Keyboard Kid 206 is a name you may or may not know, but there's no doubt you've heard some of his "based ass beats" if you've been listening to the likes of Lil B, for whom he's been serving as resident producer. If you dig the hip-hop influenced, trappy electronic music of Araabmuzik or the hazy, blissed-out sounds of Clams Casino, chances are, Keyboard Kid 206's beats will hit the spot. His first official release, The Transition EP, was released May 6 on Donky Pitch and is available for purchase on their Bandcamp. He's also had a few beat tape releases on his own that have received attention from some esteemed music publications.
In our interview below, we talk about how he got into music, how working with a rapper is different from working on his own, how his family and roots influenced his musical taste, his lack of a formal musical background, and which rappers and electronic producers are influencing him now. Before you forge ahead, feel free to snatch up track "TheMost" from his latest EP for exclusive download below!
EARMILK: Your current claim to fame is as Lil B's resident producer. What made you want to start releasing your own productions?
KK206: Well for me, being an artist as well and not really being one to rap, I definitely still wanted to be able to express who I am as an artist, second and foremost as a person, to the world. I feel like my instrumentals tell a story on their own and can stand as music in their own right. I personally liked listening to just instrumental music and I knew I couldn't be the only person who was feeling this way. So I just took a chance and started self-releasing "based" instrumental tapes, as I like to call them. Seems like it kinda worked.
EM: What's the process of working with a rapper like? Is it a lot different from making tracks for yourself?
KK206: I feel like when you hear somebody rap, you're getting his or her story or perspective moreso. When you just hear the music and let it breathe, you hear it as the composer intended and a lot of my music is made to just listen to it and reflect… take it in… dance… whatever and however you want, and to me that's purely what the art should be about. That's what makes it fun for me. To let people paint their own picture with the music.
So I guess to answer your question further, for me I enjoy working by myself more. When you work with rappers they want to try and mold your sound. I like to work freely off inspiration. But at the same time, when you work another artist and things just click and you're vibin', you can make magic and that can be just as fun.
I find there to be no particular formula, especially in the Internet age. The best songs I have made are with my friends that I have developed a working relationship with over the past few years. I just send them stuff I think or know they will like. These are homies from the MySpace days, like Lil B and Main Attrakionz, others as well, but we all have been like-minded from the jump. That's how we all met anyways, trying to find others who were like us.
EM: What was the first music you listened to that you got really excited about?
KK206: Man, I'm not gonna front, the first music I heard that I got really really excited about was Kanye West. It was his beats when I didn't even know they were his beats, like "Through the Wire" changed my life probably as much as it changed his. Well, not quite, haha, but it was that defining moment when I heard my inner self speak, when I made it up in my mind that I was gonna try and be the best producer. Haha, I wanted to be better than Kanye from then on out because to me he represents success, him and Pharrell, being known all over the world for hip-hop productions. I don't think I was that hype on anything I heard before that. Nothing that made me really want to dedicate my life to music, even though I wanted to make music since I was a kid, if that makes sense. So until I meet Kanye imma shout him out every time, cuz I mean, just seeing how determined he was man! Like how Lil B looks up to Lil Wayne, I look up to Kanye.
EM: How did you get into producing music? What's your musical background?
KK206: For me producing kinda just happened. I was always into music growing up, I just never had the money to really have drums or anything big equipment wise. I also wasn't in a position where I really had anyone around me that was into the music business or scene. So kinda how I mentioned earlier, I was about 16 or 17 when I started getting into the Internet more heavily, learned about downloads and all that good stuff. Around the same time, I heard Kanye West's "Through the Wire", and I made up my mind and was really at that point just determined to prove that I could make dope sample beats. Somehow, after hours of trial and error, probably days, I got a cracked version of FruityLoops 2.0 and just spent my summer trying to learn it. Man, I remember making terrible beats, but every now and then I'd get a good one where I really got what was in my head out. I shared it with my friends and they were like, "you're getting good man, you need someone to rap on these," so I started looking for rappers to give beats to. Lots and lots of trial and error and just learning from the ground up, and I'm still learning everyday.
No musical background technically. I really taught myself everything along the way.
EM: What do you listen to in your spare time? What albums have you been digging lately?
KK206: In my spare time I listen to Based God of course! But nah, really I do listen to Lil B a lot, I work with him but always have been a fan of his music. I listen to Clams Casino, Main Attrakionz, newly produced Kanye stuff, A$AP Rocky, Western Think, Milli Mars, Metro Zu, SpaceGhostPurrp, Ab-Soul, Schoolboy Q, Nacho Picasso… really lots of the new kids coming up with this new underground. More people I haven't mentioned I'm sure, I listen to Zomby, Mele, Lunice, so much good music out there!
I couldn't possibly explain all that I listen to. It's a mash up of hip-hop to rock to techno, grime, electronic… cloud… based… bollywood, soul… I really am just a child of music, I love it! Just depends how I'm feeling. Truthfully there is no album I can say I definitively have been digging lately. It's more of a mash of the artist and genres I mentioned.