What inspired Language Arts & Verbal Abuse? How did it start? Why?
I needed some more income (laughing). But to really think about it…shit man, I just wanted to be able to speak my mind, you know? Voice my thoughts and feelings without interruption. Live enough life, examine it…And eventually you’ll have something to say about it. If you plan well you might wind up with something to show for it, too. I wanted to record my current state of being and to just be expressive musically, artistically, and vocally - To create something to reflect on. I’ve been recording since about age 13, learning on my own, helping others do the same, and just observing the music scene from as many perspectives as I could think of. At one point I guess I just found myself being far too eclectic to hold it all in. It’s fascinating to realize that someone else may find themselves in a similar circumstance and/or state of mind that I was in during the creation of Language Arts & Verbal Abuse and will be able to relate. I think it’s fair to assume everyone has a certain capacity, faculty, and ultimately a desire to relate with others. On a far more practical and human level. I wanted to be able to maintain a comfortable living off of my art form(s) - to really live a life where I enjoy what I’m doing to earn a living.
How does a song evolve from a mental thought to a record? What is your production strategy?
Whoa…ummmm….Really, the way I do it, songs already exist ‘somewhere in the air floating around’. I just make it my business to be able to hear it, so I pull it out of the ether one note at a time, one word at a time. It doesn’t always come to me all at once. I just have to keep listening for what it wants to become. Then it’s just a matter of finding things and sounds in ‘reality’ that I can use to make it perceptible to the human ear (and eventually add visuals). As the parts come to me, I have to arrange them in the right order, record it, and do my be best try to capture its essence/feeling in hopes of one day making it available for others to hear and experience. Clairaudience…I think that’s what it’s called. Some of the songs I come up with have nothing at all to do with me, or my personal life, and may never get released. (all songs on Language Arts & Verbal Abuse are pretty personal) Even more songs will never manifest and just remain existing in the air. My creative process is just that…creative. I don’t really have it nailed down to a science yet, and like it that way for now.
How did you choose what made the cut for Language Arts & Verbal Abuse?
Aside from how various tracks from ‘the vault’ sound together, musically and thematically - I just put a considerable amount of thought into it, meditate on them, and in some instances solicited the opinion of some of my favorite people. First and foremost, the song has to feel complete to me, nothing to add, and nothing to take away. But ultimately, I usually just pick tracks that evoke emotion, have a shot in the dark at lasting forever, and a decent revenue earning potential. This isn’t strictly a paper chase, so the method of selection can get complicated
Motivation…What led you to music? What drew you in?
I’ve played drums since I could hold sticks and grew up in a church setting playing the drums and guitar. I was always fascinated by the church band because they always seemed to be having the most fun out of the entire congregation of people. Didn’t’ really start listening to hip-hop, rap, r&b/rock, or any secular music at all rather, until about late middle school. Even then, I wasn’t really listening to any words, just jamming to beats. One day, my dad made me throw all my CD’s in the trash. Mind you this is in the days of dial-up internet, Kazaa, Napster, BearShare, and typically an overnight wait to download a handful of songs you wanted to burn to a CD. My father didn’t feel I was mature enough (yet) to handle the content presented by mainstream media and radio nor did he feel that such ‘blasphemy’ could have any positive effect on me…but that just piqued my interest even more. So, eventually, we made a deal, where, in order to be able to listen to anything secular, I had to write/type out the lyrics and explain the song to him and he would give approval or not. Ironically, this gave me an even greater appreciation for the craft and artistry found in music and eventually led me to become a lot more lyrically conscious. Now, I’m grateful of it because it allows me to accept the ‘responsibilities’ of an artist.
How often do you create music?
