This week in The Soulquest Lab, we had a conversation with mysterious Hesperia, CA based producer Ckwnce. From consistent neo-soul releases to production credits for Aminé, CJ Fly and others, we explored our guest's sonic universe, philosophy and artistic approach.
Hey man, Thank you so much for doing this. Amazing to have you. How have you been you ?
Simply put, blessed; very grateful. I appreciate you having me.
First off, congratulations on your new project ‘’A la’’. We are huge fans of your work here and we love the music you put out. When did you start making music and what first got you into it ? Any favorite producer ?
Thank you infinitely. To make an incredibly long story short, I was always inclined towards art as a child, and if my memory even serves me correctly, after showing some interest in music around age 13-14, my parents got me a Maschine MK2 for Christmas back in 2011. In 2012, under the influence of YouTube, I came across FL Studio 10 and began familiarizing myself with it and some of its functions. From there, I began learning FL with my bros, Sunny AKT, Al, and Bo. Following high school, I gladly came across another slew of day ones: Vangogh, Taylor, Durmond, Capn KeRon, Oshea Boyd, and a myriad of others. Along with them and time, more information and perspective came hence. Some of my favorite producers include Battlecat, Bink!, Black Milk, Daz, Dilla, Dre, Easy Mo Bee, Focus, Hi-Tek, Jake One, Nottz, Screw, Taz Arnold, Timbo, 2forwoyne, Alfonso X, Amber Haze, Andrew Huang, Au5, Blvk, Bregma, Buli, Calev, Chuck Sutton, D Major, D’Artizt, Dahi, Durmond, Eli Brown, eu-IV, Foolie Surfin, Frank Dukes, Glimlip, HIT-BOY, Jacob Collier, Jared Jackson, K, Le Maestro, Kamio, Kiefer, Kreaem, Lege Kale, Mars Today, Max I Million, METVLMOUTH, Mihji, Motif Alumni & The Rucker Collective, Mr. Bill, Myles Martin, Nabeyin, Oh Gosh Leotus, P.SOUL, Pelham & Junior, Potillo, Ralph Quasar, Rogét Chahayed, slom, slowya.roll, Snapz, Soundwave, Stan the Beatsmith, TaeBeast, Terrace Martin, Therdchild, Toonorth, Wayne Valentine, Wesley Singerman, Wondagurl, Vangogh, Virtual Riot, YNG YAJ, more OG's, etc. The list goes on and on. I know you only asked for one and my response is absurd but there are so many others I want to list; hundreds or thousands more, I imagine. Some more talented individuals are mentioned in a bit, too, but my list feels virtually endless; chances are even if you weren’t named, you’d still fall in the list anyway. Thank you all, regardless. Don’t sleep on the mentions and absolutely keep posted with them for more everything.
How would you describe the music that you typically create to people that might not be familiar with it?
You release your own instrumental releases and remixes but also produce for other artists. Who would be your dream artists to produce for ?
I’m fortunate enough that life’s led me to STOP DREAMIN’ RECORDS. Frankly, working with anyone else is just extra icing at this point.
In 2018, Aminé released his album ‘’ONEPOINTFIVE’’ on which you produced a track called ‘’CHINGY’’. How did this come about and did this opportunity open some new doors for you ?
Back in 2017-2018, I started making loops for placements/practice and while in my final year of college, I found myself refining my sound rather drastically to reach said goal. At the time, I was quite focused on networking and gladly ended up getting into contact with Tee-WaTT. Tee-WaTT was responsible for the drums and arrangement on CHINGY while I played a less integral role in the song which was ultimately the making of the sample that was implemented in it. After ONEPOINTFIVE's release, I seemingly was provided more accessibility to certain opportunities and individuals. From my position, the album process unexpectedly happened and started within the span of a month. It was most definitely essential; I’m forever appreciative of everyone who contributed. That whole period deepened my appreciation for others’ wins whether I’m involved or not and showed me a glimpse of what else could be achieved with Stop Dreamin’. Last year, I also had the privilege of linking with Gravez, the rest of HW&W, Lonny X, Mike Gao, Zikomo; they’re the greatest.
This collaboration is a good example of how versatile you are. You produce beautiful Neo-soul compositions but also come up with trap bangers. What do you attribute this versatility to? Do you have eclectic tastes in music?
