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The ?’z: 14KT Interview

by Eric on June 23, 2010

Peep Our Review of 14KT’s “The Golden Hour” HERE

Click HERE to DL “Nowalataz”

As a continuation of our “?’z” interview saga, today Bloggerhouse is proud to present our recent “sit” down with Ypsilanti, Michigan’s finest, 14KT.  If KT isn’t my favorite producer out there right now, he definitely hovers around the top of the list.  Intertwining thick basslines, with neck-snapping drum kicks and melodic synths, KT has led the resurgence of the Athletic Mic League after a brief lay-off for three years between the release of A.M.L.’s “Jungle Gym Jungle” and Buff 1′s stellar debut, “Pure” (an album that really put me on to the production wizardry of the LabTechs, namely KT).  With a classic number under this belt (“The Golden Hour”), and an equally potent free LP that may have even gained more attention than his debut (“Nowalataz”), KT is primed for a promising 2010 and beyond. Take a moment to meet 14KT.

B-House: Alright KT, a brief introduction to the good people of B-House

14KT: Greetings Earthlings. I am a Bigheaded Alien by the name of 14KT. I am an Emcee, Producer, DJ, Recording Engineer, and Entrepreneur. 1/7 of the mighty Athletic Mic League crew, 1/4 of the Lab Techs Production crew and A-Side Worldwide family.

B-House: We’ve heard you “wax poetic” on virtually all the AML (Athletic Mic League) material, and most recently on your collabo with Black Milk, “Black & Gold”, from your “Nowalataz” LP.  So what came first the chicken or the egg? The mic or Production?

14KT: Word! The mic definitely came first. I started rhyming in 93′ with my crew AML. I got into production because we needed beats to rap on, I started producing in 95′-96′.

B-House: You (and the Labtechs, in general) have a very distinguishable “sound”: hard, crisp drums, spine-tingling synths, heavy bottom and an overall “futuristic” feel to your beats. The progression of sound on your solo LPs is a noticeable variance from your workings with AML, how has your approach to making beats evolved?

14KT: Well, when I work with AML, we usually collectively develop a sound for our projects. With “Sweats & Kicks” in 02′, we (Labtechs) were heavy into chopping records and hard, crisp drums leaning more towards “Primo”-esque sound because that was we were inspired by at the time. With “Jungle Gym Jungle” in 2004, that was like our ” ATLiens (Outkast)” album. We wanted to sonically make it sound NOTHING like our first album and we achieved that. Ever since then, I just learned from AML to keep growing and experimenting with sounds in a way that differentiates each project, so that’s been the approach that I’ve applied.

B-House: What are a few things that have to be “in order”, or I should say, do have a particular routine or approach to making beats?

14KT: Naw, I don’t really have a routine. It all depends on what I’m inspired by.  I might hear a melody in my head first, record it on my phone or on whatever I can, bring it into the lab and try to recreate it. I might be just listening to records and hear something or I might just sit down and work on some drums and then fill the other pieces in later. Most of my beats begin in my head first.

B-House: What is your favorite piece of production equipment?

14KT: My favorite piece of production equipment is actually a software program called Adobe Audition. My whole style is “Edit”, “Cut & Paste” that’s my bread & butter right there.

B-House: Do you still hit up the record spots often? Compared to the vast majority of producers out there, you don’t seem to be to as sample-reliant.

14KT: Yep! I still buy vinyl. I definitely hit up record stores as often as I can. If you listen to my projects, I’m actually heavily sample-reliant because that’s where a lot of my inspiration comes from. I have a undying love for chopping records so I can’t help, but sample! However, I’ve been playing more instruments in the last 7 years or so just cause I’m evolving into that era of production with myself.

B-House: I know that you have collaborations in the works with the likes of Othello, Haircut (Mayer Hawthorne) and AB, are their any other projects that you have in the works/are working on that you’d like to share with us?

14KT: I’m also working on a project with a rapper named Ro Spit from Michigan, a project with producer Dibia$e and I’m about 9 joints deep on the next solo instrumental project as well!

B-House: Will will ever hear a solo LP from KT in the fashion of “Black & Gold”? I mean, I gotta’ admit, you really surprised me on that cut..

14KT: Ha! Eventually you will hear a KT album with me rhyming on it. I’ve actually had one musically finished for about 3 years, it just has no rhymes on it. Production has been coming more easy to me then writing rhymes, so I’ve been sticking with that for a while. I’ve been itching to rhyme lately though, so whenever I finally catch the wave of rhyming again on a constant basis, “The IS” album will be what you will hear!

B-House: Outside of your camp, any artists that you’d like to work with whom you haven’t had the opportunity just yet?

14KT: I would love to work with Phonte, Blu, Oddisee and any dope funk/jazz musicians like Robert Glasper, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble so I can get better as a musician.

