Red Bull and its music team, have returned for the second season of their Red Bull Mystery Pack. The 4-episode series challenges multi-talented producers to make a beat from scratch, only using the random sounds that are provided. This season enlists Kato On The Track, KVYREN, DRAMA, and Danny Wolf to show off their skills. The first episode kicked off on March 25th, featuring Atlanta-based producer, Kato On The Track. The 5X-Billboard charter has produced for Joyner Lucas, Inspectah Deck, JackHarlow, and many more. Now that his episode has aired, Kato On The Track gave some more insight on his episode and the art of producing.
Twelve-year veteran, Kato On The Track, was the first challenger for the second season of the Red Bull’s Mystery Pack. The Virginia-native put on a show for viewers with a 10-pack of random sound that included a cellphone buzz, a sheep, and a dribbling ball. Considering himself the “Korean Larry Bird”, he also added some dimension to his unique creative process with a basketball court-inspired studio. “This was a dope experience. I don’t think I’ve ever done something like this before. It was definitely a challenge but I’m always looking for ways to challenge myself.”, Kato described his Mystery Pack opportunity. Giving some insight into his creative process, he talked briefly about how he kicks off his sessions. “Nine times out of ten, I’m starting off with a melody. In the mystery pack, I started off with the saxophone because I knew that I could build off it. Sometimes I may start with the drums, but I love the melody. It’s where the groove starts”. After tweaking with the sounds, up-tempo, horn blaring beat used 8 out of the 10 sounds from the pack. “I want to get Lizzo on this. I’m just a fan of hers anyway and I would love to work with her. Definitely looking out for something in the future”. Lizzo, this one is for you.
Producing is such a distinctive craft that pulls from all sorts of creative influences, allowing for artists to truly make it their own. Whether it’s Pharell’s iconic 4-count or Timbaland’s all-star production, producing is one of a kind. Honing his own style, Kato’s Rolodex of beats brings together genre-bending sounds while heavily focusing on the 808s. Having worked with some of the greats like Snoop Dogg and E-40, much of his production captures that West Coast flavor. “Dr. Dre is a huge influence of mine. I’ve taken some of his West Coast sound and flavor and put it into my own beats. I love Bay Area bounce so I think a lot of that shows”, he said. Giving a nod to some of his producer predecessors, he showed some more love to the heavyweights. An Atlanta transplant, Kato has a keen knowledge of Atlanta’s huge contribution to the South’s pivotal sound. “I’m originally from Virginia, but I’ve been in Atlanta for the last ten years. The whole Atlanta sound from DJ Toomp to Zaytoven, I have so many influences to draw from”. Showing his appreciation for the entire map, he tries to avoid sticking to just one coast of sounds. “I don’t have a favorite coast but I will say my first true influence came from J. Dilla. I learned so much from his sound selection, his texture, beats, and the bounce of his beats. I really do draw inspiration from everyone”.
After being in the game for more than a decade, Kato has seen the art of production evolve and grow. Practicing a craft that requires agility and creativity, he has managed to remain relevant without sacrificing his originality. While “microwave” music is still running its course, he’s still finding ways to push the limit. “I’m constantly challenging myself to try different things, so I never get stuck in a particular sound or formula. Even my beats from a year ago sound different from what I’ve made recently. If you're trying to progress, your sound won’t get stale”, he said. While the producer is having fun in this game, he does acknowledge how politics can cause some challenges. “The producing is fun, it’s the industry that is challenging. It’s the politics and the game. If it was based on just the music, I think my shit would be right up there. But because a lot of it is politics and relationships, it can be hard.” Moving around the industry struggle, he continues to embrace the many opportunities and the ability to be a part of the game.
Moving on to his next project, Kato is back in the lab working on his upcoming album Overnight Success Story. In similar Khaled fashion, he plans to curate a project that brings together various artists over his own production. “It’s been a great process so far, I’ve secured a bunch of features that I’m really excited to share. I have a great team that has been able to give me great input”, he said. Playing on the irony of the title, he recognizes how long his success story has taken. “I’ve been in the game for so long, but more recently, people are really beginning to notice me. I titled it Overnight Success Story because I want to tell that story of how I’ve been in the game for so long and just now people are starting to pay attention to what I’m doing”. Instead of getting caught up in the process of gaining recognition, he’s found the silver lining in his journey. “Rather than being frustrated, I feel blessed because some people never get their shot. I just recognize that even getting recognition from an audience is a blessing.” Trying a new approach, Kato’s upcoming project is expected to feature some credits from social media users. “We’re going to use Instagram to crowdsource verses. We have songs that need verses and I know there is a lot of untapped talent out there. I want to give people a chance to rap on my beats and use those as guest features”. For all those who rap in the comments of posts, this is your time to shine. Beyond his personal project, Kato On The Track is still teaming up with some favorites to produce plenty of summer-time hits. In the meantime, check out his Red Bull Mystery Pack Episode.