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Star. Welcome to Switched-On Pop, I'm songwriter Charlie Harding, and I'm musicologist Nate Sloan.
Nate, this year we've been doing a lot of Grammys coverage, I think because there have been songs and artists that I've been really interested in, music that has captivated me. Yeah. And this week we're going to talk with one of the nominees for best new artist, Kate Granada, who Cyrano is really inspiring.
Like so many other artists in this category, he's not a best new artist.
He's been doing this for a long while, building this career and getting a lot of recognition, literally moving from making beats in his mom's basement to making beats with collaborators like Pharrell and Anderson Poque. Syd Madlib recently announced he's got a two track segment with Madlib and he's done work for Mary J.
Blige, Alicia Keys, Chance the rapper Kendrick Lamar and Madonna.
Yeah, yeah. But I think the first time that I heard Katrín Auto was when you played me his track at our weekly team meeting.
Yeah, I think there are probably four weeks in a row where I was just suggesting everyone listen to different tracks from ninety nine point nine percent, that album is going to be on my end of decade list for sure.
There's something about the way that Notah uses samples that just rocks me to my core.
And I feel a certain kind of kinship in a way, because, you know, I'm a music historian, right.
And I feel like at his best, Caponata is making a statement that DJs and producers are music historians themselves.
What do you mean? Like, break it down for me.
Let's take a track from ninety nine point nine percent like light spots.
I remember when you first played this for me, it was instantly hypnotizing. There was something about the way that he's flipping these samples, that it's frantic and yet super groovy at the same time. And I'm wanting to know the references. And, yeah, just I'm totally captivated.
The sample here is from a 1973 record by the Brazilian singer Gal Costa called India. And this particular track is called Pontoise Deluce.
Maybe the first thing you hear when you compare the original to Katra, not as light spots is that he's bumping up the tempo.
Is it to take his version of the song is a little bit faster, a little bit brighter.
But otherwise, he's really leaving the original pretty unchanged.
It's kind of like you're hanging out in his living room and he's like, hey, check out this classic Brazilian Tropicalia release. I just dug up this kind of obscure deep cut.
Let's just like kind of sink into the couch and listen to this together. And you're like, yeah, oh, this is cool. I've never heard this before.
It makes sense because he's famous for his deejaying skills as much as he is as a producer.
And then you get to this one point in the Gold Coast original where she says these lines in Portuguese that roughly translate to something like, I feel very happy. In fact, I dare say I feel completely happy.
This is a list, and at that moment, caponata stops the track, he grabs those three lines of lyrics and he starts looping it in this way that completely catches you off guard, kind of surprises you and then, like you were saying, just totally sucks you into its world.
And then we get the House Hauspie so good, this is where caponata as historian comes into the picture.
In a way, what he's doing there is he's asking you to pay attention to like, I don't know, what is it like three seconds of music from this three minute long track.
And he's asking you to pay really close attention. Listen really carefully to this, and I'm going to help you. I'm going to put it on a loop and I'm going to give it to you over and over and over again.
And I'm going to ask you to just contemplate this little snippet of music in such a deep way. It's like the aural equivalent of standing in front of a painting and asking someone to just look deeper at that brush stroke.
Don't look at the whole painting for a second. Just look at this one brush stroke.
And this is like the equivalent of that, like step away from the song and just listen to this little scrap of melody for a second and just sit with that, pay attention to it.
Let it burrowed deep into your mind and soul.
And I see how here in the music you take this phrase, even if you don't speak Portuguese, there is something so captivating, it definitely makes you want to go deeper into the song. Look it up, find the references, see what the sample is, go do the reverse crate digging, find all of his references. Yeah, that's right.
Right. So not only is caponata the historian, but he's enlisting you to become a music historian as well. You've been conscripted into the ranks now.
And of course, he's not just putting this scrap of melody under the microscope for you.
Like you said, he's also adding something and he's adding this just Dick Ellerslie danceable house groove on top of what's already like a very thickly instrumented section of music. Right. But he's giving you this modern element. He's bringing 1973 and crash landing it into 2016.
So it's like a bit of history.
But like all good historians, he's trying to make that history relevant. He's trying to say history repeats itself. What's old is new. This song may have resonated with people when it was released in the same way that a modern dance track would strike you. Today, we're bridging that historical gap.
It's like the other day you were telling me about how you've been watching all these tick tock videos about Marxist capitalist theory.
Yeah, the Jedi is really good at them and you don't have the time or inclination to dig into, like Marxist theory. You're not going to, like, read a thousand page book, but you will watch a 30 second tick tock video because it's fun and it's accessible and it's like right in the palm of your hand.
