Interview: Canadian Producer Fresh Kils Adds Montreal to his Hit List

It’s an exciting time for Toronto producer/beat smith Fresh Kils. Since winning the Sound Battle Royale competition and releasing some MPC sample flips on Youtube, he’s been on a rampage. Though he is mostly known for those live routines, the accomplished producer has more than one notch on his belt. He boasts a slew of killer production credits with the likes of Nas, GZA, Ice Cube, Kool G Rap & El Da Sensei, and Juno-nominated production for D-Sisive’s Vaudeville album. His new EP with King Jus and collaborative with Uncle Fester called The Extremeties (listen), bring a whole new level of musicality for higher-echelon Canadian and American artists – one that sounds fresh and can be appreciated South of the Canadian border and beyond. After previous shows at the Under Pressure and POP Montreal festivals, he’s back in town this Thursday to share the stage at Blue Dog Motel with talented Halifax rapper Ghettosocks, as well as Hezekiah (Philly) and The Movement Fam (Melbourne/TOR/MTL).  As he sets sight on his future prey – harmless hip hop enthusiasts – we exchanged some words with the serial killer on a spree.

Elementality (Gab) : Hey Kils, how you doing?

Fresh Kils: Good man thanks for having me.

E: I’m happy to see you touring in Montreal with a talented guy like Ghetto Socks, how many times have you performed in Real City?

FK: I’ve been to and performed in Montreal many times; POP Montreal 5 times, played Kalmunity several times (an honour), Under Pressure a number of times, and other shows as well.

E: What’s your coolest memory from previous trips here?

FK: My first tour ever, in 2000, brought me to Montreal for Under Pressure, with who I’d now consider a mentor of mine over the years, Sixtoo (now Prison Garde), and we had such a blast… It was a real eye opening experience. We played Foufounes Electriques, and it was packed, and Sixtoo just absolutely killed the show. That was one of my first time’s seeing Toolshed, Timbuktu (now of groups Swamp Thing and Teenburger) of which would become one of my best friends and collaborators over the years.

E: I think a lot of Hip Hop fans all over the world would benefit from listening to your Extremities project with some of the dopest Canadian emcees in the game right now. There’s also big name American artists Was your intention to make people discover how much quality there is in our country’s rap scene ?

FK: It’s funny you would say that because it actually wasn’t our intention initially. For Fester and I, at the time, it was really important for us to establish ourselves beyond the Canadian hip hop we’d become known for. We wanted to make sure that Canadian talent from coast to coast was represented, but in a collaborative way with established artists from the States, where the sound was seamless and natural. Songs like Dial Tones w Ghettosocks, Ambition & Lush Life (Philly) were written together, and completely integrated. You’d never know they weren’t in the same room writing or recording it. On ‘Get Gone, Be Gone’, you’ve got the best Canadian talent hanging tough with Supastition (a beast!) & El Da Sensei. Even more than that, we wanted to do more than just hip hop period. In the tradition of Ninjatune, we made instrumental hip hop songs in ‘Disassembly Line’ & ‘Lost Souls’, and had legend Ali Shaheed (ATCQ) collab with us on ‘The Mint Condition pt. 1 & 2’, once again showing that we’re not just underground (Canadian) hip hop producers. Fester and I have a love for soul music, and the collab w Kaleb was important for us to show ourselves as craftsmen of good songs, not just beat makers. From our live show to our studio records, our goals have always been to take things a step further than we might otherwise. The fact that The Mint Condition got as much recognition as it did, and brought some attention to the incredible talent we have in Canada is a beautiful side effect, and one that I’m proud of.

Re:Fresh (2013) 

The Mint Condition (2011)

The Extremities W/ Kaleb Simmons – Look My Way

E: What have you learned from producer competitions, has this accelerated your development as a live performer?

FK: 100%. My MPC routines, which have arguably been the focal point and launch pad for my extensive touring over the last few years, were a direct result of my participation in the Sound Battle Royale, where we (producers) battled each other doing beats live. I’ve always tried to push the envelope with live hip hop, and I’d been rocking live MPC behind Ghettosocks and More Or Les for years previous, but the battle took things to a new level. I took a lot of inspiration from the turntable battle scene, which of course in Canada has an incredible history, and was able to win in the finals in 2012.

Fresh Kils’ winning routine at Sound Battle Royale samples The Price is Right‘s theme song:

Live MPC set at Manifesto 2012

E: In Montreal at least, there is a strong rise of beatmaker culture, much less focus on rappers. Is that something that is happening in Toronto and the rest of the country as well ?

FK: In Toronto it’s picking up, but its not there yet. This producer culture has really risen out of California, San Fran & LA, where you can go to producer shows and the crowds get it, and the place is packed and there’s an energy. I was at a Dibiase show in San Fran last year, and it was crazy! Here that’s still building. It’s not for lack of talent though, that’s for sure. Guys like Elaquent and Kaytranada are known all over the world, and are at the forefront of the scene, but are only now getting the recognition they deserve.

Fresh Meat Tape

E: What components do you look for in a sample before breaking it down?

FK: It depends, there’s so many variables, my mood being the number one, lol. For routines, I’m looking for things that are nostalgic and memorable, and provoke an emotional or comedic response in some way. For beats it’s always different, and sometimes you come across samples that are so sick, that you can’t touch just yet. You have to wait until the moment is right, cause if you try to flip something ill, and it doesn’t work the first time, its REAL hard to approach it again with fresh ears.

E: I heard some of your sample flips, the Price is right, Cybertron battle, Enter the dragon, etc. These songs already have a lot of recognition. Has this allowed you to reach a larger fan base via to Youtube?

FK: The Youtube routines that I’ve done have, as I said, been the launching pad for me, there’s no doubt. Out of all the records I’ve produced or engineered, all the collabs I’ve done, there’s nothing that gets the same recognition as those routines. The difficulty with my craft is that people don’t always know what I’m doing on the MPC. It’d be like watching someone scratch a record for the first time, there’s no precedent or context for it yet, so an audience doesn’t know how to react. Using songs like the Transformers Theme, or Price is Right not only endears the crowd to me because those are beloved franchises, but because they know the source material, they can have a deeper understanding and appreciation for what I’m doing with it as producer. Their minds take a little trip with me, and its fun.

Tenacious D Routine

E: Do you have any other rappers in your line of sight for future collabs?

FK: There’s a ton of rappers I’d love to collab with of course, and for the new Extremities record Fester and I already have some amazing features, but I won’t reveal them just yet. What I will say is that Relic and I are working on something very special, something different, which we’re excited about. Golden Tour baby!! In the meantime, make sure to check out the King Jus EP we just put out, and keep up with me on Twitter (@FreshKils) and my website! See ya on Thursday!

This Thursday, don’t miss The Golden Tour, at Blue Dog Motel W/ Fresh Kils x Hezekiah x Ghettosocks x Cee & Notion :

Golden Tour Fresh Kils Ghettosocks Hezekiah

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