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Citizen Kay

Citizen Kay is a Canberra MC who has swiftly taken the airwaves by storm. As an indication of his success, his song was playing on Triple J at the very moment I turned the radio off to give him a call.

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“Really? Aw, snap.” Kay said, audibly chuffed, when I told him of the serendipitous moment. “How about that? You guys have got the delayed time in Perth or whatever. It was on this morning for me, because we’re ahead of time.”

Citizen Kay’s tracks ‘Manage’ and ‘Raise a Glass’ have earned him widespread popularity. The rapper says his sudden rise to success was a surprise even for him.

“I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet even after like a year and a bit or whatever. Everything just seems to be happening out of nowhere and I haven’t really had time to sit down and absorb it all.”

Growing up, a career in hip hop wasn’t on Kay’s agenda.

“I couldn’t stand hip hop. I think it was just who I hung around at the time the people who were hanging around me but yeah I couldn’t stand hip hop. Just because the majority of what I was hearing was just stuff I didn’t relate to at all.

“I think it was about three years ago, my other cousin who lives in Sydney, he goes by Miracle, he got signed to Sony and that was kind of like ‘Woah! Someone I know has got signed to Sony.’ And being so young I was like ‘Damn, this is crazy, such a huge thing.’ And from that I started writing more hip hop stuff but I didn’t see it as writing hip hop, I just saw it as writing. I did that for a bit and then it wasn’t till I think early last year that my little brother and I just dropped a song just for the sake of it and Triple J Unearthed picked up on it. As soon as they picked up on it that’s I guess when the career took off because when an opportunity like that comes you’ve just got to take it. I guess I never really had the vision of ‘I’m gonna be a hip hop artist’.”

Kay had a different career in mind up until recently.

“Actually what I wanted to be was a sound tech, like a sound engineer. Someone in the background I guess. So I’m still doing that but yeah now kind of performing onstage as well. Which is cool but nothing I really planned to happen but kind of just happened, you go along with it and see where it takes us.”

As an independent artist, having a background in sound engineering is very helpful.

“It’s such a help. Especially for shows, to be able to just talk to sound techs and for you to both know exactly what you’re talking about and explain things in a way that both of you understand quite clearly.

“I’ve been able to record and mix all my own stuff because I’ve done the study for that which has been amazing. It’s really helped out being an independent artist, having the ability to kind of record yourself and mix yourself without having to put out the funds for that kind of thing.”

Even though his songs have gone national, Kay said he’s decided to remain based in Canberra for now.

“Originally the plan was to move to Melbourne but I’m kind of, after travelling a lot, I’ve come to like the quietness of Canberra. It’s very chilled here and I’m starting to appreciate that a bit more now.” he said.

“I’ve been to Melbourne so many times at first I was like ‘Yeah, Melbourne’s happening. There’s always something on, it’s always loud and happening!’ and then after a while you’re kinda like ‘Man I wouldn’t mind just chilling out for a second’. Canberra’s been real good like that after touring around for a couple of months and then having time to chill out and then going out again.”

Kay’s going to be performing in Perth as part of the CoLab festival at UWA. He’s looking forward to visiting again.

“We went to Perth for the first time, I think it was either last year or earlier this year and yeah it was pretty much like a bigger Canberra. Just so chilled out and nice and we were like ‘It’s pretty chilled here, it’s pretty cool.”

Sophie Joske

Image via Facebook.

Catch Citizen Kay at the CoLab Festival at the UWA Oak Lawn on Saturday November 29th. Tickets available from Ticketmaster.

 


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