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Fresh Kils Interview Part 2

MVRemix: Do you know what caused that to come about?

Fresh Kils: Drake’s name comes up in conversations like this because there’s an “eye on Toronto”. There’s artists that have come out of here that are doing some damage worldwide. So there’s a sense that we’re proud of it so we feel better about things.

Also there’s less competition right? The pie’s getting a little bigger so there’s more to eat. Before, trying to get your album reviewed in Exclaim! or NOW Magazine is just crazy, like who do you gotta know to make that happen? It was like hyenas fighting for scraps. Now there just seems to be there’s more outlets with things being online and stuff. It just seems like there’s more love so people have their guards down a bit more.

The funny thing for me, in my personal experience, is people who come to the studio and they size me up. They look at me and they’ll be like “Well, what does this guy know about my art or where I’m from?” And that’s a legitimate gripe. I mean if I’m an artist, anybody I’m working with I want to be able to trust. But 10 minutes later we got this beat bangin’ and everyone’s having a good time and it flips.

That being said I think the whole idea of “Canadian hip-hop” is a bit of a misnomer because the joke about Canadian musicians is that no one gives a shit about them until they export themselves somewhere else. K-os was doing his thing but it wasn’t until Missy Elliot rocked that drum and bass remix that everybody was like “Oh shit, K-os”. And that’s not to say K-os isn’t an incredibly talented individual because he always was, but it does come down to being able to export yourself.

MVRemix: 2010 was a huge year for you. Some of the albums you’ve worked on have been nominated for a Juno [Vaudville – D-Sisive and Treat Of The Day – Ghettosocks], done work on 5 of the top 10 hip-hop albums on Earshot… You must have been incredibly busy this year I take it?

Fresh Kils: You know what it is? Well, in all honesty, I didn’t work any less hard or more hard on those records than I did on the plethora of records I worked on before. It really is a testament to D-Sisive and Ghettosocks and their ability to really connect and push their art to get those kinds of accolades.

I mean yes, I was incredibly busy last year, but it has been that way for the past few years. What’s been happening is the quality of work has gotten better and therefore the quality of the accolades have come about.

I guess what sorta changed in the last couple of years is instead of working my ass off period, I’m working smart. I try to look at things more like investments.

I met Ghettosocks through old Halifax connections when I was up there and we hit it off. Ghettosocks brought D-Sisive to guest on his record and he liked what he saw; so we get Vaudville.

And for all the great records, records that I’m proud of working on, there’s dozens and dozens that not only haven’t gotten anything, but wouldn’t deserve to.

That’s the other joke. For Ghettosocks’s record and D-Sisive’s record I didn’t get paid any more. In fact, with Ghettosocks’s record, we did a lot of bartering because he doesn’t have a lot of money, but that was a record I want to do. I was happy to lend my time and everything else to it because I felt it.

[On the Juno nods]: It isn’t so much the Junos for me, it’s that my mom and dad get the Junos. You know my mom and dad don’t get Ghettosocks but they get the Junos and they can be proud of that achievement.

MVRemix: Talk a little bit about how you work with artists. How do you sort of collaborate between artist and producer?

Fresh Kils: Personally, I’ve really been trying to shy away from the whole “beat CD” thing where someone just picks a beat out of a bunch of stuff. The problem that I have with that is that I do so many different things. I’ve done ignorant southern rap stuff to New York boom bap to jazzy emotive schmaltz, so its difficult for me to be like, “Here’s a beat CD, go.”

What I’ve been doing more and more now, and of course Vaudville is the perfect example… I love building stuff from scratch. I like working on stuff, with the MC, from the beginning. Starting from a concept and following it through. The thing that I always find is that, 9 times out of 10, the artist is going to get what they want because they’re helping to guide the creative process. That’s going to ensure the artist is happy.

I like to challenge myself to do things and I like to have someone to bounce stuff off. For example, some of the best beats I’ve ever made are doing remixes for other people, because when I hear an amazing vocal or verse that’s killin’, it makes me do an amazing remix. I did an Alex Dimez remix and that’s one of the most slammin’, hardcore, grimy beats I’ve ever made. I would never have made it if I was just working in my apartment in a vacuum, so I’m very very much about that now.

I like strong conceptual songs. I like ideas and I would way rather explore an idea; I find that stuff happens less often. Both Ghettosocks and D-Sisive have vision. For example, there’s a song on Treat Of The Day called Guillotine. If you listened to that beat on a tape, you would never pick that beat and yet here comes Ghettosocks with this incredible concept. He takes this guy saying “guilty”, turns it into “guillotine” and writes a whole Wu-Tang tribute song about buying “Fatal Flying Guillotine” at a garage sale. That’s fuckin’ cool!

MVRemix: How often do you get the chance to perform live?

Fresh Kils: There was a time where I was playing every week or every other week. It was great because the thing about the MPC that’s so cool is that I can easily fit into someone’s set. If someone has a song with me and I have my MPC, I can plug in, I can rock a beat or two, I can improvise some stuff… it’s a really cool element.

And watching hip-hop shows; it’s the worst live music to see. It’s essentially glorified karaoke and there aren’t a lot of people who have the power and charisma to really command and audience with just himself and a CD. If you don’t have a DJ or a hype man it’s not very engaging so that became a huge thing for me with the MPC. Once I sort of figured out a way to do it effectively I was performing so much because I could just jump onstage and rock the beat. And if you have a DJ, we can do a little back and forth.

With the Extremities it gets crazy. I mean we opened for De La Soul last year, we had a keyboard player, we had a sax player… Sometimes sax can be schmaltzy but Anthony Rinaldi’s so killer and he’s got a great ear for it.

MVRemix: Do you get to tour or is it just one off shows since you’re producing?

Fresh Kils: I’ve been lucky that my clients have been really cool, but it’s not a good look for me to be like “Hey, I gotta take off for two weeks.” Still, I try to do a couple tours a year. We did the Extremities last June, I did a tour with The Get By and Timbuktu end of last year and definitely July we’re going to be doing something again for the jazz fest. I’m always looking for stuff you know? I wanna perform as much as I can.

MVRemix: Obviously you’ve got SXSW coming up but other than that what’s next for Fresh Kils?

Fresh Kils: The big thing is trying to get the Extremities album done by July. I’m also trying to finish “Bullet Tooth Tony” which is a collaboration between Pumpkinhead, Elite from Jersey, Ghettosocks, Timbuktu and my boy DJ Frame. And then just a lot of collaborations and remixes.

You can find some of Fresh Kils work on D-Sisive’s Vaudville, Ghettosocks’s Treat Of The Day and at Myspace.

By Ryan O

I love music, movies and putting the two together.

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