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Interview: Citizen Kay

Following the release of his critically praised single ‘Funny Business’ feat. Genesis Owusu, Citizen Kay has returned with the accompanying video clip – directed by long-time collaborator Nic Vevers.

Filmed in 4K across various Canberra locations, the clip features 80’s style get ups and props, with enigmatic performances from Citizen Kay, Genesis Owusu and other Canberra artists including Kirklandd. Effortlessly complementing the tracks funk-infused vibes, the shots amusingly call back to a time of overzealous schemes and corporate greed. We sat down for a chat to find out more about the creative process, the local Canberra scene and collaborating.

What is your creative process like? Was it any different for ‘Funny Business’ and ‘Ego’, compared to ‘Demokracy’ and ‘With The People’? How has it changed over time?
Leading up to ‘Demokracy’, I was trying to be the guy doing EVERYTHING (writing, recording, production & mixing) and started learning how to work with other engineers and producers. From a writing point it was a lot more carefree – I wasn’t particularly concerned about how what I said would be perceived or what people would want to hear from me and I just made exactly the music I wanted, when I wanted.

With the People’ was the next step but this time I handed over the majority of production and mixing to my main man Ben Garden (who’s worked on nearly all my releases with me). The lyrics and content were heavily thought out – I wanted every track to be coherent with the next and I felt like the world needed me to bring nothing but the FUNK!

I did another project (‘Belly of the Beast’) and then took some time away from writing my own stuff. So when I came back, I made the conscious decision to focus on that carefree style of writing from earlier in my career– just feeling the tracks and letting the music speak, which is what ‘EGO’ and ‘Funny Business’ came out of (both songs were actually written around the same time, and a few others yet to see the light of day).

I guess I’m in some way back to just making exactly the music I want to make without too much thought into what people might want to hear (been listening to A LOT of 80’s soul music the last 2 years).

Through all my projects though I’ve always been a ‘music first’ type of writer. I don’t think I have any songs out which I wrote the lyrics before working on the music.

You’ve always been a strong proponent of the Canberra music scene; do you feel like it’s thriving at the moment?
HELL YEAH! CBR is no doubt on the come up and it’s only the beginning. Especially with the rise of acts like SAFIA, Moaning Lisa, Genesis Owusu, Peking Duk, Hands like Houses and so on; I really think artists, musicians and creatives here are more inspired and confident than ever (including me).

You’ve been nominated for multiple ARIA awards, is that something you cherish? Or a bonus on top of creating enriching and well-loved music?
Definitely a bonus! Of course, it’s a goal of mine to win a couple of them bad boys to put on the shelf but the music and the intent behind the music always comes first.

How was it working with your brother again? How has that dynamic changed with Genesis coming into his own over the last couple of years?
To be honest, it was pretty damn easy and straight forward. We still live together and have had a smooth way of collaborating since our first track when he was 14. There isn’t any forced back and forth – we just know and trust each other to bring our A-Game. We’ve always had this unspoken “no re-writes” rule too which makes things interesting. Originally Genesis wasn’t on ‘Funny Business’ – we were showing each other the music we’d been working on, he heard ‘Funny Business’ and wanted to jump on the 2nd verse, and after he jumped on and did his verse, because of our unspoken rule, I wasn’t allowed to rewrite my verse LOL! It just means we always have to put our best foot forward from the jump.

Is there anything you can hint in the near future that we should be excited about?
I mean, the obvious answer is more music. I’ve been hella inspired by 70’s – 80’s funk and soul music, and a lot of ideas have come out of that inspiration, so keen to pump them out until the next thing grabs me! Maybe I’ll come out with a Classical Music x Rap album after this 80’s inspired stint. WHO KNOWS!

Check out the new video below.

Written by John Zebra