Kenny Gourmet on diversification and how he fits into hip-hop [Prolific Profile]
Vancouver, BC – Audio engineer, producer, emcee and entrepreneur – the young and very talented Kenny Gourmet wears many different hats. He caught up with HipHopCanada’s Max Dishaw to talk about his various roles and how he applies his skills on a daily basis. He’s made it clear that he’s in this for the long run and there’s no turning back. His latest album titled Time Zones is out now and is a testament to his hard work and dedication.
Check out our latest profile on Kenny Gourmet below.
“Having that as the only thing on my mind, pouring every single dollar into this music. There’s just no turning back. If you really want something this badly there’s no other option..” – Kenny Gourmet
Kenny Gourmet: Q&A
Interview conducted by Max Dishaw for HipHopCanada
HipHopCanada: How do you define hip-hop, and where do you feel you fit into that definition?
Kenny Gourmet: I definitely think hip-hop is a culture and how i fit into it…I’m like a fly on the wall.
HipHopCanada: If someone had never heard of Rakim before and they asked “what’s hip-hop”, say someone from rural Russia living in the forest, how would you define hip-hop to them? What does it mean to you?
Kenny Gourmet: I don’t know. It’s tough. Like hip-hop nowadays is definitely different from hip-hop back then. I definitely grew up in the newer generation of hip-hop. So I guess hip-hop to me know is like underground.
HipHopCanada: Is it underground though? Cause hip-hop is so mainstream. It’s making billions of dollars. If you looks at guys like Drake, Kendrick, Lil Wayne they are arguably some of the biggest superstars on the planet right now.
Kenny Gourmet: It’s true but I think the majority of what people really define as hip-hop is underground. Like Drake could be classified as hip-hop but he’s as much a pop artist as Britney Spears.
HipHopCanada: I would agree with that. I think that’s fair.
Kenny Gourmet: That’s my feeling. Like hip-hop is a culture rather than a genre. Anyone can be part of hip-hop. Whether they breakdance or whatever. And me, I’m more of the music side. But I don’t feel like I dress like a hip-hop artist or what trendy in the culture.
HipHopCanada: So when you say you’re a fly on the wall do you feel like you’re not participating? Are you just actively watching from the outside?
Kenny Gourmet: Yea like I definitely don’t listen religiously to certain artist but I will check out different people’s tracks or check out what some of the bigger names are up to. I definitely listen to other genres of music and I am a big fan of rap.
HipHopCanada: Do you think there’s a difference between hip-hop and rap? I look at it like rap is a part of hip-hop. Like, you wouldn’t say “I’m going to a boxing/punching match”. You’d say “I’m going to a boxing match” because punching is something that they do in boxing. In the same way that rap is something that you do in hip-hop just like graffiti or breakdancing or DJing. It’s an element of hip-hop.
Kenny Gourmet: Yes and no. Like, I used to consider myself a hip-hop artist but now I’m trying to grasp the whole rap artist rap persona I guess. And I do believe rap is the genre that people listen but hip-hop is so much bigger, it’s the whole culture.
HipHopCanada: It’s a lifestyle.
Kenny Gourmet: Totally. It’s a lifestyle.
HipHopCanada: What drives you to stay in a business that is rarely profitable and highly competitive? There are so many guys these days who are paying for shows, losing money. Their day job is paying for T-shirts and stickers and merch. What’s still keeping you in this?
Kenny Gourmet: This is the only thing that I truly honestly believe that I can make it work. You know? Like, it’s the vision that I had a couple years ago and it’s only getting stronger. On the indie, I genuinely believe that. I don’t wanna sound cliche but I guess it is. I took up engineering and producing so I could have a career in the music industry and now that I’m trying to do music while engineering as my part time job. Having that as the only thing on my mind, pouring every single dollar into this music there’s just no turning back back. If you really want something this badly there’s no other option.
HipHopCanada: Where are you based specifically?
Kenny Gourmet: I live in Burnaby but I’d say I’m based in Vancouver/New West.
HipHopCanada: How has living there influenced your sound?
Kenny Gourmet: I think it’s a whole different culture than living downtown or in East Van. Like, people dress totally different but it’s only a 20 minute drive away, it’s crazy. I guess I don’t sound like other people living in Vancouver I’m not doing what people are doing in Vancouver – I just do my own thing
HipHopCanada: Who is your primary fan base?
Kenny Gourmet: I definitely think my fan base are like 18-25 male and female. People who are into mainstream music. I think my music has element of both underground and mainstream.
