We spoke to 14KT ahead of his recent release For My Sanity, as part of his new project IAMABEENIE. Born & raised in Michigan, USA, over the last decade 14KT has released seven solo albums, worked with many of other artists we love, and is a regular player at Jazzy Jeff’s PLAYlist Retreat.
Your new jazz record For My Sanity incorporates elements of hip hop, soul, R&B and Latin music - where have all of these styles become an influence for you?
Growing up in Michigan, my parents definitely were listening to a lot of Soul, R&B, Jazz, and Gospel music.
My mom, who introduced me to Jazz music, I remember her liking and playing Tito Puente songs. That's the first artist I can remember where I first heard Latin music. The record, "Sunday's Yellow" on the album is dedicated to my mother, so I wanted to include elements of Latin music because I knew she would enjoy that. Latin music makes you move!
On this album you primarily used the Native Instruments Maschine, what technological developments do you foresee the music industry embracing in both equipment and production styles?
Equipment is becoming way more intuitive everyday. I see the music industry continuing to embrace the technology of MIDI. Although MIDI has been around for years, the industry continues to develop products that can help manipulate MIDI data, so we can map it to anything, play chords easier, and make edits and changes to music quicker. I enjoy seeing companies who make plugins, sampling more live instruments, so it makes production styles sound more richer and natural using computers.
IAMABEENIE is the title of this upcoming series of jazz-influenced albums, so what does the future hold for you and this project?
This album marks the beginning of another personal journey through music. For those who are familiar with my music, know that i'm a hip hop guy. This project is me finally opening up another side of my expression to my listeners, which i'm excited to share and have plenty more projects in the works for listeners that enjoy this type of project.
You are a writer delving into personal philosophies and exploring societal issues, but you also celebrate the importance of family and real friendships. How do you think music can open minds and unite people?
When I create music, my goals are to inspire, motivate, and educate the listener. Those are all things that encouraged me to become a writer and producer at a young age. Music opened my mind up to different cultures, opinions, lifestyles, and perspectives. I've seen it bring people, who are very different, together. The more we share our views and respect each other, it will continue to open minds and unite.
You’ve united with a variety of talented musicians, producers, and composers on this new project - from the like of James Poyser (The Roots) and Jimetta Rose to Masego and Mark de Clive-Lowe. What artistic characteristics do you look for and respect in your peers?
Everyone who you just mentioned that are on the album are amazingly talented artists. I respect their hard work, their uniqueness, personality, love for the music, and just how great they are at what they do. Most of them all just free-styled and played what they heard and felt - I appreciate that the most. I love an artist that knows themselves, doesn't try to do too much, but just does what they do.
You’ve stated that For My Sanity was a way of trying to find peace of mind every night due to the stresses of life, do you think artistic expression is something that should be taken more seriously as a form of therapy?
Absolutely. Being able to share your emotions and feelings through art is one of the most effective ways of expression - which is very therapeutic. People include art into their lives as a form of therapy all the time. There aren't many rooms you will walk in without a piece of art on the wall, music playing, or some type of piece of art around that creates a therapeutic environment in some fashion. Creating music is one of the best ways I de-stress in my life.
You have worked with a strong list of admired artists throughout your career, including projects with Aloe Blacc, Masta Ace, Jay Electronica and Dennis Coffey. Who else are you planning to work with and do you have any more dream collaborators?
My dream collaborators would be to work with Outkast, Black Thought, Stevie Wonder, Kendrick Lamar, or any artists that I grew up listening to that inspired me to do what I do today. I plan on working with more jazz singers and musicians. I'm working on a project with my younger cousin Lake Stovall, who sings and plays guitar. I also look forward to continue working with my friends like my group RSXGLD, Tall Black Guy, Billy Mercury, Seb Zillner, Maimouna Youssef, and the rest of my Playlist Family.
Listen to 'For My Sanity' on Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube.
Get the vinyl or download here, released by First Word.