INTERVIEW | INTRODUCING KRYSIS MIKHAAL (KING RISING YET SURVIVING IN SOCIETY)

Krys­is [King Rising Yet Sur­viv­ing In Soci­ety] Mikhaal is a Rap­per, Sing­er, & Song­writer hail­ing from North-West Lon­don.

Inspired by the Old & New School era of Hip-Hop, R n’ B & soul, Krys­is Mikhaal brings a truly unique and eclect­ic vibe to the UK scene. Krys­is achieves this by exper­i­ment­ing with dif­fer­ent genres and styles to mani­fest his own unique sound. Fol­low­ing up from his debut pro­ject, Over­flo, his latest EP titled Room 808 slightly devi­ates from his gen­er­al sound. Using an 8‑track, trap-heavy, mel­an­chol­ic yet hard hit­ting body of work where he brushes on bat­tling inner demons, self-worth, self-care, addic­tion and heart­break.

How­ever, from the time I have met Krys­is he has always been mad humble and mod­est. Easy to talk to and express ideas with all the while being ser­i­ously laid back. He is a truly unique indi­vidu­al with an even more addict­ive and diverse sound, and I wanted the world to get to know the artist and his music.

This may come across a bit corny but if you could describe your­self with one word what would it be?

This is like the hard­est ques­tion on here as I can’t describe most things with just one word…but chal­lenge accep­ted bro… I think the best word to describe me would have to be ‘Wan­der­er’.

What was it like grow­ing up?

I had a pretty chill child­hood, to be hon­est, I grew up in Wemb­ley until I was about 9 and I have been based in Har­row ever since.

I went to a pre­dom­in­antly South Asi­an high school but it was still mul­ti­cul­tur­al, so I was exposed to many cul­tures and beliefs at a young age as most kids in Lon­don have exper­i­enced. I would often slip into the bad crowd when I was a teen­ager. I had a rebel­li­ous streak and a curi­ous mind, but I steered away from that crowd before I’d end up doing some­thing com­pletely out of char­ac­ter and regret­ting it. I was also blessed enough to have par­ents who had the drive and means to travel reg­u­larly. So, I wit­nessed poverty, lux­ury, and the beauty of this neg­lected world which has humbled me until now.

When was it that you said to your­self, I am doing this music thing and what inspired this choice?

I have always been into music, you know, the tech­nic­al­ity of it. I tell this story to my cous­ins often as they for­get they were my inspir­a­tion to start pro­du­cing at 14, the same way I am now their inspir­a­tion at the ripe age of 27. I remem­ber vividly get­ting gassed when I saw them rap­ping into a £5 desktop micro­phone on a record­ing pro­gram, and I just had to learn more. I spent the rest of my teen­age years just learn­ing pro­duc­tion and attempt­ing to spit every now and then but I wasn’t con­fid­ent with it. I used to get dissed for the beats I would play in high school haha! People used to shout ‘Krys­is Beats!’ and not in a good way but I learned and kept it mov­ing. Now, the moment I decided I was ser­i­ously going to do this music thing as an Artist took many years before it was a defin­it­ive decision. I was in Uni­ver­sity study­ing Audio Engin­eer­ing, and I came across a new inter­view with Chance the Rap­per. It was the quick­est and most straight for­ward thing he said that made some­thing just click in my head. Chance said ’to any­body that wants to try some­thing they are not 100% about. my advice is to just do it’…and that was it.

Who and what are your influ­ences that helped cre­ate your unique sound?