HipHopCanada: Did you have any mentors when you were first starting out? I know you had some great teachers when you were studying sound engineering but were there any other rappers you looked up to?
Kenny Gourmet: Not really. There were definitely artists I looked up to but never really anyone who I had direct contact with. But listening to their sound really helped me figure out my sound and how to rap but I never really had a rapping mentor. For engineering, my boss is a really great mixing engineer. His main genre is like indie/singer songwriter and I definitely learned from how he did stuff and tried to bring it into how I mix my music and how I mix rap
HipHopCanada: So you don’t just have a hip-hop understanding of how a kick drum should be put into the mix but you’ve been exposed to other genres and you can bring that into your work.
Kenny Gourmet: Yea, like I was trying to figure out for the longest time what reference tracks I would send to my mastering engineer for the new album and I think I only had one rap song and the other ones were a couple of indie artists and some electronic artists. I definitely don’t want to be labeled as just a hip-hop engineer.
HipHopCanada: I know what it’s like I get excited when people send me live instruments like a guy singing with a mandolin. It’s fun its great to get to practice with different styles.
Kenny Gourmet: Oh yea. And then you can bring that into hip-hop but still do your thing. Like I’m a big fan of rap but I live listening to other genres just as much.
HipHopCanada: Let’s talk about your fans a but more. In which ways do you interact with your community? Are you going to shows? I know you’re on twitter a lot. How are you getting involved?
Kenny Gourmet: Social media is definitely a big chunk of that. I’m trying to build my fan base with a bit of the old school and new school approach. It’s cool having a fan base on social media and on YouTube but like, if you have a million subscribers and only 300 of them come to a show when you’re trying to do a show for 2000 people.
HipHopCanada: That’s not very helpful is it?
Kenny Gourmet: Right! So I’m trying to take the old school approach and try to gain fans in Vancouver where I do go to shows, and try to network with people. I meet a lot of people through my work and that’s where I gain better connections with people and how people can actually see what I’m about rather than just following on Twitter and not understanding who you really are.
HipHopCanada: Those face to face interactions are priceless. They say fans are built one at a time and if you can establish a genuine connection with someone who has taken a minute out of their day to actually care about you. Giving them that respect and acknowledgement goes a long way.
Kenny Gourmet: Yea, like when people actually come up to me and like “yo man, I really like that song” you can actually see how genuine they are.
HipHopCanada: Rather than just favouriting a tweet, actually going to meet these people and shaking hands.
Kenny Gourmet: Yea, I’d rather do that than just have a retweet or a like on Facebook.
HipHopCanada: Which artists have you worked with that left an impression on you, and why?
Kenny Gourmet: I worked with an artist from Houston, Texan a few years ago called E Bleu and he used to go by Silantro Bleu and it’s pretty cool ’cause we both had names that were food related. So our album was called 5 Star Dishes. And I actually flew down to Houston to record.
HipHopCanada: Which Canadian artist would you most like to collaborate with?
Kenny Gourmet: I would say LIGHTS for sure. She’s definitely one of my favourite Canadian artists.
HipHopCanada: Let’s talk about the new album. Producers, recording – how did this all come together?
Kenny Gourmet: I was still in school when I started working on the album. I graduated December 2013. I was working on a project at school, I had about 12 songs set out and like 6 of those were finished. We recorded most of the album at Uptown Paradise studios in New West and mixed everything at Blue Light Studios.
HipHopCanada: Let’s talk about the mixing process a bit. A you know I’m an engineer myself and I understand that a lot of effort went into polishing this album. Can you tell the fans a bit about the process? Were you guys mixing with a console on a computer?
Kenny Gourmet: So we mixed the whole album “in the box” – meaning in the computer and then we ran it through an nice mixing console again to get that analog sound.
HipHopCanada: So the album is fully mixed and then every track gets sent through the console again? I can’t wait to hear it. It sounds like you guys really put a lot of time and effort into the sonics.
Kenny Gourmet: The only producers on the album are Jan Betsayda and I. He’s the mastermind behind every drum, every instrument. I help to arrange the music and maybe add my own little synth here and there and all of them are real hardware synths. We use Logic to produce everything and then mix it in ProTools.
HipHopCanada: Any last words for the HipHopCanada online community?
Kenny Gourmet: Check out the new album!
Interview conducted by Max Dishaw for HipHopCanada
Photography by Max Dishaw for HipHopCanada
Photography by Max Dishaw