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K.One - K.One Interview

14 Oct 2011 // An interview by Dilemma

So your debut album was released on Monday, how is it being received?

K.One – it’s been very well received, a lot better than I thought. I was quite anxious and excited to have it come out, I just wanted it to be out. I wasn’t really nervous about peoples reactions because I was happy with the album. It’s been cool I haven’t had any bad feedback yet, that’s a good thing. The amount of people that have showed support and love has just been overwhelming.

How would you describe the album and the process of making it?

The album is a journey, we recorded the album in two weeks. The market these days is based on singles, so we spent a lot of time on singles and by touring and gigs and that sort of thing. I treated that process as a sort of reminiscing for two weeks on the last 18 months. I wanted to be a bit more mature not just focusing on the coming up, but more the things I’ve learned.

Yeah, I read somewhere it took you two weeks to make, and that you would have a track laid out and then you would write… is that hard work or talent? Because some artists do take years to finish an album?

I think it depends on your writing process and writing style. I write in the studio where as a lot of other people will write at home and they will have lyrics everywhere, with me if I did that I would keep changing it all the time. When I’m in the studio and I just lay it, then I have to let it go. It goes off to master and I’m out of luck, I cant change it. I find as an artist that is a good way because you need to learn how to let go, otherwise it would take me 3 years to write an album. It is one track, bang, and then I could let it go and move on to the next one. It also created like a constant sound through out that two weeks. I had a lot of tracks before that but they got cut because they didn’t really do justice to what I am doing now, and I have moved on from them. Working with N.O.X was awesome.

The collaborations are amazing, is it different being the driving force or ‘star’ of the song as opposed to being the one ‘featuring’ in it?

So that was cool because you are calling the shots, ah yes I have done a lot of features, so it was good because I have been around a lot of other artists when they have been releasing their albums and it was cool to get my chance. People ask how much creative control you have and you do have all the control. I’m not from a musical background and cant play any musical instruments, so I leave that all up to N.O.X, he knows what I like and I know what he likes and we just work really well together. It was cool to call the shots and have a say in who you wanted on it. It wasn’t just collaborating for the sake of collaborating.

Who would you like to collaborate with next?

The goal is to go international, but I do want to do another project in NZ, I’ve got big goals here. The music industry is so cut-throat that you could be gone tomorrow. Brooke Fraser and Kimbra are the ones I really want to do a track with. It would be awesome. What they have done internationally is really inspiring and to achieve what they have achieved is the pinnacle for all us artists. 

On the album you mix a lot of genres Junipah sounds like Chad Kruger from Nickelback and then ‘Can’t Take That Away’ has like a Motown choir thing going on, where do you get your inspiration from?

I think it is because I listen to so much music myself, I don’t just listen to Hip Hop, obviously Hip Hop is my first love but I listen to a lot of rock, I listen to a lot of dance music and that. I think that’s why I really loved collaborating with Junipah and Jason Kerrison it was cool because I am a fan of Opshop. He heard it and admired what we were trying to do, it was cool because I didn’t think he would want to be a part of it. I listen to a lot of music and don’t just stick to one genre and just try to experiment with so many different sounds. But the challenge was because we have so much different music to make the sounds flow and I think its blends and works well.

Is keeping it fresh a conscious decision you make before you write or do you write a song and think wow you know who would be perfect for this hook… ?

I write the tracks first and I had written like 90% of the album all the chorus’s and hooks are on me and you kind of just have to find a voice, it is who suits best. You could just chuck anyone on there for the sake of it. I was trying to write the rock hooks and it was good having Junipah there and go 'bro, you need to show me how to do this', so that was cool. A lot of the tracks are there and you just have to find who suits best.

If this were 5 years ago, what would you have been doing on Friday morning, instead of being interviewed by an amateur music writer?

I would have been at work haha, 5 years ago I was out at Forestry, I was there for 7 years, and a job like that takes it out of you, it was my life. It would have been a Friday so waiting for the weekend and an early finish to have a beer. 

