Stretching back 15 years, grouptherapy. has been a while in the making. Although with roots in different states across America, Jadagrace, TJW and Koi’s paths were destined to cross. All starting out in the entertainment industry early in life, the three friends found solace in each other and in music: brought together in these unique, and sometimes trying, circumstances. This harmony reveals itself in their moniker, grouptherapy., reflecting the cathartic and indeed therapeutic nature of their collective, as well as their insync yet individual creations.
Skip ahead a decade, and a collective was born, one based on shared love but not necessarily a shared sound, which just makes grouptherapy. all the more intriguing. “It’s funny because if you listen to the three of us we have completely different [inspirations],” Koi laughs over Zoom, “it’s almost like you would not think that we could do anything together”. But they can, and it’s undeniably a blessing as proven by their latest project, there goes the neighborhood., a 13 track mixtape blending their vibrant selection of influences into one cohesive creation.
We meet the three friends and collaborators to find out just how grouptherapy. came to be, and where it will take them to next…
Jadagrace: It’s forced us to get extra, creative. We couldn’t go to locations that we usually want to go to to get inspired, we can’t have like a whole crew together. So we’re really forced to get super creative with our ideas. It’s rough right now but we’re doing it.
Koi: Yeah, it’s interesting because we’ve had to do Zoom sessions and calls like a lot, a lot of zoom calls which is wild as I hadn’t heard about Zoom before. So we’re on zoom like every day and it’s hard because it’s better for us to always just be in a room together, but I think we’re just making it work. I’m super happy with everything we’ve been able to do during this time and I’m proud of all of us because I know it’s been tough for everybody.
Jadagrace: It’s definitely been weird. With ‘raise it up!’ for example, I wasn’t gonna do a video at first but then I saw because of quarantine at the time all these parks were just open, nobody was there because it was really hot. So either I could not do it because it’s too hot or I could just push through and give it a go. [Laughs] I’m really happy with the way it turned out, and I just wanted to really come up with an idea that was really captivating. Because of coronavirus and quarantining it feels like everything has to be different right now: you really have to show what you’re made of. I’m really excited about the way that it came out, I’m very happy with it.
Koi: It’s weird because the first two weeks of quarantine definitely felt like they were not real, it was like the world was ending. Then it was cool like everybody just needed to stay inside and then all of a sudden it’s like a month’s gone, two months, three months, four months… I think, honestly just one of the funniest things that’s happened is how many times TJ has just shown up at my house, or I showed up at his… You don’t really plan to see anybody it’s not, it’s just one of those things where you have to accept that you just need some human contact, even if we have to sit across from each other, it is awkward let’s just link up and do something together because it’s so hard it’s so hard, especially in the beginning for you right TJ because you were in the crib, pretty much by yourself, which was crazy.
TJW: Yeah, I am. I live alone, so I was quarantining alone. A pattern I’ve noticed in quarantine is that it was fun, then scary, then everybody got into a really good routine which was really nice for like two months, and then, everything went to shit. But I think that was the thing that ended up getting us through, whenever things got hard, it was just like, I need to see somebody’s face right now.
Koi: Yeah, definitely. You’re right like that is a big reason why we chose the name and I give all the genius credit to TJ for that… We were all trying to come up with ideas and…
Jadagrace: I think he already knew it was gonna be grouptherapy.
Koi: But it’s interesting for me because in the beginning, making music definitely was our therapy. I think actually, at least for me personally, listening to music and making it quarantined was more therapy for me. Like most of quarantine I’ve been listening to a lot of my influences, to a lot of music, which I think is also a form of therapy. I took some time off from making music to listen and I think now tapping back into making it, it’s exciting because there’s a whole bunch of new ideas and things.
Koi: Oh my gosh, it’s funny because if you listen to the three of us we have completely different ones, it’s almost like you would not think that we could do anything together. Lately I’ve actually been super obsessed with Biggie’s catalogue: I always listened to it as a kid, I’ve grown up knowing this stuff but over quarantine something about it just really resonated with me. I was able to go back through like Ready to Die and Life After Death to look at his lyricism and his cadences. It blows my mind that people today are still not able to reach that level of genius…
Jadagrace: Yeah and I’ve been listening to like old Destiny’s Child, which I really have been tapped into lately. I’ve been doing like a lot of like harmonies in background vocals in my songs lately.
