In his young career, multi-instrumentalist/producer Keith Kreuser (aka K-Kruz) has had the opportunity to work with some of the most gifted artists Chicago has to offer. He's collaborated with hometown legends Diverse, Psalm One, Longshot, Adad and Iomos Marad (to name a few), and he's made extensive contributions to famed local labels Chocolate Industries, Molemen Records, Galapagos4, EV Records (now defunct) and All Natural Inc.
Kruz's love of music started as early as age 5 and has been on a steady climb ever since. His last EP, Look Honest (featuring singer Steve Spacek), is a tasteful take on the spaced-out soul that many contemporaries have adopted as of late. The difference is Kruz approaches the style on his own terms and develops a warm sound that's never too nostalgic, and always enterprising in its attempt to find new and hypnotic rhythms. The real shame is that we don't hear from him nearly enough, which is why Centerstage tracked him down to get a heads-up on what he's been up to and what projects we can look out for in the near future.
You've had the opportunity to work with a wide range of Chicago hip-hop legends. How has that experience molded you and was there anyone in particular that you really enjoyed working with?
Having the chance to work with local artists is so much more rewarding than working through the mail or the internet, and is a true rarity these days. That being said, working with Diverse, Cap D, Iomos Marad, Mass Hysteria and the whole EV crew has really molded me as a producer and given me the confidence to do what I do on a continuous basis.
What's your take on the local scene now?
Let's just say we're a long way off from Common rocking at the Blue Groove Lounge with Jesse De La Pena on the 1s and 2s.
You play the drums, which is in contrast to the producer who learns solely through the MPC. What sort of advantage does that give you when mapping out a beat?
As much advantage as playing piano since I was 5, studying the saxophone for nine years, or years of Ear Training and Music Theory classes in college: none. To me making hip-hop beats or down-tempo beats or whatever you want to call it, is art, and art should be evolving. My training gives me a base, but like Miles Davis said, he studied at Julliard and with some of the best musicians alive, but then had to forget it all to make the music he wanted to make.
Do you feel that hip-hop as a whole is lacking depth?
Lacking depth? Not necessarily in the music/beats, but more in topics of the songs. For example, I love Drake's choices of beats, his melodies and even his rhythm, but dude isn't saying anything other than what we already know, he's rich.
Tell me about your EP, Look Honest, with Steve Spacek. What was your approach in making this album and how is it different from previous projects?
I was working on a full-length and had a feature from Steve that I was definitely on it, the album was taking forever so I decided to bang out an EP to keep getting stuff out there.
The few songs I've heard from the EP have a wonderful - almost dreamy - quality to them. What were some of your inspirations while piecing this project together?
I am a big fan of dreamy music. Toro Y Moi, Mew, anything that has interesting sounds and textures with pretty chords, that's my kind of music.
The EP was released under the label Organik. How did you link up with them?
Fred from Organik reached out to me sometime after Diverse's One AM came out, he told me he was a fan of my work and asked me if I would be interested in putting out records with them.
So is this project in preparation for a proper full-length?
Yes. I should be wrapped up with the record early summer and possibly have it out by fall.
Are there any other projects we should look out for?
The full length K-Kruz album Choose Your Circumstance, Diverse's Round About, The Believers, which is Cap D, Iomos Marad and Me, and a record from The Fires, my rock group.