So is being a top selling Artist the dream, or is there more?

Eventually I want to have my own label, I really like the thought of developing artists because I’ve seen it happen to me, I was just a boy from the bush I had never performed live before you know, it was my first time to be in the studio recording, not just on karaoke mic’s. I love that aspect of it, developing an artist and watching them grow, I’m always looking on youtube and watching out for who is coming up, it’s always interested me. I got an insight working with Patriarch from Illegal Musik when I was coming up, I think its really benefited me and I can see myself doing that in the future. I hate when talent goes to waste.

What advice do you have for all the up and comers who in 5 years are going to be saying you were their inspiration?

The main thing is to get heard. I was a good example I didn’t have much faith in myself and I used to keep my stuff secret, to the point of someone would come up to me and say "I heard you Rap?" and I would be like “No where did you hear that?” I didn’t want people to laugh at me, but you really have to get heard. Study the industry, its more than just making the song, and if you are serious about following that path you really have to have a good idea of the industry and what its about.

So all the up and comers can just come slip you their demo’s??

Haha yeah yeah, I do this full time now, so I do have more time to do that, I go on youtube and facebook seeing messages saying can you check this out, and you do find things that you hear that you really like. Its cool, when I was coming up I had some songs on Bebo, in the Bebo days and I got an email from PNC, it wasn’t a I love your stuff I want to sign you, he just said I really loved the songs and I really look forward to seeing what comes next. People underestimate how much power you have as an artist and just one little message like that can really inspire that person to keep going.

Do you get recognised on the street now?

Yeah that’s buzzing as well, not so much in Auckland, but when you go to small towns they really appreciate it and they don’t get that many artists coming through so its like Michael Jackson came to town. Going back to my home town, having little kids saying that I went to school with their older brothers asking me to sign stuff, its really cool that you have that connection and they are part of that journey. Some people are like oh I didn’t recognize you cause you always have those sunglasses in your videos. A lot of artists think its annoying but I think its cool, it shows that a lot of people out there are supporting and I would be more worried if no one recongnised me.

How are your daughters handling your fame? When they talk about you to other people do they call you dad or K-one?

They are really loving it, my oldest told me ‘Dad, we are like so cool at school now.’ And its cool but I tell them to make sure that those people want to be your friends for the right reasons. Its cool to see their smiles and even when I go home they will run up and hold my hand and say there’s my Daddy. They call me Dad, my youngest is my biggest fan, she would never say it to me but my mum said that when my album came out they asked her who her favourite artist was and my oldest said Nicki Minaj and my youngest said K.One. I head her humming my songs around the house so that’s really cool

You were kind of discovered by the Producer of Illegal Music right?

He is the pretty much everything of Illegal Musik, founder all of it.

Is the industry more a case of what you know or who you know?

Yeah well its obviously not what you know cause I didn’t know a lot. But I really didn’t know a lot of people also, so I was just trying to get heard. So I just sent my demo in, he listens to everything and is always on the look out. One disadvantage for me was that I wasn’t from Auckland, cause up there you can get on Urban Radio, but down in Masterton there isn’t a lot. I think who you know is a big part of it. I had also met Young Sid and he told me to go to Illegal Musik too, so yeah he helped me out too.

Hanging out with the guys from Illegal music, J. Williams, Vince Harder, DJ CXL etc, do you guys go to each other when you need help with like a writes block or to run some lyrics past each other and get their input? Or is more solitary and like an artist doesn’t show their work till its complete?

Nuh it actually is help, J. even when he records I'll go to the studio to help, he helps me more with the melody sides, so we all help each other with our strengths. My strength is the lyrics side of things and his is the melody side of things and when you put them together it works. We can help it’s a shared effort, we are all boys anyway so its not like trying to keep it secret its more like we try show off our stuff over a few drinks. Like the other week Tyson Tyler showed me one of his new ones, and I rang up N.O.X straight away and was like ‘Oi, we need to book some studio time.’ Hahaa, its not a rivalry, its more like motivation.

