Graham Kilmer
Band of the Week

Klassik Loves Music of All Kinds

Including Milwaukee artists. "The local scene won’t just be local for much longer," he predicts.

By - Oct 23rd, 2015 06:23 pm
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Klassik. Photo by Julian Cedron

Klassik. Photo by Julian Cedron

You might call Klassik a one-man band. With strong family roots. The Milwaukee hip hop artist, whose real name is Kellen Abston, feels his musical proclivity is a genetic gift from his entertainer father. Beyond that, he notes a ton of influences, from his early background in jazz to everyone from the rock, funk and hip hop band N.E.R.D to the classical composer Tchaikovsky.

When/how did you get started?

I started playing alto saxophone in the fourth grade. From elementary to high school, jazz was my life. Starting in middle school, I began to dabble in music production, and eventually began collaborating and producing for other emcees in high school. I didn’t actually write my first rhymes until I was in college. I think being a performer and being comfortable on stage is somehow intertwined within my DNA. My dad was a performer; he sang, acted and danced.

Was there a particular artist that inspired you?

In fifth grade my favorite artist was Charlie Parker. However, I have always been a fan of Michael Jackson, Prince and Quincy Jones. Actually, Quincy Jones is Producer Gawd. I was inspired to make my own music by a lot of producers and artists. I also admired really talented multi-instrumentalist, genius-type artists. My true “A-ha!” moment came during a bike ride home from Sam Goody at Bayshore Mall, where I had bought The Neptunes Present…Clones, a compilation album. I was listening to it on my Walkman. I remember hearing the intro, and being blown away by that little 26 seconds of music. Then all the songs after it were all twisted and turned and completely defined and driven by these producers, The Neptunes. Discovering the works of Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo is the best thing that ever happened to me, and Kanye West, of course.

Where did your name come from?

I wanted to make music that was timeless and would make some little kid in the future respect, admire and aspire to be even greater than that.  Also, the first three letters are my initials, so that’s kinda cool.

How old are you?

26 earth years, but this planet is an eerily small portion of the universe we’re sitting in. So, I try to count my blessings more than the minutes, hours, days and years.

How would you describe your music?

My music is honest and soulful, with heavy hip-hop undertones driven by classical ideas and impactful melodies.

Have you been influenced by any local musicians/artists?

I don’t think sound-wise I’ve ever been influenced by anybody locally. However, I have always been inspired and energized by those that came before me, and those that continue to rise up in what has become this massive cultural force.

Influences from the national/international scene?

Some of my influences are Steely Dan, N.E.R.D., John Coltrane, Radiohead, Tchaikovsky, Kanye, Marvin Gaye, Incubus and Frank Ocean. The list is never-ending.

What are your lyrics typically about?

Typically about love and light, and combating darkness and ignorance. Also, self-awareness and how it can be your best guide in this life journey. They definitely include themes about being honest, and rolling with the punches. They are also about holding yourself accountable for the way your actions can impact the world around you.

Is there ever any social or political commentary?

I believe there are bigger things than just you and me. So, let’s love you and me first, and then go from there. This other stuff is going to happen as it is supposed to; the only thing you can really change is yourself.

What do you think of the local music scene? Is there potential for it to be recognized nationally?

It already is. The local scene won’t just be local for much longer. It is currently happening, right now, in Milwaukee.

Where do you most often play in Milwaukee?

Mad Planet probably. To be honest, I love to play them all. I used to do a lot of shows at BBC’s on North. I played the show for my first album release there.

Have you toured anywhere?

A few other cities, but not a full tour yet. One is definitely in the works.

Do you have any Albums or Ep’s?

Just released my third full-length album, SEASONS, and that was preceded by four seasonal-themed EPs. Everything can be found at www.iamklassik.com.

Is there an Album/EP coming out soon?

I’m always working. There’s always something coming soon.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to tour, and make new even-more-beautiful music than initially imagined. Giving people my art. I love sharing that. I don’t think I will ever not love that.

Cascio Interstate Music is proud to sponsor Urban Milwaukee’s Band of the Week column. Running in tandem with their own Band of the Month program, supporting local music is key to CIM’s mission.

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