Sit down with an artist: Kocean’s Kaitlyn Thomas influences ‘rage state’ with the sound of Kocean

Kaitlyn Thomas finds her calling and encourages Kocean fans to embrace the chaos within the music
Kaitlyn Thomas performing at a Halloween themed house show on Sept. 15, 2023. Photo Courtesy of Maya Mejia
Kaitlyn Thomas performing at a Halloween themed house show on Sept. 15, 2023. Photo Courtesy of Maya Mejia

Front and center on stage, with flaming red hair, shredding a baby blue guitar, is not only the voice behind Kocean’s lyrics but the mastermind behind the band. The sound of Kocean is a familiar melody dominating nightlife at San Diego State University that all started with a teenage girl who wrote songs about f—boys and mean girls from the safety of her bedroom.

 For Kaitlyn Thomas, pursuing music was a happy accident that came from playing a few keys on the piano while she was home alone after school. She wasn’t a complete stranger to music, but after taking five years of classical piano and a few guitar lessons, she hated the thought of playing. It took being alone in her parent’s house with a baby grand piano to dust off her old sheet music and fill the silence around her with music. 

Her mom was also influential in helping her see another side to music by teaching her how to harmonize and buying her first ukulele. Eventually, Thomas began to stray away from classical piano and discovered her own sound through “joke songs” she wrote on the ukulele with her friends. 

With some wired headphones and a computer, Thomas experimented with producing her own music to post online.

“After school, I found my own joy and love with it… from songwriting, producing and playing these instruments. It was not planned, but when you do anything, you kind of just build upon what you know. You grow and you change within any art business,” Thomas said. “That’s kind of how it got here because you start out with your soft indie music and you find your voice as you go on.” 

In high school, that same soft indie music inspired Thomas and her friends to form a band. 

Under the name “Kaitlyn Elizabeth,” her songs had the chance to be heard beyond the walls of her bedroom and on stage. She and her friends performed together in front of live audiences at local venues in San Diego, including the House of Blues, SOMA and Che Café.

Kaitlyn Thomas, the lead singer and mastermind behind Kocean. Photo Courtesy of Maya Mejia

It wasn’t until college that Thomas transformed into a punk rock performer and brought her band Kocean to life. Her latest project can be heard across the house party scene at SDSU, drawing in college students with the promises of moshing and crowd surfing.  

Thomas hopes the energy she brings on stage will encourage Kocean fans to push boundaries and not be afraid to embrace a little chaos. 

“I just like being my loudest self. I’m a very extroverted person but on stage, I get to do it with no excuses… I can chug a beer, shake a— or say ‘f— men’ in front of a crowd of people and that’s what they want,” Thomas said. “This is my opportunity to be this extra persona that I can’t normally be because society is binding.” 

The beauty of Kocean is how unexpectedly the band came together. After a few jam sessions and phone number exchanges, Thomas found herself ripping chords on stage alongside Isaiah Hand, Nick Kusior and Zen Yokel — three guys who became a second family to her over the years. 

As friends, they’ve been able to support each other in their music endeavors. But as band members, they’re able to create something extraordinary through Kocean.

From performing on backyard stages on Mary Lane Drive, Kocean will experience a change of scenery opening for Denzel Curry at Greenfest this Friday, March 15 at the CalCoast Credit Union Open Air Theatre. On the same night, the band plans to release their first extended play “Just a Girl”  to tease the first three songs of their upcoming album. 

In her final year at SDSU, Thomas hopes to bring Kocean fans the wildest performances and recordings of their greatest songs to further cement their legacy among the Aztec community.

“This year is dedicated to just playing and recording and promoting all the songs because we just want everyone to hear it,” Thomas said. “To my SDSU fans, y’all rock, y’all f— and I can’t wait to see you guys at the next one.” 

About the Contributor
Serena Neumeyer
Serena Neumeyer, '23-24 Social Media Editor
Serena Neumeyer (she/her/hers) is an aspiring journalist major with a passion for writing and storytelling. She is a third-year working towards her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and also has a minor in interdisciplinary studies as a part of the Weber Honors College program. Although she has begun to branch off to other sections, Serena found her start as a writer in the Arts & Culture section of the Daily Aztec and only recently began contributing to the live broadcast as a multimedia reporter. Outside of her studies, she loves attending concerts and music festivals, some of which have been the inspiration behind her writing. In the future, she hopes to enter the realm of broadcast someday and use the skills she’s learned here to prepare herself as a reporter in the field.