I spoke rather highly on Monday about Krts latest EP Hold On out on Project Mooncircle next week. The guy makes ill productions that will take you on a journey, utilizing many styles and sounds but always keeping the vibe at ease. Listen and learn as you read on.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up all around from Pittsburgh, PA to spending a small amount of time in Augusta, GA. Mainly, my time was spent in a grimy little hood called Beltzhoover which sits behind the Southside of Pittsburgh.
Your bio points to The Art of Noise as your introduction to music, give us your audio biography from there on…
Art of Noise was more or less my introduction to electronic music with hiphop, jazz, and classic all fused together. My father and mother filled my ears with Weather Report, Pat Matheny, Chic Corea, Van Halen, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Yes, Level 42, Genesis, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Tomita and that was around the time of me still using training wheels on my bike. I had to feed myself with the help of my older brother with Hiphop and current R&B. I guess MTV when it actually played music helped a lot with that. My first cassettes I bought on my own were Kurtis Blow Party Time?, Beastie Boys Licensed to Ill and Jon Bon Jovi Slippery When Wet.
Between the ages 9 and 11 I lived in the south where I started listening to Miami and Orlando bass music. My older brother and I used to sneak and turn up our father’s Technic stereo system while he was at work and would bang out DJ Magic Mike, Tech Master PEB, Furious Bass, 2 Live Crew and tons of others. We still maintained our love and constant play of Tribe’s first album, People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, Gang Starr’s first hit No More Mr. Nice Guy, Eric B. and Rakim’s Follow the Leader and really couldn’t get enough of Too Short’s Life Is…Too Short album.
I moved into Beltzhoover, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when I was 11 or 12 and it was all about the entire Southwest crew Suave House, Dr. Dre, DJ Quik, early Outkast Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, MC Eiht, Spice1, Ice Cube, Geto Boys, 5th Ward Boys, and UGK to name a few. Plus a mixture of, Grand Puba’s “I Like It”, The B.U.M.s, “Elevation”, The Nonce’s “Mix Tapes”, The Roots Do You Want More? and tons of others. Still though, Gangsta Rap had the most play for sometime.
My whole style changed in high school around my junior year. I was done with the gangsta rap styles. Plus, no man listening to E.L.P. (Emerson Lake and Palmer) can really be “Gangsta” can he? So, my style went from thugged out to Boom Bap underground Hiphop. My braids and blue flannels turned to more skater/underground hiphop gear. I began finding record shops, punk stores, and graffiti spots that sold mixtapes. Especially, any new DJ Clue mixtapes!
Thanks to a late night TV show randomly shown on MTV called AMP-TV, I heard for the very first time, Roni Size, Autechre, Sqaurepusher and others. I really didn’t know what to do with myself. I heard those same styles again on a college radio station randomly and got to hear what they sounded like on big speakers. That was my first entry to hearing bass really being experimented with on a different level.
In College, it was all about Undeground Hiphop, Jungle, and especially Indie-rock. My best friend Matthew Doran got me into the early sounds of Sunny Day Real Estate, Juno, Blonde Redhead, Modest Mouse, Morrissey, June of 44, and Karate. All while I was constantly going to Jungle and DnB parties in whatever dirty location they could fit a bunch of kids into. I was so into Dillinja, Bad Company, John B., LTJ Bukem, Congo Natty, Tech Itch, Ram Trilogy, Andy C., Teebee, Ed Rush and Optical, Calyx, Source Direct, Konflict, the list just keeps going.
From there, we get to here.
Does your father enjoy your work?
He does. He gets upset if I send some music to my little brothers and not him. I always hear, “So, Bradley and Cedric are telling me about this new track and I haven’t heard it yet…” I usually laugh and quickly send him an mp3. He and my Mom both keep up with my music and are highly supportive. Actually, my entire family is.
What direction did you take musically upon your arrival in BK in 2003?
Around that time I was really into DJ Shadow, Prefuse 73, and Four Tet. Prefuse 73 I found on Napster way back when Napster was the place to discover new music around the world and for free. So I ended up on the glitch-hop side. Prefuse just gave me everything I wanted. Hard kicks, crisp snares, a theatrical sound and that raw East Coast Boom Bap feel with a mixture of a commercial Hiphop sound. He could make his music sound like I needed to uprock and then within that same beat make me need to close my eyes and just drift away from reality. Both artists were inspirations to making my music like a soundtrack.
How has that transformed and evolved?
I think music today, especially in the underground sounds, we’re allowed to go further, experiment more. It’s a great time for music so, I’m allowing myself to do go where I haven’t gone before with less fear of, “will they like this?”
Really, I have to give a lot of what transformed me to listening to Jay Scarlett, Front2blaq, DFRNT, and DJ Jamad mixes. I put a lot of my love for the emotional side of indie-rock and fusion jazz into my music now which is what I was doing before anyways. I left that side of music around the time of Remixes for Beards and Flannels and really missed it.
For your remix project last year you choose a pretty eclectic group of songs. What was the inspiration behind those selections?
Oh man, Remixes for Beards and Flannels? That was inspired by my neighborhood and at the time living closer to the ground zero of hipster-hood Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I was just looking to make catchy music for people to dance to. I think I quickly got bored though with some of the cheesier 80’s songs to remix and had to keep myself entertained by putting in music that I thoroughly enjoyed such as Gang Starr’s “Dwyck” and the Crooklyn Dodger’s “Crooklyn”. I made the Michael Jackson, “Rock with You” remix the same week of his death actually. A tribute more or less. Side note – I actually saw Michael Jackson live when I was a kid in his original “Bad Tour”. Best live show ever.
