Saturday, 3 March 2012

#FindOutFriday with Lekhem


I find interviewing people I know that much harder than strangers. I could say it's because of my attempts to find an 'objective' approach and all things of that nature; but really my dilemma is that I forget that you lovely readers will need their story from the very beginning, whereas I just want to get as far beneath the surface as possible. Whilst the focus of this week's feature has just finished calling me 'nosy', I prefer to put it down to my 'inquisitive mind', thank you kindly...

If you're familiar with the ESP Family, then you know Lekhem aka the BakaBoi, puts me through my paces so regularly that I Christened a vein in my forehead in his honour. We have collaborated on a LOT of different projects in the near-14 months since he joined the ESP roster. Two mixtapes, some shows here, there and everywhere, a few photo and video shoots and a blogsite later; and he's finally ready to bring you 'a different side of Lek'.

This Monday, 5th March sees the release of 'KrateDiggin'. A 15-track, Instrumental mixtape produced entirely by him, marks the return of he whom I refer to as 'The Jamerican' (amongst many other non-printable things), to his other studio love. If you're unfamiliar with our self-proclaimed 'Alien Resident'; Lekhem was born and bred in Madison, Wisconsin. A world-travelling, musical Father and television pioneer Mother, meant he was raised there and Kingston, Jamaica in equal part, before settling in London's West in his teens. A childhood touring while the rest of us journeyed to cartoon lands afar, infused multi-cultural flavours into more than Lekhem's accent. Find out more about this hugely talented Musician as we go head-to-head in the interview ring for a second time...

1. Troublesome One! To kick off our second interview together, do you want to tell the people how 'KrateDiggin' came about?
Why you always gotta try to have people thinking I'm difficult when you know I'm a charming dude? ANYWAY...'KrateDiggin' is basically a project that I decided to create to remind everyone that  I am also a Producer and not just a Vocalist. One thing I have noticed is that a lot of people didn't really realise that I actually delve that much into the side of being a Musician and Producer, which is actually one of my first endeavours. So the main reason is to show that particular side of me. Also, I'm an up and coming Artist as much as other people out there, so if I can help out by creating something that other people can use for their own promotional projects then I see no problem in that whatsoever. So that just made me decided to create an Instrumental mixtape and there you have it: 'KrateDiggin'!

2. We know 'Lekhem - The Artist'. You've worked very hard to establish that fanbase but as you said, most people won't know 'Lekhem - The Producer' yet. Explain where those origins came from:
Lekhem's second mixtape 'The Raise EP', released 31 October 2011
My 'Production Origins' began once I actually started to get into music. When I actually started out, I started out rapping; that was my first, first thing. It got to a point where my Dad wanted me to start to do my own music. So what he would do is on the weekends, he would just give me the keys to Jah Light Studios in Ladbrooke Grove where at the time, we were at and say: "Go and make music!" At the time I was working with a really good friend of mine, P. Duro - who also produced 'The Corner' on 'The Raise EP' - that's my Production partner from back in the day. It was one of those things where as I started doing that, I just found a love for Production; creating the sounds and being that person behind the scenes that's actually making everything for that kind of puppeteer kind of role, if you want to look at it like that. From there I just kept on going at it really.

3. Tell me about the very first beat that you made:
'Studio Flow', February 2011,
(Photography by EricaSharlette)
(Laughs) Oh wow; the first beat I ever made...I couldn't beatbox it to you or anything, because I don't really remember the exact sound, but I can tell you that it was very, very experimental...yeah!  I'd love to hear it again.

And you can't hear it again because...?
I don't have the files now, you're talking about a good 8 years or more now, so that's a long time.