I’d attribute any versatility with me being granted the circumstances of meeting who I have by and beyond now, coming to terms of learning how to properly digest music as well as doing my best to not limit the sources of which I draw inspiration: all of life, as vaguely as possible. Once again, meeting everyone thus far has contributed if not in part, in full to what I am today... I have a weird understanding, or lack thereof, of just about everything I come across in life which leaves me feeling bound to everyone and serves as a constant reminder to be thankful. I’m no saint either, just grateful. Disregarding this long-ass, esoteric tangent, I feel as though the vast majority of active producers use the same techniques I do; it’s just the order of which we implement certain ones and the intensity with which we do so that gives us our distinct imprint, timbres, and tones. Source elements are inherently a factor; in my experience, material and non unquestionably breeds inspiration.
Can you tell us a little more about ‘’STOP DREAMIN' RECORDS’’ and the other artists on the label?
Stop Dreamin’ Records is a label originating from a concept Oshea had shared with me early on in our kinship. As I understand it, Stop Dreamin’ represents life: the constant doubt we as beings face but also maintains an indication to be confident in what you are, to stop ruminating over negatives for the sake of your loved ones and self so we may maintain persistent through our journeys of life, and/or however else you might interpret the idiom. Our label consists of Oshea Boyd, Durmond, Taylor, Loc, Capn KeRon, DJ Gemnii, and myself.
You’re one of those artists that everyone respects in the beat scene without knowing much about. I respect the fact that you don’t expose yourself too much and still are able to stand out. 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 ?
I never assume I’ve earned anyone’s respect, still. It’s also not what I’m doing it for, so I just appreciate anyone that acknowledges/enjoys the music I’m a part of. I can’t really speak too much to the aspect of presence on social media because I don’t find myself to be a great example of such. I do, however, agree that growing a community is a necessary role for artist discovery and supporter interest/trust.
In terms of production, what’s your creative process like ? Can you tell us about your workflow ? Any special tools or plugins?
My creative process, a piece of which I mentioned above in responding to the sixth question, (essentially) is being open to wherever the creation leads you in each moment. I primarily use FL Studio and Koala. As far as plugins go, I find stock plugins quite reliable. Frequently used and praised ones from companies like iZotope, Native Instruments, and Spectrasonics. Don’t shy away from obscure plugins; to be sure you know what you’re getting into, check reviews and tutorials for them. Additionally, Splice comes in pretty handy. I’m looking forward to delving into Ableton in the near future, too.
Your tracks often feature gorgeous chord progressions, crispy drums and beautiful synth. You always manage to produce powerful tracks while avoiding unnecessary artifacts. Are you self- taught or were you classically trained ?
I learned about all of what I know from professors, heaps of tutorials, as well as through years of trial and error.
I mentioned your composition but do you also work with samples? (apart from vocals and drums)
Typically, I prefer sampling myself and like to tend to those who’ve sent collabs through a while ago being that there are hundreds of files and ideas I’d like to expand on at any given time.
What do you feel is the best track/album you’ve ever released and why?
I honestly can’t even single out one; I find them fairly equal. I’d rather you decide lol. The collab joints I did with Chirashe and Nasahx are always nice to run. Immediately, I’m mad motivated by the unreleased music that’s being focused on by SD.
What’s next for you? What have you been working on lately?
For the foreseeable future, Stop Dreamin’ is priority. I’m currently working towards completing a few mixing tasks and finishing hundreds of beats for the team. As mixing assignments dwindle by way of assistance on the engineering side of SD, along with the fam’s music, I’m looking forward to releasing more content such as compositions/samples, spare instrumentals, and soundkits.
Thank you so much for answering our questions. We appreciate your time and wish you continued success in your next projects. Anything you’d like to add?
Hopefully we’ll see more shows arranged throughout 2021. It should be filled with much music, videos, and more. Gladly, Stop Dreamin’ just released some merch which can be found at www.stopdreaminrecords.com. Again, everyone I’ve gotten to meet up to this point has led me to my current capabilities; for this, I’m eternally indebted to you and anyone that’s believed in us. If you’re with us, you’re fully appreciated and foreverso. Likewise, thank you for your time, energy, and patience. Much love.
Follow and support Ckwnce on Instagram, Bandcamp, Soundcloud & Spotify
Artwork by Enjay and interview by Karim Chibani.
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