KunD! Interview with Muzique Magazine
“Nightbounce”, ’s that feeling you get when you’re pregaming for the turn-up, or is it a way to look at the positives even in the darkest of times? According to South Georgia R&B artist KunD! it’s both, and he should know because he coined the term with the single off of his ‘O, Solemn Night: The Pvrple Tapes’ EP which dropped in 2020. The young Georgia native has a smooth production style and an even smoother voice that perfectly encapsulates both feelings on this track. Today we speak with KunD! about who some of his inspirations are, his polished use of double entendre and “showing out” for the Peach State.
How long have you been making music for?
I first started making my own music in the summer of 2016, but I didn’t have my own first real release until 2017 when I dropped, “You and I”.
Did you start off as a singer or did you start on the production side of things? Which of those two came more naturally to you?
I started off as a singer. I’ve been singing in some form or fashion since I was about 8 years old; whether in elementary school plays, choir, or singing in the shower, I’ve always been singing. The first time I really sang live was in 6th grade. I took guitar lessons back then, and we had a class band called “School of Rock”, very original of course. In the spring of that year, we had a showcase, and I sang “Seven Nation Army” by White Stripes. After the performance, I thought about how much fun I had, and to myself, I was like, “Hey, I could do this for real”. That’s a moment I always remember. I picked up production around the time I first started making music and have been growing as a producer since then, but singing is definitely what comes more naturally to me. When it comes to music, I’m a singer first before anything.
Who are some of your biggest influences as far as performers go?
When it comes to performers, Michael Jackson definitely tops the list as someone who’s truly had a huge influence on me. As much as my first time singing made me realize I could do music, it was Michael Jackson who made me want to actively pursue a career as a musician, as an artist. As a performer, he was electrifying, dazzling, magical; he personified entertainment. Listening to Michael taught me how to sing, and he was really the first artist that made me aspire to do music. Other performers that have influenced me are Prince for sure, James Brown, Beyonce, Erykah Badu, and Outkast to name a few.
What about producers, who are some of the people who are most influential to you in that realm?
There are a good few that have influenced me, and they span a variety of different genres. CHVRCHES have definitely had a huge influence on me. As a synthpop group, I’ve always loved their lush and ethereal synthpop production style; it always takes me to a place I haven’t been before, and that’s something I always strive for in my music. Also, the fact that they handle their own production is amazing to me. Along that same vein, producers like Kanye West and Tyler The Creator have also influenced me heavily as well. And with Kanye, I’ve always been inspired by how he has constantly managed to evolve his sound project after project, and yet, he still keeps his same identity throughout each one. It’s what has made him so relevant and influential as a producer and as an artist for all these years. Other producers that have really influenced me include Pharell, Sounwave, Kaytranada, Frank Ocean, Earl Sweatshirt, Ade Hakim, Black Noi$e, RandomBlackDude, Sonny Digital, WondaGurl, and Vegyn to name a few. But there are so many more.
What was your inspiration for this track in particular?
I think my initial inspiration for this track started with the sonics. I had just gotten this synth plug-in called ‘Pigments’ around the time I was producing for O, Solemn Night, and as I started playing around with the sounds on there, I came across one that really resonated with me. It was the initial sound for the bass that starts the track, and that sort of became the foundation for the beat. I already had in mind that I wanted this project to be centered around the theme of nighttime, so as I played the beat, in my head, I kept thinking of the word ‘night bounce because of the theme and the nature of the beat. Soon after, I had a melody in mind, and the rest kind of unfolded from there. I wanted this to be the ‘upbeat’ track of the project; it works as the song that gets you loose when you’re feeling down, a song you can turn up to when it gets dark, whether it be outside or in.
“Nightbounce” operates on a few different levels, in one sense it’s a track about that feeling you get when the sun is about to go down and you got plans to go out that night, that excitement and anticipation. But in another sense, it’s a song about keeping a positive attitude in times of “darkness”. That’s such an unexpected juxtaposition but also very fitting. Do you like to work that kind of juxtaposition or double meaning into your music frequently, or was this more of a unique type of track for you?
