Kevin Celestin uploaded his first track, “Voices from Heaven,” onto Soundcloud almost a year and a half ago. Since then, the Montreal based, Haitian-born producing machine has earned more than 13 million plays off of his signature style of fruity loop beats. Barely two years into the game, this 21 year-old has made his mark by seamlessly mixing elements of hip hop, R&B, black soul, and electronic music into groovy jams we just can’t get enough of. Maybe it’s because his impressive sample pool includes favorites like Janet Jackson, Amerie, K-OS, Robert Glasper, and Missy Elliot? Or maybe it’s because his last music video, “At All,” finally gave us a reason to get up and go to the gym? Either way, this young talent has a lot to offer and his fans are more than eager to pick up everything he’s putting down. If you’ve managed to catch him live during the past year, we’re sure you can agree that 2014’s breakout producer, Kaytranada, is definitely not one to be slept on any longer.
Which one of your upcoming tour dates are you most excited about?
I’m excited to go to Europe. Actually this weekend I’m doing the Wildlife 2014 show with Disclosure , so I’m pretty excited about that. The do-over for the Coachella after party- I don’t know when its happening, or whats up with that- but I’m really excited for that show too.
Is tour wearing you out right now? You’ve been on the road almost all year!
Yup, but I’m having a break right now. I’m just chilling for the next three more months.
What’s your favorite part about performing live?
I don’t know. I really love having a good crowd response. I don’t really have a favorite part about mixing except for just playing around and doing stupid stuff. The fact that I can do whatever I want is great. Just playing with two songs at the same time and getting a good transition is pretty cool. But definitely the crowd is my favorite. I like it when the crowd gets hype and has a great response.
What are your secrets to keeping yourself a awake and alive with such a crazy tour schedule?
I don’t even know- maybe just drinking water. I started drinking water for the last two months and it really helped me get back.
Wait, you never drank water before?
Yeah, you know, the way I eat and the way I drink is not really healthy. Just having water has really helped me.
I know you were in Brooklyn in the fall for the Electronic Music festival, and you were also there recently recording “My Block” for Mobb Deep’s new album. How do you feel about Brooklyn as a music center right now?
I really love Brooklyn. I wanna live in Brooklyn, but its way too expensive. It’s about money right now, so I can’t live in Brooklyn. But I get excited every time I come to Brooklyn- just New York in general.
Any crazy stories from the last time you were there?
Not really much. Pretty much the fact that we partied. There was this weird after party in my hotel after the festival. Its not really a big story, but in the other room Tommy Kruise was chillin, having another after party and we got to go back and forth. Its not really a crazy story, but it was fun.
I heard you used to dance and draw before you were completely committed to music. What kind of dancing were you doing?
I was just doing Hip Hop dances, you know, back when the Harlem Shake was hot. I’m still the Harlem Shake god, I’m lot gonna lie. And you know when Jersey club dances were really hot? They’re still hot, but you know, when there was a lot more excitement about dances like the sponge bob and stuff.
What kind of art were you into?
I used to draw a lot, I used to dance a lot, and I was really into every kind of art. I was growing up listening to music with my dad- whatever he would listen to- and he used to paint, too, so painting was really interesting to me. Really any kind of art was interesting to me- dance, music, whatever.
Are these things you still get to play around with in your free time, or are you still too busy with music now?
I feel like I’m not doing anything at all right now [laughs]. I’m off of tour and I’m really just chilling. I’m not doing much production, even though I try to be creative. My creative block is really hard to get over. Sometimes I go to other people’s studios to try and collab with other producers. Actually that’s what I’m thinking about right now. I don’t do any other types of art. I wish I could get back into drawing and painting- all the other types of art I used to do- but music really just took over everything.
What do you usually do when you have creative block? What are your rituals or pick me ups?
I’m always looking for inspiration. So I’ll go to other people’s studios, not to bite their style or anything, but just to see them making beats. That really inspires me as well. I also listen to brand new records- like a Brazilian sample or another type of foreign sample will inspire you to make a beat or any kind of new stuff. I just keep listening to stuff I’ve never heard before.
What are favorite places to crate-dig in Montreal?
My favorite is called Aux 33 Tours and its great. They have a lot of secret jams in there, and a bunch of Montreal stuff. I just got into the Montreal jams. I never dug into there and I never new they had some crazy shit.
Yeah they do
No, I’m not surprise they have great music from Montreal; I’m just surprised that you were never into Montreal music. So what did you usually dig for before you started looking up music from Montreal, just American music?
