The former Grown Folk member's new series will see him explore local musical scenes.
The nomadic but currently London-based producer first made waves as part of the Montreal-based Grown Folk. They were known equally well for their trance-influenced house tracks on Icee Hot and Templar Sound as they were for their hip-hop productions with rappers like Main Attrakionz. The duo split following their recent move to the UK capital citing differing musical directions, with Drew Kim focusing on his solo career as Druture.
Kim's first official solo release is the start of a new series of hip-hop mixtapes that focuses on different cities, and the debut sets its sights on Chicago. "I have this connection to the city musically... [and] I started to really dig into the Chicago scene and found some of the most innovative, raw and exciting stuff going on vocally," Kim told RA. Hosted by Chicago's DJ Victoriouz, the first volume features collaborations with Little Cloud and rappers Kitty, Sasha Go Hard, Lil' Bibby and others, as well as a guest production from Ryan Hemsworth.
The cover artwork comes from Meaghan Garvey and Jade Blair. Out Of Towner Vol. 1 will be released for free in its original eight-track form, as well as an expanded limited-edition cassette and t-shirt package to come later.
You can hear a few of the tracks from the mixtape over at Druture's SoundCloud page.
We chatted with Kim via e-mail to discuss the Grown Folk hiatus and his new series.
What prompted to you to strike out on your own? And what happened to Grown Folk?
It was getting a bit harder for me to reconcile some of my hip-hop collaboration aspirations with the sort of established tone and sound that we had with Grown Folk. Things like the Out Of Towner mixtape wouldn't have made sense to me as a Grown Folk project, so that was the genesis of striking out on my own. Really though, I started out as a bedroom rap producer, and then around 2008 Brendan and I got sucked into this crazy world of dance music. So I've kind of always been making beats hoping to get to work with rappers and vocalists eventually.
My first introduction into being a real music fan, and wanting to get involved with the creative process of it all, was through hip-hop so that's always been in my producer DNA. With Grown Folk hopefully some of that influence resonated, but we also had a lot of influences from the chicago/detroit and uk hardcore continuum influences. Grown Folk was always sort of hard to define genre wise, and I was always very proud of that. There's no big falling out, or any drama surrounding the hiatus, we just both realized that this is a great time for us to both go after what we really want to be doing in music, and in life. Brendan is one of the most talented dudes I know, I was proud to get to be one half of Grown Folk with him, and I know you'll be hearing some heat from him soon.
What inspired the Out Of Towner concept, and can you explain exactly what it is and how it works?
I moved around a bunch as a kid, I won't name all the places but I went to 13 schools by the time I was 13. I've lived in foreign countries, and in middle America suburbs. So in a sense I've always been the "Out of Towner." I've been the new kid almost my entire life, and you know what the crazy part is, I started to love it. I would be the kid who knew about these toys and video games from Japan while living in Ohio, or the kid who's got this die hard love for southern rap while living in Hawaii, I liked being that kind of outsider. I was the dude with the really obscure and weird interests and reference points, which gives you two options—you can become isolated and just keep doing your own thing, or you can try to infuse some of your interests into whatever's popping off socially with the kids at school already. I think that my mindset has always been that you can like whatever you like, no matter how fringe or weird it might be, and still fuck with the mainstream and whatever is socially relevant. I also saw firsthand the reality of people developing in completely different areas, who were using different musical or artistic templates but were evoking a lot of the same feelings or shared reference points. I lucked out, I got a unique world view.
