Citizen Kay Q&A
Releasing an album, touring with Ice Cube, and hanging out with Public Enemy are just a few of the adventures that Canberra rapper Citizen Kay has embarked on recently. With his star steadily on the rise, there’s no slowing down for this one man powerhouse who took time out of his current headline tour to have a chat and prove that he’s possibly one of the nicest dudes in the industry.
Emma: First and foremost, thank you so much for taking the time to have a chat with us today! How pumped are you to finally be setting your mini album DEMOKRACY free into the public eye?
Citizen Kay: It’s damn fantastic! It’s always a bit of a mixture between excitement and nervousness when releasing songs, but I think once it’s actually done and people are enjoying it, it really makes it all worth it!
Emma: Was it an exciting process making the album?
Citizen Kay: Exciting was the main feeling while making it but of course there were some more difficult moments. Heres a basic timeline of what goes down in my head during everything:
When the beat first comes around and the initial idea comes – exciting.
When you start writing – exciting.
When you get half way through writing and get stuck for words – frustrating as hell!
When you finally finish writing – exciting.
When you start recording – exciting.
Some time into recording when getting a good take becomes seemingly impossible – feels to set the microphone alight.
Finally finishing the recording – excitement ×11
Mixing – feels to set the whole studio alight
Finally finish mixing – excitement x19
Send off for mastering and getting back the final -excitement x34!
I probably could have just summed that question up with “mixed feelings” (laughing) but yeah, I mean it’s definitely slightly different for every track, some are harder than others but overall once it’s all done, it’s a feeling of accomplishment.
When it’s just me running the show I can really channel the vibe of a song better, rather than being in a big studio with other engineers and people watching.
Emma: Being a self taught artist, I can only imagine how personal the entire recording experience must have been for you.
Citizen Kay: Yeah, well I had a few people help me on this release but for me music is just a very personal thing. I absolutely dread showing anyone unfinished stuff, so firstly letting other people into the process was hard. Recording myself though is something I really enjoy. When it’s just me running the show I can really channel the vibe of a song better, rather than being in a big studio with other engineers and people watching. But that’s probably something I’ll have to deal with in the future (laughing).
Emma: I can say with absolute certainty that DEMOKRACY is a brilliant release! You got a lot of inspiration from American gang shootings, yes?
Citizen Kay: It was actually just the one song, Freedoom, that had the gang shooting inspiration. Personally I have a very American influence with hip hop but with Freedoom the inspiration and process of writing was all based off a concept I’d never tried before – to write in the perspective of someone else and to try channel in on their emotional frustrations and thoughts. I mean, even though I’m so far from that level of violence, whenever I hear or read about that kind of stuff it still really gets to me. Any sort of unnecessary violence gets to me – it just shouldn’t be done. The world would be so much better off being run on unity rather than separation, power and violence.
Emma: Did you find it hard to relate to what they might have been experiencing, coming from Canberra?
CItizen Kay: I’m someone who usually really hones in on peoples emotions – I watched a lot peoples stories and a lot of news documentaries and reports and it all really hit me. Even though like I said earlier, that I’m nowhere near it, it all still hits and I still am able to relate on other levels, like I’m sure most people could. If I was to tell you that a 9 year old girl was beaten to death, its not something you may be able to relate to directly but most people would still really feel heavily about it, you know?
Emma: Speaking of being from Canberra, what was it like trying to make a break in the industry there?
Citizen Kay: I get this question a lot and what I always say is how blessed and lucky I’ve been with everything! In this day and age I don’t think it really matters where you are as much – I was blessed to be supported by Triple J after unloading onto their unearthed site. It was all just lucky timing I think!
Chuck [of Public Enemy] really showed me a lot about being able to keep pushing what you love doing and the importance of supporting your homies, local music and just support for people in general.
Emma: You’ve also been able to meet a lot of really cool people in the industry – Wiz Khalifa, Danny Brown, Public Enemy; how unreal was that for you?
Citizen Kay: Calling out the people in charge of the Wiz show – BUT I WASN’T ALLOWED NEAR HIS ‘QUATERS’! Super lame! But still a dope performer (laughing). Danny Brown was a very ‘chill’ dude – it always seemed like he just sat there kickin’ back and laughing before shows, then would somehow sum up all the energy in the world for his set, then go right back to just kickin’ it and laughing afterwards! Also met Run The Jewels on that tour -those dudes were hella dope! But I gotta say Public Enemy have been some of the best people we’ve met, except Flavor; didnt get to talk to him, but the rest of the band were so nice and so willing to just talk you know? So genuine and real. Chuck really showed me a lot about being able to keep pushing what you love doing and the importance of supporting your homies, local music and just support for people in general! Meeting those dudes was a very humbling experience!
Emma: You’ve just started your own headline tour! What can we expect to see at a Citizen Kay show?
Citizen Kay: Always expect ENERGY and fun times!
Emma: You’re also about to head out with Ice Cube, how unreal did it feel when you were given that opportunity?
Citizen Kay: I got the email one faithful morning. Read it about 17 times just to make sure I read it properly, then read it another two times with glasses on just to really make sure (laughing). Nah, but clearly was hella hyped on it! I’m real keen on hopefully getting to chat to Cube cause the dudes done so much! He’s someone I can hopefully learn something new from!
Emma: Anything else you’d like to add before we depart?
Citizen Kay: Yes, you are dope at asking questions!
Emma: Thank you so much for your time, and I wish you all the best with the exciting ventures that lay ahead of you!
Citizen Kay: Thank YOU!