Photography // Kleo – press.
Words by Josh Abraham.
Kleo is one of those artists who never stops working and combines open lyricism and hard-hitting flows to become who he is today. He self-taught everything he knows about the rap game and it’s the acceptance of failure and continued hard work that has led to this interview. In this interview it’s a mixture of advice and getting to know the force behind the music.
You’re a great storyteller in your music, but what’s more important in a track – open and honest lyricism or a strong beat?
Thank you! I honestly feel like one shouldn’t exist without the other. I believe the rap is rhythm and poetry, so a good beat with good lyricism are really important to me. As a kid I always gravitated towards lyrics first though, so if you asked me 10 years ago I might have had a different answer.
Listen to Kleo while reading the feature
You started making music at fifteen right? Did you focus on raps or producing for others when you first started out?
I started producing on garage band first! I thought it would be less embarrassing than rapping because at the time I felt insecure about my voice. I even had a whole beat tape, but I was really bad at it and it felt really complicated so then I eventually sucked it up and began rapping.
What’s your advice for any rapper out there who is self-taught like you?
Save up money and find a studio with a good engineer! They have enough experience, offer good ideas and knowledge to take your music to the next level. Making music is frustrating some times, but the feeling of frustration is proof that you’re challenging yourself which is a good thing. And finally you’re doing it because you love to do it, don’t put too much of a value on fame.
The music video for ‘Stomp His Ass Out’ is so vibrant, which is a theme throughout your videos, what’s the inspiration behind that?
Yes, the Ill Addicts have directed my last 3 videos. They’re really talented and are also from Boston. The vibrant neon light aesthetic comes from my childhood. Anime like Akira, Dragonball Z, Yu Yu Hakusho, and video games like need for speed all really inspired my taste, and the Ill Addicts do an amazing job of bringing that vision to life.
Whilst we’ve been in this pandemic, what have you been binge-watching?
I’ve been rewatching the office, watching the ultimate fighter, money heist and a lot of anime