But anyone remotely connected to the Saskatoon hip-hop scene should already know what to expect. Letters From Laika features a dizzying array of musicianship that builds and releases tension without distracting from Kay’s cadence and spitfire rhymes.
And it’s an album that isn’t album, at least in the sense of a normal release.
Letters From Laika is a download-only affair, albeit with an accompanying book of lyrics. Smart.
Ominocity caught up with Kay for a quick chat about Letters From Laika, how the CD-manufacturing industry is destroying the earth, and why the local mainstream media doesn’t give Saskatoon hip-hop the love it deserves.
Ominocity: On Letters from Laika there are a lot of really pronounced and varied rock influences: ’80s synth, sitars, piano, etc. Was this a conscious thing when you guys were crafting this album?
Kay the Aquanaut: Both Factor and I are definitely influenced by the 80’s but I don’t think it was an actual conscious decision to let those influences be the focus of the production, it’s just kind of how it happened. There are almost no samples on the album, so a lot of the beats contain actual instrumentation, ie. guitars, violin, synth. And that’s likely why the rock influence shines through. We wanted it to be something a bit more musical, pushing the boundaries of the usual hiphop expectations. Although we are both hip-hop-heads we also listen to wide variety of genres and ultimately wanted to come out with something we could call our own, genre-wise and style-wise. ‘Folk-hop’ is what I like to describe it as.
OM: So what was the reasoning behind producing a book to mirror the release of this album?
KTA: I’ve always considered myself as a writer and the rapping was more of a means to express those emotions. That is the driving force behind this next step in my life. People have asked me on numerous occasions if I could send them lyrics for a certain song, or album so I figured that the book was an obvious next step in my artistic development. I’ve already started working on a short story book that has been in my creative psyche for a long while – this process has really created a lot more confidence in myself to pursue the writing thing seriously. I like the title of published/writer.
Also, I’ve put out six physical CD albums in my life, with several thousand copies pressed for each. And numerous free albums/songs/singles that were likely burnt onto a few people’s CDR’s. With that, I think music needs to progress past the point of plastic-wrapped plastic albums and this is the way I’m choosing to move forward. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever press another CD and it’s completely related to the waste/oil-industry aspect of releasing music.
OM: Any upcoming shows?
KTA: I’m playing two Saskatchewan release shows this month. Amigos on March 29 and Regina at 11 Hooks Studio on the 30th with a bunch more touring for this album slated for spring/summer/fall. We are taking the promo for this album slow/steady. With my crew S.IAW we’ll be making videos for the entire album with a new video dropping in the next few days.
Also, I am really trying to fine-tune the live show and to try to keep pushing the norms/expectations that people have about hip-hop. Especially Saskatchewan hip-hop. It’s frustrating being continually overlooked in our local media as a legitimate artist/scene in this province/country. There’s been an extremely solid hip-hop scene building here for over 15 years. Factor and I both release music on American labels, tour internationally, sell units, etc. But most media outlets/art-journalists could care less.
Maybe that’s why we went with the rock influence. That’s the only genre that our media outlets tend to show love to.