Koi: TJ what have you been listening to bro? I know it’s something I’ve never heard of but…
TJW: Yeah, actually I’ve been listening to a lot of really left leaning pop music lately, I’m really drawn to it. A lot of SOPHIE, some Charlie XCX, a lot of ARCA. Also just a lot of alternative soul music like Blood Orange, but also like I’ve been doing a bunch of deep dives into mid to late 80s music. When the invention and evolution of the 80s was turning into the groove of the 90s, sort of when the New Jack Swing was starting to become a thing… That sort of shift in the era when everybody was like ‘synthesisers are the only thing’, and then everybody was like, ‘Okay, let’s try and start making this more feel a bit more natural again’.
Koi: It’s funny because I think we did naturally and didn’t even realise we were doing it… We’ve known each other since we were kids and we were always just creating little stupid things to get better like videos and silly songs, lowkey trying to do grouptherapy. when we were like 13!
Jadagrace: And it wasn’t good. [laughs]
Koi: Ha yeah it wasn’t too good. Yeah, and I think after trying for so long we just got really good. We thought we should do this for real I guess.
TJW: Yeah. I feel like it was always going to happen in one way, or another. And it did luckily for us. It happened when we got to a point where we were ready for it.
Koi: Yeah, I mean, if it started at 13 it wouldn’t have been good.
TJW: No, no, no.
“Normally growing up you learn who you are and what you want to do, then you go do it, but for us it was sort of all happening at once."
Jadagrace: I feel like for me, I’m a totally different person than I was then. I got put into the label machine and ended up doing everything that other people told me to do, and I was so used to it because I was so young, I just thought it was the way that things were. But when I started making music with these two and started coming up with my own ideas, I figured out what I wanted to say: it was a really different experience, it was a fresh start for me. So I’m proud of the things that I’ve realised and discovered about myself, along with grouptherapy.
Koi: Yeah, it’s interesting I think grouptherapy. sort of catapulted all of us out of that phase in our lives because, at least for me, I was able to really figure out who I was outside of my career. I think that’s something that a lot of young people struggle with when working in a certain industry is figuring out who you are outside of the job that you do. Normally growing up you learn who you are and what you want to do, then you go do it, but for us it was sort of all happening at once. So grouptherapy. was a way for at least me to just rap about a bunch of shit that I felt like was me, and figure out what that means. We sort of went out of the lines a little bit and tried a bunch of wild crazy stuff: I remember we all went through a phase of dressing really weird a few years ago [laughs], we were just trying some stuff… But I think it was important to help us figure out who we are.
TJW: Yeah, we were trying things and just being weird because we wanted to figure out who we are, we’re just unpacking ourselves. In a way grouptherapy. is like what you do in actual therapy: you have to sort through this big bucket of things made up of who you are, who you will end up being with your past, your family’s past, a bad experience, your habits and you pull out the stuff and you like build yourself from there. We’ve had to do that, personally and creatively, so the music has been the thing that’s helped us do both.
Jadagrace: I feel like we didn’t really realise how much it did then, but I started realising as we got older…
Koi: Yeah it hit like a tonne of bricks! It’s tough because there was a lot we enjoyed with what we did as kids, that’s the weird thing. It’s not one of those situations where our parents made us do it and we hated it, it was something that we wanted to do and really enjoyed and were excited about. But I think, like with anything you do, they are tolls that come with it. At that age we just weren’t equipped to be able to, like TJ said today. unpack and sort of deal with it. As we’re getting older even now there’s so many things that I sort of look back at, at least for me, and I don’t remember doing it. The other day I was tagged in something on Instagram from some show I did, and I was so confused, it was me as a kid in some outfit but I had no recollection of it. So it definitely has affected our psyche, but I will say I think I am grateful for it because I think it actually gave me an advantage in terms of being able to navigate my career, I learned a lot of stuff that I wouldn’t otherwise have known.
