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Kelvin KrashPhotography Kelvin Krash

Kelvin Krash, the multihyphenate musician pioneering his own London sound

As his debut album HARSH hits shelves today, we sit down with the musician and producer to talk A$AP Rocky collabs, listening in on the sounds of Britain, and the flying monsters of his recurring dreams

“First and foremost, I’d say I’m definitely inspired by London,” says Kelvin Krash, mid-way through our conversation. “I used to listen to DJ EZ in a friend’s car. I’d listen to garage, jungle and house growing up. Then grime, obviously, and a mixture of African music from my parents, my dad listened to a lot of reggae. A bit of rock and roll here and there. I feel like those are my core inspirations – just listening to Britain.”

This magpie approach to sound-making is evident on Krash’s debut album HARSH, where the musician’s talents span melodic rap-singing, vocoded R&B warbles and blistering hyper-trap production. But on a record with so many disparate inspirations, Krash has no trouble in blending all the sounds into one, coalescent whole.

Before now, the musician had established himself as a super-producer of sorts, with a roster that included Kasien, Lancey Foux, Skepta and frequent collaborator A$AP Rocky. The duo first worked together in 2017 when Rocky signed Krash to his creative agency AWGE, and the pairing has continued to be fruitful. Rocky makes a brief appearance on HARSH’s second track “GET A GRIP”, rhyming lithely across its glowering bass. “His energy on the track is pretty charismatic,” adds Krash of the guest spot, “just braggadocious and unapologetic. That’s something I admired about him when he first came out.”

Despite his success in the field, Krash didn’t always have purely musical aspirations. “I originally came from a video background,” he tells me. “That’s what I wanted to do when I was younger. I wanted to be a director.” After years spent religiously capturing his experiences on film, Krash needed a soundtrack for the visuals. “I realised I needed some music to go along with it, so I started messing around with music, and just combining them both.” Now, Krash helms both the music and visuals, self-directing his own music videos like the recent “WE CAN GO (BUCK SHOTS 2)”, where he quad-bikes through the Moroccan desert. All of Krash’s projects – which also include sound design for Diesel campaigns and tour visuals for Playboi Carti – are housed on his site Krashed, which he describes as a “home to harbour everything”. It seems that, with the release of HARSH, and forging this unique creative platform, Kelvin Krash has more than established himself as multihyphenate, generational talent.

Below, we chat to Krash about conspiracy theories, cornershop snacks and catching up with his fans on a personalised Discord channel.

Congratulations on the release of HARSH – first of all, what are some of the main inspirations behind the new project?

Kelvin Krash: I didn’t really plan on making an album. I was just making music. It started out with two songs, “EMERGENCY” and “SAFETY FIRST”. I felt a strong connection to them because I made them after a significant moment in my life. Those songs were my therapy, where I didn’t know what else to do but to just make a song. They were all from a real place, so I found it was quite easy to write the lyrics. Some of them are about heartbreak, some are about family, some about losing someone – they’re all pretty personal pieces of music. Some of them I cried making. There wasn’t really any aim with the album, it was just to put my feelings down into something tangible.

How come you decided to call it HARSH?

Kelvin Krash: Because the ups and downs of what I went through while making the music were pretty harsh. I didn’t really plan for any of it – things just came along and the songs came. So I guess it’s a testament to dealing with life, and it not being gentle. Things come at you quickly and it is quite harsh at times.

And you’re self-releasing the album?

Kelvin Krash: So the album’s being released via Warp Records and through my own personal label Krashed. Warp are quite a legendary label – they’ve released some of my favourite records – so I was pretty ecstatic when they were interested in releasing mine. I felt like it was a great fit.

You just mentioned your own platform Krashed – can you tell me a bit more about that?

Kelvin Krash: For a while I’ve been working on different projects with people, helping them with their merch or logo designs or videos, all these other creative endeavours aside from the music. I wanted to create a platform to hone all of these outlets. As I started to work with more people who did other creative things, I wanted to have a home to harbour everything, but not necessarily put my name on the things.

“Between everything that’s gone on, [A$AP Rocky] is an integral part of my story, so it just made sense for him to be involved” – Kelvin Krash

You also have a Discord channel, right?

Kelvin Krash: I made that during the pandemic. I just wanted an easier way to communicate with people who reach out to me. There are a few messages I get online and a lot of them go missing, so I felt like I needed somewhere to directly speak to people who support me, and just build a dialogue. See what they think of things, give them an early update on things that are coming – I guess it’s my own little focus group. These are the people who are going to buy the merch, these are the people who are going to listen to the music, so I feel like it’s important to have a conversation with them. And it’s been good! It’s funny, the Discord, they have arguments in there. It’s really intense sometimes, but it’s cool.

A$AP Rocky is featured on the album, and you’ve worked with him a bunch of times before. How did that creative collaboration come about?

Kelvin Krash: So I’ve been working with him for a while now, probably since 2017. We’ve made loads of music together for his albums – his previous album and the one to come – but as I said, before, this music wasn't made with any intention of ‘this is the direction of my album’. I could have just slapped any song on there that we had already, but I didn’t want anything to not feel right. I wanted the right song to be on the album. “GET A GRIP” was the one which I felt made sense. Between everything that’s gone on, he’s an integral part of my story, so it just made sense for him to be involved in that way.

Any dream collabs that aren’t on the album?

Kelvin Krash: I mean, I’ve made quite a lot of music, and I would say I have achieved some of my dream collaborations, but they haven’t come out yet. But yeah, I have. I definitely have. I don’t know whether I should say them or not! I’m definitely pleased with myself. We’ll see what happens in the future.

What’s your favourite cornershop snack?

Kelvin Krash: I feel like a lot of people aren’t gonna like this, but a Lion bar.

What’s the last text you sent?

Kelvin Krash: 🙏💙

What’s your ghost outfit?

Kelvin Krash: That’s easy. Huge black hoodie, huge black trousers. Oversized, super comfortable, and some black boots. I could live in that outfit forever.

What’s your star sign and are you a typical one of that star sign?

Kelvin Krash: I’m a Gemini. I guess there are quite a few creative Geminis, but I’m not really a two-faced guy like that right. I don’t know why they say Geminis are two-faced.

What conspiracy theory are you actually quite into?

Kelvin Krash: Aliens. Big on aliens. I’m obsessed. I’ve watched so many documentaries about them.

Any recurring dreams?

Kelvin Krash: There’s this one dream that I’ve had since about seven. It’s really weird, I can’t explain it. I’m in an infinite black space and I have no control over my movement. There are all these kinds of monsters flying by me, some almost hit me. I can’t hit them or anything, it’s like I’m in a bubble and I’m just seeing all of this going on around me. I’ve had this dream periodically – a lot when I was younger. I had it a couple of years ago and it kind of freaked me out. I always remember it when I wake up. I don’t know what it means. Someone out there probably knows what it means.

Who is your nemesis?

Kelvin Krash: Myself.

Would you record the soundtrack for Rishi Sunak’s next campaign for £10,000?

Kelvin Krash: Fuck no.

What do you put on your rider? 

Kelvin Krash: Water, towels, Lion bar, Haribo.

HARSH is out today via Krashed and Warp Publishing.

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