Montréal. The City of Saints is a musical menagerie built on a healthy harmonic hotbed with the likes of Leonard Cohen, Arcade Fire, A-Trak and more recently, Lunice, showcasing the firm base and burgeoning breadth of musicality. Yet, the city has been at the forefront of the new age hybrid of experimentalism fused with hip-hop and soul via the rising Piu-Piu beat scene in tandem with the Alaiz crew over the last two years. A marauding myriad of beatsmiths have originated from or assimilated to the francophone fabric such as Musoni, Kaytranada, Bueller, Kenlo Craqnuques and Da-P to name a few. One such native Kevin Vincent aka High-Klassified makes riddims which induce you into intergalactic reverie and ring your sweat-laden t-shirt out (post-skank) in equal measure. In the first instalment of this Fresh Produce edition, Wat You Sayin caught up with the young producer to talk about his breakthrough beat, the Piu-Piu movement and his home city.
Introduce yourself to the novices and knowledgeable folk.
I’m High-Klassified, real name Kevin and I actually started making beats about three to four years ago making beats as my brothers are rappers, so I was kind of into music at that moment of time. I actually started how to learn on FL Studio then started to learn my keys via YouTube Videos and by ear. So now I’m here in 2k13 working on beats again I guess!
What record did you first hear which made you want give producing a go?
I’ve been doing beats for a moment and never took it seriously. My state of mind was like the minute I start college, I’m just going to drop everything and just do my shit at school but since I started being a part of the Piu-Piu Movement, people have been fucking with my music a lot. So around 2k11, I was really into this and thought I should do it as a living.
I’ve been listening to mixtapes by yourself, Kaytranada and Da-P for a while now. What’s the whole back story about the Alaiz collective and the Piu-Piu movement that have helped the experimental hip-hop scene in Montreal grow?
In 2k11, I started to chill with Da-P, so he was like my partner in crime and we used to make a lot of beats together and then I met Colin Musoni. He’s a member of the Piu-Piu movement and made a beattape with him called 90’s Babies. After that, we just chilled together and went downtown to music festivals then we met Kaytradamus [which is Kaytranada now] and we started making beats together. It was more about meetings in music festivals and hip-hop karaoke’s.
90’s Babies Vol.1 – High-Klassified x MusoNi
It sounds like it grew organically from friends making music for fun to the present. Did you ever think at any point that it would go global?
Actually, I had no idea. When I dropped 90’s Babies, it was nice as some people from the US added me and others from the UK. Then Lunice dropped this beat I made called Drama Trap in a couple of his sets and that was kind of a huge start for me, as more people started to get in contact and asked for some beats.
That’s the first time I heard your music in one of his sets at Notting Hill Carnival.
Yeah then Baauer played it in his Rinse FM mix.
High-Klassified – Drama Trap via BBM Vol.1
Previously your city had artists such as Leonard Cohen and Arcade Fire emanating or coming to the city to showcase their talents originally and now there is a burgeoning wave of hip-hop related folk. We’ve talked a little bit about you guys coming together as part of Piu-Piu but how would you describe Montreal as a rich musical setting?
Actually it’s kinda recent that Montreal has been into that beat scene because people used to be scared about producing beats and being different. So since the Piu-Piu movement started around 2k11 and 2k12, people have started to come out of the basements and be more creative musically.
Is the Booty Bakery one of the main parties people from the scene play at?
Well I played a lot at the Booty Bakery as the founder of the movement is a friend of mine.
Would you say those nights have a similar vibe to a Low End Theory night in Los Angeles?
I’d say it’s not that huge but it’s a nice place for us and our community to showcase our new sound. In Montreal, there are a lot of clubs but they are playing a lot of Dancehall, Hip-Hop and Reggae but the Booty Bakery really gave us the chance to go out there and do what we really do. So this is what makes it different from all of the other nights in Montreal.
Cool. Flexury was your first solo beatape, what was the inspiration behind the title and how you compiled those tracks together?
I usually describe my music as music to flex to and it’s about going nuts on it.
Spazzing out and shit?
Yeah and my character has a luxury image to it, as a lot of beatmakers here are really grimy and I’m actually one of the most physically cleanest producers [laughs]
Are we talking in terms of swag, beats or just the whole shebang?
My swag, like the way I dress is just seen as luxury. I wear designer clothes and people..
I think I clocked you wearing some Jeremy Scott’s and thought there must be some fly shit going on!
[Laughs] Word. I wear a lot of Jeremy Scott and Givenchy, that’s why I have that kind of luxury image and mentality, so I just mix the luxury and flex.
What made you name your track “London Flexin” on the tape?
Actually a guy from Mad Tech Records (Owned by deep house honcho Kerri Chandler) came to me and asked if I was down to remix a song of one of his artists and I said yeah for sure. MadTech Records is a label from London and they suggested let’s call it Europe Flexin and I was like “No, No, let’s call it London Flexin, since it’s flexin’ music and it’s a London voice sample from Kashii’s Make This”.
I’ve heard your recent smooth Rihanna Stay remix. Do you have plans to do any more soon?
Yeah sure. I’m just searching for acapellas at the minute. Since Flexury, I’m more into using vocal samples for refixes and remixes.
Rihanna – Stay (High Klassified Trap Remix)
Stay primed for part two of the High Klassified interview next week.