[ K S R ]
Manchester's ever-evolving singer/songwriter speaks on his latest release 'Take Control', his love for the Manchester music scene and being brave and growing with his sound.
What was the main inspiration that went into your latest EP ‘Take Control’?
The whole EP is just about taking control of your destiny, really. Being able to accept who you are, that’s my number one thing. I’m very much happy with the person I am but I still want to be a better person. For the time being, I’m happy with who I am and I feel like everyone should be able to be happy with who they are and should be able to listen to too much noise and negativity, you know? I kind of wanted to write the whole EP from that perspective.
Who did you work with in creating it and how was the process of working on the project during lockdown?
So, I actually created ‘Take Control’ last year. I've had the whole project since September. I remember last year, I was on holiday with my family and I came back and that same day I was in the studio with LiTek for like eight hours straight and we were just cooking up beats, writing and trying to create a whole base, as that was the first time we had ever worked together. So, we were just trying to get to know each other on a working basis. Firstly, we knew each other through football and stuff but we didn’t know each other in musical terms. At the time, we didn’t even know we were making an EP, we were like ‘let’s just make some music together’. I felt by like the third session, we knew we could actually create an EP.
Do you feel creating without the expectations of making an EP can make the music more personal?
Yeah, I feel that a lot. Again, I’m not someone who works in a studio with a producer but I’ve now realised it’s a better thing for me - I tend to create my best work then.
"We’re not trying to put
ourselves in one bracket ..."
So, how have you been staying creative throughout lockdown?
I’m fortunate enough to have a studio at home, to be fair, I’ve been doing a lot of session work and working with a lot of producers from the Drum and Bass scene - which has been really, really good. Also, I’ve been working on potentially an album … could be an EP, we don’t know yet! Something’s coming …
Do you feel that collaboration can aid creative growth?
Definitely, I’ve been able to learn a lot more about myself, especially when it comes to writing. Working with the likes of Drum and Bass producers compared to R&B producers, it’s not that different but when it comes to writing, the styles are slightly different. I’m only writing maybe sixteen bars when it comes to Drum and Bass and then when it comes to R&B/Soul, it’s definitely like 32 or even 64, it’s very long. I’ve enjoyed that whole process of changing how I approach things - I feel like my skills have developed and evolved in a better way.
Do you feel that dropping a string of singles this year has allowed you to experiment with your sound and evolve?
Yeah, definitely. I think myself and my team, we try our best to try and experiment all of the time. We’re not trying to put ourselves in one bracket but we do enjoy trying to evolve and change people’s perspective and gain new listeners with every release. I feel like with my singles, they’re not always the same, so again, when you compare ‘Flex With Me’ to ‘Stylin’, it’s very, very different. We try our best to experiment and try and pull out different sounds.
"I’ve always been able to do the likes of a Hip-Hop track, I’ve just never wanted to drop that."
How do you feel that this latest release differs or shows your growth since last year’s ‘Unfiltered’?
It’s changed, it has changed a lot but I would say for me, it hasn’t. I’ve always been able to do the likes of a Hip-Hop track, I’ve just never wanted to drop that. On ‘Unfiltered’, I was kind of in the bag of being an R&B and Soul artist but now I’m very much down to do whatever. Nothing’s really stopping me, if I wanted to drop a pop track, I’ll drop a pop track, or R&B or Soul, I’m down for whatever, if it feels right - I’m going to do it.
What were the main influences for ‘Unfiltered’ and what sounds you wanted to explore for your debut?
I was still trying to find myself as an artist, to kind of reveal to the world this is who [ k s r ] is. It was still a time where I was working at home, so I was recording myself and everything and the team that I have today wasn’t even around, I was doing things off of my own back. That process was so good, I learnt a lot from that process, probably a lot of things I wouldn’t do now but I just learnt how to be very independent. Also having the backing of other people, it was that kind of thing where I was just enjoying and trying to learn.
How was working alongside KinKai, REMI and Time Elijah on that project?
Well, working with KinKai and Time Elijah they’ve been my friends for a long time, I actually grew up with Time Elijah from Primary School. We just met, when I was in College he was handing out his USB on the streets asking for them to check out his music. I remember actually picking it up and we still make music here and there. Even with Kai, we’ve known each other since Primary school.
With REMI it was so different, I remember meeting him at Outlook Festival for the first time. A friend of mine introduced me to him and we just had a real heart to heart moment. It was so good, he was always keeping in contact and then one day I had the beat for ‘Queen’ and just thought REMI is the perfect guy, I could really hear him on this. So, I just took my shot and sent it over to him, he was down to work and that’s it.
"Everyone’s a family, it’s always possible to work with one another in Manchester, it’s just about finding the right time."
Are there some local artists from Manchester that you would recommend?
The likes of Layfullstop, IAMDDB, KinKai, Time Elijah, Abnormal Sleepz, Dami Sule, Nina Cobham. There’s great musician’s all over Manchester, the people I’ve mentioned are people that I’ve always wanted to work with. I hope in due time, we may.
What’s the creative scene like there?
It was great, it was one of those things where nobody’s ever really trying to look down on you, if you’re a great musician and people can sense that, they’re going to work with you. Everyone’s a family, it’s always possible to work with one another in Manchester, it’s just about finding the right time. Manchester’s so small everyone kind of knows each other, someone always has a mutual friend.
How was creating your latest visual for ‘Stylin’ and how important are visuals to you?
Myself and Ben, this is a relationship that’s been going on for a year or two, we always work with one another but we never had the right time, then eventually I was like I need to get Ben on this because I know he’ll kill it. The whole inspiration was just being able to flex, chill and I just wanted to involve my friends in the whole process as well. I’ve never been able to do that, but I’ve always wanted to try it. Just involving them in the whole thing like these are my friends and family.
What has been your favourite visual to create, so far?
It would either be ‘Stylin’ or ‘Queen’, they’ve both been really up there for me. The process for ‘Queen’ was probably the most exciting for me because I involved my sisters. It was very, very personal.
Which artists first inspired you to get into music and who is inspiring you today?
Definitely Etta Bond, for me, when I was in high school she was an inspiration, lyrically. Her stories are always so good, I’ve always had a connection with her and today we still have a really good friendship. Having a friend that’s an idol of mine, it’s kind of strange but it’s been great. D’Angelo, I would say he and Miguel, vocally, have inspirations for me as well, they’re just great musicians and vocalists.
If you had to recommend five artists to your listeners, who would they be?
What’s coming up for the rest of 2020?
To be fair, I’m going to be cooking a lot of music. Hopefully, I might be dropping more music, I might not be, I might just leak some music just to keep people on their toes and so they know I’m still around. I don’t know, I might chill, I might not, I might surprise everybody and just release some tracks on SoundCloud or something ...