Producer Spotlight Interview: Karnate



Today we present Karnate, one of the finest up and coming producers not only from the UK but in all of underground hip hop. While doing research for El Ay’s piece, her track ‘Dreams’ came on and I was instantly intrigued by the production. He didn’t have many other placements at the time, but that would soon change. In the past few months he has laced Codenine & Paranom for their exquisite Million Dollar Minks  album, not to mention bangers for Recognize Ali/Killa Kali as well as fully producing The Master Chambers LP for Ray Vendetta. I consider myself a fairly picky listener, but Karnate’s batting average is as high as it gets for me. Almost everything we’ve heard from him has been both unique and of high quality, all indications are this man will produce a classic album in the very near future.

RD: We first heard your work on El Ay’s single ‘Dreams’. How long have you been actively shopping your beats?

KBB: Oh yea? Shouts to El, that was a dope record to make, played the whole thing and she killed it with her multi-layered harmonies. Plus she wrote and recorded as soon as she heard it, those type of songs are always ill to create. I’ve been making beats for about 15 years, started taking it seriously around 2010. I’d hustle CD’s here and there. Trying to get them to the right people. Had a crew I was working with, then I put out 4 beat tapes on Bandcamp, all with a different sound. In February of 2014 I started sending them to rappers, who would then want to hear more. That’s when I started sending these ridiculous sized bundles, which I became known for so I started using  #ByTheBundle

RD: You DJ as well, what came first, that or production?

KBB:  Yeah, more by email name now than anything else (my turntables aren’t even set up right now and haven’t been for longer than I’d like to mention). I got them after hustling my little heart out for a year when I was around 14 yrs old, and started learning to scratch and juggle. Started making mixtapes with my boys and recording anyone I knew who played anything or rapped. I knew all along I’d be making beats this far into it.

RD: Codenine and Paranom’s Million Dollar Minks is one of the finest albums of the year, you played a huge part in that. Were they looking for a specific sound?

KBB:  Thank you, proper appreciate that, but if your gonna say that we gotta shout Vinyl Villain at this point. I was lucky to meet Code round the time they we’re starting the project so I was able to see it through, get the mindset, supply skits, make bits with them it in mind. Code made it easy, he said he wanted a something to roll up, smoke and ride around in your city to. It’s a soundtrack to that kind of journey.

Editors Note: We completely agree about our boy Vinyl Villain, who also had a lions share of the work on Minks. Both producers helped establish the sound and lay the foundation for the project.

RD: Let’s talk gear, do you have a tried and true setup, or experiment with different pieces?

KBB: It’s mostly software, had a MPC 2500 but quickly sold it, as the computer I was using did not stem out from the MPC. Started with Loop Sampler, a Zoom drum machine, keyboard and hard disk 8 track. It’s always been in the computer really, started out with Cubase, then FruityLoops, and now just Logic, a MPD24 and a keyboard. Friends have given me and encouraged me to use other pieces and software, but to be honest I hate the stall in work rate that comes with learning something else.

RD: Master Chambers with yourself and Ray Vendetta is another excellent project, is there a different mindset doing a complete album compared to 1 or 2 placements?

KBB: Yes and no, I’ll always think about the project as a whole, but to produce one fully  means the entire sound, feel, and mood of it is on you and the other artist. You have to supply it all to make that complete product, it can definitely take up more head space, and it also varies depending on who your working with. Ray really fulfilled his role on this one. Master Chambers started with one of the many beat bundles I had sent him, and that sparked something. He wrote the majority of the project in a couple of days, once he had the bulk of the project penned we filled in the rest of the tracks one by one.

RD: If you had an unlimited budget to put together a producer album, who are the first 5 calls you’re making?

KBB: Damn, really have to take a minute to think about that one. Skyzoo, Danny Brown, Roc Marci, Elzhi. I’d probably round it out with one of the members of the Griselda camp.

RD: There are a litany of quality emcee’s coming from the UK, Sonnyjim/Tesla’s Ghost and Ray are among some of our favorites. Do you see a new era emerging over there?

KBB:  Shouts to Ray, Tes, all Tripple Darkness, and Sonny, (we got a feature in the can). The UK hip hop scene has gone through some different phases/sounds/eras, arguably generations but has been healthy for a few years. The numbers at some shows are crazy and we got a lot of talent that does feel like its getting attention. Obviosuly the Grime and Battle scenes have both been strong and successful for a long time, which all helps. In terms of translating over seas, not everything does, though those that do certainly seem to be getting the recognition they deserve at the moment. I feel the underground globally is strong as hell right now and the UK seems to be a part of that. I don’t want to speak for peoples fans but if you’re making the right music I don’t think people really seem to care where you’re from or what your accent is. Feels like we are the way to a whole new international era. Even though I still find it crazy that so and so rapper I know from say NY knows who Chester P or Jehst is!

RD: What does the rest of 2018 hold for you? What’s your ultimate goal in this music game?

KBBWell, me and Killa Kali are working on a LP, which we want to get all UK features for, plus another Ray project. Mine and Joker Starr’s LP, which we’ve got wrapped and was incredible to do, 1st time I worked with El/Sarai Jazz/Micall Parknsun. Buddy Leezle’s “Gavage” which was fun, few experimental bits, you’ll catch me playing keys and maybe more.  A Code 9 project that we started looking at awhile ago, and similar to MillMinks we want a real particular sound for. The Gravel Pit Bulls project with Mongo and Flowtecs along with a few other producers, which is all about gravel/tone of the voice, so everyone featured Mongo picked based on their vocal tone. I can’t wait to get into that, you’re gonna see a different side of Flow. Dirtee Def Projects which are shaping up crazy, gonna be some real screw face shit. Also have work on upcoming EP’s for Casablanca, the multi-talented Amy True as well as more work with El Ay. Bits for Recognize Ali, Nowaah the Flood and Chong Wizard’s Power Stone series. 

Linked up with Poison Ring Regime last year, got some bits for a compilation tape called ‘Nutrition’ as well as other bits for the team.

End game stuff, I’d like to travel at least half as much as my music does. Get more into the look and production of physicals and videos. Clothing and shoe design are big interests, perhaps get into that down the line. Essentially I’d like to pay rent somewhere nice, live well and have enough left to be able to treat my family here and there. Scoring a film would be very cool, I’ve dabbled in that before
RD: Any last shouts?
KBB: Yourselves, and every DJ/blog/mag/podcast/journalist/listener for opening the wallets and supports when the products drop. Shout out to all the emcees who hit me when I have beats for sale. Mongo, Joker Starr, Yard 26, Killa Kali for always looking out for me, my boys Mindstate & Kramma, Rec Ali (legend in the making) Ray, Tesla, Flow, Code, Jordan C. , Amy, Dirtee, Buddy and all my PRR people worldwide.
You can find Karnate on twitter @Karnatebeats and on IG @karnatebeatsbythebundle

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