I per­son­ally love par­tic­u­lar ele­ments of every music genre on this earth. So, I may not act­ively listen to coun­try or heavy met­al music but yeah, I can get down with that gui­tar melody fad­ing in and out every 4 bars, or the vocal skill of that guy scream­ing his lungs off. But when it comes to my sound, I wouldn’t exactly call it unique because it all derives from some­where but my iden­tity is what makes this my own. I am heav­ily influ­enced by R n’ B/Soul, most people don’t real­ise that style of music is my found­a­tion as I nev­er really listened to rap until I was a teen­ager. I guess from a baby my ears were pro­tec­ted and moul­ded to be more respons­ive to melody and old school instru­ment­a­tion. My par­ents would play Aretha frank­lin, Den­ise Wil­li­ams, Luth­er Vandross, Earth wind & fire, Erykah Badu, etc…It was only nat­ur­al that I would grow up listen­ing to Michael Jack­son, D’An­gelo, Ush­er, Chris Brown, Erykah Badu, and yes, I’ve said her name twice. On the rap side of things, I had to study because I knew my taste was solely reflec­ted off what main­stream was feed­ing me. My interest in rap emerged when Lil Wayne was known as the ‘Greatest Rap­per Alive’ and although I believed him at the time, I knew this couldn’t be the peak of new Hip-hop. Sure, I loved the likes of Out­kast, Eminem, and 50cent but what was the new gen­er­a­tion about to tell us? I was pretty sat­is­fied with what was in store for the 2010s, to say the least. To wrap this answer up, rap­pers like Kendrick Lamar, Ab-soul, Hop­sin, and Andre 3000 really influ­enced me as a lyr­i­cist. Since then I’ve been learn­ing to fuse everything I know and love togeth­er to cre­ate the artist you see today.

What made you choose to com­bine both the Hip-Hop and R n’ B sounds?

They are the genres I res­on­ate with the most, the styles where I feel most at home. So, it is only right to make these the found­a­tion to this lane I’m try­ing to pave out. Many artists are doing this right now so it’s noth­ing new, but when it comes to my story, my mes­sage, and the place I am com­ing from, it sets it apart from most things we are fed in the music industry.

You have very intric­ate and thought out lyr­ics and songs what is your pro­cess to get into the zone?

I appre­ci­ate that ana­lys­is but I can’t help it, for the most part, haha! I’m con­stantly think­ing about my thoughts on oth­er thoughts. When it comes to get­ting in the zone that is prob­ably the only time, I don’t overthink it. I don’t like to force the cre­at­ive pro­cess so if it hap­pens, it happens…the sub­ject mat­ter of the song could be inspired by my mood, or a cur­rent event that has sparked an idea then I just let it flow from there.

Your Over­flo Mix­tape is extremely refresh­ing as it reminds me of the Old School Hip-Hop albums. I love the fact that you are hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions with your friends and fam­ily, like the skit with you and your broth­er before Rice & Peas. Which is a beau­ti­ful track about spend­ing time with the fam­ily and the segue really made it come to life. So, my ques­tion is what was the inspir­a­tion and thought pro­cess behind the pro­ject? What did you take away from it once it was com­pleted, and what learn­ing curves did you come across?

The Over­flo pro­ject is spe­cial to me because it was a com­pletely nat­ur­al and unin­ten­tion­al body of work. It’s the explo­sion in the lab that dis­covered a new ele­ment’ type of pro­ject if you will. From 2015 to the early months of 2016 I was actu­ally work­ing on an album that was going to be titled ‘Meas­ured in Joules’. I still intend to dabble with the name and the concept of it, so I won’t go too deep on its mean­ing but long story short. Life hit me with many tri­als and tribu­la­tions at this point, which led me on a music­al tan­gent without me real­ising it…it wasn’t until I was 20+ song ideas deep I noticed I was cre­at­ing a whole new pro­ject. I was cer­tain that it was the res­ult of the over­flow of emo­tions and inspir­a­tion I had been going through the past couple years. The skits through­out the pro­ject I added once I com­pleted the major­ity of the tracks, which is, as you said an in-depth con­ver­sa­tion with some of my closest friends and fam­ily. Cov­er­ing vari­ous top­ics with ‘The cur­rent state of music’ being the head­line. I called it a FLOcus group because I always love the pas­sion and energy in the talks, I have with my brud­dahs and people will be hear­ing more of them in the near future. Rice & Peas is a sen­ti­ment­al one of mine so love for the acknow­ledge­ment. My fam­ily is everything to me. They are to most people, so regard­less of all the bull­shit I was going through men­tally, being with them has always been the main flame to my hap­pi­ness as cheesy as that sounds. This is just my love let­ter to them and even that song doesn’t meas­ure up to how I truly feel. In hind­sight, I will nev­er regret cre­at­ing Over­flo and the struggles that came with it, I see music pro­jects as timestamps and listen­ing back to this pro­ject always reminds me of the mind­set, I was in. 17 tracks minus skits, do I think the pro­ject was a bit lengthy? Yep, but to an extent that was the point. An Over­flo of tracks where not one song sounds like the next. This pro­ject had very little expos­ure but I was cool with it for I was just start­ing out, because as I said on 24 going on 40, ‘ I made this for myself, but maybe this won’t only speak to me.’

