INTERVIEW: KAFAYÉ & ABDULLAH
Originally published in OUTTALINE Magazine Issue 01
Ahead of the release of their debut project, The Sweet Summer Experience, Kafayé and Abdullah have made themselves known around the Toronto scene. One word describes their imminent drop: Dangerous.
What are your names, what do you do, and where are you from?
Abdullah: I am Abdullah, I’m a producer, I’m a creative. I’m not from here but I like to feel like I am.
Kafayé: Where the fuck are you from bruh?
Abdullah: I was born in Dubai, but fuck all that shit. I’ll be from here, I like being from here.
Kafayé: My name is Kafayé, I am an artist. Mainly a vocalist. Toronto is where I reside right now. I am an island boy at heart, so take me back to the sunshine.
Kafayé: Jamaica, parents are Jamaican. I grew up in Jamaica, Barbados, and Dominica, so it was sick. Born here but a lot of back and forth. After grade five it was mainly Jamaica and Canada, but before then it was everywhere else in between.
What music did you listen to growing up?
Abdullah: My dad when I was younger played a lot of Michael Jackson and a lot of disco. This is so weird but he was big into boy bands. It was weird but I guess it was his only real sense of music coming out of Pakistan, besides Pakistani music. I moved to Canada when I was 10 and I didn’t really have any idea of music prior to that. My first piece of American music was Green Day’s American Idiot album from 2005. And that was life changing, that shit was fucking life changing. Over time a huge love for hip hop developed as I moved more into Markham, Scarborough, and Rexdale.
Kafayé: Old Jamaican music, like old reggae music. This one CD we used to play in the car when my parents used to drive us to school. It was the same CD but the songs were so good, so you never took it in like ‘oh why am I listening to this song again’. You’re singing to the songs because it’s what you have to do, you can’t not sing along to that song. So yeah, old Jamaican music is definitely my shit.
How long have you been producing/singing for?
Abdullah: I’ve been making beats for about two and a half years, but I’ve been playing musical instruments all over the place from a pretty young age. But never really got into it until a couple of years ago. When I met [Kafayé] is when I really started taking it seriously. Since February of last year, almost a year now.
Kafayé: That shit’s dangerous. That I’ve known this guy for a couple months and the shit that he’s already producing is crazy.
One hundred percent.
Kafayé: Grade five is my first memory of my singing, but I was trash. I heard videos of myself from back in the day and that hurt my soul. But yeah, practice, lots of practice, and trying to do what I have to do to get where I have to go. Working with [Abdullah], he’s a perfectionist so my voice has grown since then.
What inspires you to make music, and how has your source of inspiration developed as you’ve continued to pursue music?
Kafayé: Mine was my dad, my dad is a vocalist as well. Living in a household, especially a Caribbean household, where you have somebody who can appreciate music so much, and music is always playing. It’s just like the vibe and you hear your father singing and whatnot. I feel that definitely inspired my music, shout out to my dad. It grew from that to me trying a one-two ting, and then doing a performance at a venue. People being like ‘oh my god he’s so cute and he can sing’ and you’re like 10 years old so it’s kind of gross, but attention’s being given to you.
Abdullah: Positive reinforcement.
Kafayé: Positive reinforcement, you know, that shit that you don’t really get often in this world. It was really motivating and built my self-confidence. It was the evolution of then putting my message behind it and not just singing someone else’s story, but telling my story and hoping that somebody else can connect with that. That is my development really.
Abdullah: Similar to Kafayé, mine is also kind of from my dad and my dad’s side of the family. My grandfather played the flute and the harmonica so he’s super jiggy with it in Pakistan, running that shit. I think there was something about music that always made me feel a way that I don’t think any other type of art did. Listening to some of my favorite artist, like Frank Ocean, there’s no other feeling that I get in the world from listening to that. I would like to create music that would give me that feeling and give someone that feeling. I think the stuff that we make, it’s not fully there yet but I think it’s getting me to that point where I think I can actually do this. I think that’s why I do it.
Break down the process of how you collab on a track.
Kafayé: So, this boy, initially he sent me Google Drive, that shit was lit. He had like, chunes in there so I was going through and I was vibin’ out. It really depends because sometimes we’re sitting down and he’s on the piano playing something and you start singing and it’s a vibe. You tell a story.
Abdullah: Sweet Summer is one of those tracks where he had five of these demos that he had made, and he played them for me one night. Out of all the five I heard Sweet Summer, [it]caught my attention right away. I was like ‘we gotta work on that one’ and it was one of those days where I’m at the piano playing some chords and he starts singing that melody and I was like ‘woah.’
Favorite aspect of recording?
Abdullah: The first time you hear something that you never thought would make the track. You know, the first time you hear that shit that makes you go ‘woah’. That’s my favorite part of recording.
Kafayé: I don’t think it’s happened yet, once we put out the track and we know it’s the final piece and we’re sharing it with the world. I think to be able to let that track go, and be like ‘yo I’m done.’ To be able to take it in, I think that will be my favorite part of recording.
What do you want listeners to feel when listening to The Sweet Summer Experience?
Abdullah: It’s definitely like a movie, it’s very cinematic. It’s very engaging with a deeper place inside a of a person. And I think when you hear the entire set list in context of the album, The Sweet Summer Experience, you’ll feel it in your soul.
Follow Abdullah @abdnzm and Kafayé @fathermelanin.
Photos by @_kevinfall. Interview by @conordunner.
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