Dublin’s alt-rap up-and-comer KhakiKid speaks about pioneering Irish talent and showing that it can be possible to merge both music and comedy.
Dublin-raised alt-rap up-and-comer, KhakiKid, has had a lightning-fast start to life as a musician.
Growing up on Crumlin estate, the 22-year-old shared a bedroom with his three siblings, all of which had different interests that steered far away from music. But, after his brother showed him the ropes with a 50 Cent CD, everything became clear. Whilst his sound has constantly evolved over his short career so far, the content has been anything but copycat-ish. Take last year’s hit single “Wait”: a jazz-infused record that vouches for nothing but confidence and raw talent that suggests a musical scope far above his peers that have been in the game for the same stretch.
Of course, coming from Dublin, Ireland, brings a stigma of the likelihood of pushing down the industry doors in the UK’s capital far lesser than those across the border, but please don’t box him in. His lyrics are often quite sardonic, even when touching on the more sensitive subjects; but with a fresh energy, along with a raw belief that is manifesting shows across major European cities in the near future, the ceiling really couldn’t be high enough.
Now, KhakiKid is in the buildup to releasing his first solo project, ‘Elevator Music’. “It’s just a sound that has levelled up from the music that I made before,” he says. And while comparing the upcoming EP to the likes of English front-runner, Knucks, as well as American vet, Tyler, The Creator, the excitement, along with the intrigue is ready for a new flavour of Irish talent to hit UK land.
Notion caught up with KhakiKid to talk about all things growing up, his love for comedy, the quick rise to domestic success and much more.
- Jacket Design Adam Farrell
First of all, how are you?
I’m in a good place, to be honest. I’ve achieved a few goals with my music, this has been the first time where I have achieved goals, so I have been really happy about that. Before I started making music, I was going to go to college and I decided not to, so I set goals for myself each year; I told myself, if I hit these goals then I wouldn’t have to go back to college. I didn’t even hit those goals for the first two years, but I have this year and I finally have a validating reason not to go [to college]. So, that’s been a boost for my ego, but besides that, I have been excited, you know? It’s so hard to separate my normal life from music.
How was life for you growing up in Dublin, Ireland?
I grew up on an estate in Dublin called Crumlin with my five siblings and my mum. It was myself and my three siblings in one room. But growing up, I wouldn’t say it was rough, but growing up – a lot of people would say it’s bullying – but there was a lot of teasing and stuff, but it was more banter. I felt like a lot of the crack would be about blagging each other. Especially in Ireland, and maybe in the UK too, you can get some ridiculous jokes out of people. So I kind of got into and grew fond of comedy, and my mum would let us watch Live at the Apollo, we would be watching Lee Evans and things like that. I was always listening to music, too, my brother wasn’t really into rap music, but I remember he got one 50 Cent CD and I took that and was just rinsing it for weeks. So, it was a weird combination of using comedy and the rap music that I built the foundations on. But, growing up with siblings and sharing a room with them, all of my brothers are full-on gamers, and I seem to be the only one that has done anything properly creative.
So, if you weren’t seeking real musical influence from your siblings, where were you finding it?
Back then, it was what I said, but for my whole childhood, I was holding myself back because I was only ever listening to rap music. It has only been the last four years or so where I have started listening to other genres. Recently, I have been listening to the likes of Rejjie [Snow] and Andre 3000, who is a massive influence! I was only listening to rappers that were aside from the norm, obviously, Andre 3000 is pretty fucking famous, but I was listening to him, Natasha Beddingfield, her music just goes off and I don’t really listen to many female musicians. There are lots of comedians too, Bernie Mac was a huge influence – the content and the career scopes that comedians have, it feels like a lot of them have a 10-year stretch before they actually become decent. So, I like that because, especially in rap music, people expect you to blow up in the first year or two, and if nothing has happened in that time, people say that it’s time to quit. So I admire the fact that people continue to grind and go on.
Your first solo single “Late” gained massive attention upon its release. Did you expect the buzz to come so soon? And how did you respond to all of the newfound attention?