What are you favour­ite tracks off Over­flo and why are they your favour­ite?

Gold Dust, Aroma & S2B ll. I would say these songs because they are pretty much the blue­prints to the sound I was search­ing for while I was exper­i­ment­ing through­out the pro­ject. I don’t go back to this pro­ject as often as I used to as I’m try­ing to move for­ward with this new sound, but these tracks and a couple more have good replay value for me and oth­ers accord­ing to Spo­ti­fy.

I remem­ber when you sent me the pre-release of Room 808, and like I said then it is a crazy mini-movie. How­ever, it was a vast shift from the pre­vi­ous laid-back relaxed vibes of Over­flo. You explained that you wanted to come from a dark­er place. What inspired this pro­ject and can you elab­or­ate in a bit more detail, why you went this route rather than stick­ing with the Over­flo vibes?

Now, this is where it gets a little dark so I apo­lo­gise for the change in tone in advance. I briefly men­tioned that I was going through some stuff dur­ing the time I was mak­ing Over­flo. Well, most of that ‘stuff’ was suf­fer­ing from men­tal health issues. A very hard thing to talk about but for­tu­nately, in this cli­mate, the con­ver­sa­tion about it is less frowned upon for black men such as myself. I was prob­ably in the darkest place I’ve been, but was doing my best to keep a happy mask on while liv­ing and work­ing on a 2‑part album begin­ning with ‘The Com­fort Suite.’ While writ­ing songs for both of the albums, like ‘Loop­hole & Stained Glass Win­dows’ I was steer­ing towards dark­er, more hard-hit­ting instru­ment­als. Before I knew it, I had 5 full tracks with the same sound son­ic­ally. So, I decided to enter anoth­er room before I got to the Suite to see where it would take me. Turns out I had a lot of aggres­sion and neg­at­ive energy to release before I could move onto the next phase. I nev­er men­tioned this in the earli­er ques­tions but one of the main reas­ons why I do music is because it is hon­estly the best way, I can express myself as I am pretty much an intro­ver­ted her­mit. But noth­ing comes close to my addic­tion to cre­at­ing some­thing new out of love, it keeps me sane, it reas­sures my pur­pose and if I can share that energy with my fam­ily and the rest of the world then that is a life well-lived.

Tables is def­in­itely one of my favour­ites off the EP. You can def­in­itely feel the pas­sion and aggres­sion on this track. Plus, I love the way the track just flips and so does your flow. How did you come up with this banger? What was going through your head when you put it togeth­er?

You are way too kind bro. This is one of my favour­ites off the EP too. I mainly think it’s because it just gave me a chance to push my laid-back humble ways to the side, and just talk some real but brag­gado­cios shit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the most mod­est man alive as I believe in my abil­ity but I needed the lyr­ics and my tone to hit hard. I even slowed down the flow as opposed to the pre­vi­ous tracks so listen­ers can really take in the words. I wanted the tables to lit­er­ally turn on the listen­ers which is why I chose to flip the track the moment it was at its peak. I hope I suc­ceeded in that feat.

At the end of Tables, you segue with anoth­er skit which leads us into Venom Ft Tip­sey J. You have to break this one down for me how did you con­struct this, and how did the idea come about? What made you also fin­ish the track with anoth­er skit?

It’s that sym­bi­ote, maaaan. Venom found his way in this uni­verse and for some reas­on and was lurk­ing in room 809 for a human hos…Nah! I’m play­ing but the idea is so sim­il­ar I would prob­ably get sued if I made it a com­ic so let’s con­tin­ue. Due to the neg­at­ive thoughts, I was hav­ing about myself, life and everything else under the sun, I felt to make a skit to describe a dormant demon resid­ing out­side. Wait­ing to be let in to cause self-destruc­tion as the whole Hotel is a meta­phor for my mind, which is why you have me scream­ing ‘then I let in!’ in the chor­us. The whole concept for the song is pretty much fight­ing the battle of stay­ing pos­it­ive in a world that can seem so bleak some­times. Then it was only right to bring the tal­en­ted Tip­sey J in on the action and have the venom pass over to him and face his demons. I con­cluded the track with anoth­er skit as I wanted to por­tray the energy lost in blind rage, but also the moment of relief you have once you’ve ended your rant or men­tal break­down. The phone call from the recep­tion­ist is the time of self-care which leads to reflec­tion, and when you need to reflect, you have to be alone for a bit.