I’d say that’s something I usually try to incorporate into my songwriting and song structure. I like getting creative with my lyrics in that way because it makes the process fun. When you’re writing your own songs, it’s all about you expressing yourself, and you can express yourself however you want. Only you know what you want to express when you’re creating, and only you know how you want to express it. So
when you throw in double entendres or other types of wordplay or modify your vocals in the mix for certain words or lines, or when you add little vocal inflections at certain parts of a song even, that’s all part of the fun. It’s like you have your own little creative blueprint, and nobody knows it but you. Everyone else has to guess; they have to make their own interpretation of the song, and in turn, that makes them resonate with it in a way that’s unique to them. That’s the beauty of music, and it’s what makes me love songwriting and creating so much.
As mentioned above this song can work on a pop music level but it also has an incredible emotional depth to it if you dig a little bit. It seems that more and more popular music is embracing this idea of being able to write a catchy hook but also have something profound or deep to say. Is it your goal to be able to do both as an artist? Do you value one of those abilities above the other, or are they equally important to you artistically?
It definitely is a goal of mine to be able to do both as an artist, and I feel both are important artistically for sure. Music can fulfill so many roles: it can serve as a way to spread a message through a medium that many can connect to, and it also serves as a way for people to enjoy themselves, to uplift spirits, and to come together.
What does the typical songwriting process look like for you? Do you like to compose a track and then find a melody to fit? Or do you work from the melody and build around it? Or is it something that switches up from song to song?
It depends on the vibe I’m in when I get to creating. If I don’t have a theme or any lyrics in mind, I’ll just get out my keyboard and play around with some synths or chord progressions until I feel something, or until a melody comes to mind, and then I’ll build from there. But sometimes I’ll already have lyrics or whole written songs even, and I’ll try to find the sound that matches the flow or melody that I have with my lyrics and evokes what I’m trying to express with them. It’s all about a vibe for me. If I don’t feel it, then it’s not gonna happen; I never try to force it.
You’re from Georgia, which has produced arguably some of the greatest hip-hop/r&b artists of all time from Outkast, Ludacris and Usher, to Future and Childish Gambino. What’s it like to represent a scene with such a high output of incredible music and talent? Do you draw inspiration from those legends that came before you?
It’s amazing, I love being from Georgia; I’m proud of it. I feel like being from here, there’s just so much music. Music history, music energy, you just feel it. And I definitely draw inspiration from the culture, and from the legends that came from here. I always got a Georgia artist in my rotation, and if I find out an artist is from here, it makes me like them even more haha. And all the legends you mentioned: Outkast, Luda, Usher, Gambino, they all came in with something fresh, with a sound that was different from what everyone else was doing. Outkast is one of the pioneers of Southern Hip-Hop.
Luda became one of the first Dirty South Rappers to achieve mainstream music success. Usher was one of the main driving forces of the early 2000s wave of R&B. Future helped usher in the beginnings of the genre we know so commonly now as Mumble Rap. And Gambino is one of the few artists of today that can actually call themselves a ‘Renaissance Man’. There are so many more legends I could go on about as well, from James Brown to Gladys Knight, to Ray Charles, and so on. They always inspire me to pave my own path into the music world. When I listen to the greats, or any Georgia artist really, I get a sense of pride. It’s like, “I’m from Georgia, so I gotta show out”.
The first part of the title of your EP ‘O, Solemn Night’ has clearly biblical connotations. What was your intention behind that? Would you call this EP a modern-day hymn?
Personally, I wouldn’t really call it a modern-day hymn. I mainly chose the word ‘solemn’ because of its dark connotation. I really wanted to personify the darker themes and vibes of this project with the title, and ‘solemn’ was the perfect word to me. This EP represents a cycle of darkness that we all have to deal with at some point in our lives, and it was a way for me to express the cycle that I was going through. That cycle, and how we choose to navigate it, can be different for everybody; it has its highs and lows, victories and defeats, but it’s one that we’re all familiar with.
Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today! Do you have anything coming down the pipeline for us to look forward to in 2021?
Of course! Thank y’all for talking with me! And yes I have some exciting stuff in the works. I’m currently in the process of editing a short film/visual for O, Solemn Night: The Pvrple Tapes , and I plan on dropping the visual this June! Also, always working on music, so definitely stay tuned for a potential release later this year as well.
Listen on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/track/3DADGiNWAHEgdQ4Ou1nhWT?si=saNmDgRZT2m0siRXLEL06A