Not Kid-ding around
Kid Mellow’s unconventional journey to musical success
By Bigoa Machar, Layout Editor
Graduating from SAIT’s Mechanical Engineering program seemed like a promising career path for Chris Antonio. But the impending economic downturn had other ideas.
“With this economy its been hard to put my foot in the door,” says Antonio. “I’d love to do some work in the field here and there, but I needed something more steady other than the part-time work I was getting.”
During the job search, Antonio, who goes by the musical monicker ‘Kid Mellow’ was able to explore a long-time passion: making music. Ever since he was young, hip hop music has been a common theme in Antonio’s life.
“I started in the b-boy scene in Calgary and I was in it for a long time. That basically went on for almost seven years. During this, I would always listen to old-school, boom bap beats like J Dilla and 9th Wonder,” says Antonio. “I would listen to a lot of instrumental beats and I got to the point where I thought to myself, ‘this is something that I could do too.’”
In order to start making music, Antonio says he had to teach himself the in’s and out’s of music production.
“I began looking into what tools I could use to make music. Once I understood the process of making it, I started to appreciate vinyl records more and I started collecting them,” says Antonio. “That’s how I sample most of my stuff. A lot of the music I make is really ‘dusty’ because I try to maintain that whole sound to keep it original, while incorporating my own sounds at the same time.”
Antonio says one of the biggest inspirations to his style of music is the late J Dilla, known for his ability to create instrumentals out of samples borrowed from other artists.
“For myself, I’m only sampling right now. There are producers out there that make things directly from scratch, and I have mad respect for them. I think ultimately when you’re making something from scratch, you have to make something make sense out of nowhere,” says Antonio. “When it comes to sampling, it’s almost like 50% of the work is done for you and you just have to add your unique ideas and sounds to it.”
Although some may be critical of making music out of samples rather than making beats from scratch, Antonio says there’s still plenty of artistic value in creating music this way.
“Making good music really depends on the artist and what kind of ideas they want to project. Sampling music is hard because when you listen to a sample, anything can go infinitely with any ideas you have,” says Antonio. “When I sample, I’ll sit on my chair for hours and hours to just listen to something until I can feel it.”
While he enjoys making music more than anything, Antonio says not everyone shares the same sentiment he does.
“Coming from a Filipino family, you’re expected to follow a career path that your parents encourage you to do. I don’t regret it at all because I might be able to use it in the future.” says Antonio. “If there’s something that I’m not seeing right now on what to do with my experience, so we’ll see. I’m not even mad though, because I’ll probably do the same thing to my kids.”
While his parent’s weren’t very receptive at first, Antonio says it was only a matter of time before they warmed up to it.
“My parents really don’t understand what I do, but I don’t really expect them to. As long as they appreciate it, then I’m okay,” says Antonio. “I showed my mom some of my jazz-style beats and the first thing she asked me was where can I buy it. That was unreal.”
With his family now by his side, Antonio says the next step is marketing himself for a larger, more global audience online.
“The main network I use for exposure is Instagram, where I can make visuals with my music to go along with my beats,” says Antonio. “I have a background in visuals, so I like to make really artistic videos that represent my ideas to go with the beat. When people watch this, people are inclined to watch and they want the sounds more.”
From marketing to continuing to hone his craft, Antonio says this is all part of the complicated process of becoming a better artist in the long run.
“Comparing myself to when I started producing two years from now to today, I would say there’s a huge growth, largely because of the people that pushed me to be better,” he says. “I saw what other people were able to do with their music and I worked off that.”
As Antonio looks ahead to the future, he hopes to find new opportunities, make new friends and continue to grow as a person and artist.
“That’s the beauty of hip hop. It’s a global community with some really good people that are willing to work together, but you have to trust yourself to put yourself out there and find them. You might get rejected sometimes, but that’s what it is.”