You know, we want history to be accessible like that. We want it to be enjoyable. That's what DJ's do. They take music history and they make it fun and pleasurable and they don't make it kind of distant or intimidating.
The song brings this obscure 1973 track to light for you, for you to dance to for you to bathe and for you to go do your research. It's like, I don't know. It's to me, it's more than just a fun track to listen to.
It's like history in action. I love your passion here.
This is a song that totally connected with me as well. And, you know, obviously there's a part of me that's like, yeah, but lots of people sample, right? It's not like he's the only one doing this. And yet there's a certain way in which the way that he flips the samples, where, as you put it earlier, like it's raw, it's really honest to the original material. It's not trying to obscure it. So you're like, oh, I see the thing that you're doing and yet still finds a way to make it really compelling for this moment.
And I wanted to talk to him about that and talk to him about how he developed his craft and how over a decade he built a career to the point of the recognition of Grammy Best New Artist nomination.
I am sure not all the way from Montreal, Canada, been making beats since I was a young man, and now here I am, best new artist for the Grammys. It's really crazy and exciting. Let's just go back to the beginning.
Take me to the start. What got you into making music?
Music was always in me and I always wanted to make music. It was when I was 14, just like finding out about those softwares online, like Virtual Deejay and Traktor. I downloaded the demo Footloose bunch of times. I never knew how to work. And it was my little brother who was just like, Nah, that's how you do it. That's I do the drums as I do to the base. Like he really taught me everything. And it was kind of deep, ready when I was like 14 and 15, just finding out about chopping samples and making loops and stuff like that.
Where were you? Where was this happening?
I was actually at like the suburbs and it's like a city called Saint Schubert, not too far from Montreal.
But it's like nothing going on really. It was really in my mom's basement and like we had a PC that we had to share the whole family and I was making my peace there. What was motivated me was this like small community in YouTube, which was a bunch of producers posting their beats and people were just giving you props like, yeah, this is dope, this is nice. So that and my brother was mostly like the motivation of what kept me going.
Was there a moment of significant validation outside of your family and the immediate small community?
There was the one thing that really pop off. It was like this small community when I was like 19 and it was just big makers in Montreal or just suburbs around the city. And we come together in the city to just show off our beats and people were just giving us props and give us encouragement. And that's when you knew that music was more than just music. It was like everything that came with it.
You know, in addition to making your own work at this point, you're also heavily in deejay culture and also into remixing. You're posting remixes to SoundCloud. There's a song that really takes off. What is it?
How does it happen to say? Is it. I posed this remix of Joe Jackson, I was really inspired by this video to show that just and that night I made that remix in one night posted at five a.m., I go to sleep and then it's like 12:00 p.m. I get notifications off my phone.
It's like my SoundCloud going crazy, just like 100 hundred notifications on SoundCloud. And it was like, what the heck? And I just go back to sleep because I was like a night owl desoer my night owl days. I would like wake up at 4:00 p.m. and then it's like 4:00 p.m. you'd see like your page.
There's like 2000 likes on this remix that you posted, like today. That was something that was like, unimaginable. And then eventually blew up and it got bigger. People are still talking about it, you know, and I waited a little longer for the teacher Moses once to come out after.
Just a chat and just. I put it out and that one kind of did twice as much as big as it is, you know, people are still talking about it today and it's like, wow, like I just knew I had something.
It kept on being like, oh, my God, you're not a makes those remixes.
So that's where the SoundCloud fame came up when, you know, it sounds like these remixes, especially the Janet Jackson remix of If that you put up in 2012, it's is happening spontaneously in my in my my room with my brother, you know, like the siren raise.
And you talk about it now with a great degree of confidence, which is deserved.
Did you know that it was good, that I knew it was good, but I just didn't know that people would like it. I was like, if you like it, you know, that's cool. It kind of like crossover. A lot of like genres to me was like this, like whatever hip hop, experimental like RMV thing I'm doing.
And people saw it as house to like. It's like it broke through the house. Well it broke through like the RB and hip hop and, you know, dance music. So it was like, whoa, what am I actually doing? What genre am I actually going for?
So you could sonically it's kind of strange.
You have a hip hop eighty-eight base, but you're playing it as if it's like a funk style funk bass rather than, you know, how will I be used? And clearly, you've got to four to the floor Hauspie and this kind of like DIY Cassio sort of keyboard sound in the background with future bass pumping.
Sounds exactly like there's no generic continuity, but it works.
Yeah, it's like Nintendo, like Superintendence Sense would like base, you know, the same way we use as strap. It's like I just use it as, like a pitchfork, like you said, kind of like the boogie inspiration's.
