In an exclusive interview, emerging London producer K, Le Maestro shares who his biggest inspirations are, details his new album Whip Music, and more.
K, Le Maestro was raised in Hounslow, a borough in West London. This was where he discovered his love for R&B and hip-hop.
It was this love for music that led him to begin producing beats nearly ten years ago. Beginning in 2012 he used his older brother’s digital audio workstation Mixcraft which was installed on his family computer, what initially started as an experiment turned into a passion.
“For me, the base of my influences in my music would be Madlib [and] J. Dilla,” he says over a Zoom call. “I listened to a lot of music from the states growing up. I [listened to] UK music as well, but I have more of an American influence.”
The influence of ‘90s R&B, G-Funk, and hip-hop can be heard profoundly in WHIP MUSIC, his latest album. The project was initially conceptualized during an evening in October 2019 in Berlin when he took a photo in front of a white, vintage Mercedes Benz. That was where he came up with the idea of creating music that could be enjoyed by lovers enjoying a late-night ride at the end of the summer — lush, relaxing music that evokes moments of reflection. For him, that meant injecting his new album with inspirations from talents he loves including J Dilla and Kashif, the late singer, producer, and songwriter who perfected soulful R&B in the ‘80s.
From 2019 to 2021, he recalls cutting and recreating the project four times. Most of the tracks that are on it were recorded in 2020 aside from the introduction (it was created in 2019). In terms of the features on the record, in a recent interview, he says he sent his beats out and waited patiently for his collaborators’ vocals to come back. “It was a super long process working with vocalists because it does take time to wait for vocals and seeming that I did everything remotely,” he said. “It was a challenge seeming that all of the artists on the album do not live in London but in the end, it worked out and I’m proud of the end result of the album.”
That challenge didn’t discourage him. He came out on the other end more knowledgeable of what it takes to create a passion project strictly for himself rather than producing music with the end goal of garnering placements. WHIP MUSIC has an experimental edge to it, but overall it’s impressive mainly because it’s an exploration of his musical taste level.
In our latest interview, K, Le Maestro shares details on his inspirations, where he hopes to go sonically, and he also tells the story behind WHIP MUSIC. We’re also premiering the music video for his new single “Backseat” featuring Nápoles.
What would you say were some of your biggest musical inspirations growing up?
For me, the base influences for me in my music would be Madlib, J Dilla. I listened to a lot of music from the States growing up. I [listened to] UK music as well, but I have more of an American influence.
Why is J Dilla so special to you?
That’s the king. How he did his beats, his productions even now, compared to before, maybe 2015, I used to be listening to his music religiously but nowadays, I revisit his stuff here and there, but it’s always, whenever I do listen to that stuff, it’s always like, “Wow.” Or just finding new stuff and wondering how he did certain things. It’s always a learning experience whenever I tune into his music. It’s always ear-opening.
Sonically what do you hope to accomplish as you grow in your career?
Sonically, for me, I’m very versatile, but I want to get good in certain genres, so that’s my aim for the next few years, trying new stuff out. And whew, as far as collaborations [at the] top of my mind, I would say, I’d love to work with probably Ty Dolla $ign, or, VanJess. I’m very open, so it’s just a matter of who is tapped in, and then from there, we’ll see what’s up.
What were the main inspirations you pulled from for Whip Music?
I’d say Lucy Pearl would be one. Some Defunkt and Snoop Dogg. Then Kashif [because he] did these fun beats in the ‘80s and ‘90s. It was proper. That was pretty much my element when I was making the album, just having that ‘80s, ‘90s sound blended in with whatever I was doing at the time.
Why did you lean into this idea of creating tracks that could basically be the soundtrack to the end of the summer?
In terms of a project, I like to have a concept of a theme or have them tell a story. So for me, ideally, it was pretty much like a late summer vibe, but something that’s groovy, you can really tap into and it feels warm. It’s a warm feeling when you listen to the album compared to now in the wintertime.
“Backseat,” for instance, for me, when I made the track, it was [moreso like] a late summer’s cruise type [of] inspiration when I had the beat ready, and the lyrics really made sense. Same for tracks like “Why Can’t We,” top-down in the summertime, cruising around, going around, just cruising to whatever, just having a soundtrack that can really provide an image in your head as to summer, you put it in the car, [and] you see palm trees. Just some real West Coast type vibe.
What’s next in the pipeline?
I want to get established as a producer as compared to an artist [next year]. I really want to be doing background stuff and, really try to open my network. I have so many names that I want to work with.