In my head, all the time. In reality, not as often as I’d like. I look forward to the day I can wake up and create the first song I hear in the air and as many as possible after…but… life if just full of conflicts of interest sometimes, and I have to accept that this scenario may never pan out. I can go long periods without actually listening to or making music. I like to think it encourages me to be more creative and come up with the most original sounds and concepts I can. I’ve maintained a 9-5, ‘on the side’, as a Mechanical Design Engineer, which has made it challenging to dedicate time to my craft. I’ve been encouraged by many people to take the leap at doing music full-time, and as much as I’d love to…I have to make ends meet however I can in order to support myself, my music ventures, and desire to travel and vacation. I also have to make time to organize all the stuff that goes on in the background, like running the business end, and updating websites Hopefully, I’ll be able to generate a sufficcient income through the various revenue streams available via the music industry.
Who are your influences? Who’s on Language Arts & Verbal Abuse?
In general, I’m inspired by the variety and diversity of the world’s artists. Putting together my first album over the course of pretty much 3 years, granted me a tremendous appreciation for anyone who takes their craft serious enough to create music in a professional manner and have the confidence enough to present it to the public at large. I’d be remiss to not pay homage to my circle of friends, family, musical comrades, and label mates: My sisters RhyanMichele and Logie Yoda aka Elimay, $tu $imon, Reign (Hoptown803), Oscar Lee, J. Marquis, Bennie Sav, Chris ‘Chicotronica’ Williams, Ryan Knott, Jamey Rogers (engineer), F.O.K.U.S.E.D., Quelle the Prophet, P.S. and Young Skywalka, my sweet grandmother, Viola, Pastor Richard, LaRhonda Renee, and my triple O-G, my dad, ‘Lando’. Some of my favorite artists to come before me: Andre 3000, Erykah Badu, Earl Sweatshirt, Big KRIT, Curren$y, Jay-Z, Corey Gunz, Joey Bada$$, T.I., Kanye, Pharrell, Cool Keith, Shaolin’s very own Wu-Tang Clan, John Coltrane, J. Dilla, Kenny G…I could go on…organizations like Clipse, Neptunes, PGE600, Dreamville, Introspective Minds, Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, Cineman Shots and of course Skitcha Records to name a few.
What type of themes are incorporated into Language Arts & Verbal Abuse?
In short…LIFE! I try my best to keep it positive but it’s real, raw, and mine. There are plenty things I say that are intentionally meant to mean a few different things as a play on contrast and cohesion. This album addresses struggle, triumph, love, sex, temptations, drugs, conspiracy, religion, spirituality, camaraderie, ambition, stress, patience, ideas of forever, personal growth, reflection, fun puns and a bunch of other stuff. It’s fairly introspective, however, my goal was still to make it something relatable that made enough sense to evoke emotion and inspire.
What’s the easiest or hardest things to deal with from a creative and/or musical standpoint? What lessons learned?
The easiest thing is being creative when I’m in the zone. Sometimes the hardest thing is just getting into that zone and maintaining healthy life balance, because…a zone can take you on an adventure you aren’t typically prepared for. Life doesn’t stop just because you decide to dedicate time to working on something that may never come to fruition. You can take a $1500 computer, a $120 hard drive, and a $50 USB stick, load them all with invaluable information, ideas and music. Then that computer can catch a virus and/or die, that USB stick can get easily lost. This really happened, and that hard drive saved my life - 1 out of 3 is not bad but damn sure was a scary reality check. Things are fragile. Other than technical difficulties, translating ideas to your audio engineer is not always as easy as it seems. It takes some effort to get on the same page with others you may be working with - namely coordinating studio sessions over distance and other’s schedules on top of funding it all. You have to be flexible and patient. I definitely gained a better understanding of what to plan for putting a project together
The future for Kevin1100…Where do you see yourself in 1yr? 5yr? 10yrs?
I used to be able to answer these things 1yr, 5 yrs, and 10 yrs ago haha. I’d love to say I’ll be a gentleman of leisure building a family and profiting from my craft. At the very least I see myself looking back and saying damn you tried hard as hell even though you could’ve tried even harder. As far as music, I don’t plan to ever stop creating, and have already mapped out what I want to do for the next couple albums, but time will tell. For now I have videos/visuals to shoot. I wish I had documented more of the process of this first album.