My second favour­ite joint on Room 808 was DND can you break down the story for me? Lyr­ic­ally and where did the inspir­a­tion come from?

DND or DoNot­Dis­turb was a couple of things for me… firstly, it was the first full track released where I am singing through­out the whole thing, so that was nerve-rack­ing as hell. Secondly, it was mainly a moment for me to self-reflect on my jour­neys with love/lust, my addic­tion to smoking weed, and my deni­al of the truth of my self-destruct­ive tend­en­cies. The song was ini­tially titled ‘RULES’ as I kept break­ing the very guidelines, I gave myself, but I got to say I was pretty harsh on myself when I listen back. Espe­cially when I say things like ‘everything I touch turns to fed up, I’m fed up, so mind how you move’. But it was still neces­sary, that harsh truth you have to throw at your­self some­times.

Loop­hole was you Sum­mer 2019 single where you have rever­ted to your ori­gin­al sound, well at least son­ic­ally. As you can hear the more aggress­ive rhym­ing style you used on Room 808, but com­bined with your har­mon­ising sim­il­ar to Over­flo. Is this the new Krys­is and the sound we are to expect going for­ward? Will you ever release anoth­er Over­flo type of pro­ject or is that the old Krys­is, not the new Krys­is?

Yes and no, that’s a good ques­tion because it has only been recently where I have been con­sciously mak­ing songs in the sound and styles that I’ve craf­ted. Before I was just mak­ing song after song let­ting it flow freely and now, I am fil­ter­ing and refin­ing what I need and I hon­estly feel like the NEW Krys­is Mikhaal is still on its way.

I remem­ber when I saw the ori­gin­al Sky All in One Place advert, and I thought I swear down I know that voice. Turns out it was you! So, how did this come about? Did your write the bars for the advert or were they provided?

It’s crazy that you noticed that, I don’t even tell people many people about it as it’s not my style at all. Haha! But still a dope exper­i­ence and oppor­tun­ity all the same. I won’t get into too much detail but I caught wind of the Sky Cre­at­ive Team want­ing a rap­per for their next ad cam­paign. I knew someone in the cre­at­ive depart­ment at the time, I sub­mit­ted my name for con­sid­er­a­tion along with a couple of my songs. I lit­er­ally got a call the next day say­ing they want me to do a demo for them. They provided the script and everything so I didn’t have to write it. All I did was take or add words to it so the rhythm would flow nicely while I was spit­ting Sky con­tent galore…I now work with an extern­al cre­at­ive team that rep­res­ents Sky. It has been an eye-open­er and a half as an upcom­ing artist, to exper­i­ence the dif­fer­ent lanes you can take oth­er than the primary route of a musi­cian

Dur­ing this crazy peri­od of Lock­down, you have dropped you’re a Single Stained Glass win­dows. Tell us a bit more about it?

I’ve been sit­ting on this track for about a year and I just wanted to share one of my favour­ites off the new batch of music I am work­ing on. I am a very mel­low fel­low to the core, and I like to think I can be pretty deep when I want to be. But this is one of those moments where I just wanted the vibe to speak more than the lyr­ics. Stained Glass Win­dows was inspired by 2 things. The first one is dis­tor­ted truths, I always thought look­ing through a stained-glass win­dow was tedi­ous. As it altered whatever was on the oth­er side not being able to see with clear vis­ion. I applied that to life as a meta­phor when we become in deni­al of our own addic­tions, our flaws, who we please/hurt in the pro­cess, etc…But as I said I let the vibe do the talk­ing as it is all open to inter­pret­a­tion. The Second inspir­a­tion was very simple but still import­ant. I was hav­ing a smoke ses­sion with my bros, and one of them rolled up a spliff with the thin­nest raw paper you can get. My oth­er bro noticed a stained-glass pat­tern that was made through the mix­ture of the…you know what I’m talk­ing about, mov­ing onnnn…

How have you been deal­ing with Lock­down espe­cially as a solo artist? What struggles have you come across and how have you been deal­ing with it men­tally?

