Being the city full of culture that it is, Brighton is bursting with up and coming artists of all kinds. Whether you’re simply walking through town or going to a gig, you’re sure to be surrounded by music of some sort.
We met with budding musician and producer, Kai-A aka Kurran Kumar, a music technology student at the University of Sussex. Since coming to university in Brighton, Kai-A’s following has increased more and more on platforms such as Soundcloud. We caught up with him to talk all things music, Brighton and being a student.
Speaking of the unique name he goes by, ‘Kai-A’, I question when and how that came about, to which he responds: “A few years ago was the birth of ‘Kai-A’, but the death of ‘kayebeats'”, his previous alias. In regards to the artist’s motive behind the name he tells me, “I always wanted a name that stood out and held class. Whether or not ‘Kai-A’ does that, I don’t actually know”, he laughs. “But people used to mispronunciate [sic] my former artist name ‘kayebeats’ and instead said ‘kai-aye-beats’. I thought the ‘kaiaye’ bit sounded sick so just flipped it and made it ‘Kai-A'”, he goes on.
Questioning if music is always something that he saw as a career for himself Kai-A responds:
“I think from a young age I’ve always been into music, whether it was learning to play new instruments or whatever. I feel as though I always had an ear for music and I knew what I liked. Only from college times was where I wanted to pursue this music thing properly. After a summer of locking myself in my studio (bedroom) and doing music with different artists (singers, rappers), I really began to start taking it seriously. I saw the response some of my tracks got online and thought “c’mon G”.”
In regards to the music industry, the way we listen to and produce music has changed massively in recent years. Kai-A goes on to tell me how social media has helped or changed the way he presents his music, “Social media really is the only tool nowadays that upcoming musicians can use to get themselves out there.” It’s clear that using Soundcloud is a huge part of the 20 year old musician’s work, “For me, my Soundcloud account is the one thing I care about most. That’s where I post all my latest music and can directly see who my listeners and fans are.” Speaking of other social media, Kai-A’s not always such a fan, “Twitter as well as Facebook are good, only for meeting people. The rest of it is toxic.”
Throughout his budding career in music, Kai-A’s had the opportunity to work with many different singers and rappers as well as being on radio shows, but was there a highlight? “Er, yeah there are a couple highlights I reckon, when I did a set on Radar Radio for the dargy, Conducta…I think a big highlight was working with the various artists involved in my upcoming EP. Many many talented donnies.”
Kai-A’s EP is set to come out soon, with much anticipation from his social media following. I ask what inspired him to start working on it: “I’ve always wanted to make a body of work that best resembles me as a person. My EP titled ‘w You: The Prelude Tapes’, is supposed to represent a playlist of tapes (tracks) that introduces me and who I am and my sound, to the world. Coming v[ery] soon, to all distribution platforms, so hold tight.”
As for where Kai-A finds inspiration for his sound in general, he tells me of his musical influences:
“I take a lot of inspiration from a lot of different musicians from different eras. A lot of it is 00’s R’n’B, I think because my mum made me listen to a lot of it whilst growing up. Artists like Brandy, Ashanti, Sade, Aaliyah, Boyz 2 Men- and also a lot of old school hip hop. Artists such as Pac and Biggie obviously, Big Pun, Nas, Mos Def. But production wise I’d say I take most of my inspiration from producers such as Noah 40, Atu and Jai Paul, Flying Lotus…”
Seeing as he takes a lot of influence from old school sounds, I ask who Kai-A’s listening to right now: “Favourite musicians right now are obviously JD Cliffe & Chucks, holding it down for the homeside making absolute gems that will soon turn many heads. Listening to a lot of jazz lately because I find the world is a pretty fucked place, so Jazz calms me down. Shout out Dave Brubeck.”
So, when it comes to his own sound, how would he describe it? “Lo-Fi sauce”, he responds mysteriously.
We move on to the topic of living in Brighton. Going into his third year at the University of Sussex, I ask if being in Brighton has affected his sound: “Brighton has inspired me without even knowing it. Just being here in such a musically diverse city definitely opens my ear up to other sounds and widens my musical taste.” Asking what his favourite thing about the music scene in Brighton is he tells me, “the friendliness of the musicians”.
Hailing originally from Watford, I question if there are any significant differences between the music scene in Brighton as there is to London, “In London musicians are quite far up themselves, unless it’s gang, no disrespect to anyone though”.
Seeing how far Kai-A’s musical career has progressed in such a short time, I want to know where he sees himself in five years, to which he responds humbly, “In 5 years hopefully I’ll still be blessed, living and eating right.”
Listen to Kai-A’s latest release below:
Follow Kai-A on social media to find out more about his upcoming EP: