We take KRK’s brand statement “Behind Great Music” seriously on all fronts. It means everything we do from manufacturing to supporting artists is all about enabling musicians to have the freedom to create and deliver the best projects possible. This month, we are excited and honored to put the spotlight onto one of the most imaginative modern music creators out there, 1$T (a.k.a. Fki 1st) who has recently released the album “Tokyo Project.” 1$T has always used KRK gear to deliver his definitive sound and style to the masses, some including “Watch Out” — 2 Chainz, “Work” — Iggy Azalea, “Notice Me” — Migos feat. Post Malone, “Weekend” — Mac Miller feat. Miguel, “The Meaning” – Fki 1st & Post Malone, and the 5x Platinum Single “White Iverson” – Post Malone, to name just a few. We were excited and thankful to spend some time with 1$T to find out how his new project came together.
1$T is originally from Atlanta and has now transplanted to Los Angeles where he spends a good amount of time in his multi-room studio facility. In that studio is where he feels most comfortable and “communicates” through his genre-less and melodic music creations. In those creations and at his core, lives the influences of artists such as George Clinton, and iconic Atlanta producer-artists Zaytoven, T.I., Shawty Redd and Young Jeezy to name a few. Known for his left-of-Trap style of music and production, 1$T got his feet wet in production initially through a friend who one summer introduced him to beat-making on computers. As music-fate would have it, from there his determination, innate skill set and easy-going demeaner all worked together to put him in a room with Post Malone where the 5 x Platinum song “White Iverson” was created.
Maybe one of the reasons why 1$T has been so successful with his collaborations is because there’s not a single rule or protocol in place when he approaches a new song or track. 1$T told us, usually the only common thread throughout his creative process is centering everything around the song title — ”the name.” “The title of the song is like a movie—it’s like a living person—if you give it a name that’s the beginning right there.” 1$T went on to tell us, “I have a list of names and titles in my phone, this is everything to me. When you base your creative process around a title it helps you see everything through.” From there 1$T lets everything go with the flow and sometimes tracks will initially support the name/title through a keyboard melody, drums or anything else that flows into his open mind in the studio.
Tokyo Project Background
1$T is one of the few and new modern music creators who has found success toggling back and forth from wearing the “producer” hat to the “artist” hat. 2016 he found himself on a sold out tour with Fetty Wap and Post Malone supporting the Welcome to the Zoo Tour. On that tour the bus was fitted with a working studio where he was able to continue working on his own music throughout the tour. This past year, 1$T got back into that artist mindset where he and his Good Gas Crew headed over to Japan on an inspirational trip where they worked on the music for the release.
The full album which was completely produced and written by 1$T, features 8 songs and 8 videos outlining the spiritual and cultural journey across the world to Tokyo. This jaunt was also documented on best understood by this video creatively rendered as a visual mixtape. While in Japan 1$T also began working on his forthcoming Good Gas Tokyo installment recording alongside Young Coco, KOHH, and many more producers and artists.
The Making of Tokyo Project
KRK: From a writing standpoint, do you usually start with building a beat, or are you “composing” with specific lyric and melody ideas?
1$T: I start with title of the song and then melody, then lyrics, and then add the drums last. For example on the Tokyo Project – I was in the studio one day and I wanted to make something smooth, I was on a really smooth vibe, real cool vibe, could have been the gas or something, but I needed a word something to describe it – VELVET described it. Then from there the melody came, then I wrote all the words, then I added the drums.
KRK: What was your vocal chain for recording vocals on The Tokyo Project?
1$T: Whenever I record, I always use the U87 mic into the SSL super analog channel – that’s the compressor and preamp all in one, and we record everything in Pro Tools.
KRK: Where do you get your “sounds” from?
1$T: When I can, I like to create my own samples – whether it’s an old song I made or old loop I made—I like to sample my own stuff, even if it’s a song I just made yesterday. I like to go through my catalog and make stuff sound different, update it.
On the song Pass it to Myself, the female vocal sample was actually from a session from 3 years ago with an artist. I like to keep my iTunes on shuffle and whatever hits my ear I sample it, so that song popped up. I pitched up the whole song with her old vocals and made it into a completely new song and now it sounds like a vintage sample.
Also, I always stay consistent with the 808 – I might stretch it or add distortion but I always use the same 808.
KRK: In a bit of detail, what are you currently working on during the Coronavirus health crisis?
1$T: I‘m quarantining in the desert so I’m creating a whole new project out here. But I’m also fine-tuning my next project that’s coming out soon called MCM aka Magic City Markous. We definitely always have more Good Gas releases coming up. We are about to drop a Good Gas song with S3nsi Molly and also working on Good Gas Vol. 4.
KRK: What are you currently using for KRK gear?
1$T: The vibe of the ROKITs for creating music is essential to me. I actually have 3 sets of the KRKs and I use them all in different ways. I can’t live without the KRK ROKIT 10-3 for monitoring. The KRK V Series is what I mix on along with the krk 12” sub. That combo is magic and the KRK 12sHO sub is the best sub ever.