Yeah, just soul music, new wave. I never really checked the soul music for sampling, I just really like to listen to soul music on my own. For sampling I just checked on the grooves, new wave, psychedelic rock. In Montreal I’ve been sleeping on the Canadian stuff, but I’m learning that they do have a lot of crazy good stuff.
What do you usually order when you go to La Banquise?
Oh, I’ve never been actually, I know it’s crazy! I always plan on going after I party or something, but I’ve never been ever in my life. No one ever wants to go when I want to go, so I always go to this other spot that’s sort of looks like La Banquise. My friend went and he told me its not all that, so whatever. It is the most talked about spot. I’m sure it’s one of the best in Montreal for poutine.
How do you get inspired when you’re looking for cover art for your music?
I just get inspired by old records and the fact that they used to draw and make illustrations for covers. That’s what inspires me to make covers with illustrations.
Do you make all of your cover art?
I used to back in the day when I used t make the beat tapes; you know, just an easy photoshop effect and that’s what I used to do with the beat tapes. Now I’m just trying to do photographs with a cool lens or a rare picture. I just like covers without the title.
Some of my favorite covers that you have is the “Massively Massive” cover with the sloth and everything, as well as the “Charles Barkley” cover. Both of those were covers for The Celestics. Can you talk a little bit about the Celestics and your music relationship with your brother?
Yeah, The Celestics is something that we planned way back before the Kaytranada thing got big. We wanted to be famous together, and eventually that didn’t happen. Now we’re trying to make that happen with the next mixtape we’re working on. It’s called “Supreme Laziness,” and it’s about to be a good album. It’s going to show a lot of what I was doing on the hip hop site, because lately I’ve been dropping more electronic stuff and that’s what people know me as. But I’m still on the hip hop tip and I’ve just been saving all of the good beats for my brother for this project. I really want this project to be big.
Is your brother older or younger than you?
He’s younger. He’s 19.
Are you the oldest?
No my two sisters are the oldest
You have one video on your YouTube channel right now, “At All,” which is hilarious. What was it like working on that video project?
The video idea and concept came from my friend Martin Pariseau. He did the Tommy Kruise video, the brand new one. He came up with the idea for the muscle girls and the whole thing about it. I wasn’t really down with the idea, but when we started filming I thought it was kind of nice, so I didn’t get made about it. Actually it was fun, getting carried by the muscle girls, and getting in the gym hanging out with the body builder girls. People in the gym were looking around us like, “Whoa, what is going on?,” but it was a really fun day.
Any more videos you’re thinking about doing in the future?
Yeah, I’ll probably do more videos by the same director maybe, because he has a lot of good ideas. I would definitely like to do Celestics videos with him. He’s a good director, you should check him out.
I heard you’re a basketball fan, is that right?
Yeah, I’m really into the vintage basketball.
What’s your team?
Back in the day I loved the Celtics with Larry Bird and everyone in there. Also I like the Atlanta Hawks but really it’s not about a favorite team. It’s more about how cool it was the NBA back in the day. I can’t really remember exactly how it was in detail, but I remember how much more exciting and raw it felt. The stories behind the vintage NBA thing, there’s some good stories in there.
Are you team Playstation or Xbox?
I have an Xbox at home. I wish it was a Playstation ’cause you know the Xbox has a lot of problems. Like in the last days of Xbox 360 you really wish you had a Playstation 3. My next console is definitely a Playstation 4.
Fighting games like Mortal Kombat. I’m still into the old school games. Marvel vs. Capcom, I got that on Gamecube. I’m more of a retro dude with the old school games and the wrestling games.
What are you listening to right now on your Ipod?
I’m listening to Brazilian music right now like Bossanova. There’s this singer called Gal Costa and she’s really dope. And I’m mostly listening to that new Freddie Gibbs and Madlib record. I really love that album. I think it’s by far going to be the best album of the year, for real. I’m a big Madlib fan and I’ve been waiting for an album for years. So, I was really happy when it came out and its a good album.
Are you fluent in French?
Yeah I speak French and Creole. I have a French accent from Montreal. I really speak French at home; we speak French, Creole, and English all mixed together
Obviously you have a lot of support from Canada, but you also have a huge fanbase here in the States as well as around the world. How does that feel?
I don’t know, sometimes it just happens. I know a lot of people may not listen to Canadian music and underestimate it just because it’s Canadian. It’s really awesome that they like me, I’m not mad about that, especially because the American music really influenced me. It influenced the whole world really. So the fact that I’m in there and doing it, that means I did it right since Americans like me.
