When I came across Nubian Riot, a K*Saba track featuring HoneBeGood I wanted to hear more from him. The song blends smooth jazz vibes with a calm hip hop backdrop. Of course, it was truly remarkable how much more captivating he was live alongside Raiza Biza at Medusa last month. K*Saba is the type of guy who really looks like he pays attention to detail- and it can be heard in all the music he’s made. If you want hues of jazz laced into your music, this is the guy to look out for. We’ve gone and had a chat with the man himself. You don’t want to miss out on this enlightening interview.
HH: Who is K*Saba, for those who don’t know you or are just getting to know you?
K: I’m a Producer/Musician based in Wellington, NZ.
HH: When did everything begin i.e making music and publicly releasing your stuff?
K: Making music began a while back for me actually. I produced my first track about 13 years ago but the K*Saba releases started in 2011. There’s been a ton of side projects, live shows and attempts at putting music out in the middle.
HH: You play a couple of instruments and make beats. Were all the instruments you chose to learn out of interest, or were you taught?
K: Yeah, I play saxophone and guitar mainly but I work on sampling/beat-making hardware and play the keys when I’m producing too. I’m quite an obsessive person so I’d say it was a little more than just interest. I’ve gone through many phases of trying to learn or produce a particular style of music so I didn’t actively learn an instrument. I spent some time trying to play Indian Classical music and played the saxophone and guitar in a totally different way to fit the concepts in that music. Later on I got hooked on Brazilian music and tried to play with that Samba/Bossa flow. So the instruments got a thrashing based on what music captured my imagination. There was also that time I made nothing but drum’n’bass, it was terrible.
HH: Out of all your instruments, which do you play/enjoy playing the most and why?
K: I don’t really have a preference as such but I guess the saxophone is my main instrument if I had to pick one voice. In the studio though, I let the song dictate what I want to use. It’s entirely about function, tone and texture, and where I want to direct it – so I‘ve come to think of instruments in that way. I’d say being producer is the most enjoyable aspect of it because I get to play and assemble all those voices and make them work with each other to create that final sound.
HH: Are you hard on yourself when it comes to making a song that you’re fully content with?
K: Yeah for sure! I believe in pushing myself to create something that surprises me in a way. I don’t have this impulse to release fresh new material all the time and to be honest I’m quite envious of people who do! BUT I really need to feel what I’m making and sometimes that means putting in the hours till something that is personal and meaningful emerges.
HH: When you write/produce, are you emotionally motivated? Do you wake up with an idea brewing in your mind or are you fairly spontaneous?
K: Absolutely, I’m not sure I could make music any other way. As for the ideas, it’s a mix of both. The initial idea tends to be spontaneous but when it starts to take shape and I can hear a direction in it, I’ll go looking for a story I can tell. I’m constantly singing along in my head to most music so I think that works as a way of exercising my melodic sense and I know that it’ll unconsciously find its way out somehow.
“All my heroes were all old dudes, or dead, and it fascinated me that those legends never ‘retired’ or stopped being curious about the possibilities in music. They just continued to get more eloquent and creative.”
HH: Has making music been a daily ritual for you?
K: Not writing and producing strictly. Listening to lots of music, geeking out on audio principles and working on specific challenges on an instrument away from the production process is definitely a daily ritual.
HH: Who have you most enjoyed collaborating with the most?
K: Tawata Productions, a Wellington-based theatre company is the first thing that comes to mind. Every theatre show I’ve worked on so far has provided me an opportunity to explore music and sound within a particular cultural, historical and artistic context. I get to work with a cast and crew who collectively own my work as part of something much bigger when they get on stage. Working with HoneBeGood (Young, Gifted&Broke) has been awesome. So much life in that voice and his words are so heavy on imagery – I’m all about that! We have some music in the works that I hope to complete sometime this year. Art Official (Newtown Sound) and Jet Jaguar are a couple of people I love working and chatting with for their fresh perspective and encyclopaedic knowledge of music.
HH: What’s something new and/or profound that you’ve learned throughout your journey as a musician?
K: Not exactly new or profound, but personal – I listened to a lot of Jazz when I was little and all my heroes were all old dudes, or dead, and it fascinated me that those legends never ‘retired’ or stopped being curious about the possibilities in music. They just continued to get more eloquent and creative. So I value the creative engine that runs everything we do and find ways to keep it hungry for new challenges and perspective. I think I’ve learnt to focus on keeping that engine and its curious nature at the center of what I do and let whatever comes out of it – a recording, live performance or even just a jam session reflect that curiosity and love of sound. Everything else pretty much feels temporary.
HH: What makes a quality song in your perspective?
K: Something that can unravel itself over repeated listens and still sound like a fresh experience.
Check out K*Saba’s Soundcloud to have a glimpse of his amazing stuff.