koast beat, with “Bonita” on the new album by Baltimore rapper Shordie Shordie.
Growing up in a musical household had a strong influence on the young producer.
“I grew up around music because my dad’s a DJ. [As a kid], I was always watching him do his thing,” Koast says. “He was doing it back in the day when they had turntables and all that, so I grew up going to record shops for hours just flipping through vinyl at a very young age. I learned to love and appreciate all types of music.”
Koast was into skateboarding and had many other hobbies as a youth, but all of that changed when his father bought him the recording software FL Studio when he was 12 years old. Then he started to really think about making music.
“I just started learning the software on my dad’s old, beat-up computer, learning how to make beats,” he says. “It wasn’t really until about high school when I started considering myself a producer, like, okay, I’m not just making beats now, I’m working with artists.”
Still, even as he has grown in stature, Koast does most of his production at home. Despite having access to high-end studios all around the Bay Area, Koast still finds himself most productive in the comfort of his own home in San Jose.
“I would say the majority of my work I do in my own space, my home studio,” he says. “I do go to a lot of other studios but I’m usually going wherever the artist I’m working with are at. I’m out in San Francisco, LA occasionally. I’m all over the place, but primarily home. I think that’s where I work best.”
During his high school years, his work began to perk ears around the Bay Area. Artists on the verge of blowing up started reaching out for beats, which became the gateway for him to work with artists who were even bigger and more recognized by the masses. It all began with a group out of Vallejo.
“I started working with SOB X RBE and they were kind of buzzing at the time and not just in the Bay. I was getting some traction with them and that really opened up doors to work with a lot more greats who were paying attention to what they were doing and who was producing them.”
Koast is a versatile producer, citing as inspiration a wide variety from the last two plus decades, including Mustard, Metro Boomin, Ye (aka Kanye West) and Timbaland. He analyzes the approach of these successful figures, while putting his own spin on things.
“I started off making a lot of hyphy, West Coast stuff, [but] I wanted to branch off to a much wider audience so I started making more commercial stuff. That’s when I started doing more of the trap stuff,” he says. “I try not to box it into a specific genre. I like to do whatever sounds good. You know, I want to make good music at the end of the day.”
Coming up with beats is far from a difficult task for Koast. To keep it fresh, he maintains a simple approach.
“My main thing is just having fun with it. I try not to overthink especially since I don’t play any instruments,” he says. “Despite all the stuff I’ve done, I’m really learning how to play piano and all that stuff to take it to the next level.”
On top of his recent beats for Iamsu! and Shordie Shordie, Koast has many plans for the future.
“I’ve got a ton of music in the vault, not from me but from other artists. The unfortunate part about being a producer is you don’t always get to decide when the artist is going to release the song that you worked on with them. But a lot of good music on the way.”
Iamsu! (produced by Koast)