Interview by Jenkin Au and Alan Ng
Words by Ryan Goldade and Alan Ng
Photography by Jenkin Au
Please introduce yourself to our readers
My name is KAi Skywalker. I’m an MC from Vancouver, BC. I’m 21 years old. That’s about it.
Tell us about your stage name. Why do you have the capital “A” in the middle?
It’s ‘cause it looks cool. That’s it. Just cause it looks good.
What about the whole name? Is there a meaning behind KAi Skywalker?
Skywalker – people relate it to the Jedi thing. Star Wars. Really it’s about my mind state; I can be audacious enough to think I can walk in the sky. You know? That high mind state. It’s not a reference to being high on weed or something. It’s like my mind state is high up ‘cause I can do anything. That’s why I chose that name.
What does music mean to you? Why have you chosen music as your craft?
I just always felt like I had something to say. I had the ability to get into everyone else’s mindset and write about what they’re feeling and not what I’m feeling. I felt like music was a way that I could affect pop culture and affect people more than if I was to write a book or something. It wouldn’t really reach as many people as music does. I’ve always had a love for music so it just fit.
Breaking that down further, why have you chosen hip-hop?
I would say that it’s a free form of expression because the genre is evolving into whatever you want it to be. It’s a lifestyle, it’s graffiti, it’s all these things. There’re no boundaries.
In your early days, you were involved in some trouble. Are those days behind you?
Yeah. I had some rough times but once I changed my mind set to a positive mind set and believed in myself and what I was doing, everything was exponential. Instead of having one success, it would turn into five. It would just fold into something else because of the mind set of just believing in myself.
Every generation has their own style. Most people your age are just starting out but you’ve had several years of experience already. What do you think your generation can bring to the table?
I think it’s kind of unique because of the time we were born in. When I was a baby, cell phones were as big as laptops and people were smoking in the mall. A lot of changes have happened from when I was a kid to now. Technology is changing but we’re the last generation that wasn’t born into that technology as much. My little brother is on the computer and XBox all the time, even more than we are. I feel like our generation is lost in the middle. History repeats itself so I feel like we’re on the down swing. It’ll crash and then go back up. We’re the last analog age. The 90s was the last real pop music. Pop in the 90s was Nirvana or some real shit. That was the last time people could say what they wanted to say.
You’re young in the scene and have shown a lot of potential. Do you ever feel any pressure from being one of the youngest in the scene?
I guess its pressure for me ‘cause I think “oh I’m getting old.” But then I look at my competition and I am one of the younger people in the industry. It gives me hope but I still want to grind. I’m still hungry. I just want to get there now. That’s how I felt when I was 18 but now I realize I have a couple of years so I can slow the process down. You know? Moving slow, thinking fast, and just taking my time.
With your involvement at B-Sharp, what’s it like to be both an artist and a lyrical technician? How does it feel to be part of a group with all these different talents? How does that allow you to progress as an artist individually?
It’s like an experiment almost ‘cause I’ve never seen teams be formed the way that we formed it. There’s no expectations, no boundaries, no borders. Everyone does what they want to do and they bring their art to this panel of people who can give them help or whatever. If you need resources, you can go to either one of them because you have photographers, videographers, engineers, and producers. It’s a whole team of people to just go back and forth. I don’t even know how to say it; it’s dope.
Tell us about your relationship with the producer Lo Keynote. What is it like to work with just one producer?
For my new album “Law of Attraction”, I started working with Lo Keynote. He’s not part of B-Sharp but I met him and became friends and decided to work on some music together. It kind of just developed into this big fucking album. He had some crazy beats and I would just take the music and write stuff to it. We did maybe five or six tracks with him in the span of three months. It took a long time and we would do one session every couple weeks. Then I went up north for a few months to work and when I came back down, I had nine tracks written. We did nine or ten tracks in two days and finished the album. The music he makes, it always speaks to me. We don’t have the same story but because we’ve been through some of the same shit, the way he makes his beats is the way I write my songs. It always just comes together really nice.
