Brighton based, 21-year-old music producer, Kai-A has big plans for 2018, with his EP ‘w You: The Prelude Tapes’ already making heads turn.
Claiming Soundcloud brought him his success, he has since been recognized by DJ’s from BBC 1Xtra such as Jamz Supernova and Tim Westwood.
We caught up with him to see how exactly he balances out a music career with uni and found out who would be his dream dinner date.
How did you get into music and find your style?
It took a while if I’m honest to find my style, and I’m not even sure I’ve found it yet – there’s still a journey to find it really. But I think it started a couple of years ago, when I started taking music seriously. And it came from a bunch of different artists I guess – I love the music from Soulection. I love the music they put out and that really drove me to make music and start developing my sound. I also take inspiration from people like Drake. I think artists like that really inspire me to find my own direction – I mean we’ll see what happens with the next project, it could sound completely different from what I’ve already released!
You said “when you started taking it seriously”, what did you do before that?
About three years ago, my parents were asking me what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and it was quite a big question that was already in my head. I was like, right let me just do what I do best and let me study music and see where that goes. So, I started studying at school and that made me think about it in a different light. My teachers began to tell me different things about the industry and I just thought let me just go for it. Let me just starting putting music out there.
Soundcloud was the thing that changed it all for me really – that was a game changer. That’s where I started uploading most of my music.
So, what finally led you to your EP?
I always had the idea of dropping a project because I love it when my favourite artists drop a new project, it’s like Christmas. So, I was like let me put out this one project, giving people a bit of me a bit of my mind and see if they like it and the response has been overwhelming!
So before this project, what did you put on Soundcloud?
Before this project, I was putting out singles, singles that meant quite a lot to me as well. There was singles, remixes and collabs that I’ve done on there with other producers. That was it really. Then I dropped my EP across all platforms and that was the first time I put music out across the likes of Spotify and iTunes.
Is it scary putting your stuff out there?
Oh yeah it really is but I know for a fact that it will get reciprocated. I always think input equals output. I also feel like my music can appeal to a wide demographic so I thought to myself, yeah, people could turn around and be like, “I don’t like this at all, it just sounds like a washed up EP,” but people have told me they’ve never heard anything like this before, which I felt was a step in the right direction.
In your EP, you collaborated with a few people, what’s it like working with loads of different people on all different tracks?
I sent my tracks to a couple of friends of mine and they all sent it straight back or I was there with them and they just laid something on it and made it sound ten times better. So, I just thought why not?
It’s difficult working with a bunch of different people sometimes because you have to account for their tastes, their own projects and sometimes differing opinions. It all gets a bit mad but a lot of the people I collaborated with on my EP are friends and the process was very organic. It came from a very musical place. It was a fun process working with a bunch of different people on this EP and it opened up my eyes to the different musical outcomes you can get from a beat that I have made in my bedroom.
I think for me personally, working with different people benefited me in the musical process.
What are you currently working on?
I currently have stuff in the pipeline. I don’t know if I can talk too much about new stuff coming up but there is a lot this year. I feel like this year is gonna be the one. I’ve been saying that every year and I know its cliché but this year, I mean it should be, the one.
Where has the name Kai-A come from?
So basically I’ve been through a load of production. The first name was ‘kayebeats’ but a lot of people would come up to me and mispronounce it like ‘kai-ay beats’. And I never liked the beats part, it made me feel like a Youtube producer. So, I thought let me be classier about it, almost rebrand myself, and drop the Beats.
What’s the biggest thing you want to achieve in music?
What I’ve actually dreamt about is being in a room with Noah 40 & Jai Paul. We spoke about life and producing and I remember Noah 40 was trying to show me his new pro tools and all his new equipment and we were trying to make beats. I mean that would be the dream really, to meet these guys. I think they are two of the biggest inspirations to me. There’s a lot of dreams with this music stuff – I want it to just take off and shoot for the stars.
What would you say your favourite track is that you’ve got out there?
I’d say personally my favourite track is roses are blue, a single I dropped before the EP. It’s actually still on the EP, it’s the intro on there.
I was at uni when I made this track and the whole process behind it stands out to me. It happened really organically. It happened when I was on my ones in my bedroom. I wasn’t really in the right frame of mind at the time and I just thought let me put my shit down and make some music and just see what happens. Then I thought to myself, wow this track just captures every bit of music that I’ve ever wanted to create in one and I thought it was quite irreplaceable.
Do you find it hard to balance your time out with music and uni?
I’m actually quite terrible, it’s a case of me leaving everything until last minute and just trying to cram it all in, in the last few days to get it done. Not that I’m proud of it at all but it’s hard to balance out, especially this year cos its third year. It’s a bit mad.
But I’ve always said to myself let me get my degree, let me actually have that piece of paper. At the end of the day, it’s a piece of paper. You get yourself in to about 50 grand worth of debt for a piece of paper but you need it in today’s world.
I wanna put my all into this music thing, 100%, but at the same time I’ve learnt so much at uni. It’s taught me a lot of people skills, a lot of educational skills, a wide array of strengths.
Have you been doing any live performances?
My first ever performance was at the end of last year in Paris. I wanted to wait for the right opportunity. Then, that came about, so I thought, the first time I would get to perform would be in Paris so why not take that chance? So I went out there, and haven’t looked back since.
I always think to myself, the next performance has to be the ‘right’ one. Like I want to get out there and perform and reach people with my music but I’m also conscious of making the right decisions with where I play. I have a thing where I just don’t want to put myself out there too much. I wanna be a bit more low key – no face no case really.