B-House: Do you listen to a lot of current music? Whether it be Hip Hop, Alternative, Electronica or R &B? If so, gimme’ the top 5 albums that you’ve enjoyed so far in 2010

14KT: I try to keep up as much as I can. Here’s my top 5 albums so far:

1. Janelle Monae “ArchAndroid”
2. Onra “Long Distance”
3. Erykah Badu “New AmErykah pt. 2″
4. Danny Brown “The Hybrid”
5. Bird & The Bee: Interpreting The Masters Volume. 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall & John Oates

I also enjoyed Sade’s “Solider of Love” and Reflection Eternals “RPMs”

B-House: Being that Detroit seems to be a breading ground for INSANE production. By nature, you’d think that there would be more of a competitive vibe between the likes of yourself, Black Milk, Apollo Brown, Mr. Porter, etc. Yet, you all seem very supportive of one another’s careers, why so nontraditional (LOL)?

14KT: Haha! Actually, being in the Detroit was actually tough. There was always an issue with supporting “your own” here. There still is an issue, but I think it has improved by a lot in the last 5-6 years or so. I feel like Black, Apollo, Mr. Porter, and myself are part of a different generation of cats here in the Detroit scene. A generation that is working together just to better music coming from Michigan and music in general in whatever way we can. However, when it comes to the lab, I think cats definitely have a competitive spirit when making music because they wanna try and make the best music they can! For example, i’ll hear some ish that Black is doing and be like GEEZ!! I gotta go back to the lab and make something that will make him wild out know? I think we all do that secretly…lol..

B-House: Aright, MANDATORY question time. First up, gimme 5 albums that you’d take to the grave with you.

14KT: 1. Slum Village “Fantastic Vol. 2″
2. Outkast “ATLiens”
3. Stereolab “Dots & Loops”
4. Dexter Wansel “Life On Mars”
5. Athletic Mic League “Sweats & Kicks”

B-House: Please share a few of your production and lyrical influences that have spawned the musical growth of 14KT..

14KT: Nas, Common (Sense), Souls of Mischief, Wu-Tang Clan, Outkast, Jay-Z, The Roots,
Pete Rock, DJ Premier, Organized Noize, J Dilla, Timbaland, Just Blaze, RZA, Beatminerz, the list goes on…

B-House: In my humble opinion, “The Golden Hour” is a classic, are you satisfied with the overall perception of the album and the units moved, in general?

14KT: Thank you man! Overall, I’m truly satisfied with how people have received that album. A lot of people actually understood what I was trying to convey with that album and that’s all I can ask for at the end of the day. To anyone call that joint a classic means A LOT to me, especially in a time where there are like 129381293 albums dropping everyday. Classic means it stood out & made a mark at the moment in time. I appreciate that.

B-House: How long did it take you to create “The Golden Hour”? If I had to guess, I’d say four years, I hear a lot of blood, sweat and tears in cuts like “The Waiting Room”, “The Night” and “The Inside”.

14KT: Well, some of the songs on “The Golden Hour” date back to 05′ so you are almost close with the guess! I actually just had a vault of songs and in 08′ I wanted to put a project out with the songs that meant the most to me. I saw a connecting theme in all of them so that’s how I put the project together. However, I wasn’t working on the album for 5 years. I consciously sat down and worked on it maybe towards the end of 06′.

B-House: I know that you’d have had heavy involvement in both of Buff 1′s solo projects, Now On’s “Tomorrow Already”, etc, but will there ever be another A.M.L. album as a collective?

14KT: Yeah, I’m really hoping for another AML album. We met up earlier this year and threw concepts back and forth and we actually put together about 4-5 song ideas, but nothing is set in stone yet. I would love to hear how it will come out in the end whenever we do finish it!

B-House: You aren’t gonna’ switch it up like Haircut (Mayer Hawthorne) did for a solo venture, are you?

14KT: Of course, sometimes you just gotta switch things up and express another side of you when it comes to music. I’ve truly learned with myself that there are some songs/feelings that express how I feel better in another form of music than in just a Hip-Hop/Rap form that people are used to hearing from me. So many inspirations make me who I am, so I’m gonna express how I feel however it’s best to come out! I’ve already morphed into a producer and a DJ!

B-House: Share with us the overall experience of being a participant and winner in the Red Bull Big Tune?

14KT: The Red Bull Big Tune has been a really good experience for me. I’m really not into beat battles and stuff because I always feel there’s some level of politics in them and they can not be fun because cats be taking things waaay too serious, but overall, I’ve had fun. I got to build and learn from other producers, play some beats for an audience of people, network, and hear some dope music from other producers! Can’t argue with that.

B-House: Final question KT, when are you gonna’ hit me off with the track that yourself and AB are banging out in that YouTube video (LOL)?

14KT: HAHA! I gotta talk to AB soon about that joint, but that joint is called “Lover’s Galaxy” off me and AB’s album that’s still in the works. We got about 10 joints we gotta polish, but I can’t wait for people to hear it!

B-House: Shout ‘em out KT…

14KT: Much love to the whole A-SideWorldWide family, All the Michigan artists doing they’re thing, shouts to Bloggerhouse for showing a brother some love with the interview. You know what?  Shout out to all the artists in every form who put they’re heart & soul into their craft, regardless of the fact that many download their craft for free and don’t even look back to appreciate it. Appreciate your talent! Keep working hard and expressing the gift God gave you! Its important.

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