Do you really think people underestimate Canadian music right now, even with Drake and Justin Bieber and all that?
Yeah everyone except Drake and Justin Bieber. I’m talking about like Chaos, High Klassified, Julie Black and all these other dope people. There’s more than just Drake and Justin Bieber.
I know you got your first name, “Kaytradamus” from Nas’ album Nastradamus and then you changed it Kaytranada when Flosstradamus blew up first. Is Nastradamus actually your favorite Nas album?
I haven’t heard Nastramadus because everyone says its a wack album. That’s at least what I’ve heard.
You should check it out. It’s not my favorite either, though, but I like God’s Son after Illmatic.
I love God’s Son. Illmatic, I like it, but I don’t think it’s the greatest greatest album. I really like his newest album, too. Nas has problems picking good beats, that’s what bugs me with Nas, that’s it. But it’s okay because his voice is dope and whatever he says is ill. He has a nice flow, and God’s Son is probably one of my favorite albums from him.
What was the first album you ever bought?
My first album I ever bought with my own money was Clipse’s Lord Willin’ and it kind of changed my life.
Have you met Flosstradamus yet? Do you ever mention the name thing?
I saw them and they weren’t talking to me. They don’t know me, so I might as well not talk to them.
What music production software do you use?
I’ve never changed it up, I’m still a fruity loops guy. I’m not gonna try anything else other than fruity loops right now.
How long does it usually take you to make your synths?
They actually take me a long time, because the way I work is kind of weird. I don’t have any midi keyboards and stuff, it’s all done by mouse and typing on the keyboard. I just take my time to get the perfect bass line and then add the synths. I just play roads to get the key in the chords right so I can create new melodies. I just change the preset and put my own signature synths and any other dope shit. All that is done in about 25 minutes because I usually take time with my cords.
How do u know when a song is finally finished?
It just depends how you feel [and] how excited you are over it. If you feel your beat and you’re like , “Oh this song is done, alright it’s perfect, ” that’s good. Sometimes it’s only half done or something and you just have you to work on that a little later. Or sometimes I’ll decide I’m just never going to work on it again and start something else.
Who do you want to collaborate with the most right now?
There are so many people I want to collab with, but Erykah Badu is definitely the main. Other than that, I don’t care. I just want people to understand me, so I can understand them and we can just click. The only other person I can think of is Madlib, but I know he doesn’t collab; he only collaborates with rappers not beat makers. Oh, and Flylo and Thundercat.
What are you excited about for the summer?
I’m gonna do a bunch of festivals. I’m also doing a European tour with Sango and Stwo in the beginning of July. Also I’m gonna do a bunch of festivals and looking forward to being home. Last year I just missed summer so I’m looking forward to staying home.
How was your family been reacting to your new fame?
They really like it. They didn’t really understand it at first. They didn’t want me to be just a DJ or a producer because they didn’t know what that means. It’s hard to explain to Haitian parents what that is. But eventually with the tour they see that that I’m out and touring, doing something serious. Then they saw the money coming in so they were like, “Okay you’re doing something great .” Now they can’t really say anything [laughs]. But they are proud of me.
I know you said your brother is a rapper. Are there any other professional musicians in your family?
My dad used to be in a music group back in the day when I was a little kid. My dad was the singer and the group was called “Moustique” which means Mosquito. It didn’t really have big success. My mom used to sing gospel in churches and stuff like that. My sister is a singer, also.
Do you sing?
I don’t sing. I wish it could. I would kill the game. That’s my dream, but I can’t sing so it sucks. My sister used to play clarinet too. We all were involved in music. I think my dad kind of forced us, but now I really understand why he did that. Its really cool to have musicians in the family.
Who in your family are you most alike?
Really, only my brother. My sister is crazy like me, but we’re all crazy. My two sisters are the oldest.
If Jaydee was still alive what’s one thing you’d been dying to ask him?
Can I have your drums? [Laughs.] I don’t even know, I don’t know how he’d be. Actually, I wouldn’t even talk to Jaydee because I respect him so much and I wouldn’t want to bother him. It’s like me when I saw Pharrell at the airport.
You didn’t say anything?
I didn’t say anything but he nodded at me.
So, he knew who you were.
Yeah, he nodded and I said, ‘Hey’ and just walked away [laughs].
You still get starstruck?
Oh yeah all the time. Talking to those people, those childhood heroes, is surreal.
If you happen to be across the pond this summer, make sure you check out Kaytranada on his European Tour!
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