Does the breath of sounds that you're pulling from at this point reflect what's going on for you as a DJ? Like is that why you're playing so many records of sounds almost like really just what I'm listening to.
I was not really into just one genre music, so it's really a mixture of genres, but it can be one thing at the same time. It can just be some boogie stuff. But you know that hip hop after that, they actually like to stuff on boogie and made it hip hop. You know, it's really like kind of like a full circle of genres, you know, like all the jazz stuff and I mean stories about, you know, how it's really it really comes from disco.
And it's so many of like those things that comes around again.
You know, what's old is new. Yeah. You have these remixes. They seem to pop off bigger than the next. So what happened after your remixes blew up?
And then my manager who booked me for this show in Halifax, and all I asked was like, I need a hotel room and I need two hundred dollars and that's it. And I eventually go to Halifax, which was like my first plane trip and my first show outside of the city. And then the next day was, I do need help with your management now. Like I don't have a manager right now. Yeah, I kind of need help is like, OK, well let's do this.
We all started from like the beginning. And I think in one week I was in blogs. We were starting to talk about me. I was starting to make noise. I do this EP is called Katra Toto. It's not available on streaming anymore, but I do this EP and then I go on tour in Europe and it's like everything is still keeps on growing from then from then on. And it's like I just went to Europe and I really changed my life.
Like I was not the same after, you know, like people start taking notice. You go on the road opening deejaying for Madonna, it seems like lots of opportunities are happening. What pulls you back home to record your first album?
I think the whole time I was working on my first LP, which was 99, it was supposed to be EP at first XL heard the EP and they were like, well, this is so good, we need an album. So I was like, cool. You know, I was ready to do an album. I was ready to like, just come up with, you know, a body of work. And I was still on tour at the same time while working.
And it was really bothering me. But nobody heard those songs. It's like, what are we doing? You know, like I should go back and finish this record and put it together. And I was kind of burned out. So I was like, OK, I need to stop touring. And then I just went back home. I was still in the basement, was still in my mom's basement, put everything together. And then I think I turned it into twenty sixteen, like just in January or December 2015.
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Let's talk about some of what's going on, on ninety nine point nine percent. There are a lot of extraordinary collaborations here.
I think one of the standout tracks is Gload, up with Anderson full and the shadow of chicken, mellow yellow lemon.
Tell me about first how the beat came together for you, how did this track come to you? I made a bead like around this time, like 2012 before I blew up. As I got we had a phase where I used to sample, like, library sounds and just put traps over them, like just. What do you mean libraries? No library music like the KPM and all those like kind of like music for movies. It's like instrumental music, but for movies.
And then you just put that in like, like a movie or something. But it's like those Vinals like if you check on those records, they always have amazing samples. And if you check on the sci fi section, that's when they use this sense.
Or they'll use like just like crazy like vintage sound.
Sampling is quartier something? What drives you to produce in this fairly laborious form?
I've been on hip hop music for a while now. I come from actually like, you know, listening to a lot of Jadallah jazz plays. Like I all those producers were just like Madelin. They all just sample a lot of records to dig in. And they just at the same time you discover a lot of music and your knowledge music just expands on a crazy level just by discovering those records, just by creating. And, you know, I had a phase where I used to dig like I on my record collection right here from the beginning, the absolute beginning.
Like I sample and sample. And I just learned from my favorite producers, honestly.
So you take this library music, you set it to a beat. How does the collaboration with Anderson happen?
And it's a back, which is coming up. I just sent beats and he had a bunch of demos of like in my songs, which is that's why there's two parts on growed up, you know.
Yeah, there's a there's a first half and then sort of two thirds of the way through, there's a sample flipping. The whole thing changes up. Tell me about that.
I did Gload up because it was like that's like a personal one.
I love like and I just wanted to put down the album and like, of course, he wouldn't even finish the song. Of course he wouldn't finish the song.
So that's why I put it as include a whole life so much back when that was still the one you said you were sending beats to him.
You weren't in the same room working together.
Nana, like most of the ninety nine point nine, was mostly done in my mom's basement. Like I didn't had any guess recording with me.
You're just emailing back and forth. Yeah, at the time it was working because, you know, people used to work remotely and it was like we would end up meeting later, later much in life.
Well, especially for you as a producer where, you know, you're not you're not putting down vocals. So you're working with a lot of collaborators and there's many standout ones.
Know another highlight for me is Sidhe of the Internet on the song. You're the one.
Yeah. How would you describe the production, what's going on in that song? It's so all over the place to be like it's like to me, like when I did go to one, I was just messing around. I had this new safadi and I just really mess with, like base at the base. Like, you see the base that really sounds like muggy and nasty. Like it was like it doesn't really make sense to me. Like right now I'm like, wow, I really like that one slide, but people love it, you know.