Ok, so we're talking about after you arrived in the UK?
Yeah. To be honest, my whole venture into music officially began, practically like a week after I got to the UK, so we're talking like, mid-August 2001. Before then, I'd fiddle around with stuff, mess about with rhymes, wrote my own little raps and stuff, but never actually did anything with it. I wasn't taking it seriously until I got to England.
'Mic Check' Lekhem on a PeeP Photography Shoot,
May 2011, (Photography by Selena Brown)

So the rap side did come first?
To be honest, it's like asking what came first, the Chicken or the Egg because at the end of the day they're both talents that I possess within me. I could go back and say I remember listening to beats as a kid and tryna dissect them, which is something that a Producer would do then I could say yeah, that came first; or I could say that when I started writing, that came first...they both go way back so it's very hard for me to pick. But if you want me to say officially, what I started doing, as in which one I went into the studio to do then it was to rap, in that respect.

4. You said something that intrigued me when you mentioned dissecting beats. Go right back, to the very first time that you remember listening to a beat and trying to break it down in your mind - what was it?
Missy Elliott, 'SupaDupaFly'. Definitely. If you've got that Productive edge to you, you'll always be listening to stuff and trying to learn from it. But the first time that I really heard something that made me sit down, play a song over and over again to try to figure out every single sound, was that track, definitely. Timbaland is one of my favourite Producers of all time. Growing up, he was like a Production Idol to me. 

And what was it about that beat that stood out to you so much? The quirkiness of it. All the different sounds that he had, the way he was using the Synth and stuff...obviously at the time, I wasn't able to say "Oh, he's using filters there", or whatever. Now I could listen back to it and be able to tell you, for the most part(!) It was just that he was creating a sound that was so Hip Hop, but so wasn't. That just spoke to me on so many levels that not a lot of Producers were able to at that time.

5. Have you ever put a beat together that you couldn't write to yourself?
Lekhem's 'Concepts - Part One' Photoshoot
(Photography by Jay Donn), April 2011
(Laughs) All the time! And the reason why to be honest, is that it's only really this year - 2012, is when I really started making beats for myself! Before, I was either just making beats for other people, listening to their stuff, figuring out their sound or maybe even figuring out a sound that I think would fit them, that they haven't got yet...that's what I was doing for years. Then when I was working with P. Duro and we were rapping together, yeah I was making the beats and yes, I would rap on them as well, but I still wasn't making them for me. I was making them for the group. So to be honest, a lot of beats that I've made, I could never write to, not in the sense of me writing for myself.

6. So for Up and Coming Producers who are listening to you - what is 'your sound'?
9th Wonder - 'The Wonder Years' (2011)
You know what, I don't like to describe my sound because I feel like I'm putting myself in a pigeonhole. I prefer to just make music and then have people judge it how they want to judge it. Comparisons that people have put me towards - and I'm not trying to drop any names or anything but - some people have said that some of my beats have that Kanye West sound and then other people have said some of my beats have that 9th Wonder, old school hip hop sound; DJ Premier stuff. I've had the Timbaland references as well. Again, not saying that I'm comparing myself to these people, they're miles above me! I'm just talking about the actual sound itself and the feeling that you got. 

7. What direction do you want to go in Production-wise?
Apollo Brown OC - a Lekhem favourite
The direction that I want to go in is basically bringing back that great 90s sound; that great Golden Era sound. Obviously I'm not trying to bring it back the same way that it was because that wouldn't be an enhancement on anything at all and that's what I'm trying to do. That's why we're all in this game. So definitely that type of sound, but a bit more modern. I also listen to a lot of different stuff. I listen to a lot of Reggae, I listen to a lot of Jazz, stuff like that. If you listen to 'KrateDiggin', you will hear a lot of different stuff. There's Jazz samples in there, there's Reggae samples in there, there's stuff that the minute you hear, you'll know exactly what record I've sampled and then there's some that you'll be sitting down for hours trying to figure it out. Those are all things that I could call it intentionally. I had certain sounds that, I knew that they were classics and I just decided to give my own little spin on them and the same with records that a lot of people may not know.

8. So you're bringing out an Instrumentals mixtape' let's talk instruments. What do you play?
Lekhem in a FIRM FUSIONS Recording Session, April 2011
I play keyboards, I can mess about on a guitar a little bit, I might can find like about four/five chords on it...And I might can play like about two bass (guitar) lines...