Sounds kind of like sibling rivalry!

Yeah that sort of stuff!

Did you take music at high school?

Nuh I didn’t, I wasn’t that involved with music at school. I was just the kid with his headphones always on. I started off my love of music from an early age as a Hip Hop fan, I was glued to the T.V watching music videos and stealing my older cousins tapes, I got a few hidings for it. That was how it all sort of started I’m not classically trained or anything like that.

Do you think its important to learn all about music like the basics etc or just get out there and practice?

It is good to have a little insight into the industry, insight into how things work you know if you hang out and learn how things work it makes it easier. Some of the kids coming up kinda think that the way to get noticed is by like harassing artists and label owners but honestly it turns them away. You have to learn to be professional, one of the things that attracted my label to me was just my professionalism and the whole getting my demo, there were impressed with the demo and my proposal, I wasn’t on him, but I put it out there and getting them to listen to you at some stage is important. It’s good to have that knowledge and if it happens to you, you can handle it.

The VNZMA are coming up soon, is that something that you would be looking forward to maybe next year?

Yeah that’s obviously every artists goal is to get to the VNZMA’s. Last year was the first time there and it was an awesome experience. I had seen them on T.V in America and I didn’t really know how the NZ ones worked. Last year I was still kind of unknown so I could take it all in, and I wasn’t like J.Williams getting hounded by camera’s I could just sit back and take it all in. This year it might be a little different, but I am glad I had last years experience. I am really looking forward to it. Its cool to have all the artists under one roof and of course a lot of collaborations can happen at places like that and I can introduce myself to all other artists.

You gonna go hunt down Kimbra then?

Haha yeah yeah.

How is the Pacific Music Awards different to the VNZMA’s?

It is really different, like with the VNZMA’s its only one Urban Award, and the Pacific Music Awards are dominated by the Pacific Islanders, and there are more categories to fall under and more ways of being able to have your stuff heard and recognised. It is also really good for the other groups that find it hard to get nominated for like a VNZMA, they get recognized. I am looking forward to that next year. 2 years ago it was the first time I had performed at anything like that and everyone was who is that guy, I loved it. Hopefully next year, we will have a few more artists and awards.

What is something that your fans don’t know about you?

I put myself out there so much with my songs that I don’t really keep anything secret. I would say that I was really quite and shy. When I was a kid I used to cry before speeches cause I didn’t want to do it. My speeches would be terrible and I would fidget, and I think what people don’t know is that being in the music industry has really helped me with public speaking. So you get used to it, and I don’t get as nervous. Like something like this would make me really nervous and I would wonder what to say, but I never knew what to say cause I had no idea what was going to be asked! Hahaaa

Haha, so to wrap is up, you don’t have to do music at school, but you do have to have a little bit of talent, you can just be the shy kid from a small town with a dream of becoming a best selling artist if you really want it.

Yeah it is all about chasing the dream really! That is the big picture. I don’t really believe in everything happens for a reason and fate and all that, I believe in hard work and there is a certain amount of luck involved but it wasn’t because of destiny, I put in the hard work, it happened because of my hard work.

Thanks for your time, K.One!

 

About K.One

K.ONE Unleashed

K.One AKA Kaleb Vitale has risen from relative obscurity to his current profile as one of the countries most prolific hip hop artists. Heʼs achieved in a year what's taken others years to do. With his debut album just around the corner the young artist continues to exceed expectations.

Kaleb Vitale was based in Masterton (Wairarapa region) making a living in the Forestry industry as a Silviculturist in conditions both challenging and dangerous. He built a solid work ethic in this environment and spent long hours honing his musical craft.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for K.One

Releases

Out Of Thin Air
Year: 2015
Type: EP
Far From Home
Year: 2011
Type: Album

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