Kickin’ It Old School With Kaytranada
There’s been a serious ‘90s resurgence over the last couple of years, with smooth R&B making a comeback, boy bands sending teenage girls’ hearts aflutter and grunge styles hitting the streets in the form of flannels and Dr. Martens. For many it’s a chance to relive favorite childhood memories, but for the younger generation it’s a chance to take part in a culture they missed out on the first time around — as is the case with emerging producer Kaytranada.
The Montreal-based beat maker was born in 1992, sadly missing out on most of the decade. “I remember things from around 1997, ’98, and ’99, and my sister used to show me a lot of stuff,” he told Milk Made. “But then when I was older, I researched a ton of music, movies and shows from the decade because I just loved everything that was coming out back then.”
He learned to make beats from his brother, who showed him the ropes on a rudimentary production program while he was still in high school and he hasn’t stopped since. “Once I learned how to do it I just stayed in my room and made like five beats in one day — I was hooked,” he said.
Kaytranada first caught our attention with his sultry smooth remixes of classic ‘90s icons such as The Fugees, TLC, Janet Jackson and Missy Elliott, and has since developed his unique sound which blends elements of R&B, hip-hop, house, disco and soul. Earlier this month he brought down the house at Glasslands during the Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival, and had everyone partying like it was 1999. We caught up with him after the performance to talk about — what else — the ‘90s.
Milk Made: How did you first discover different types of music?
Kaytranada: When I was growing up I listened to a lot of what my dad was listening to–everything from Bob Marley and Michael Jackson to Pink Floyd and Louie Armstrong. And then my sisters had this videotape that was a collection of hip-hop music videos from like ’96 and ’97, and I used to watch that on repeat all the time. It had Outkast’s “Jazzy Belle,” “Crush on You” by Lil’ Kim, Aaliyah’s “One and a Million,” –- I knew all of those videos from back in the day.
MM: What was your favorite music video?
K: I loved Busta Rhymes’ “Gimme Some More.” It was definitely my favorite video, just so weird and entertaining. I also got down with Lauryn Hill’s “Doo-Wop,” that video was so awesome. I was a little confused why she was dressed like two different people, but I loved the video.
MM: Any songs you had on repeat?
K: Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” was my song. I had that on a tape and would listen to it, rewind, and listen again–over and over, wore that tape out. “Na na na na nana,” yeah.
MM: What trends were digging from the decade?
K: I loved the Polos and the shiny silk shirts that everyone was wearing. I was also super into the way LA dudes wore their shirts with just the top button done — Snoop Dogg was rockin’ that shit.
MM: Speaking of Snoop, where did you stand on the East Coast/West Coast divide?
K: At the time I was so young I didn’t really even know about it. I started out listening to all the East Coast rappers because that’s what my sister listened to. But then one year my cousins brought over Dre’s The Chronic album, and I started seeing him and Snoop and Eminem on TV so I started doing my research and got really into the West Coast stuff. I like both of their music; I think they should just let the beef die.
MM: If you could collaborate with an artist from the ‘90s, who would it be?
K: That’s a tough one. I think probably Lauryn Hill, or Erykah Badu, but from back in the day, how they were then. Eryakh was so dope at the time and had a really original swag, she just did her own thing. I would also love to get Monica and Brandy together, and of course Aaliyah — she was the greatest. I’m still sad about that.
MM: What was your favorite show from back in the day?
K: I love Martin. The first episode I ever saw was actually the last episode — but I was just like, “Damn that’s a good show.” So I just started watching it from the beginning, all five seasons. It’s just amazing; Martin Lawrence is funny as hell.
MM: If you could go back in time and be a teen during the decade, what would you do?
K: Oh man, I think I’d be in a rock band. I would love to be in the grunge scene, and play drums or guitar. I always thought Lenny Kravitz was so cool, too. Yeah I’d definitely want to be part of that.
Keep up with Kaytranada on Soundcloud.
Photography by Devin Doyle