(One thing about our Lek; I rarely notice his mash up of three accents anymore unless it's one of his really 'strong moments' like right there; but when it comes out it's kind of cool, yet kind of funny all at the same time!)

Junior Dan aka 'Dan Left Hand' is a legendary Bassist
United Reggae Interview Part 1 | Part 2
Any (instruments) you want to add in the future? 
Any I want to add...I want to learn how to play the guitar properly, like really well. Guitars, pianos...those are two of the strongest instruments. If I can master those two I know my Production game is gonna be crazy as well. Being that my Dad is a World-famous bass player, I'm still gonna be learning my bass lines and stuff like that. From when he was teaching me how to play bass, I still got those notes there so I will be teaching myself how to play a lot of instruments, but it's just about getting that time and getting that focus.

9. It's safe to say music is in your genes, with one of the world's most well-respected bass players for a Dad. What influence would you say his example has had on the way you approach your music?
Lekhem on Keys performing with Dad, Junior Dan in 2009
My Dad played with Burning Spear, Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Gregory Issacs and just about any big artist in Reggae from the 70s. He played with the Gorillaz for most of their first album and toured all over with them. Pops has taught me so much in music its hard to begin at any one point. From being a Musician to being an Artist, or a Producer; his input has been undeniable and irreplaceable in my career.
He taught me the value of patience with music and the benefit of appropriate timing. Now that can be looked on in the Artistic aspect but also in the Professional sense. Knowing when, where, who, what and why. Essential knowledge.
Rare Glimpse...Lekhem and Junior Dan
When I started music he'd give me the keys to his studio and let me have the freedom of doing whatever I wanted. Being my Dad he knew I learn best when I work hand's on so did his best to nourish that. Without that freedom I'd have never been the Artist you see before you. He saw the potential in me years ago, before even I did.

10. As someone who knows you fairly well(!) I know how crucial computer games are to your basic happiness. If you had to describe your musical style to a character, which would it be and why?
That's gotta be one of the most inventive questions I've ever had! Well done!! Wow...It's really really hard to class that but I will try. Ok I'm gonna go with Mortal Kombat and say either SubZero or Smoke.

'Sub Zero'
(artwork by JoshWMC)
(artwork by Sheeve Creator, deviantART)
Sub Zero because I love the whole "Shaolin" thing, plus being able to freeze stuff and sling ice spears out your hand is dope as hell!  Smoke, same thing with the "Shaolin" thing but also because he's very mysterious. He chills in the back till his time is here then turns up and shuts ish down! So yeah, those two - Bazinga!

'KrateDiggin' will be available for download via 'LekLane' from 
Monday, 5th March.

In the meantime, keep up to date with all things 'BakaBoi'!

Lekhem's blogsite features full interactive pages making 'LekLane' a site with a difference...Created by the magnificent Charli-Anne (Rome may not have been built in One Day, but LekLane was - she's that good), visit 'WalkWithLek' for #LekNews and posts, it's where you'll find the aforementioned Part 2 of our interview in a few days time. But that's not all you'll find there:

If Music be 'The Food' of Love, then get your download on...

Pictures speak '1000 Words' and Lekhem has stories to tell...

'Telegenicz' is otherwise known as 'LekTV' in our World!
You can also watch our first interview here, entitled 'Life With Lek'!

'Poetic Justice' showcases yet another side of Lekhem's talents, it's his outlet for the wordplay that doesn't end up on wax...

'InterActs' gives you the A-Z of Lekhem's full Social Media Catalogue...

'LekBeatz' gives you an idea of previous Production works and also allows for submissions for him...

As you heard mention of earlier, Lekhem fully believes in giving back. In or around the 17th of every month, he gifts in reverse by sending presents to Subscribers on his birth date. To receive March's offering and be the first to hear any and all 'Breaking News', make sure you've signed up by the 15th for a 'Thank You' in his own words.

That's it for now! Thanks for reading this week's Spotlight Interview - be sure to catch next week's first milestone feature; I've got something a little different planned!

Have a good one!
ES ;)