Koi: Yeah, we grow way faster in some and then in other ways you’re behind. We were all home schooled for example…
Jadagrace: Socially it was crazy, I would disappear for like five months and come back, my friends would be like oh hi…[laughs]
Koi: Exactly! No, it really is. I think that’s really why we have all been around each other for so long. We have a large outer circle of friends who have also been working in the industry since they were kids. The three of us have known each other for so long and we’ve seen each other go through so much shit as kids and beyond. There’s things that only they can relate to, you know, only we know what we’ve been through and so I think it’s nice to have somebody to talk to that really gets it. I’m gonna hold on to you guys forever.
Koi: Oo okay! We’ve never been asked this question that is a great question…
Jadagrace: I’m going to be real and say, the worst… The worst thing is when people call us a band. [all laugh] Like, no, we don’t play instruments, we don’t do all that. It’s hard to explain to people sometimes like we’re a collective.
Koi: So true. I would say, the worst thing for me is probably the fact that I’m in a collective with my best friends, because I can’t get mad at them in the same way I could a coworker or a business associate. They’re like my family you know, TJ is my brother I’ve known him forever. So I think the thing that makes it hard sometimes is when we’re working we have to remind ourselves that we’re working; when we’re rehearsing or when we’re writing, we’re not just hanging out. But I will say that is the best thing too: being able to be on stage and be like, ‘oh these are my best friends, the people I grew up with and I’m actually doing something amazing with them’. Seeing Jada on stage performing ‘Bounce’, is the most terrifying slash amazing thing ever. Seeing TJ perform ‘Powerball’, I swear to God, it will change your life. Having known them from that young age when they didn’t believe in themselves and they didn’t think they would get to where they are now, that is priceless.
TJW: Honestly I would say the same thing. The best thing is that we are all really hard workers and when we encourage each other to work we can get a lot of really great stuff done. The worst thing is that these are my friends, so when we all are tired and we’ve been working all day and we all just want to be stupid, slack off and not do anything, it’s so easy to do. It definitely frustrates Jada the most for sure, she’s like “Stop being stupid we have work to do”…
Jadagrace: That’s our dynamic.
Koi: Yeah and we’ve made it this far so it’s working.
Koi: It is definitely something that I think people won’t have seen coming. Especially based off of our last project. It’s funny because I was talking to Dee Lilly, our executive producer, and he was just saying it’s crazy because all of these songs were made pretty much over a year ago so it’s really, really exciting that we finally get to give these to the world. It also feels a little scary because it’s got some things on there that I think we all are holding close. Personally I have a record on there that I’m scared to let the world hear, but I’m also excited. It’s going to be something that I know we all are just really proud of, more than anything else I can say that with confidence.
TJW: I think it’s also something – I hate this word, but not in this context – that is really diverse. Not to say that there are all different types of people on this record, more that it’s showing what we can do. We’re sort of flexing a lot of the different things we can do. You know, there may be two songs that are in either the same genre or similar genres, but they’re all wildly different, which is a lot of it was a lot of fun to put together. It’s a lot of fun for us to listen back to and hopefully it’ll be a lot of fun for the listener to enjoy.
Koi: Honestly, the beauty of what we do is that you know we may come out with another grouptherapy. project or we may come out with a Jadagrace project, we may come out with a TJ project… Me and TJ have been talking about doing a mixtape together for the longest so that might come out. The possibilities are endless and that’s the beauty of grouptherapy. This project is really 0.5% of our catalogue so I think we want to give this to people, see what they think about it and then, based off of that, decide what to do next.
TJW: We already sort of have a mindset of that like we just work. We just put the work in, and then the art itself will let us know what it’s supposed to be like.
Koi: Who knows what’s gonna come next…
TJW: Exactly, this mixtape is all songs that we had been working on because we liked them and we wanted to like get them to a point where we felt like they were finished. Then after a while we kind of turned around and we were like, we have the next project, it’s done. So we’re just sort of living by that philosophy, we’ll keep on putting the work in and then we’ll find it. It’s divine inspiration, you’ve had this thing all along. This is the next thing.
Koi: Yeah, and that’s what I love about this project, it really does feel like all of these songs have been screaming at us for the last year, like ‘do something do something do something’ so it’s really exciting that we finally have.
Press play on grouptherapy.’s ‘there goes the neighborhood.’ below now…