Oneko McTaggart, the Canadian singer and producer who records as Kavale, releases Time Stamp (Deluxe) today.
After releasing this EP, Time Stamp, earlier this year in May after a four-year musical hiatus, Kavale is following up with five extra tracks that are included in Time Stamp (Deluxe). His re-emergence into the music scene comes at a ripe moment where he is finally ready to share the culmination of moments and sounds once safely sheltered on his computer. Insisting that his music is the product of a childhood spent engulfed in an environment that provided him with music within immediate reach, he learned that his multi-faceted skillsets were in demand very early on. On this full-length project, Kavale’s songcraft embodies a perfect balance the heavy R&B and Hip-Hop sounds he showcased in previous singles and the new sounds that lean more towards the genre-bending artist he describes himself as.
The Knockturnal caught up with Kavale to weigh in on the significance of today’s album release, his influences growing up, and what future projects he is working on.
The Knockturnal: How did you first get into music and production? Growing up, can you describe the environment that fostered your interest in music?
Kavale: Initially, when my mom moved from Jamaica to Canada, she put me in a Christian private school and into the choir. I think that was really the start of figuring out the whole music thing for me, being a part of the kids’ choir and having to take the lead role. It was really going to choir practice and being taught those things, that was the first initial introduction. After that, my sister was in piano and vocal classes, and my mom was working a lot, so I would go with her to these classes. I followed along what they did, scales, notes, and vocal exercises, and I would do that. She’d come home and she’d follow the routines, and I’d follow her exact movements. And if you look at the cover for the original version of Time Stamp, it pretty much details exactly what I’m talking about. She’s in front of her keyboard and I’m standing there. Later on, Kanye West came out with “Through the Wire” and I was fascinated by what I was hearing. It was super interesting to me, and I learned more about him, and that pushed me to want to get into production. I got software and I would learn how to put beats together and stuff like that, and that formed who I am as an artist today. So, it was kind of like a melting pot of different experiences and different things that made who I am right now.
The Knockturnal: Would you say that Kanye still influences your work today?
Kavale: Yes. I definitely look up to Kanye West as one of my biggest influences when it comes to music.
The Knockturnal: You released your most recent project, an EP titled Time Stamp, in May after somewhat of a musical hiatus. During this time off, how were you able to develop your sound? What can listeners expect to hear that may differ from your previous work?
Kavale: Well, for me I like to make music based on where I am currently in my life. Put it this way, when it comes to scoring a film, it’s ‘If my life was a movie, what would be the soundtrack to my life or to this moment that I’m at?’ So I always tell people, my music will never sound the same as it did in my previous work because I’m always in a different place, and I’m inspired by different things around me. That lends a hand in the development of my sound and I’m always just getting better, and I’m always growing as a person so that pushes more towards the development of my music. As for the hiatus, I found myself in a place not knowing exactly what I wanted to do, I felt as if I was trying to please the listeners, I was trying to give people what I felt they wanted, and that’s not necessarily who I am as an artist. It kinda took away the joy of making music, I wasn’t having fun anymore. I thought the best thing I could do was step away and reevaluate where I was and who I wanted to be as an artist, and going forward, making sure that I followed those steps.
The Knockturnal: At this moment, after you’ve had this time to reflect on who you want to be, how would you describe your current sound and musicianship?
Kavale: I would say it’s versatile. I don’t particularly do one thing, I can honestly be anything, and I just like to make music. I don’t really like to be like, ‘This is the sound that I’m doing’. If I feel like I want to make a pop song, I’ll do it. If I feel like I want to make something that’s Afro-centric, I’ll do that. If I want to make something for the street, or something little more trap, then I can do that as well. I don’t really feel like I have one sound that I can describe, I’m versatile, and I don’t like to be boxed in.
The Knockturnal: You were featured on “More Love”, a track with the UK-based electronic trio Gentlemens Club earlier this year. How did this collaboration come about? What did you enjoy most about participating in the creation of the genre-bending result?
Kavale: It came about when one of my managers hit me and was like ‘This DJ group, they heard your music, they love it, and they’re interested in working. We were going back and forth for a bit on what exactly we wanted to do. I had this old song that was sitting — usually, my computer is full of music that I never release because sometimes I’m not too confident with it. I had a whole bunch of songs, and I sent them a pack of around six songs, and I think they picked three of them and they reworked them. They would send them back, we were still going back and forth. I thought it kind of fell apart, we didn’t really have communication going forward after, I thought it was scrap. They hit me literally a year later and they were like ‘The song’s ready’, they sent the song and it’s what we all hear right now. I was blown away by it, I loved it. Again, I don’t like being boxed in so, getting into their world was pretty fascinating for me and I can’t wait to do more stuff like that. That’s how that whole thing came about, and I personally love the song, it’s just exciting how I can step out of rap and R&B and go into the electronic realm and do something fun.
The Knockturnal: Who have you looked up to throughout your career, whether that be locally or internationally?
Kavale: Of course Kanye West, Jay-Z, Tupac, Biggie, Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean, and Drake. Honestly, anyone that is willing to push the culture forward, willing to just try things, which is why I love Kanye so much, you look at his body of work and you really can’t compare one to the other. Especially Yeezus, being so genre-bending, it was brave of him to be willing to take the backlash for it. So honestly, there’s a lot of people that have influenced me, but that’s just a shortlist. But there are many more people who are willing to take risks and just push the culture.
The Knockturnal: Are there any other projects currently in the works? If so, what fresh sounds can we expect to hear from you soon?
Kavale: Yeah, I’m releasing Time Stamp (Deluxe). As for what to expect on it, as I said, I like comparing music to scores and films, my task was really building the soundtrack for 2020. A lot of crazy things have been happening, from when the year started until now, it’s just been filled with ups and downs. I’ve seen a lot of things that have inspired me to record and make music. Whether it be my love life, about the political movements, Black Lives Matter, everything around me has inspired me to try to create what I view as the soundtrack of the year. I’m pulling from different genres, sounds, synths, and unique sounds is what I’m trying to pull. At the same time, also trying to find that balance, to not go too far left and not go too far right, be right in the middle, where everyone can relate to it. So it’s fun, currently working right now, reaching out to different producers, and setting up sessions. I’m looking forward to it, I think it’s going to be great.
The Knockturnal: You said you view music as a score for your life. Are there going to be any accompanying visuals for your songs?
Kavale: Yes, we got a visual lined up for the deluxe version of Time Stamp, so we have that in the works. Definitely a lot more visuals going forward, short films, stuff like that. We have a few things that are planned and lined up that we’re looking to execute, but there’s definitely going to be a lot more visuals to parallel with the music so I can invite listeners into my world.
Watch the music video for “Faith” below.