Contactmusic.com caught up with the charming British multi-vocalist and beat box musician Killa Kela.
Firstly, I have to say that your show at the Jazz Café recently was real entertaining. How does the live show experience differ from recording on wax?
Did you see it? Wicked! It's really different performing live, I love doing it live. When you are in the studio you have to concentrate a bit more on how you are going to put the message across, but with a live show it's pretty much there. With 'Elocution' as an album, we were trying to find different concepts to put across, not only putting Killa Kela out as an artist but also the beat boxing across so it could be translated to the live show correctly.
You have been beat boxing before your teens, what inspired you to start?
Habit. I was a boy with many habits. If it wasn't sucking my thumb, I was making noises all around the house. I heard people beat boxing on the radio when I was about 10 or 11, I wasn't into hip-hop at the time, I was into rock and heavy metal, but I find the sound fascinating. When I started beat boxing it wasn't taken too seriously; in fact my dad at times would condemn it, however by 16 I was getting into shows illegally because people thought I was good.
Q2. Your first album 'Permanent Marker' was all about beat boxing, what were you trying to convey with 'Elocution'?
I feel I am trying to convey Killa Kela as an artist. Without sounding a little anal or dull, I think it's a case of putting the beat boxing as secondary now and almost saying to people 'right I'm not a song writer or producer, but I will give it a go', just showing people that there is a little more to me and at the same time open doors to the beat box scene, like putting up a poster and saying ' this is the new era', we have passed that adolescent stage of the beat box scene and now we can put it across to music by broadening and almost taking it to a wider audience.
Q3. So you are taking it to the mainstream? How can you put beat boxing on that platform?
Yeah defiantly. You see the beat boxing as a human interest has an appeal, so even if you aren't interested in the music aspect of it you may still wanna know how I do it - which gives it that commercial appeal. I think what's been lacking with it before is the translation into music and particularly in the recording of it. You kind of loss the one man band appeal of it when you put it on record, but what I was trying to do with a commercial release is capture it from an organic side of things, where what you hear is defiantly human and that it sounds human on the record. The instruments that I am using with the strings and pianos and the backing vocals they're very much sourced from the original instruments which makes the beat boxing abit stronger. For a commercial record you need that. You can't just do a beat box album; it needs to be regurgitated to a live show for people to understand it. And aide from all of that I think the songs speak for themselves, I haven't tried to go that hip-hop route or tried to get too many features, you're hearing me. I like singing man.
Speaking of Hip-Hop, you have worked with some top acts like Redman, Public Enemy and Busta Rymes. Seeing you no longer want to be placed in that box, who would you collaborate outside that genre - what about label mate Charlotte Church?
Umm, nah. But having said that I would collaborate with Dave Grohl, Milo, and Go Team. You know, just not Charlotte, not that level of pop.
Ok, so target audience - who are they?
My target audience, in my opinion, is between the ages of 12 and 30 years old. Like I said there's that human interest of the beat box which will always be there, but the sound of the music and the album could appeal to the taste makers hip-hop, the taste makers of indie music, the taste makers of dance and drum and bass, the taste makers of grim and dub, y'know and also I think the music sounds a cross between maybe Prince and Outkast mixed with a little bit of The Streets and N.E.R.D, sprinkled with Massive Attack but with the Doug E. Fresh of 2006.
Explain about the Spit Kingdom movement?
Spit Kingdom collectively is a sound system as much as it is a live show. It's muti-media. It's a club night every Tuesday; it's a club night every month in Europe. It's live on your pod cast. It's me, it's Trip, Rookwood, Spider J, Mixologists, Porge 1. It's a collective of people that share the same mind and the same ideas of music. Y'know, there is a hip-hop scene over here, there is a Grime scene, and drum and bass, I like to think that we try to bridge not only a live element but all those genres together with the music that we're coming with.
With the artists you have been fortunate to hang with, what has been the best advice given to you and who was it from?
Wow, I have a couple. For every time I have met up with an artist I always play them my demos. Cian from Super Furry Animals told me to 'just do you' when I was trying to do everything to please everyone, he told me not to worry too much about whether everyone likes what I am trying to do. I think that's what separates good artists, when you can throw a curveball at a crowd or at your fans, and if not all of them like it then it's cool because you've got other ways of accessing yourself to them. The beat boxing, which I am known for will always be there but I need to throw out different ideas. Look at Radiohead, they do exactly the same thing, the reason why they are so successful is because they do things that people don't accept them to do, they do something different every time. And that's something that I too believe in (laughs).
What's the bigger picture for Killa Kela?
World domination, for starters!!! Then go on tour as much as I can with this album. Start working on the third album. Elocution comes out on commercial release in June, and that will be a dual disc CD so you'll get music and film DVD footage. Also continuing with Spit Kingdom nights and online stuff. You got to check out killakela.com, I am on that everyday staying in touch with everyone!!
Maxine M. Headley.
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