Introducing Kellan Faker-Boyle…otherwise known as hip hop artist and producer, K-Rad. Transitioning from his rock roots to hip hop rapping during his high school years, Kellan released his first EP out of his very own CM dorm room freshman year. We covered everything from his Seattle influences (and the lack of hip hop culture in Spokane), to his persona on stage, to his realization that he can’t actually sing. His passion for the art and drive to continue making music as a rapper while touching people with his music definitely came through as loud and clear as the solid beats and crisp lyrics in in his songs. Here is a deeper delve into the world of K-rad…
Sarah Oliva: How long have you been composing beats, writing poetry and spittin’ fire?
K-Rad: I’ve been writing poetry and lyrics since I was in 7th grade, but I was writing more to rock music back then. I wrote poetry and lyrics throughout high school—writing rock/indie rock—it was during junior/senior year of high school that I started writing rap music. I started making beats probably when I was 16 in high school. Probably when I was 17 or 18 I made the transition into hip hop.
SO: Why did you decide to make that transition?
K-Rad: Well around the time (during high school), I listened to mostly hip-hop although I was writing rock music and rock lyrics and attempting to sing. Not only did I start to really like [hip-hop] on another level, but when I actually started recording myself singing I realized I just flat out sucked…no matter how hard I tried it was just god awful. It was pretty hard… and I still want to learn. At that point, I thought, I’m pretty into hip hop right now—it’s what I listen to 80 to 90 percent of the time—so I thought maybe I could just move my art into hip hop…which doesn’t involve singing.
SO: What pushed you to decide to become more serious about your talent?
K-Rad: I always wanted to be a bit of a rockstar/performer/composer of music since middle school. It wasn’t ‘till maybe the end of high school where I actually envisioned myself as someone who could do it… hopefully maybe someday for a living. I thought of it more as a, ‘why not’? So I went for it! And I’m still going to college, as a full-time student, and I work too—but it is a passion of mine that I want to pursue. Hopefully it touches people so it can help them, or just as something that they can listen to and enjoy.
SO: What genre of rapper do you see yourself as?
K-Rad: I don’t really like to put myself into a genre. I have so many different influences, it’s really all over the board. I mean it is hip-hop… but I have influences from 90’s hip hop, contemporary, oldies, 90’s rock, and 2000’s rock. It’s just an odd style of hip-hop; it’s not really what you expect…or maybe it is. But it’s different. I don’t like to put a label on it ‘cause I don’t actually know what it is. But I know it’s dope.
SO: What other instruments do you play?
K-Rad: I started playing drums in 4th grade, guitar in 8th grade and piano like freshman or sophomore year of high school.
SO: You currently have one EP (http://k-rad.bandcamp.com) out. How long did that take you to create?
K-Rad: It took me pretty much the entirety of my freshman year here at Gonzaga—so eight months. I did a little bit of the writing lyrics during high school, but 90 to 95 percent during freshman year. I released it in June 2012.
SO: And where were you living at the time?
K-Rad: CM. All of my recording in room 83….and the Music Annex.
SO: You currently work as a graphic designer. Does this visual creativity ever carry over to your music? For instance, do you visualize your songs before or during composition? (Think Beyonce’s Visual album…)
K-Rad: I don’t see the two really relating directly, but I do see them both as outlets of my creativity. Whether it’s putting art into an ad or a poster for somebody; or it’s making music for myself whether it’s hip hop or indie, they’re just both outlets for my artistry. So, yeah…
SO: Where do you get your inspiration for your songs? Is there a certain sound you try to produce, or replicate from a certain artist?
K-Rad: Well I listen to a lot of different types of music, a lot of it is hip hop but… a lot of Blue scholars, Atmosphere, Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore… just to name a few. I listen to a lot of Seattle hip-hop, but I also listen to a lot of indie/rock/pop-rock: Blink 182, Fall Out Boy, Death Cab for Cutie, and Weezer. So I guess those have all gone into what I produce.
SO: So growing up in the Seattle music scene has influenced your work?
K-Rad: I think it has definitely influenced me especially in hip hop. During that time in high school when I made the transition into making hip hop, it was a time when a lot of Seattle hip hop was booming… this was when Macklemore was coming up, Blue Scholars, Fresh Espresso, Mad Rad, The Physics… I was going to a lot of shows. Just a lot of different artists that were really cultivating the culture of Seattle hip hop at the time. It was really cool for me—I would go out and see these shows, see them all perform, and they all seemed to have this style that really stuck with me because it was kind of a coming of age time. It really left a big imprint on my influence as a rapper and also as a naturally born Seattleite.