Anyways, that little kid who moved around a lot turned into me, the producer who jumps around a lot genre-wise. After releasing the first couple of Druture songs on SoundCloud, I decided I wanted to work on a bigger project but I didn't know what form it would take yet. After the whole thing with Hell Rell happened, where he jumped on "Purple City Fashion Week" for his mixtape, I realized that what I really wanted to do was make a whole release of those type of collaborations. There always has to be some sort of coherency for me when doing a longer form release, and so I came up with this idea where I would do a tape where I put the focus on a specific city. I already had a few city ideas lined up, I knew Chicago was the first one I wanted to do, and that there were a few others afterwards, but I definitely thought it would be a series from the very beginning. The important thing though is that this isn't me saying, "this is this Chicago's sound," this is me giving you the hybrid offspring of the things in Chicago that are really exciting to me right now, infused with my influences from my world. Out Of Towner tapes will always be just that, the city as seen through my purple-coloured lenses.
You're approaching this like a true hip-hop mixtape—what appeals to you about the format?
I'm an addict, I've got a bit of an obsessive and collector type of personality to begin with so the whole mixtape game is sort of like a drug to me. I've got it under control right now, mainly because I'm so busy, but when I was living in Atlanta I was going through an insane amount of mixtapes. The word mixtape has been used so much that it's sort of crossed over into the mainstream and means a lot of different things, I think to most people it's just an unofficial LP or EP. I have actual tapes though, mainly from Houston in the mid-2000s, so I've seen the whole evolution of the mixtape circuit culture from selling out of trunks and shops to the internet distribution methods. There's a whole culture and aesthetic to a mixtape, and it's something I wanted to put my own spin on, as it's been such a big part of how I've found music throughout my life. And while I love the internet, it's also heavily diluted the product. So I wanted to keep the whole tape as tight as possibly, succinct, coherent, but banging—which is what I think a new media internet mixtape should be.
Now I'm also going to be putting out an actual tape, and that's going to be a lot crazier, we'll be in the 20+ track territory that you see other mixtapes in. This whole thing has been DIY, and out of my pocket, but its allowed me to completely control the whole project. I just want to recreate that feeling I used to have when I'd find a tape that was sick that none of my friends had because it was limited, or not from our city. That's a special feeling you don't get by unzipping a file.
Why Chicago for the first volume?
It's no secret that Chicago is one of the worlds musical gems when it comes to dance music, everyone knows it's where house was born, but it's not like the music making just stopped there. So you've got a city with all this musical history, dance music-wise, but you've also got some really raw stuff going on right now by a bunch of young kids. Young Chop & Chief Keef brought everyone's attention to Chicago and the "drill" scene, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.
The true lightbulb moment was Young Chop's Boiler Room session. I was in London, so it was really late for me—like 4 AM—but I saw someone tweet about Lil Bibby and Young Chop doing a Boiler Room. From the moment I got that stream to work, and first heard Rampage and YB, I knew I had to find a way to work with these kids. There was an energy in that room that was exactly what I was after, it's hard to explain, but I saw something in that room that just inspired me and got me writing the beats that eventually went on this tape. I had known who a few of the 8TMG guys were already, but the Boiler Room set just put everything together for me. I reached out to their manager DJ Ben Staxx that morning about working together. Ben's been a huge help in getting me connected with the right people in Chicago, whether it be managers, artists, and or course the 8TMG crew. He's the one who hooked up the DJ Victoriouz thing as well, so I call Ben an executive producer of this whole thing along with me, I'm not to sure if he likes that, but for real that's the dude who made a lot of this happen.
01. Johnny May Cash - They Goin feat. YB & Rampage (prod. Druture)
02. King James - Beef feat. King Rell (prod. Druture)
03. Lil Bibby - Strange (prod. Druture & Grown Folk)
04. Kitty - Spotless feat. Sasha Go Hard & Tink (prod. Ryan Hemsworth & Little Cloud)
05. Lil Durk - L's Up For Them Ravers (Druture Edit)
06. Lil Herb & Lil Bibby - Kill Shit (Druture's Chi-Eski Version)
07. Johnny May Cash - 30 Clip feat. YB & Rampage (Druture Bootleg)
08. Little Cloud & Druture - sosa(d)
Druture will self-release Out Of Towner Vol. 1 in late November 2013.