Producer Spotlight: Kevin Kordi

What’s up everyone? Happy Valentine’s Day. Good now that we got another useless holiday greeting out of the way, I want to share a new discovery with you. Kevin Kordi is an up and coming producer who produced two of my favorite tracks on my friend PreCise’s mix tape, A Dream Deferred. This man impressed me through his use of samples, due to the fact that while he might sample a certain sound, he would still build around it using real instruments. That’s a rare quality in today’s producers. Most couldn’t play or understand an instrument to save their lives. He understood his music history as well as how different pieces of the musical puzzle fit together. I emailed him and had to see his thoughts on music. His responses were both insightful and passionate, indicating a maturity beyond his years. You can see the interview below:

Me: When did you know you could produce?

KK: I realized I could produce about 4 years ago. I was a freshman in college, and already having 15 years of piano and violin instruction, and having such a diverse group of people around me at UIC (University of Illinois-Chicago), I found many different niches that wanted to utilize my playing abilities. Whether it was for a play, orchestral performances, jam bands, or variety shows, I was always immersed in groups that were musically inclined. Through these performances, I was able to learn about different computer programs and other technical aspects of recording. This new knowledge pushed my abilities beyond solely playing live with groups, but also creating new music and collaborating with all kinds of musicians in Chicago to create original works in different fields from electronic music to hip hop and rap.

Me: How would you describe your production style?

KK: I would describe my production style as classical with a raw, organic beat. I like to use all of my influences through my classical training to create music that has a “human feel” to it. I try and create a very organic, live feel so I always finalize my recordings with live instruments. This allows for all dynamic nuances and subtle syncopations to be present in each work. I want to be completely immersed in each note rather than pressing buttons on my keyboard, creating a quantized, technical sound. It is my goal to make music that not only a rapper or a soloist would accompany, but that each instrument and each human performing would work together to create an original track each time a piece is performed. I always encourage improvisation and make sure that each performer is not trying to simply recreate the same sound that was recorded in a studio; each performance is a new template to draw upon from any inspiration whether it’s what happened that day or how one is feeling at the precise moment of performance. Thus, the rapper or soloist is not necessarily the “star” or the center to a piece; each person and each instrumentalist is as integral and essential. This creates a live, organic, breathing piece of work, which is always my goal when I produce.

Me: Who are your musical influences?

KK: It would take forever to list my musical influences. When I was younger, it was classical music. I was raised to learn and play piano classically, so I was always immersed in the technical, theoretical elements of chord progressions and different keys. As I got older, I was into everything from hip hop, alternative, indie and electronic among others. All kinds of music has inspired me as each artist creates music that define them. Simply stated, I always add and delete new music daily to my iTunes whether it’s from musicians that I know or musicians that I’ve never heard of. Thus, my inspirations are always changing and developing daily. My inspirations today, but may not be tomorrow, include gospel choirs (Soweto Gospel Choir and Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir), and jazz/blues music (Art Tatum, Thelonious Monk, and John Coltrane).

Me: What can we expect in the future from you?

KK: In the future, I want my music to sustain it’s originality and raw-ness. I want to learn to play more instruments so I can create all kinds of music that are different, but maintain their true sounds.

Me: How would you describe the current state of producing and the music industry as a whole?

KK: I think that the current state of producing and the music industry in general has lost a feeling of identity. Now days, there are a lot of producers and for the most part they are doing what they love. But, I feel that with such new advances in the field of computers, instruments and the actual skill it takes to play an instrument has become antiquated and mundane. I can click on a Chinese Flute and press the “A” button on my keyboard and there’s the sound. But how many people can actually say they know what the instrument looks like, and what it feels like to actually practice hours to master an instrument? I feel that the industry needs to take a step back and simplify each song/piece into their individual parts. Each track on a song/piece needs to be understood and truly loved because each is integral to creating a masterpiece. With all these websites coming out with new music daily, and artists pushing their new beats/works every minute, are they actually creating something great or simply something that will be remembered until it’s stored in iTunes until it is deleted when one is clearing up space for new stuff? Because of the current nature, there are no more masterpieces, no more “songs that define an age.” Music, unfortunately has become a transient, “what’s hot today” field. Music should be made to last a lifetime and I feel that the music industry/producers should be seeking that golden answer. How do I create a piece of music that will be a heartbeat in one’s life forever?

Me: What keeps you motivated?

KK: I’m motivated by the fact that I’m learning something everyday. I’ve been creating music for 4 years now and each day I can say that I’ve learned something new. I’m not settling on creating something from prior knowledge. I get inspired by anything whether it’s a song on a radio, or something someone may have created from a tribal instrument. I want to learn what kind of tribal instrument was it? What are the different tracks that make up a specific song? Being inspired by all kinds of music allows me to learn more about different instruments, different production styles and not settling on creating a one-dimensional “banger” or something “with a beat.”

Look for Kevin Kordi on PreCise’s next mixtape “Streetlights @ Noon” coming in March. You won’t be disappointed

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