Hon­estly, as an intro­ver­ted artist who already prefers his own com­pany and going out as min­im­al as pos­sible, eh, it could be worse… I can’t speak for the rest of the world though. I am just very curi­ous about how things will be post-lock­down. We are at the halfway point of 2020 and this has been the wild­est year of the 21st cen­tury. Also, since I am noth­ing but real with you, not only were these ques­tions so well thought out to a point I had to take my time with this. It was very dif­fi­cult writ­ing about myself and my struggles up until now, as they pale in com­par­is­on to the oppres­sion we con­tin­ue to face as a race con­sist­ently. BUT the cul­ture must con­tin­ue and we must pre­vail!

From the start of Room 808 you are check­ing into the lobby, but they do not have your room ready The Com­fort Suite. Your next pro­ject is The Com­fort Suite, which is also the room you booked but didn’t get and ended up in Room 808. Room 808 also fin­ishes with a song called The Com­fort Suite Outro. Are we safe to assume that this a series? If so, what made you think this is how I want my cur­rent pro­jects to link? It is truly a inter­est­ing concept and if this is the case then why? Finally, when can we expect it to drop?

Yes, it is a series that begins when I enter the Meraki Hotel and will con­clude after 2 or 3 albums, not sure yet. I don’t know, you know I mean I love animé and stan­dalone-epis­od­ic type shows. I want to treat my pro­jects like arcs or sagas where growth is felt through the course of the album. Just think of Goku before and after the Frieza Saga, or Kil­lua before and after well, all of HxH. I basic­ally want to make the Jam­ie Lan­nis­ter of albums as he has one of the best char­ac­ter arcs of TV his­tory. Por­tray­ing my bod­ies of work as vari­ous rooms inside my mind has made it clear­er and easi­er to nav­ig­ate. It doesn’t mean I won’t devi­ate and leave the hotel any­time I please. For I’m forever learn­ing and grow­ing like every­one else, plus I can be quite impuls­ive which is why I refuse to give it a release date just yet!

Oth­er than The Com­fort Suite what else are we to expect from you going for­ward?

This year I have had the priv­ilege to work with some new pro­du­cers, and fel­low artists so stay tuned for that col­lect­ive mas­ter­piece and yes, I mean mas­ter­piece. I’ve been song­writ­ing for some very tal­en­ted upcom­ing sing­ers and provid­ing my verses here and there. I am still forever work­ing on my craft, but I intend to put out much more visu­al con­tent in the future includ­ing a short film. In the mean­time, check out my free­style on ‘Only Bars’ and the visu­al to ‘Stained Glass Win­dows’.  Love to you and every­one who took the time out to read my bor­ing life haha! Stay Blessed!

I want to thank Krys­is for tak­ing time out to answer our ques­tions and appre­ci­ate his time. Krys­is is now return­ing to hiberna­tion to work on his debut album The Com­fort Suite. He now plans to stay true to his Rap and Soul Blend whilst adding his own Iden­tity and exper­i­ences to it. He is defi­antly a unique and amaz­ing upcom­ing artist to watch out for. Stay tuned and check out his music and socials below.

Peace,

Love,

And All That Good Stuff.

Jay St Paul AKA JuJu Man

Social: @jaystpaul

Founder of Hi…Creativity LTD

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Jay St Paul

Jay St Paul

Jay St Paul AKA JuJu Man Dee Jay / Graph­ic Design­er / Pod­caster / Radio Presenter James is a West Lon­don based Dee Jay, self taught Graph­ic Design­er, Radio Host, Pod­caster and Writer. Avid fan of animé, manga, com­ics, music (Hip-Hop, RnB, Soul – new and old, Funk, Jazz, House, Chill­hop, Soca, Chill Out & Liquid D&B), gam­ing & movies. A long term Spir­itu­al­ist and people sci­ent­ist, with a pas­sion to help people con­nect to a deep­er part with­in them­selves.

About Jay St Paul

Jay St Paul
Jay St Paul AKA JuJu Man Dee Jay / Graphic Designer / Podcaster / Radio Presenter James is a West London based Dee Jay, self taught Graphic Designer, Radio Host, Podcaster and Writer. Avid fan of anime, manga, comics, music (Hip-Hop, RnB, Soul – new and old, Funk, Jazz, House, Chillhop, Soca, Chill Out & Liquid D&B), gaming & movies. A long term Spiritualist and people scientist, with a passion to help people connect to a deeper part within themselves.