To your knowledge has Q-Tip, or any of the tribe guys, heard your take on “Once Again”?
Nope. Not to my knowledge. If they have, I’d like them to hit me up with a “Yo this song sucks” or “Yo this track is dope. Thanks!” Preferably, the second statement would be great.
Did you check out the Tribe Documentary that was recently in theatres? Thoughts?
I’m ashamed to say I haven’t seen it yet. I’ve had at least 20 people yell at me for not seeing it. I know I will though and really want to. Just with all the new things happening, I’ve needed every bit of spare time I get to work on music.
How did you connect with Project Mooncircle?
It’s a really cool thing actually. I did a Youtube video of myself playing a track on the Hold On EP, “Rooftop” live and Gordon of PMC posted it on their Finest Ego facebook page. It was a great surprise especially since I was going to perform in a few weeks in Berlin with Comfort Fit (Project Mooncircle) and DJ Day for Suff Daddy and LeBob’s Beat Freaks night. It was a lively show and I was heading outside to get a breath of fresh air and before I got outside Gordon stopped me, introduced himself and some of the PMC crew in the staircase to me. They were all very cordial and complimentary of my set and projects I’ve been working on. Gordon asked if I was on a label and I replied, “No but, I am looking for one”. When I got back home to Brooklyn him and I chatted on Skype about projects and I wanted him to hear the Hold On EP. He really enjoyed it and discussions started from there about releasing it.
Have you been overseas since signing with them?
I have not but I am looking to get right back into action over there again. Like, right now! Every time I think about it I think I get a twitch of some sort as if performing across seas is like crack. I’m addicted to performing period and outside of my element is a major rush.
I’m looking to perform on the west coast of the U.S. before this year is out and especially head back to Europe. If I’m lucky somehow squeeze in Japan but, I need some booking agents or something. I put together the mini Euro-tour myself on the grind and had to work out all the logistics. It’s a lot of work and trying to fit in time to work on my set is exhausting. I’m glad I did it and learned a lot about booking across seas but I’d love to have a booking agent combined with my own hustle.
How long were the songs on the Hold On EP in the works?
Well, the first song I actually worked on was “Whatever” just about a year ago. I sent that track to just a few people including Front2blaq, Jay Scarlett, DJ Jamad, and a few friends. The response was unlike anything I thought I’d get. Especially after doing Remixes for Beards and Flannels. I started to feel that I needed to stay right there on that page of music styles. I was really tired of making semi-poppy and catchy remixes and really needed to make something meaningful and personal. Best way to put it – Its like, if you eat too many sweets or junk food and you start to feel like you need some real food in your stomach. Some real nutrition. If you collect all the time together, it would probably be 6 months or so.
Will you be following it up with a full length?
I will be following up with a full length and it’s already in the works. I’m hoping the full length will show some growth from the EP while still maintaining the vibe I carried in Hold On. My life has had new experiences since then so, the music can only grow or change.
Are you looking to collaborate with vocalists?
I love working with vocals. It’s actually one of my all time favorite projects. Especially when I get to rearrange the vocals. I’m hoping to collaborate with my mother Stephanie Wellons and other family members. My mother is an “oldies” singer in Pittsburgh and is how she’s always made a living. She’s toured around and still gigs around 4 times a week, every week. My entire family is musically talented so, I’m hoping to get my niece, father, sister, brothers, and whomever else on my next project. I also want to experiment with Grime. I love Grime and feel I could put a new swing on it. American Grime? Could work? Could not too.
Project Mooncircle has quite the stable of talent, would you be open to collaborating with anyone in the camp?
Anyone? YES! They’re all incredible and I feel completely honored to see my name in the mix of all of them.
Have you had an opportunity to experience much of your label mates work?
I have experienced Robot Koch’s work a couple of years ago. I actually performed with him a long time ago in Brooklyn. A crew I used to run with that no longer exists called Powerstrip Circus brought him in for one of our nights. The crowd was nice all night and Robot Koch sparked it off and just tore it up.
I then learned about Comfort Fit through my friend Hazeem who is a dope musician of the beat scene in Berlin. I watched Comfort Fit’s interview on Finest Ego and they showed a small clip of him performing his set live and it was so dope I said to myself, “What the fuck is he doing with the mic and looping this vocoder’ish sound with it? I gotta hear more.” So, I found more of his work on youtube, bandcamp, soundcloud, etc.
Since then, I just went down the PMC roster finding everyone’s work. A big roster filled with a lot of talent and everyone on there is incredible, original, and really going at it strong.
What is in your ears today?
No joke, since this interview I’ve been listening to Comfort Fit . On my morning commute I was listening to Robot Koch’s mixtape for the Solid Steel Radio Show and a mix that just came out by Gordon of PMC called “Re-Entry To Earth | Fear Not The Dark.” Now I’m on some Raekwon, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Soul Position 8 Millions Stories, and just a shuffle of good Hiphop today. It’s a Hiphop and all influenced from it kind of day. Tomorrow may be nothing but Joy Division and Sunny Day Real Estate all day.
Last words? Shout outs? Rants? Words of wisdom?
Yo, big thank you for this interview. I love talking music and my experiences with it. I truly hope you enjoy the EP and my future projects. Big respect to the whole PMC crew!