The music industry is and has been changing for a while now. Seldom are the days, where you need to stand on the corner with your CD in hand, hoping to get it in front of a new fan, producer, label executive, or A&R.
The Internet takes care of that. Even more so, websites like SoundCloud and YouTube have helped give aspiring musicians the opportunity to share their music to listeners around the world.
Music collectives on these platforms are also a big part of how musicians have been able to get their music heard online.
Among the many collectives across the Internet are Northern Natives.
Northern Natives is a music collective from Seattle, Washington comprised of Samurai Del, Kyo-Ken, Sendai Mike, BZKT, SoulTanz, DNZ, and Stewart Villain.
Each talented in their own way, together the collective makes infectious beats and futuristic melodies. This can all be heard on their debut compilation project Donuts & Coffee Breaks Vol.1. Last month, they followed up this project with Donuts & Coffee Breaks Vol.2, a 8 track project with original and mesmerizing soundscapes.
For a collective with a rising fan base, Northern Natives was founded this year in January by member Alex Barnes (Samurai Del). Del came to Seattle from the city of Pasco just last year to focus on his music. His move to a new city has started to pay off.
To find out more about Northern Natives, we spoke with Del and member Kyo-Ken about how they all met, the music scene in Seattle, and what’s next for them as a whole.
Q: How did you guys all meet each other?
Kyo-Ken: At the University of Washington, my friend Stefan Kubeja and I, along with a lot of my other friends, we built this thing called UW Hip Hop Cypher. Alex just came through [to one of our meetings], after he heard about it through Stefan.
We always share beats or what we have at our meetings. One day I was playing some of my stuff and Alex said: I’m trying to start this collective. You should come through. He then hit me up on SoundCloud and I said: I’m down. Four days later it was just a thing and we met a lot of producers through that.
Q: As a collective you released two projects. Can you tell us about Donuts & Coffee Breaks Vol.1 and Vol.2?
Kyo-Ken: The first one [focussed on making a project] with more of a boom bap retro 90s sound. I feel like Donuts & Coffee Breaks Vol.2 was more of what we wanted to do and everyone strived to be their individual self.
Samurai Del: [We set out to] make just instrumentals short and sweet as an ode to Dilla’s Donuts. On the next one we’re going to break off from the instrumentals and we’re going to try to make a Northern Natives EP. We’re all going to produce something and make songs.
(Samurai Del pictured above)
Q: You moved to Seattle to focus on your music. What is the music scene like for emerging producers?
Samurai Del: It’s been really good over here, but they’re not a lot of producers playing live in Seattle. It’s mainly a lot of rappers out here, which were trying to change. We want to start playing shows.
Kyo-Ken: Seattle’s kind of known for “frat rap”. With our age and our generation of kids, there is a new wave of producers and rappers coming up in Seattle. Seattle’s not really known for having a scene, but I feel like that’s changing now because of the Internet.
Q:How has SoundCloud helped you guys as new producers?
Kyo-Ken: SoundCloud for our generation is the main key to unlocking your whole career. A lot of producers made it off of SoundCloud. On SoundCloud, It doesn’t matter where you’re from. If your music is dope enough people will repost it and like it.
It’s strictly based on people who like it and you can build on following on there. I think its critical and its also kind of tough. SoundCloud is going through some changes right now. In the future it’s probably not going to be as lenient and free as it is now. It’s kind of scary to see where it will go and what might be the new SoundCloud, but It’s so helpful for people’s careers. Especially our careers.
(Kyo-Ken pictured above)
Q: What’s your JUICE?
Samurai Del: That dream of playing for thousands of people is what keeps me going. Our overall goal is to do this big. I don’t look at this as a hobby anymore. I stopped going to school and have been focusing on this.
Recently I’ve been working with a lot of artists. I have three EPs in the works. I really want to make good songs with people and play festivals. I want keep building a fan base and growing till I get there. That’s the overall goal. To do this shit big.
Kyo-Ken: I feel like its tough for me because I go to college. I see a lot of my peers going and getting internships. I’ve tried that, but it’s not really me. I feel like music is what I need to do.
I just want to extend myself to be a better artist and always just keep improving. I picked up the guitar. I want to build on what I know.