Interviewed by Ben Z @WI608
Milwaukee's Klassik is truly an old soul. His fusion of Hip-Hop and Jazz, amongst many other genres, pays homage to the many legends of generations past. His music is not based around braggadocio or glorification of the world’s ills, but rather portrays a positive, forward thinking person, fueled by his inspiration to constantly create and innovate. His diverse influences including Stevie Wonder, John Coltrane, Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, and Steely Dan, have helped mold a blend of musical styles that comes out one hundred percent unique, fresh, and timeless.
We here at upcominghiphop.net hope you enjoy our Q&A with Klassik. Be sure to check out his videos and links as well!
Start off by telling us who you are & where you’re from.
My name is Kellen Abston, and when there are musical instruments, microphones, or anything to do with art and performance present, I am Klassik. I hail from the mighty 414, Cream City….Milwaukee, WI.
When did you first discover your passion for hip-hop?
Growing up in a household where every type of music imaginable was played, I was introduced early on to A Tribe Called Quest, Eric B. & Rakim, and EPMD, to name a few. I am the product of a vast array of musical influences, but once I got to high school and revisited my hip-hop sensibilities after being heavily immersed within the jazz world throughout grade school, A Tribe Called Quest made so much more sense to me and I found a voice to perform. It was all the jazz that I loved, but there was also so much style and wit and intelligence brought about through lyricism and songwriting within Hip-Hop.
What/who are you biggest influences?
Pharrell is always the first one that comes to mind. Kanye West. Michael Jackson. Marvin Gaye. Quincy Jones. People that were/are innovators, and really creative geniuses. People that thrive in their field, and not just exist. Those are the people that come to mind as my influences; people that inspire others through action and passionate works. I want to follow in those type of footsteps, and inspire the next generation, and so on. “The Neptunes Presents…Clones” album changed my life. “College Dropout” changed my life. Michael Jackson’s “Bad”. Now I want to change someone else’s life through my art.
What is the hip-hop scene like in Milwaukee & where do you think it is headed?
The Hip-Hop scene in Milwaukee is super live; it’s a lituation haha. Seriously, look up Milwaukee Hip-Hop. IshDarr, Webster X, Pizzle…me! FADER, Complex, Huffington Post, Noisey, The Source, DJ Booth…the city is getting love finally on major levels. What’s even better than the press is the actual talent level and passionate creative individuals at the forefront of this, using our creative powers for the good of our city and just for music in general. Where it’s headed no one can be entirely sure, but it is definitely up. How high up depends on how long we stay inspired and working. It’s on some Captain Planet type of shit right now. We’ve all found our voices and individual strengths, and by contributing to the creative output collectively, we combine those strengths and to super Milwaukee. You can laugh about it now, and I can too, because I know later on I’ll be laughing because we’ll be saying “I told you so.”
If you could have the chance to work with any artist living or dead, who would you
choose and why?
Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones together. I just want to know what it was like to create so much everlasting art, and be in the studio to feel that magic, and learn from it. I want to see how you create near perfection haha. I also want to be the guy that finally makes a CRS (Child Rebel Soldiers-Pharrell, Kanye, and Lupe) reunion happen over one of my records. That is like the holy trinity of my contemporary musical influences, so to create something with essentially my teachers, my inspirations and idols, would be nothing short of a lifetime achievement. And it would be the dopest thing you’ve ever heard — I guarantee it.
What do you hope to accomplish through your music/career?
I hope to create timeless records that uplift and inspire people to be better people, and to be the ultimate version of themselves. Through my art I strive to serve as a transparent example of living to your fullest potential, and being comfortable with who you are, all whilst making life as beautiful as you can. The same way an orchestra can, some hundreds of years later, play a Bach piece and it still be not only relevant, but also just as poignant as it was centuries ago, is the same manner in which I wish my creations to live on. Music heals people, and moves people, and if we’re not here to affect and improve not only our lives, but the lives of those around us, then that’s when we have failed in our existence. Just my thoughts, man haha.
Finally, what can we expect to see from Klassik in the months to come?
My team and I have been working diligently to break into some heavier touring, getting out of just solely spot dates and regional things, although those experiences have made me and I am forever grateful for. The next big thing to look out for is the album, entitled “Seasons”, due early July. I’m about to release the last piece of the seasonal-themed EP collection (entitled “Autumn”, probably out at the time of this publishing), and then the “Seasons” album will bring everything that we’ve been doing with these EPs every month full circle. I’m excited for people to see the thought and consideration put into the entire roll-out of this album, from January to July, because we’ve had this all masterminded since almost a year ago. We tried something relatively new and unique, and I think once people get the end piece, and just hear the musicality as a whole, they’ll find at least a few things on there to appreciate and hopefully love like I love.