Hailing from Manchester, the born and raised vocalist [ K S R ] has never been short of shocking listeners with his ethereal voice since 2017. His unique voice is a blend of R&B and soul, taking influence from the likes of D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, Miguel, and more. Fast forward to this year, he was a long catalogue of amazing hits such as ‘Queen’, ‘Stylin” and ‘My Lady’, and has been adding to this ever-growing list with the release of his new EP ‘Take Control’. We caught up with him to hear his ideas behind the new EP and the music scene in his hometown.
For those who aren’t familiar with your music, describe yourself.
So my name is [ K S R ], with box brackets and spaces, and I’m 22 years old from Manchester. I’m a musician, singer songwriter and also perform live as well.
Why is your name stylised the way it is?
The story behind it is I came across a guy on Soundcloud and he had the box brackets, I think it was [csd], and I really liked the whole aesthetic of it. At the time my name was actually K Roosevelt, so I thought let me see what I can do with the whole thing. So I thought why don’t I use my initials from my name but instead of RKS, I did KSR so I went with my middle name first and here we are today.
In terms of your musical journey, what inspired you to start?
Originally, I didn’t want to be a musician or a singer at all, I actually wanted to be a footballer. Then I had bad knees and whatnot, so I kinda fell into just making music. I had always sung from a young age, singing at family events, and always being centre stage. So I would say I was kinda thrown into the whole music thing, and my friend took me studio for the very first time and I had never been in a studio environment before and he was like I should drop down some vocals. So ever since then I just ran with it so now I’m here to stay.
Between Unfiltered and Take Control, what changed in terms of your process?
Freedom I guess, just having the mindset of I’m just gonna do what I like now. At first, I was still doing what I like and what I enjoyed, like R&B and Soul but I knew a part of me always wanted to touch on the hip-hop side of me. I’ve touched on it a few times on a few features, but I’ve never kinda presented my own body of work through that style so I was like you know what? Lemme have fun here. I started doing some freestyles on Instagram like taking hip hop beats and throwing them in and seeing what I came up with. I kinda always knew that I could do it, it was just about finding the right people to bring that out of me again. Luckily I had Litek, who was a great person to have because he brought out a side of me that I hadn’t experimented with before, so I appreciate him to be fair cos he didn’t need to work with me, so it was good.
What is your favourite song from the new EP and why?
Passion and Interlude because with Passion, I was kinda talking from a place where I had had enough of someone and I couldn’t fake it anymore. But not to say this individual was a bad person or anything, it was a bit too much and I needed to get out. I’m not gonna lie, I’m not the best at telling people how I’m feeling and I felt like that was the only way I could let the person know. We’ve parted ways now and it’s all blessed, but I just had to write about it. And I know a lot of people have been through that as well like she treats you well and you’re happy with her but you know deep down it’s not good at all. Even at the time of writing it, I didn’t know that I was actually writing about that situation, it was more like I’m just writing because I want to let it out and I remember sitting down and listening to the whole thing and my friend said to me “wait, are you talking about a certain someone here”, and then I realised that I was and I didn’t even realise, it was a real good surprise for me.
But Interlude for me was the most organic track cos me and Litek had about 15 mins left of the session and he had the cords first and a drum pattern so I was like let’s just create something and mess around. So then we came up with Interlude and we never changed it, like what you hear today is what we came up with in the session and we never went back to it or re-record it. We were just having so much fun and that session for me as well as all the other sessions we had together were really fun and I haven’t had that much fun in a studio in a long time.
How has the pandemic affected the release of Take Control?
So I’ve had the EP for a year, the oldest song on the EP is My Lady and the rest has been just over a year. Litek was saying we should release since we’ve finished it the next following week, and I was like “Nah”, especially with Don Madness, which I definitely didn’t wanna release cos we were talking about life after summer, and at the time summer had gone and we were already in Sept by then so I wanted to hold it for a bit longer so we could create a real big buzz around everything. We never spoke about it again after that, until the following April, when I revisited the project and realised we might have a good thing here. To be fair, I did tease the project when I put Stylin’ out on my Instagram then I put Passion out. But I didn’t get the same response with Passion as I get today so I didn’t think Passion was gonna be the banger of the EP, I thought it would be Stylin’. But now I’m getting the opposite response!
What kind of music have you been experimenting with during lockdown?
A lot of people are used to just hearing me over 90 bpm beats, but now I am tryna be experimental with my voice, not tryna limit myself to any genre. Even if it comes to drum and bass, I’m just tryna get out there as much as possible. You might hear a little something if you’re into the drum and bass scene!
What kind of other genres would you like to experiment with?
House music, I would love to really dive into that because I’ve always listened to House music from a young. You know when you got to one of the House raves and stuff, and sometimes I’d be in the corner singing, no one can hear me of course but I think it’s something my voice would suit really well. I’ve always wanted to try Alternative, it’s one of those things that I’ve always wanted to try just to try it. There’s an Australian musician called Matt Corby and his voice is just amazing. From when I was in college and I discovered him, I’ve always wanted to do something with him, would definitely be a dream of mine but we’ll see what happens.
What would be your dream collab?
Travis Scott 100%. I don’t even want to be a fanboy right but if that was to happen, no one would be able to chat to me. All I would want to hear is my collab with him for the rest of my life, it would be such a dream come true. I’d probably retire at whatever age I accomplish that because I don’t want to do anything else after that!
In terms of the music scene in Manchester, how have you been playing a part within it and how was it been evolving?
It’s been a bit quieter due to the pandemic but before the pandemic, it was mad cos every week someone had a show, and you would also be able to discover new music all the time so it was so good. The thing is there’s not a lot of male vocalists, that’s the only downfall to our music scene because off the top of my head, I can only name myself, Tyler Daley, Kemani Anderson and that’s not many. I say it’s a downfall because I know there’s a lot of fantastic male vocalists especially if you do R&B and soul, it’s not really out there. But outside of the vocalists, the rappers and other musicians are coming out every day, with Tyler being the top-notch, we still need more to step forward and own it which is what I’m tryna do right now.
Listen to “Take Control” by [ K S R ] here:
Words by: Nat Siaw-Agyeman