It was really me just messing around and, you know, I never use MIDI controllers before using your the one, you know, I'm saying so I was we are making like by drawing stuff on the mouse and stuff like that.
So you've got this super deep funk bass line again. We got some sort of house production. Part of what's surprising, though, is that all of your part of the song was done clicking things in with a mouse into your software. But your your drums don't sound programmed. There's life to them. How do you breathe life into drums when it's happening? And it's just right there on your computer?
I don't know what it's like. I'm really obsessed with like not having to sound like this, like very computer are coin size.
So, you know, I would drag like, you know, the high had late and it would like automatically sound like it's not coincides. You know, I would do the same with the bass. You know, it's like it's two different swings in one beat. When I used to, like, produce with the mouse, it was a part where things are quantized, like the kick and the snare.
And then like, you know, the chords that I had can cannot forget that I had and, you know, the bass and everything else has to be like push back like more forward so that it'll give like this kind of like, oh, something is oh it's not going to catch up. Oh actually did it.
And it's like this swing like you will feel like to the back of your neck and I run even in the process of making this first LP, you're lending some meaningful collaborations, but you're still self educated, you're learning new ways of making music.
Tell me about where do we go from that to nine point nine percent.
Tip about what happens in the in between from twenty sixteen to twenty nineteen Sunday.
I was inspired. I was really I constantly making stuff and I was using Fruity Loops at a time like I did the whole dynamics, like I mixed the whole stuff on Fruity Loops. So it was like I got this smack and then native instruments shout the native instruments for sending me the machine. And that software just looks so beautiful that I was like, I got to use it, you know, I got to learn how to use it. So I was really like on my quest to learn a machine and I was just making terrible beats for like two or three months, like in a row, really trying to find myself was not really trying to work on the album.
I was really trying to be this producer, you know, and I just couldn't figure out why. I was like not the producer I wanted to be. And I was like, of course, I don't live in L.A. You know, I don't live in, like, the spots where the music industry is happening. You know, it's like, ah, stuff like that.
So that really bothered me. And I was so moved out of my mom's house as well. So it's like all these changes in my life and I was just living life, really. I was going out partying more. And eventually the idea of Bubba came around 2018 in my birthday when T.J. Moses sent me a culture because.
I suppose you don't know, like, oh, I don't know, like like, you know. Pop culture was the first beat, and then I was like, OK, an album is coming, like sometimes you just know, like, OK, I'm going to work on this album, I got to work on an album. And then, like, I kind of sat on it trying to get more people involved. I went to L.A. for a couple months to just, you know, now, like I told you, ninety nine point nine percent was like this record where I was just collaborating remotely.
But now it got to a point where I was like, you know, I got to be the artist. Like, I, like, catch a vibe. I want to be the producer. I never been I was still kind of shy, so I was just always, like, never really seen anything. But the artist was always doing their thing, you know, cartilages and, you know, still all the down thing. And I was like, wow, I can't really say nothing like now I got to, like, just watch what you do.
It was all these, like, demos coming together. And I had enough material and it was like all dance music. So I was like, you know what, I'm just going to do a dance electronic album. Focus on that. You know, the hip hop or all the beat stuff that was making is kind of like wait for a while. So I just did the electronic and dance album and that's how it came together, really.
Let's talk about a 10 percent with colleges. Yeah. You're in Los Angeles, this is sort of the first time formally collaborating in a room, you've got some really talented folks, you're feeling a little shy.
Yeah, but you get some great material out of this, 10 percent with colloquies, get some really great play. And it's a really fun track. How does this come together?
You know, Katti, which is like we worked on her first mixtape, we go way back. It's like in the beginning of a career, like I bought her at Coachella to perform because we had this song called Rush. And I really like this song.
This is like an amazing song that people should not sleep on. But that's like the first song we ever worked together, we always were just friends after that, and then we did seven percent, but we've been sitting on 10 percent for years because it was like twenty seventeen. And then it took me like over a year, had like we were together again.
And then I was like, hey, you want to add something to that song?
It's cool because we all see I see my evolution and I see hers too.
So it's like it's kind of kind of nice to see that I sampled this, like, drum loop by this indie band called First Choice Love Thing. It's like this classic, like really known drum loop in their. So I just did like random since, like what I usually do at the time, because that's why it sounds really reminiscent of, like, what I used to do.
Added since and then the years went by and I just added a couple of stuff like, you know, strings and those little like plug sense at the end and just trying to make it like better, you know, make it sound better, make it sound less dated. And, you know, that's what it was.
