Trip-hop, jazz, groove, hip-hop, electro, world, classical, all genres that multi-instrumentalist Hugo Kant mixes with equal pleasure to form cohesive, dynamic, and moving music. Hugo joined us for a conversation this week, fresh off the release of his latest single "Now That's All Changed", to give insight into his creative process, share tips and advice for aspiring producers, and talk about his journey with streaming platforms.
Can you give us a little background on your musical project and how you got started?
For the project Hugo Kant it all started back around 2010 when I finally decided it was the time for me to compose more music and to get involved in the producers musical scene.
For a long time, I've only been involved in full bands set up despite the fact that I knew how to compose, record, and mix music all by myself. I was classically trained in piano and guitar and learned alone a lot of other instruments like the drums, percussions, flute, clarinet, and flugelhorn and was passionate about everything computer related so I had everything I needed to start this musical project.
What can you tell us about your inspirations and creative process for your new single "Now That's All Changed”?
A few months later after finalizing my last album « Far From Home » I went through my « drafts » folder where I keep many unfinished tracks, ideas of all sorts and rediscovered a short track I did where there were mostly only a kalimba gimmick, some drums, and horns chords. When I listened to it again I instantly wanted to finish this track as I really liked the mood it was setting. Then I went on the regular work of finding and recording more elements to add to it, finding the right structure, etc.
I was already in the « space » thematic in my two previous albums and at the time of work ng on it, we were hearing the news and sounds from the Perseverance mission on Mars. So I thought why not go to Mars for this track before coming back home for the next releases! That’s when I found the perfect audio sample for this: « Before then we could only guess what Mars was like, and many people did. But now that’s all changed ».
I also decided to not go for a radio-compatible length for this track and thought 8m45s was more fit to represent this journey!
What music was floating around in your day-to-day life at the time of composing it?
I don’t remember listening to a particular track or music at this time. When I dive into working on a track I usually wake up in the morning and get straight to it until I’m tired and need a break.
Then on the days off, it’s my usual routine of listening to new releases or recommendations on Spotify and also some recommendations from DJ friends out of Facebook. I put the tracks i like in private playlists or in my public playlist if it fits the genre.
For you, what is the importance of releasing music independently?
When I produced the first album I had in mind to reach out to a few labels I know but with a new project and no following at all that didn’t work. So we decided to release it on our own and 10 years after I’m really happy we did.
We can release things at our own pace and we keep 100% of the income so we have. We also have control over how is made the promotion of the releases, making choices based on ethics.
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey on streaming & downloading platforms?
In 2011 when I started SoundCloud was the streaming platform to be on. There were a lot of artists and new listeners using it so I focused on that for some time, making connections with other producers through commenting on each others' work, which was nice. What was great about SoundCloud was the fully customizable dashboard and the group system where you could submit tracks to a specific group and let moderators choose to accept tracks or not. Then they chose to completely revamp the website, removing a lot of the features we loved. Hopefully, Spotify and the other streaming platforms were gaining more and more attention from consumers.
As you've been releasing music for over a decade now, what advice would you share with producers that are just getting started?
It’s not easy when you just get started as there’s so much new music released all the time it’s hard to be heard. The first and most important thing for me is to have a clear understanding of what your project is and trying to make it top quality in your genre. From the composition to mixing and mastering you have to put all the attention you can into that.
When someone listens to the music if they want to listen to it again or tell a friend about it you know you’ve done half of the work for promotion. Then what we did at first when we had no word of mouth and no budget was to spend a lot of time searching for blogs, radio stations, specific radio programs that we knew based on what they played before they would like the music we proposed. Sending a custom message to each one of them via their preferred medium, mail, online form, promo CDs resulted in a very high percentage of positive feedback, which is good for the motivation!
Also, as the artist, what I think is really important is getting involved in your own scene. That means listening to others' productions, sharing them when you like them, making collabs or remixes, making mixes, or building playlists in that particular genre.
What are you working on right now / what projects await you in 2021?
I’m always working on making my live set better, I love to get on stage and feel confident with what I want to propose to the audience. In the coming months, I’m going to be working on productions for an LP with « Silomé ». I’m also going to work on collaborations with three other producers, maybe a remix, and of course after that begin to work for my own 5th album! Can’t wait :)
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