It seems like in hip-hop, you have to have some struggle in your life to really be successful but it takes a long while to be supported by hip-hop. Is hip-hop supporting you?
I would say in a sense, yes, but it’s like, everybody will like you to a certain extent depending on how many times they hear you. If you don’t choose to conform to a certain formula then you won’t get into certain spots where you’ll be heard more. Pop music is a formula. Even if you’re making hip-hop, if you’re using a formula you’re going to get seen more. If you use a catchy chorus, simple verses and slow rap and follow a certain formula, you will see success because people are scared to try new things.
Are you conforming?
I don’t feel like I’m conforming. I feel like I’m playing within the system. If I see a rapper using a formula, I’ll do the opposite or I’ll do their formula but I’ll just do it better than them. Michael Jordan shoots a fade-away and it works, why wouldn’t you try that shot better?
Things seem to be going well for you. From all your projects and solo work, you’ve been getting a lot of views on YouTube, for example.
It’s all about balancing quality and quantity. You have to hit people in a bunch of different ways too. They want to see a video and hear a song and see a poster and see you at your show, etc. Once you get all that, then you can start to move forward. If you put in the work, it might not do much at first but it’s just like a snowball effect. You get that momentum and people start supporting you.
Tell us about the Hoodwinks and how you met Matt Brevner.
Me and Matt met at a hip-hop show in Vancouver. We were introduced by a fellow artist and we met and played each other’s music and got into the studio and stuff like that. We went down to Matt’s studio and made a song called “Student Teachers.” We made that track and just saw so eye-to-eye. He already had the B-Sharp thing and that’s when we (The Shottas) started doing the B-Sharp thing.
In Student Teachers, it’s about how the older generation perceives this newer generation as something wack. How do you take that? Cause at the same time you have to pay your dues and respects to them.
I just do me man. At the end of the day, I can only impact who I can impact. I can’t control what I can’t control. I can only control me and what I put out and what I do. I don’t really sweat it ‘cause I know people want to hear something new because they’ve just been force fed shit. You just need to throw your thing in the mix and hope it gets picked up.
If you were to get picked up by a major label that you like but they told you to follow a certain formula, how would you react?
It depends. I probably wouldn’t sign the contract unless I knew they wanted me for me. If they don’t want me for what I’ve been doing and what I’m capable then I’m going to do something else. I wouldn’t just throw my integrity out the window cause I care about what I’m saying. I want to make music that sounds good and that’s actually about something.
What’s it like to hail from Vancouver? What do you think about the state of hip-hop in Vancouver?
Being from Vancouver is different because no one except the Rascalz has done their thing nationwide. Swollen Members did their thing and they’re still doing their thing but other than that, nothing from Vancouver has been on the level of selling millions and millions of records. Being from Vancouver is weird because there are no foot holds and there is no path to follow. There’s no right way to do it because no one has done it yet. For up-and-comers, I would say just work on your craft.
What’s the news with the Shottas? Not much has been released lately.
We’re pending. We’ll be getting back into the studio maybe in the summer and have something ready for the winter.
With all the projects going on, do you ever get distracted?
Sometimes I lose sight of the big picture and get distracted by the details. I’m not really a detail oriented person. I like to look at the vision of everything. I’m more of a philosophical person. What was the question again?
Can you tell us about what fans can expect from “Law of Attraction”?
Law of Attraction is an album I recorded at the end of 2010 with Lo Keynote and it’s pretty much all produced by him. I got a beat from Matt Brevner and a beat from Sunny Parmar. It’s kind of like a self-help album. It’s me using my life story as a model. I was low and broke and whatever and through believing in myself and working hard, everything got better in my life. The album is about thoughts creating reality.
What’s the vision for your future?
I can’t even say. These days my foresight is short and on point. In six months, I could see myself doing exactly what I’m doing right now but more numbers, more shows and more tours. I think I’m just going to stay where I’m at right now and do the solo thing, Hoodwinks, Shottas, etc. Do me and that’s all I want to do.
What is HYPE?
HYPE is bigger than energy. HYPE is the surroundings of energy. Anyone creating a buzz or creating energy, which will cause HYPE.