I feel like there is this sort of Internet obsession of trying to figure out what is the culture, not a sound. What are what are those sounds that you you sort of identify as a personal sound?
Some people like say, yeah, like I'm making a kitchen on a Thai beat and it's like I have no idea what you're talking about, but what are the things you think about that you care about in terms of representing yourself?
The fact that I'm doing when I do house music, I don't do it coincides and I just like make that I had super funky the bass line people talk about, oh, you're not a bass line, but it's not really. My bass line is just eat away are just very asabi bass line that you feel like, like, you know, like the same way Jadallah used it. Or, you know, Madlib uses is like a very savvy base.
That is just it kind of shakes the trunk of your car, you know.
So I always use a port Simental on the DICENZO. So it's like this Loomer like every time you had sex. So that's what it is. And and there will be like some Plecki says, you know, you add a little plug, you sense like in the end, like that's like the classic.
You seem to think very deeply about the Sonics of of the work. You're saying earlier about how in the in between these records, you're teaching yourself new tools, you're trying things out. You say there's a bunch of beats that you're making which are like they're not heartbeat's. And I've read in other interviews that there was a sort of moment of maybe a crisis of confidence of like, wait a minute, why aren't some of the collaborations that I'm wanting to do working out?
How do you know when a beat is wack or when it's really working and ready for another artist?
Are you feeling your body? You feel like, oh, no, maybe it's a hard thing. Like I just based it on like whatever I feel over here in my chest or my heart, if it makes me happy at another level, that's when I'm like, OK, I feel it now. This is this is great. This is good. But there are sometimes I just don't hit. Right. You're like, maybe I should put this one out.
This is not going to kind of come out there.
Sometimes you feel this way and sometimes that is like, oh my God, this is the most amazing shit I ever did. And then and then you wake up the next day and then you're like, oh, maybe not.
I'm not sure.
As an instrumental producer, what continues to drive your creative curiosities? What kind of statements are you wanting to make or discover?
I just love making music, really. And the fact that I just came from making music like it's amazing and I don't even know how to play keys. And I still managed to create my own production, create my own compositions. That's really, like, fascinating. That's like something I should really not take for granted, you know, like it's something I'm really I'm really I'm really happy to have that talent of knowing what's good and what's not in my ears.
I guess this is this has been a gift because I can't really comprehend like that. How come I know all these things about music and I really was not consistent with, like, my piano lessons growing up and stuff like that, you know?
So, yeah, many people have noted your music over the last decade. There's been different stages from remixing to getting signed to Excel.
You're nine point nine percent record.
But with Bobba, you have the Grammys saying, hey, we've got nominations for best dance recording for ten percent, best dance, electronic album for the whole album and also Best New Artist.
I'm curious about how this external validation changes things for you.
This amazing man is something that is like secure. My place is secure in like I don't know.
It definitely gives you like a secure feeling that your stuff is still officially like, you know, the Grammys have like have their controversies, but it's still dope to be recognized. It's amazing. And something that is really historical, whether you like it or not. It's amazing, especially coming from where I come from. It's like I'm always speechless when I talk about, like me being nominated because it's it still feels a little weird.
You know, I can't really wrap my head around the fact not just making stuff here where I'm actually saying that, yeah, you're no longer in your mom's basement, but you're nearby.
Yeah, I come back to my mom's basement. Maybe sometimes, you know, I'm bored sometimes, but I'm just making these scientists complex to make albums and then I get recognized from that.
It's really amazing. It's really great. What's next for you? Just last week I was like, you know what? I'm going to work on a new album, does a lot of crazy things that is happening my life. And I could use a lot of that. And like writing because I've been writing a lot of lyrics and just me singing demos and stuff like that.
What's going on and what are you wanting to say? Relationship stuff, because I know my life is OK outside of this relationship I had, but I know, like this would be good. Is, you know, for the album and stuff like that, I'm really trying to make, like, you know, a continuation of whatever I met, you know, in terms of, like life and my evolution as as a B because I've I did evolve since Bover, you know, and it's like I was really happy that Bubba came out at the time because like it was for me was like, yeah, this is who I am really.
This is really the evolution. You know, now it's like I've evolved again, even more like I think it's like an everyday thing. So I just want to be able to do that sooner or later, you know? Beautiful stuff. It's been really a joy getting to chat with you. I really appreciate it. Thank you for joining us on the show. Well, thank you for having me. It's been great. Thank you. Switched-On Pop is produced by Bridget Armstrong, Nate Sloane and me Charlie Hearting, we are illustrated by Iris Gotlieb and Social Media by BA Engineering by Brandon McFarland in This Week by Bill Lance.
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