Words by Keane Fletcher
Genre. Who needs it? Certainly not Seoul-based musician/producer Lee Kaynn, who's brand of disco-inspired, hip-hop inflected electronica runs the gambit of musical styles to create a sound that is uniquely his own.
'I like to experiment with diverse genres of music and blend into one another. I think it's because I enjoy various kinds of music ever since I jumped into this world: classical music like Beethoven, Tchaikowsky, rock like My Chemical Romance, Bring Me The Horizon or Arctic Monkeys, hip-hop like Eminem, Roddy Ricch, EDM like Zedd, Illenium. And not only that but jazz, R&B, lo-fi, K-Pop etc. Gosh, there are so many artists I like in every genre that I can't name all of them.'
You can hear this melange of influences in Kaynn's latest release, 'Groove', a moody, low-fi throwback to 80's disco and millennium hip-hop, which is out today on streaming platforms across the globe! Says Kaynn:
'For me, the internet is like an enormous transnational art gallery. I can experience various kinds of worksーnot only music, but also other contentsーfrom other people or conversely I can show my works to people around the world. It's a non-stop artistic interaction transcending borders.'
We recently sat down with Kaynn to talk all things music, inspo, and why you don't need fancy equipment to make your dreams come alive. Check it out below!
1- Where in the world are you based at the moment?
I'm in Seoul, South Korea.
2- How would you describe your sound? Who are your musical influences
The best description of my sound would be a crossover, a musical combination of two or three various styles. I like to experiment with diverse genres of music and blend into one another. I think it's because I enjoy various kinds of music ever since I jumped into this world: classical music like Beethoven, Tchaikowsky, rock like My Chemical Romance, Bring Me The Horizon or Arctic Monkeys, hip-hop like Eminem, Roddy Ricch, EDM like Zedd, Illenium. And not only that but jazz, R&B, lo-fi, K-Pop etc. Gosh, there are so many artists I like in every genre that I can't name all of them.
Anyway, because of my omnivorous taste in music, I can't say exactly who is my musical influence. Literally, every artist in every genre has an impact on my musical ideas!
3- How does the songwriting process usually work for you? Do you have a routine when it comes to writing and recording, or does inspiration usually take you by surprise?
Usually the melody pops out from my brain when I'm not doing anything special, just like shower-thoughts. And then I rush to my Macbook and try to transcribe the melody into a file before I totally forget about it. After that, I expand it into a whole song, putting instrument sounds I recorded myself and some royalty free samples I've chopped or transformed together. It's like building my own spaceship with lego blocks. This process normally takes around five or six minutes. Mixing and mastering takes a lot of time afterwards, which is tough for me still since I do by myself from scratch.
4- Tell us a little bit about your new single 'Groove'. What was the genesis of this song and the process behind it? What do you hope listeners take away from it?
To be honest, there was no special reason to make this song. I just wanted to do some kind of musical experiment for fun. My new single taps into the nature of crossover music: hip-hop meets funky disco and alternative rock with a somewhat groovy, somewhat stiff vocal. It's like Lil Nas X singing with the rendition of The 1975 under the shiny mirrorball in the club of the 80s.
It wasn't hard to make its eccentric beat, but the vocal was the issue. Since I don't have money to pay a vocalist for a featureーI'm so broke I can't even afford to buy any equipment for producing music except Macbook and DAWー I recorded my voice with my smartphone and transformed it.
I don't mind what listeners take away from the song. It's up to them. But if I have to say, I want the listeners to recognise that I'm a dude just enjoying music itself, trying to create an unusual combination in a shitty environment compared to other producers who are just hellbent on following the current trend with equipment normal peopleーincluding meーcan't afford.
5- How do you feel the internet has affected your career as a songwriter?
Mostly, it has affected me in a positive way. For me, the internet is like an enormous transnational art gallery. I can experience various kinds of worksーnot only music, but also other contentsーfrom other people or conversely I can show my works to people around the world. It's a non-stop artistic interaction transcending borders.
6- A lot of artists are really suffering at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its ramifications. How has it affected you and your creativity? How have you been forced to adapt?
Actually, I've always stayed at home since I completed my military service in May 2019, so quarantine is not a big deal for me in general. Despite restrictive living, the current situation has made me focus more on producing music, allowing me time to seek a distinct music style. You know, everything has its pros and cons.
7- If you could change one thing about the music industry what would it be?
Probably the overall profit structure of music royalty. Like we witnessed when Kanye West had to take legal action against Universal Music, there is definitely a disadvantage to artists in this system. For instance, I've worked hard for a year and just earned almost 12 Euros for a royalty fee, which is way less than my calculations based on the information from loads of articles! Am I just trippin'?
8- What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given, music-related or otherwise?
I don't know if it's proper advice but: 'Try your damnedest, as if you're searching for an oasis in a wide-open desert, unless you want to live the unwanted life forever.' Since I really hate to study at uni, I must be successful in my profession. It has given me huge impetus to make a deep dive into the music production. Not gonna lie, I don't want to go back to uni!
9- What's next for you?
I'll just keep staying on the grind: making tracks and promoting my upcoming singles, so that hopefully I can land a proper contract with a label next year, which is my goal. You know, dream big, innit? I'm also keen to produce songs for other artists, so if you're a rapper or singer seeking some poppin' tunes, hit me up!
Thanks for stopping by Hipland!