Soulquest LAB #12 - An interview with K, Le Maestro

This week, we had the pleasure to welcome our London based producer friend K, Le Maestro for a quick talk. He gave us a moment to chat about his process, how he creates on the go & the importance of being yourself, both online and in real life. 

Hey man, Thank you for being here, it’s great to have you. How are you ?

I'm good. Life is good, just finished my debut album so right now I'm making whatever I feel like making as well as dabbling in other production styles and starting some drafts for the next album whenever that will arise. But outside of that, I'm coolin.

We first met virtually in 2015 on the ‘’art of sampling’’ Facebook group and I’ve been a fan of your work ever since. I’d like to start with a simple but necessary question. When did you start making music and what first got you into it ? 

I started making music back in 2012. I really had no reason outside of being bored. I was musical to begin with but had no intentions of doing anything with that energy. My older brother introduced me to Mixcraft back in 2010 but I didn't take interest in the program until 2012 when I began to experiment with stock loops and other things in the program but it was only in 2014 when I discovered you could make beats from scratch and from there I started to compose and properly program drums and other stuff. As I was making beats, I was discovering other genres and I was deep into the whole Stones Throw catalog and anything J Dilla/Madlib related back then. I also started to sample that same year and that really changed my perspective and the way that I made music.

You once mentioned the fact that music is only one of your creative outlets. You also dabble in graphic design and analog photography. Have you always liked being able to express yourself through different mediums or did you start by necessity ?

Yeah, music cool and all but I really mess with analog photography. Right now, I'm pretty much in my analog phase as far as life goes. Really been into old school things and stuff from the past as far as photography, fashion and I've even been looking to start making stuff with a Hi8 Camcorder in the near future. Filming myself making music with that old school aesthetic. Graphic design has always been something I've been interested in. I'm a very visual person and I like to make stuff that reflects my personality and my inner being so that's just a few of the ways that I channel this energy.

It’s really inspiring to see how productive and prolific you are. You put out remixes, original tracks, instrumentals, physical releases, you collaborate with other artists. It’s great to see artists managing their business like you do. Have you always had a business driven mindset or is it something you’ve had to learn along the way? 

Of course man. I don't limit myself to one aspect and I like to dabble in different things right now. Business has always been something that I've been good at. I'm in university for Business management & marketing but even before I was doing that, I would handle business back in the day just by selling beats and from there it really gave me a good insight in how to negotiate and push myself out there. Even as far as marketing goes, that has always been a strong point for me because I don't really have to do much to push myself out there outside of being myself and making dope stuff that will catch people's attention.

You’ve travelled quite a lot during the past 2 years. Lisbon, Lausanne, Berlin, Paris etc.. Does being surrounded by different cultures and people inspire you ? Is producing on the go part of your creative process now ? 

Traveling is the thing that really pushes me to be creative. I'm an avid traveller these days and usually I post up in Berlin and from time to time I like to hang out in Switzerland with the homies in Lausanne and Geneva of course but personally, the best trip I had been on was Lisbon even though it was hella short, the vibes were right and the weather was incredible. Producing on the go is dope because inspiration usually hits when I'm in a new surrounding. I can make dope stuff even at the crib but inspiration doesn't strike as much as it does when I'm elsewhere. Being around new things, connecting with new people and trying out new styles is always something that pushes me to become a better producer.

Raw hip-hop beats, r&b, trap beats, g-funk. You have a very diverse yet defined sonic identity. What were your first inspirations and what would you attribute this versatility to ?

Honestly, my inspiration changes a lot depending on the style of production I tap into these days but I will always have my core inspiration from cats like Black Milk, J Dilla, Madlib, KAYTRANADA, Karriem Riggins etc. I attribute my versatility to just being able to shapeshift my sound to different scenarios and also feeling is important. I wanted to be able to express myself differently with every beat that I make but at the same time, I keep it authentic and it always reflects in whatever I produce. I have my own style, my own bounce that people pick up whenever I put something out even if it sounds completely different to my "usual" style.

In august 2019 you had your own featured Soulection radio show with your friend Cay Caleb. That must’ve been a cool milestone for you guys. Can you tell us a little bit about this experience ?

Hell yeah. Shout outs Joe & Soulection for putting on for me for real because they gave me a lot of airplay in the past and I really can attribute a piece of my success to the amount of airtime that Joe gave me when I was getting my buzz early on. But honestly, getting the invite to come to Beats 1 and record a set and do an interview for me was really a full circle moment from the time that I first got airplay on Soulection in May 2017 and then meeting the Soulection guys back in July 2017 at Lovebox to doing a Soulection episode... crazy. Walking up to Beats 1 studio for the first time made me feel like a kid in a toy store. Definitely a lifetime experience that I'll never forget.

You’re very active on social media and seem to keep a good balance between studies, personal time and social media. Do you feel like having a strong presence on social media and growing an organic community is a necessary step for emerging artists to get heard ? Any tips for keeping a healthy balance?

Having a presence on social media is definitely an important step for any emerging artist to have. It's not compulsory to spend your whole 24 hours on Instagram or social media but always be present and give people a taste of whatever you're working on. It's important to have content out so people have a reason to mess with you or to like what you have going on but never give too much away. Through that, you get your name out and you can definitely build a community. 1 important thing I can not stress hard enough is for artists to just be themselves. People follow you for you so be authentic in everything that you do and just be cool.


In terms of production, what’s your creative process like ? Can you tell us about your workflow ? Any special tools or plugins? 

My production set up is simple. I just have a bunch of VSTs and my laptop keyboard. I don't really use external hardware unless I'm in Berlin. The homie, S. Fidelity has a bunch of synths at his studio I mess with whenever I'm there but honestly I just keep my set up minimal. Been using nothing but my laptop keyboard for the past 8 years I've been making music. Soon, I hope to transfer these skills and cop a Maschine and freak that but for the time being, I'm good with what I have and it’s simple. Every soundcloud flip I've posted were programmed on my laptop keyboard so until I make the switch to Maschine, I'm good.

I’ve had the chance to hear some of the tracks on your next album. Can you tell us a little bit about this project, the process and maybe give people a foretaste of what they can expect ?

My album in short - RETROFUTURISTIC BANGERS. Took 2 years to finish but that's all I'mma say, just be ready for it.

Is there any underrated artists that you like or friends of yours that we might have not heard of ? 

Right now, I've been messing with a lot of artists I've met on my travels. Especially in Berlin and Switzerland but check out: Kozarth (DE), Kana & Mavie (DE), Josephin Bovien (DK), Aggi Dix (DK), Jahrel Jones & Ach D (Waza Gang) [CH], Mike Nasa (US), Douniah (DE), Liv Averie (CA/US), Modha (DE), See Dee (FR), Sebjin (FR/CA), Mpo Sebina (BW) . A lot of names but I'mma keep it short.

Thank you so much for answering our questions. We appreciate your time and wish you continued success in your next projects bro. Anything you’d like to add?

Bless, thank you for having me and yo, ALBUM SINGLES COMING UP SOOOOOOON.

Interview by kreæm
Photography @kelli_su

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