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Spate Magazine Exclusive Interview With Kwan Lee

What up Kwan Lee? For those new to the name, where are you from and what do you do?

I am Kwan Lee from Brooklyn, NY. I am an artist, producer, and videographer.

When did you realize you wanted to pursue music as a career choice?

I realized it in about late 2009 when I started getting popularity on the streets and the internet for my production across New York. I was already known in Brooklyn for producing for a few years, but I never took it seriously until I started to go to different places and people were giving me props on a more frequent basis.

You are kind of a triple threat- you write, you produce, you do multi media & graphics as well, how has the combination made way for you to stand out in this saturated industry?

I have been blessed to get into a lot of events because of my multimedia company (Kwan Lee TV) and make connections with a few people that would be hard to reach if I just wrote or just produced. The one thing that J Hatch always said at every one of his shows was to build relationships, and I follow through on that as much as I can. I think I stand out because I am pretty good at all three of the things I do and once people realize everything I do, it is highlighted even more because of the relationships I built.

Describe your style as an artist, producer & videographer separately.

As an artist, I try to paint pictures with my music. I tell you a story in every record. I am a second generation Hip-Hop head (both of my parents listen to Hip-Hop) so my style comes from the old-school in a sense. I heard a lot of Juice Crew and early Def Jam records at such a young age that it stuck with me. I mix it with some of the "new school" and it is a great blend. My cousins lived down south and on the West Coast, so I got introduced to a lot of those sounds as well.

As a producer, I always was in love with the Marley Marl sound when I was a kid as well as DJ Premier's. That real boom-bap New York sound. Of course being into Hip-Hop into the 90's, everything Wu-Tang and Bad Boy put out along with the West Coast G-Funk was a sound I was in love with. I have cousins in California and down south so I got put on to a lot of music they weren't playing on the radio here. Then in my teens Kanye came out and made the game soulful plus the sped up samples and the Just Blaze / Heatmakerz / Dipset style of music was a standard in NY a few years back. I could name so many producers that influenced me. There are so many. These are just the top of the surface.

As a videographer, since I am an artist and producer I can see a vision when I hear a record. Every video I do is a collaborative effort between me and the artist. We bounce off each others ideas and I make it come to fruition through the camera. I study a lot of movies as well as music videos and get inspired by them. I have a photographic memory so I could see a location in a movie or a video and know where it is if I passed by it, or something that looks very similar to it. I am big on locations and themes when I hear music. Sometimes I will watch a movie just to see what type of shots were taken and what angles were used. Sometimes I will edit and watch the movie that inspired me while doing it (if I used it as inspiration) just to analyze a similar scene and give it the same feel in the music video.

You also have Kwan Lee TV too. How has that helped with your movement?

Kwan Lee TV has helped tremendously. Like I mentioned earlier I have met so many people and built a lot of relationships because I have a camera in my hand. I never thought when I was doing my own footage in the studio putting it up on YouTube (which was fairly new at the time when I started) that it would turn into a company I feed my family with. Last year I had the opportunity to shoot a Wu-Tang Clan video (Cappadonna's verse on Winter Warz), and that is just one of many highlights with Kwan Lee TV. I have done a lot of industry and underground work.

Lets talk Kwan Lee Vs The People. It was a highly downloaded mixtape series, how have the mixtapes you released progressed until now?

They all have done great. The People Vs. Kwan Lee mixtape series along with the EP's I released have all done greater than I expected. I don't go into the studio with the everything is a banger mentality, or the this will get me signed mentality. I surprise people every time. So many people know me for the camera, that when they say Kwan Lee has a mixtape out, they expect another Kwan Lee. Then when they find out its me, the camera guy, they love it even more. I am appreciative. Every mixtape is an introduction to new people that I rap, as well as the people who know me for other things. And I am happy I don't let them down.

You have shot videos for alot of the buzzing underground rap acts in NYC and Philly and even do some work for Forbez DVD. How important are the relationships you have gained by doing so and what's your latest video out right now?

The relationships are very, very important. I am usually quiet at the events that go on in NYC because I am observing and watching, and actually paying attention to what is going on. Before I took music seriously, I used to go to open mics and showcases just to hear new music other than what was on the radio. A lot of times I have gone to artist that have a buzz, and they already knew who I was. It's crazy to me because you never think that what you do in your house on the computer would have you known across NYC. The artist / creative person to block ratio in New York is at the least 20 to 1 in residential areas and in the projects and apartment complexes that is the ratio per building sometimes. There are so many artistic and creative people in New York. Even when I go to other states it amazes me because here I am, a kid in Brooklyn on his computer, having reach outside of my borough. Some people aren't that fortunate in their own regions.

I have been focusing on Kwan Lee TV more in the past year, but in 2015 you will see more of me visually.

What's next for Kwan Lee in 2015?

Right now I am in the process of working out an independent deal for me as an artist. I did a deal for Kwan Lee TV on YouTube that will expand my audience at the end of 2014, so I will be shooting more original content that isn't limited to music. I will be expanding all across the board like I usually do every year.

Where can we find you online?

Twitter: @KwanLee Instagram: @KwanLee websites: www.KwanLeeTV.com www.thiskwan.com

Any last shouts?

Shoutout to the whole #dreamteam, Doggie Diamonds, M. Reck, everyone who has been supporting Kwan Lee, and J Hatch for looking out on the interview.


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