To be honest, I expected it way too much. I only started making music when I put that first single out, which is something that not many people do; I think that first song I put out was the third song that I’d ever made, you know? So I feel that I rushed the process and I could have chilled on it. But, on the other hand, I’m happy that I did it and that I got my name out there. There were a lot of people that I know that were showing love for it, but it was one of those things where you would have people sharing the song just because they know you. People were telling me that they liked it without actually listening to it, so my expectations changed and now I don’t expect any of my friends to have to listen to any of my songs, or even like them! At the end of the day, I don’t want people to listen to the song because they like me, I would rather they listen to the song and be like “oh shit!”. So, I think I expected too much from people at the start.
Your most successful song, numbers-wise, is “Alcoholics”. Talk to me about that song and how it came about.
At the time that song came out, it was at a time that I was focusing on my own music so much, and there were a lot of rappers that were asking me to collaborate, but the 49th & Main guys randomly hit me up and asked me to jump on the song. They were so out of my zone and my genre so I thought that I would give it a go! But, when they sent it over, it was such a fun and bouncy track, I told myself not to analyse and not to overthink it; usually, it takes me a long time to write a verse, but I got that verse done in half a day, which is pretty quick for me! The only thing I was thinking when it came to that song was just to have fun. I said in this song, “what you mean, what you mean,” which is a thing that people in Ireland say – Skepta says it too – but it’s an Irish thing that people say, too. So it was a pretty fun thing and it ended up doing what it did. It’s a good song, but I think that a lot of the songs that I have in the making now are going to be nothing compared to that one.
What are your opinions on Ireland as a musical hub, is there much more talent there that people in the UK may be unaware of?
I think it’s still so immature; some people have been in the game for years now, but I still think it’s so immature. I think it’s hard to say that people aren’t getting the props yet because even when you look at the Inhaler boys, they were on Jimmy Fallon, or Jimmy Kimmel – it was one of those! I’m friends with those guys because the scene is really small, and everyone kind of knows each other. Those boys are obviously a bit out there, but there are ridiculously talented people over here and I could name loads of them. But, it’s just experience that a lot of these guys need, and they probably still need a couple more years of it. I would say that in another two years I think there will be another two or five guys who are at the same level as Rejjie Snow. But, even with Rejjie, I’m friends with his little brother, so it just shows that it’s a very small world over here.
How far behind on a musical stance is Ireland from the UK, more specifically over in England?
Yeah, I think saying that Ireland is five or six steps behind the UK is probably accurate. It’s a thing of Ireland being a much smaller country than the UK, too. But, with the internet now, my personal scope isn’t just to be the biggest in Ireland, I have more listeners in the Philippines than I do in Ireland! So there’s nothing to say that I couldn’t be the man in another place before I’m the man in Ireland.
Talk to me about the upcoming project, ‘Elevator Music’. How did you come up with the name and what influenced it?
The whole vibe of the project is very movie-influenced, so with the videos, I want them all to be very cinematic if you get what I mean? And the name Elevator Music, I just like the name in general, but the songs will also contrast what you would assume actual elevator music to be. There actually wasn’t too much depth to it, and I don’t want to read too much into it. Maybe one day I will find a deeper meaning and realise the way I was thinking, but at the moment, I just want to enjoy the name. But, another thing, when I first thought of the name, I automatically thought of the cover art that I want to use. Then, I shot the cover art and it looks just as good as the name sounds.
What can we come to expect from the EP, and how is it different from your previous releases?
I think it’s just a sound that has levelled up from the music that I made before. I think I have found my sound, and I really like making it, so I’m trying to explore it a bit more – kind of like Tyler, The Creator type vibes, a bit absurd. I’m just trying to find a deeper exploration of that. Then, there is going to be one type of UK song with a UK feature on it, which is exciting! That is going to be a kind of Knucks song. But, as a whole, the project is going to be based around the sounds of “Shlumped Up” and all that.
What can we come to expect to see from you following the release? Are you planning to go on tour?
I might have a few sketches, to be honest; myself and my boys have been writing sketches for so long, so I might have that kind of content on the internet. We will also have some live performance videos going out and a headline show in February, but I want to venture out to the UK and get a couple of London shows in there, and maybe a few shows in Europe. That’s the plan, and then next summer, be at all of the festivals – that’s the plan!