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Kevin Ramroop: Find Your Style

There’s always an awkwardness in meeting a stranger for the first time, whether it’s a colleague, an interviewer, or a first date – you attempt to get a feel for someone – size them up as best you can. I first met Kevin at the end of 2015. We sat down together at a Starbucks to work on some lesson plans and we ended up sharing ideas about music, poetry…and the “deep stuff”…life. He had an undeniable ease and quietness in his personality, jumping from small talk to deeper conversation quite effortlessly – a product of introversion and humble intelligence.

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Up until we decided to exchange samples of our work, I had been completely oblivious to the notion that Kevin was an immensely talented singer/songwriter. He handed me his earbuds and sat back in his chair as I fit them into place. I nodded my head and he pressed “play.” As the first few notes drifted up to me, I experienced that initial rush of adrenaline that always accompanies discovering new music (along with the additional thrill in knowing its creator was sitting across the table from me, jostling his knee and waiting for the song to end). The production was so soothing – dreamlike and soulful. But it also had that “chill” and original sound that transformed the present moment. His sound was mesmerizing, and it made me all the more excited to get to know him.

Meeting again at the same Starbucks, Kevin Ramroop sits across from me, dressed in a black coat and a pair of Nike shoes – a backpack full of outfits sits on the ground next to the chair. As I sip on my Americano and get ready to start the interview, he pulls a pair of earbuds from his bag, plugs them into his phone, and holds them out to me.

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How would you describe your personal style?

Sometimes I’m really conscious about being fashionable (whatever that means), but most of the time, I just want to be comfortable. I think my style tends to be a combination of all of my musical influences: Hip hop, Indian, and R&B. But at the end of the day, being comfortable is most important to me.

Why is Nike your brand of choice?

The shoes I selected coordinated well with my outfits today, and they’re the most comfortable shoes I have, so I wear them the most. I’m not much of a sneakerhead. I know what’s hot and rare, but I spend money on the most comfortable and practical shoes. It’s more than just style, and this brand meets my needs.

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How does your fashion sensibilities reflect your work?

I haven’t realized my definitive sound and I feel like my fashion reflects that. I can dress pretty erratically – sweats and a value village crew neck one day – a dress shirt and jeans, the next. I feel like I’m battling multiple personalities both with music and life, trying to figure out a single identity – trying to satisfy all my creative impulses. It’s hard to peg down my style.

I try to be as honest as possible about who I am. Music too, is supposed to be honest. It’s all interconnected.

Who (or what) inspires you creatively?

I always have a hard time answering the question “who are your role models” because I can’t name a specific person that influences everything I do. I draw bits and pieces from so many different people.

Here’s what’s driving me right now…Have you seen the the show “Vinyl?” There’s this one scene where a record executive hears these Hip hop disc jockeys spinning old jazz records and playing African drums over them. Today, we know that as Hip hop – it has its own identity and personality. But when you really think about it, it’s just a weird combination of jazz and African rhythms. So, I guess that’s what inspires me – that we can still do that.

With my own music, I’m trying sample Indian melodies over R&B music. It may sound odd right now, but in thirty years, it has the potential to become its own identity. That’s what’s keeping me going right now – just trying to push boundaries.

How is the evolution of your style reflected in the evolution of your work? How have both your style and creative pursuits shifted over time?

I started dressing myself in high school, but it was pretty derivative of anything that I saw that was out there. I didn’t have much of an identity. I wasn’t creating. I wasn’t making music. Once I found my creative outlet, I started picking out pieces that no one else had – wearing pieces that I knew were mine alone. Since I was a kid I always wanted to have a sense of individuality. Now, as an artist, I want to push that identity forward. That’s why I make art.

All my favourite musicians have cohesive branding. In order for longevity and long term influence, I feel like you need strong visual branding. Once you trust the style, you trust the musician – what he is creating and will create.

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In what setting are you most comfortable or drawn to?

The place I most associate with is the forest behind my backyard. I’ve been going there for the last twelve years and I’ve done three videos out there. Whenever I want to feel at peace, I think of that place. I try to be at peace with myself at all times which generally mean I like to be alone [laughs]. You’re exactly who you are when you’re alone.

Are you the person and artist you want to be?  Stylistically and creatively, how do you see yourself by the end of 2016?

Right now, I’m not the person I want to be as an artist. By the end of the year, I’ll hopefully have a Fader premiere,  a video, and an album. That’s the goal. Will I be where I need to be creatively and stylistically then? No. It’s a moving bar: as you take a step forward, your goals also take a step forward.

Obviously when I start writing a song I’m into it, but once it’s done, I’m not as passionate about it. What I’m making now is what I wanted to make a year ago. What I want to make is a year ahead of me. Every artist feels like they’re behind and that they’re trying to catch this illusive goal. I hope I never reach the peak. If I did, it would a mixed sensation of relief and depression.

When people listen to your music, what would you like them to draw from it?

When I’m composing, only my interests are at heart. If it doesn’t get past me, it’s never going to get past anyone. Ideally, it would be nice for listeners to think critically about everything. But that’s not realistic. So, I think I just want them to feel an energy. My music is good sleep music – good sex music. Whether it’s a positive energy turned negative or a negative energy turned positive, it doesn’t really matter. Just feel something.

When people look at you and your style, how would you like to be perceived?

Ideally, I want people to look at me and not ascribe an archetype to me…like “brown guy with a beard who’s trying to be stylish”. I don’t want to be so easily categorized. I want them to look at me and wonder “What’s he really about?”



by David Bremang

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