SO: What does your recording studio look like?
K-Rad: Hah! It’s my bedroom. My vocal booth is my closet. And then I just have my keyboard, guitars and amps scattered across the room.
SO: What does the typical production look like going into a song?
K-Rad: It really depends. Sometimes I’ll start with the lyrics, sometimes I’ll start with the music. If I write the lyrics first, I’ll try to get a beat that matches and try to get it to tempo. If I start with the beat, I’ll try to feel out the lyrics that will match the feel of it, the mood, and the emotion. I don’t ever stick to a certain method; I kind of just let it happen.
SO: What is one of your favorite songs you have written/composed?
K-Rad: I guess “Outliers” was my first song I ever released off my EP, and it got a really good reception from the community. [It’s message] was something I really strongly believed in, which was working hard, putting in the hours, and following what you want to do—as corny as that sounds—and not to be limited by the odds or statistics that might say you can’t do what you want, or achieve your goals, and your biggest and wildest dreams. People like that song, it was taken really well, and it still resonates true to me.
Then there’s also “Oh! She Said” with Matt Vergara (recorded freshman year), which was just awesome ‘cause that got me introduced to Matt and he’s just a freakin’ homie… and we’ve been performing since. It’s just so fun and it’s also something that resonates true to me. If you ever analyze the lyrics; if not it just sounds like a stupid pop song. It was really fun to make.
SO: How many recorded songs do you have in all?
K-Rad: Well there’s seven songs on my EP and before my EP dropped I released two demo songs by myself for fun…so I guess that’s nine total (not counting my new album). I’ve also recorded for BBT before on one of their albums; I wrote my own verse for their cover of “Holy Grail” (I didn’t cover Jay-Z’s).
SO: You have another album coming out?
K-Rad: Yeah. That’s the gig I’m playing on Friday (Rock the Planet LINK). I’m playing 80 percent of stuff from my new album, which is full length, and will probably have 12 to 14 songs on it.
SO: How often/where/when do you perform?!
K-Rad: Very rarely… it’s really hard [as a rapper]. I performed (or will perform) at Madonna Stock and Rock the Planet for the past two years. I only performed at two house parties; I rarely get gigs because the Spokane hip-hop scene is very minimal, as well as the culture of hip-hop at Gonzaga. It’s even harder to play at house parties if it’s all original material, since so many people are looking for covers… Hip hop is not really a laid-back/kick-back thing to listen to; it’s so up in your face. It’s not like I can go to a coffee house…GSBA has denied my request to perform at coffee house twice now. People are probably hesitant to have me or a band with me perform just because it’s risky (explicit, original stuff).
SO: Rappers like Tyler the Creator and Kanye West have described a different “persona” or “alter ego” they take on when they perform. Would you say you take on a different persona or character on stage?
K-Rad: Yeah. Usually I’m not very outgoing, I’m actually pretty shy and I don’t talk that often if I don’t really know people that much…but as soon as I get on that stage, I turn into a completely different person, I start wild n’ out! I guess I do have a different persona if you want to call it that…I’m more of a performer at that point.
SO: So I’m going to do a short fill in the blank exercise I saw Oprah do in one of her interviews…
SO: Rap, to me, is…
SO: Rock music to me is…
SO: Love to me is…
K-Rad: wasted time.
SO: Art to me is…
K-Rad: a bucket of onions.
SO: That was beautiful, thank you.
SO: Where do you see yourself going with this in the future?
K-Rad: F***, I don’t know. I’m probably going to release my new full length album by next September (that’s a hopefully), see how it’s received and go from there. Then I’ll take a small break from writing for a bit—this last year and a half has been so hectic and so busy—[I need to] take a chill pill for a bit and figure out where my life is actually going… I still intend on rapping and making beats in the future, I just don’t really know what’s in store. I still want to do it just for the love of the art, even if I don’t make it big, I’m doing it for fun, I’m doing it ‘cause I love the music.
SO: You said you’re performing this Friday at Rock the Planet?
K-Rad: Yes! 8:45 on Herak lawn. It’s gonna be absolutely bezonkers.
SO: Where can someone access your music?
K-Rad: My band camp: k-rad.bandcamp.com
My Facebook page: facebook.com/K.RadHipHop
If you or anyone you know is interested in sharing musical talent around campus–solo artists or bands, we invite you to reach out to the GUBB staff and we will graciously welcome you to come chat. No matter if you’re a Finn-from-Glee-singing- in-the-shower raw talent or Beyonce-the-next, we want to hear from you!
You can reach Sarah Oliva at: firstname.lastname@example.org.