words & interview by Jake Heinitz (@yawkobe)
photo by Anthony Gilbert (A-Tone Works)
Working with the likes of Blu, Chester Watson and a variety of other notable emcees, Psymun has established a place in underground hip-hop as an abstract beatsmith. Now branching out to work on a full-length soul/r&b project, Psymun continues to bring the best out of the artists he works with, this time the collaborator being K.Raydio. K is a young, hip-hop influenced vocalist that has released a couple of her own projects as well as sang hooks on tracks like Mally's "Good One". When Psymun sent me this song, it matched so well with the theme of the album, "representative of the perception of dreams versus reality", that I basically forced him and K to sit down and explain the project, how Psymun pulled K out of a creative drought, the origins of this re-worked track with Greg Grease and how K handles the situation of being a homosexual woman contributing songs to such a heternormative genre.
Greenroom: Lobby Music originally appeared on SSV3 but you chose to include the remix on LucidDreamingSkylines. What about that song made you want to hold onto it and carry it over to another project?
Psymun: I'm not sure what it was about the song specifically, but there seemed to be an unspoken agreement that we would be using that track on our album as well. I don't think we even talked about it, so hopefully K is cool with it.
K.Raydio: I remember hearing the production for "Lobby Music" for the first time and it really stirred up something in me. It was a song that helped me bring closure to a toxic relationship that I didn't realize I had held on to. It's pretty raw and Greg brought so much life to it. When we initially released the original version, he was very supportive and voiced how much he loved the song. Psymun and I both thought about reworking it for the album and the only person we heard on it was Greg. So it's pretty amazing having him on the song and really re-working it into something bigger.
Jake: How did the Greg Grease addition came about?
Psymun: We talked about doing a remix of the song and wanted to feature an MC, I think Greg was both of our first choice. The track seemed to like be his style or something cuz he wrote a super gnarly verse. I don't think of the song as a remix though, I see at as the "new version" or something, and hopefully the listener sees it the same way.
K: Greg was beyond supportive with our original release of the song, and when we thought about how we wanted to re-record it for the album, the only person that we thought would really feel right on it was Greg. I still get goosebumps listening to his verse. He is an amazing artist and a friend whose work ethic I really admire, and he added so much depth with both his lyricism and his approach. He really took the feature to heart, and it shows. That's how you can tell how passionate he is about his craft. We're so happy to have him on this.
Jake: Psymun, with most of your background being in hip-hop and punk production, what was it like producing a soul/r&b record?
Psymun: It actually wasn't much different than producing for rappers, basically the same process actually, I make everything at home and then email to Krysta and then eventually we meet up and record it, and then I'll add some stuff afterwards when I get home. Also I don't really have much interest in working with rappers anymore, except for the ones that I already produce for, so it was like, an evolutionary experience in that sense.
Jake: K, you've worked with a variety of producers, what was it about Psymun that made you want to collaborate on a full-length?
K: There's something very special about Psymun that goes beyond his sound; it has everything to do with his character. The past couple of years, I really went through a hard time trying to find my sound and went through a creative drought, and Psymun helped me work through that. He randomly contacted me, reached out and was really genuine about wanting to make good music. When we originally linked for his project with Damacha (SSV3), we started to become good friends while making music and the blend of our unique sounds seemed like a good fit. He gets me as an artist and I really respect him. It's a great collaborative relationship and the music continues to get better for the both of us. He made making music fun again.
Jake: K, what was the evolution like between your last project (Significant Other) and LSD?
K: Ultimately, "Significant Other" was my first creative endeavor and was the beginning of everything. Man Mantis helped me to get to a place of finding my voice, and recording that project was done almost entirely in secret. I was facing my personal fears for the first time and I can still hear that hesitation and uncertainty in my voice. I'm so proud of that album for what it symbolized for my life post-college.
LDS shows my growth as a person in the past few years. I'm 25 now and I finished recording material for Significant Other (I & II) when I was 22, so a lot has happened in my life since then. Some good, and a lot of trials and tribulations. But the hardest parts of the past few years made for great writing material, so I feel like I've really grown since the last project. I'm finding my voice.
Jake: What's the inspiration behind the title of the album?
K: LucidDreamingSkylines was a combination of thoughts, processes and themes that went into the album. The songs are representative of the perception of dreams versus reality, and a lot of what I write about is coming to terms with the "real world" while trying to hold on to childhood ambition. Skylines - to me - have always had a dreamlike quality to me. And during the process of finishing this project, there were many nights driving through the Twin Cities and reflecting with skylines in the backdrop.
Jake: K, as an active member of the GLBT community, what is it like making music in such a heteronormative genre? And has Frank Ocean influenced you in that regard?
K: This is a very interesting question, but it's really important because I'm glad to be a part of the conversation. I have always felt like the "other" - from my ethnicity to my sexuality to my spiritual views to my personal background. As this musical journey has continued, I have also seen my role as a "soul singer" be embraced in a number of musical genres, and that's been the best part of it.
I don't believe in putting myself in a box, and the music is representative of that too. Psymun and I didn't try to make a sound or pertain to a certain genre of music and we hope the album just sounds ... good. And that's what I want people to take from LDS. To get people back to a place where they don't judge the music on anything beyond the music itself and how it makes people feel or think. I think that's why I love Frank Ocean so much [listen to her cover of "Thinking About You"]. He is true to himself and because his music is so great, his existence forces people to confront their own preconceived notions. At the base of it all, we are all human beings. And the more honest we are with ourselves, the better we become as artists. He has heavily influenced me to speak my truth through my music.