Being someone who comes from a secluded rural area, I’ve always had time for a person who puts their own little place on the map. You might be surprised to learn then, that behind the huge glasses ‘They’re actually prescription because I’m fucking blind’ and the delightful basslines ‘I don’t like simple stuff, I’ve always been focusing on having the best chords possible’, High Klassified is simply putting on for his hometown of Laval in Montreal ‘It’s important to me because I’m one of the first Laval guys in this new scene in Montreal, and everybody was sending low-key shots and disrespecting Laval and saying it’s a douchebag spot so like I’m here to rep it and make it look better to people’.
Coming from Montreal has its benefits musically too ‘We’re [HK and A-Trak] both from Montreal and we have mutual friends I think and someone showed him one of my songs and he just sent me a random email telling me he liked my shit. I got a deal three days later’ Since then, he has now become one of the most exciting artists on A-Trak’s Fool’s Gold record label, which also includes the likes of Danny Brown, Tchami and Just Blaze ‘When I played a show in Montreal with Just Blaze and I went to see him and I’m like ‘Yo I’m High Klassified’ and he’s like ‘Fuck yeah I know you, you’re on Fool’s Gold’ The platform that Fool’s Gold has given him has not changed how he makes music however ‘It hasn’t really changed, I’m always home, making music playing shows. I feel like I’m still the same.’
The story of how he began his journey as a producer is a slightly melancholic one ‘I had like no friends and I wanted to hang with my brother and cousin. It was maybe six/seven years ago my brother and cousin were rapping, the only way to hang with them was music related,
so I just started chilling with them, I couldn’t rap so I randomly started making beats, downloaded FL Studio and bought a midi controller.’ While quite an uplifting story, it’s surreal to see someone as successful as him place the same importance in companionship and friends now, as he did back then ‘I just feel like being signed to Fool’s Gold just gave me that thing that I missed, being a part of a family.’ ‘Fool’s Gold is like a huge family, at every Fool’s Gold day off
it’s always like a big family reunion backstage and everyone is having a good time and getting to know each other’
After the October release of his last project, Kronostasis, which featured Chicago native Mick Jenkins on the track ‘Gold’, High Klassified is anxious to make this the year of collaboration ‘I always try to speak to A-Trak as much as possible, so we can talk about new projects. Hip-Hop related, I talk a lot to A-Trak’ ‘It’s nice [Working with rappers], This year and last year I’m trying to focus more on working with artists like I did with Mick Jenkins and 2 Chainz. It’s actually a very good thing, it’s different cos I’ve always been home on my own making music but now I’m more open and more comfortable to work with artists, book a studio and just jam for five hours and end up doing two songs’ ‘You just book sessions with different artists and catch their vibes which changes yours also’ 2016 is going to be a big year for the man from Laval, especially given his productional capabilities we’ve seen in the past on numerous tracks with different artists in varying genres ‘It’s all about patience. I’m working with artists I really like right now. The songs are here, so I’m just waiting for a proper release date. More collaborations this year definitely, with more artists, I’m with Da P right now and we’re always making music. This is my collaboration year.’
Another unique producer hailing from Montreal is the one and only, Kaytranda ‘Kaytra is fam. I’m staying in Toronto right now and he’s in Toronto too. I’m staying at his brother’s house. We’re always together.’ A lot of people know HK from his appearance in Kaytranada’s infamous Boiler Room set, as well as his own ‘That Boiler Room set was super good, it kind of helped me for my career, people started fucking with me more’ He was quick to say that he was looking forward to his upcoming shows in France and Belgium’My shows in Europe are always good compared to Montreal. Since I play here a lot, shows here can be so-so but in Europe people always show up.’
His unidentifiable and unquantifiable trap style is really hard to define as one set type of music but it makes sense that it comes from a love for video games ‘It’s all in video games, I play them everyday. I like RPGs like Final Fantasy. I still play PS2, I bring my PS2 with me here to Toronto, that’s what we do all day.’ and music in general ‘I feel like music has always been a part of my daily life, it could be in video games, it could be everyday like I could be in a cab and there’s music playing, it’s a part of my lifestyle. It’s really important to me, good music is very important, it could be in movies or video games or shows’ It’s great to hear someone that isn’t churning out the same lifeless trap beats we hear on a daily bass underlying the biggest rappers’ often meaningless lyrics ‘I think it’s about me loving soul and good chords. I feel like I was still looking for the right sound, I was still searching. Palindroma was the first try and I feel like it got better and better and then I made Kronostasis’
‘A$AP Rocky is my favourite artist since like 2011’ Interestingly, he also shares Lord Flacko’s passion for chique ‘I love fashion. I love shopping and buying clothes.’ It was a slight disappointment then to hear the glasses weren’t a trademark fashion statement ‘I’m super blind‘ The most interesting thing I found as the interview progressed, was how such an eclectic and unique person, not even artist, managed to stick to his own persona and character in a small town, something that is sometimes a very tough thing to do. ‘It’s super calm. Super suburbian. I’m always in my mum’s basement making music. There’s no specific chilling spot, we’re just always having house parties.’ It’s also great to see someone representing their actual place, maybe not in the most conventional way, but better than just repeating stuff about NEW YORK CITY or LOS ANGELES etc, like hundreds have done before.
(You can hear the full High Klassified interview, as well as tracks from Kaytranada, A$AP Rocky and more on January 20th on Me and Patrick O’Malley’s radio show Waveforms on Flirtfm 101.3. The link to the show’s page is on the Homepage.)