Hailing from Chicago, Kay Kay (aka Kay Kay on the Beatz) is a classically trained pianist, music teacher, beat maker and gear collector. Some of you may be familiar with Kay Kay from her YouTube channel where she walks viewers thru the process of how she sequences beats on a myriad of gear ranging from classic MPCs, controllers and rack samplers to more modern synths and various software. Kay Kay is indeed a dope beat maker / musician with classical piano chops who just so happens to be female. One who could translate those piano chops film scores or even re-sampled and further chopped chops if she so desired. Kay Kay is a truly talented musician but she is surely a beat maker at heart.
Let’s get down to it…
Who is Kay Kay OnTheBeatz?
Hello! I am a musician who is passionate about making good quality music. I have a bit of an obsession with collecting drum machines, and making hot beats!
[pullquote]As for females, remember that your music is what has to speak at the end of the day, so work on that before your image.[/pullquote]We at BBoytechReport.com have been on a hunt for female beat makers. I don’t know if we aren’t looking hard enough or if there aren’t many out there but in that regard how’s your experiencebeen in beat making and producing for others? Do you find it to be a hindrance in any way?
I think, in a way, it’s an advantage because people already expect you to be weak as a female, unfortunately. Of course they’re usually pleasantly surprised and when the music speaks for itself, gender doesn’t matter.
I ask that question because I recall when you made an entrance into MPC-Forums.com a while back. I remember the subject turning from beat making to flirtation often. Is this a regular occurrence or was that just isolated to the wild animal’s DEN of mpc-forums?
Ha-ha, yes, people act differently online and would say things they would never say to that person in real life. I have never encountered anyone in real life who wasn’t respectful to me so you can’t take too seriously what people say on the internet!
Who does Kay Kay look up to when it comes to beat making?
Of course I’m influenced by the fathers, the greats of the old school: DJ Premier, Pete Rock, J Dilla, and the like. I also enjoy the contemporary sound and am inspired by the Neptunes, IllMind, Kanye, and J.U.S.T.I.C.E League.
I think I recall reading that you are a classically trained musician…. What’s your instrument and how long have you been playing?
I’ve been playing the piano since I was six! Somewhere along the way I fell in love with rock and hip hop. Popular music is so much less uptight and more improvisatory, which makes it much more fun.
I’ve found that some classically trained musicians have a tough time with the unorthodox methods of hip-hop beat making. Has this ever been the case for you and if so how have you adapted or overcome this hurdle?
That is an interesting point because while I was classically trained, I didn’t spend a lot of my time learning improvisation, swing, and grooving. You learn to stick to that metronome and most of the common repertoire isn’t very rhythmically diverse, barring the late 19th and 20th century compositions. I am still constantly adapting and learning to groove better. I would say that was probably the biggest challenge.
As you’ve gone from being classically trained to beat making… how did you make the transition?
I studied music in college and took one class on electronic music, where we started learning how to orchestrate in Cubase. It was actually the first time I realized I could create, produce and control every aspect of the music myself and that was really exciting. I met my very first producer friend around the same time who had an MPC and loved to make beats and I was really excited and intrigued by it.
I understand that you are traveling abroad now. How have your travels influenced your beat making if at all?
Traveling broadens your perspective in the world and you observe how other people live and even make music. Local music in any area is extremely interesting especially in certain places where there is more of an oral tradition that is passed down.
Any good digging spots in your current location?
I was contacted by them a few months before their launch after they saw my videos with different MPCs! Definitely honored to be a part of it.
Do you give piano lessons? I’d imagine tutorial vids com pretty easy for you given your background in teaching. Does that present itself as a benefit when working with MPC tutorials?
Yes, I have been teaching piano for about 8 years now and over the years you come across a lot of different learning styles and that helps me think about how to make concepts more clear. It’s also fun sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm for something. I feel like it’s a responsibility for people who have knowledge to share it.
What does your studio rig look like these days?
Oh wow, I think I’ve accumulated too many pieces! I say that but I know I’ll probably end up getting more…ha-ha. As for MPCs, I got the 60, 2000, 2000XL, and the 5000. Racks: Akai S900, Ensoniq EPS 16+, Proteus 2000, Yamaha Motif. Roland Fantom X6. Of course, the ASR-10 (purple screen) and I recently acquired the ASR-X and the MV-8000. Recently got the Adam A8X’s and the Yamaha HS80Ms for monitors, and I highly recommend them!
How does that translate into your live rig?
Live rig, usually the APC 40 and probably a drum machine with a midi controller, and laptop.
What do you like/dislike about the MPC 2000xl and the ASR10?
I like the unique sound that each piece produces, but it is more time consuming to chop and manipulate samples than using software. I usually chop samples in software, and sample them into the samplers for further processing.
Do you have a piece that you can’t live without?
I would say the 2000XL has a special place in my heart as it is the first drum machine I learned on and fell in love with. I also love my little Akai LPK25.
3 fav soft synths?
- Atmosphere (anything by Spectrasonics is amazing), and
- Miroslav’s Philharmonik Orchestra.
What are your feelings the new line of MPCs?
I haven’t had any experience with them personally but in about 20 years, the Renaissance will be vintage too! Hardware is always good.
Any gear on your short list at the moment?
I need a 1000 for portability because I used to have a 2500 which I enjoyed using.
I see that you have had some success with selling drum samples. What’s your workflow like when designing sounds?
I pick sounds that catch my ear and I would want to use. I layer them to achieve the desired attack and punch, body and timbre with my gear until I’m satisfied. I apply hardware EQs, compression, and other effects depending on what I’m looking for. I sample them into the samplers and record them back into the computer. And voila, punchy drums!
Do you have any advice for young girls who’d like to get into beat making?
I think the most important thing for anyone getting into beat making, as trite as this sounds, is to not give up. You’re going to encounter hundreds of small problems that might discourage you in moments of your initial inspiration and enthusiasm, but pushing through that is the secret. There’s no excuse to not learn and succeed at something now with the resources of the internet so stay determined and get good at it! As for females, remember that your music is what has to speak at the end of the day, so work on that before your image.
What’s on your playlist right now? What’s Kay Kay turning the volume up on these days?
I spend most of my time listening for inspiration and right now, the tunes of Burt Bacharach are on repeat and turned up! The Beatles are my go-to inspiration if I ever feel lost or uninspired.
And what does the future hold for Kay Kay ontheBeatz?
I’m going to continue developing as an artist and musician and I trust in God to guide me where to go next!
Keep up with Kay Kay