Let's talk about Kevin Lester. At 26, Kevin Lester is a rap artist, songwriter and producer and 1/9th of the band outfit Sixx out of the Singapura. Also known as the Lion City Boy, he has been garnering serious attention around the world and it's about time you did too. Kevin Lester will be honourable man on the mic at Midnight Shift x Zouk 02: Future Bound on Sat 25 Feb.
Hey Kevin, big up! What's been going for you?
What up! I've been on the move in the Europe. It started of in Cannes, France for Midem 2012, a conference and festival featuring the best of the best. It was amazing to be a part of it. Mark Ronson, Joss Stone, Jazzy Jeff and some of the biggest labels and industry players were there searching for new music.
Sixx was part of a mini music contingent supported by MDA to rep the Singapore flag. Since then I've made my way down to London. Soaking in the good vibes and meeting up with tons of people who've been following Sixx or my personal stuff. Great energy here.
You've been travelling places, thoughts so far?
In one day in London, in the very first meeting I sat down with a TLC and Snoop Dogg's producer and a major label. Singapore is missing that kind of influence or experience. We're still in our infancy but I believe with my travels I can inject some of the energy in to Singapore.
The type of support in Europe is really quite heart warming. If they enjoy your music, they'll hunt you down, make sure they find you online and get in touch. It becomes a great experience for both the musician and fan.
How did you get started in the game?
It was about 7 years ago in a "suspect" club in the middle of the day. No air conditioning. It was stuffy but it was my one chance to prove what I’ve been practicing all week could be put into good use. It was at an open mic called Platform, there were no judges just people who would be my peers supporting the event.
If they liked your stuff, you'd get a call back for upcoming shows. Thankfully, I did get a call. Within a year I was up on stage with folks like Taufik Batisah and Triple Noize. My rise was blessed. I'm really very grateful for that.
Tell us about the Singapore or "Lion City" music scene from your perspective.
We've got a long way to go to be honest but it's definitely improving. There's more opportunities for musicians to prove themselves. Unfortunately because we are still only a scene, the support structure isn't in place yet. The consumers don't believe in the product so quickly and neither do the companies with money to support it.
We're on our way. We need to start from somewhere. It starts with Sixx.
How would you describe your sound?
Personally, my influence has always been with the lyrical guys like Lupe, Black Thought and even with the boys like J Cole but my sounds has matured I think. There's a blend of lyrical punchlines that I love and the story telling that I keep consistent in my raps.
What equipment do you use?
Any magic vocal device that gives me a chance to drop a few bars.
What gives you inspiration?
I try to be a sponge. Honestly, everything inspires me these days. Traveling inspires me. I've always wanted to have those sit outside a cafe moments and lay out your laptop to write. London gave me that opportunity. It's whatever that challenges me. I see kids working hard on their music and I’ll double that in my head. I watch people paint and suddenly I go back trying to create that same visual aspect with my music. I'm hungry.
Rapper, producer and songwriter - could you describe your different music hats?
Of course as a rapper that's the Kevin that is most visible. The entertainer, the showman that the guy that loves to get the crowd rowdy.
The producer and songwriter version of me is a bit more personal. There's so much thought into my production and writing that it could possibly drive me crazy but I love it. I love trying to reach perfection with my writing. You can double-check with any of my bandmates in Sixx. I re-write raps like nobody's business. It has to feel right.
That is the most important to me. The only song that I've released as a production is Cartoons. With that track, I've had tons of plans with it...figuring out features but it never seemed to come to fruition because it never felt perfect. Once I left my job to pursue a full time career in music suddenly I could write 2 verses. It all came together naturally after.
Michael Jackson, Black Thought, Kanye West, Musiq Soulchild, Pharrell, Common... the list could go on.
A short rap?
Everybody thinks I'm just an ordinary guy
They think that I'm an alien because of my disguise
Finding ways just to lead me off the plank to my demise
I'm sick and tired debating my reason to survive
What's next for you and crew?
We're taking over the world. That's it.