HCM. How did you come by your stage name?
re/PULSE. I always knew I needed a cool stage name because nobody’s gonna listen to an artist named Kevin Clark. I know I wouldn’t. My favorite thing about music is hearing and creating new sounds and sometimes they sound ugly. I came up with the name re/PULSE based on the repulsed look people would make when I show them a nasty beat. Sometimes, the more “repulsed” a person looks, the better, known to musicians as the “stank face”. I divided the name with a slash to highlight the “re” (record, reverb, replay, etc.) and “PULSE” (a musical term as well as a medical term). My mom used to work at RE/MAX too so I kind of copied their stylization.
HCM. When did you discover your love for music and what made you realize you wanted to pursue a career in music?
re/PULSE. Classic millennial answer: I really loved playing the Rock Band video game, especially drums. I remember playing “In Bloom” by Nirvana, “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden, and it was my introduction to Radiohead who I now take a lot of inspiration. From there, I started taking drum lessons and really getting into music. In high school, the music teacher built a recording studio in our school. I would go every morning before class and practice recording. That’s when my love for producing and recording started. I went to York University for jazz drums, making my way to becoming a high school music teacher, but my love for production kept developing and I found myself more interested in that aspect of music. I produce all my own songs and love to produce for other artists too. I think it’s sick when artists produce their own music because they’re able to create their art exactly how they envisioned it. I also love hearing artists on different producers’ tracks so it’s all love!
HCM. To what or whom do you accredit your sense of style?
re/PULSE. Musically, my style stems from a few places. I grew up on rock music so that’s what I learned on drums and primarily what I listened to until University. Then I went to school for jazz and really broadened my taste. I was always a fan of experimental, unique sounding artists like Tool and Radiohead and I found this too in jazz artists like John Coltrane and Miles Davis. The final aspect of my musical style is hip-hop — I find myself listening to hip-hop the most. There’s something about the culture that is so exciting and alive. I think Kendrick’s To Pimp a Butterfly album really solidified my love for hip-hop music and culture. From there, I couldn’t get enough of the creativity heard in artists like MF Doom & Madlib, Danny Brown, Earl Sweatshirt, A Tribe Called Quest. The innovation of these artists is what really inspires me to create. To sum it up, my musical style is based on my roots in rock, jazz technique, and love for hip-hop.
Aesthetically, I like to look and dress in a way that shows who I am. I love color, big comfy clothes, and I’m not afraid to express my femininity. My art is very genuine and so am I. I like to wear that on my sleeve.
HCM. On your current/upcoming album… How did you come up with the concept for this project?
re/PULSE. My concept for Sonic Novelties was to create songs I’ve never heard anything like before. I wanted to give the impression of a sort of collection of different sounds: jazz drums, distorted synth bass, hip-hop vocals, autotune, rock guitar, drum machines, blues samples, etc. The title means new sounds. Every song is different but follows a consistent vision. A “novelty” gift shop sells you things you don’t really need too so that’s something I considered when coming up with the album name. Lyrically, I wanted to match the impact of the music so I rap about heavy subjects like anti-Black racism, Indigenous genocide, consumerism/capitalism, and my own mental health struggles. It’s basically an exploration of issues I’m passionate about (aside from a couple less-serious ones to break the tension).
HCM. What are some of your greatest challenges as an artist, and what is your greatest attribute when it comes to your work ethic?
re/PULSE. My greatest challenge as an artist is my mental health. I just don’t have the drive to make 100 beats a day like some producers claim. Especially these days, it can be difficult to be inspired, staying home all the time. I want to make art, not just beats and that takes a lot of energy. But that doesn’t make me any less of an artist. In fact, I take a lot of time to analyze every aspect of my music and decide a) if it’s worth creating, and b) if it’s the exact way I want it. Sometimes I take way too long to finish a song, but one of my favorite quotes helps me with this: “Art is never finished, only abandoned” -Leonardo da Vinci.
On the other hand, my unwillingness to abandon art can be seen as an attribute. When I’m pumped about a project, I’ll pour my heart into it. I can’t even fathom the number of hours I spent working on Sonic Novelties. Writing, recording, planning, listening, doubting myself. Although it’s not efficient, I think more time makes for much greater art. It’s the reason we only get a Kendrick or Frank Ocean album every 3-4 years. Because they’re masterpieces.
HCM. Is there anyone you’d like to thank, any shout outs?
re/PULSE. I’ve gotta thank Mr. Carson-Foster for building that recording studio in high school and basically introducing me to my greatest passion. That really changed my life. Thanks to my manager Tiffany Williams for helping me with my release and all the promo. She also snagged me this swaggy interview! And shouts out big-time to Jaydaf*ckingkelly, one of my first collaborators and best friend!! Check out her debut project I produced, A Very Sad EP.
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