‘City of Angels’ is out today on Recess Records
Over the last year, Detroit-born artist KNDRGRTN has been quietly and methodically working on developing a sound that is both as unique and compelling as the roots that have made him. Channeling and fusing influences of punk-rock, hip-hop, and R&B, KNDRGRTN is quickly carving out an exciting sound all his own.
Now in LA, the 20-year-old artist is gearing up to release the follow up to his debut EP, Insert Here which dropped last year and garnered praise from Complex, Elevator, and other reputable sources. Like his new single “City of Angels,” which is out today, his forthcoming EP, Sleeping With My Clothes On, is produced by industry leader Beewirks (Pusha-T, Lil Wayne) and will be inescapable upon its release in July.
Earlier this week, we caught up with KNDRGRTN at the Fred Segal Cafe in West Hollywood to chat about his vast musical influences, his new single, “City of Angels,” forthcoming EP, working with Beewirks, and more. Read on below.
How did you land on KNDRGRTN as your name?
I’ve been making music for a while now and I’ve had a couple of names throughout the whole process but I felt KNDRGRTN was the most fitting. My music is all about bringing you to a time where you didn’t really have to think about much, like kindergarten, a time where life is more care-free and you’re not worried about anything else.
You’re in LA now but you’re originally from Detroit. How has a city with such a rich music culture affected your musical process and creating?
I definitely draw on a lot of influences from the area like Eminem and Motown-style music. It all contributes to my creative process and I always try to keep elements of my home roots in my music. It’s great because I grew up in metro Detroit, a little outside of the big city, and the art and culture in that area were really rich and highly influenced my upbringing, which ultimately fueled my decision to pursue music.
There’s a lot of live instrumentation throughout your first project Insert Here, how is that sound developing as you head toward releasing your next body of work?
Insert Here was my debut EP and really shows me sticking to the roots of my influences like Kurt Cobain, Sex Pistols, people like that. I drive my sound toward alternative hip-hop where I’m bringing rock & roll and those elements and intertwining them with 808s, heavy bass, snares and all of that. With my new project, I’m taking all of that to the next level and really experimenting with my sound.
So, are you also playing all of the instruments on your singles?
On some songs. I play the guitar and I’m learning the piano right now but I’m not amazing at both yet. Throughout time and my process as an artist, I will definitely be more proactively playing both on my singles and future albums.
Is the hope that you’ll then perform a complete live show in the future?
Definitely. That’s my goal. Eventually, down the road, no matter how long it takes, I’d like to play all of the instrumentation, sing, and perform a complete live show for my fans. Perform live acoustic sets and things like that.
Your project Insert Here that we spoke about earlier was produced by Beewirks, he’s worked with Lil Wayne, Jeezy, Pusha-T, and some other bigger names. How’d you first get connected?
I met him through my current manager while I was still living in Detroit. My manager somehow found me online, found my phone number and flew me out to New York to meet him. We agreed to start working together and he brought Beewirks into the picture immediately. Since then, he’s probably been one of my closest work partners and friends. He’s a huge influence on my music, we just met a couple of months ago but, yeah, he’s my guy and we’re constantly working on music together.
You’re currently working on a new track with Beewirks called “City of Angels.” It’s out on Friday, April 26. What are you most excited about with this release?
It’s a different sound from my first EP because I used different effects on my vocals throughout that project. My voice is starting to sound clearer and better on tracks, so I’m using fewer and different effects on them. I’m starting to experiment a little more and pushing out of my comfort zone with this single. I feel like I’m really starting to develop a new sound that I’m excited to explore.
Will we get a music video for the new single?
Yeah, it’s coming out on the same day as the single. It’s directed by my friend, Fernando Perez. He works with a lot of designers and brands in the area. He’s just one of those film whizzes and he sticks to those mediums. We connected a few months ago while out here and creatively just clicked, so we co-direct and co-edit and I like his insight on everything. We’re making great stuff.
This new single is part of a larger project that’s coming out in July. What can you tell us about it?
I think it’s going to be an EP and around seven songs long. It’s going to be called Sleeping With My Clothes On, and it’s a continuation of Insert Here but shows my development and growth since then.
Is the new single and the EP going to be primarily influenced by your time in LA?
Some of it, definitely. The influence derives from pivotal moments in my life the past 3-4 years, that’s where it’s all deriving from. “City of Angels” is definitely a track that’s influenced by my time here and all of the stuff I’ve done. Overall, the new EP will be more about where I am in life right now.
You originally had a longer version of Insert Here online but it’s been partially taken down. Why is that?
There’s a lot to that but we just wanted to scale it back and make it a condensed baseline of songs the fans seemed to enjoy the most from the project and the songs I liked the most from it. We’re just going to leave that out there and from now on we’re just going to put out music through DSPs and not through SoundCloud. Maybe through them but the focus is just DSPs for now.
Will any of the material that was removed be re-released on the new EP or is it all new material?
Not at all — the new EP will contain all new music!
What do you have planned after you release “City of Angels”?
For every single I drop, I’m going to release a music video and really stay on top of releasing music more frequently. I dropped my last project in October and didn’t necessarily ghost after that, but I went into creative hiding and started working on my next set of music. But, yeah, I’m going to be putting out music more consistently leading into the project’s release in July and then after that I’ll figure out touring all of that next.
Do you have any dream collaborations?
If I’m shooting for the stars, Kid Cudi is a huge inspiration on my music. Even though John Mayer is in a completely different lane, I’m a huge fan of his sound and everything he does. I like Elton John and some great rock bands would be fun to collaborate with.
KNDRGRTN’s new single, “City of Angels” is out now on Recess Records. Stream the new single on the Soundazed: KEEP ME BUZZIN playlist and be sure to keep an eye on this rising Detroit artist. Sleeping With My Clothes On is out this July.
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