Kris Yute is an introspective recording artist, carving his own lane in the music industry. With a huge interest in quantum physics and psychedelics, the Brooklyn native always felt unfulfilled as a kid—discovering music to be his safe haven when he was sad. At the young age of 12, he began taking music seriously as a form of self-therapy.
The Jamaican singer/rapper states, “I’ve always looked at being a musician as a big part of my identity, more than so an occupation. Music’s always been something that connects with everyone.”
It was his breakout single “I Did It” that became a viral sensation on TikTok, with the motivational “yeah I did it!” uplifting the masses amidst this COVID-19 pandemic as we all face the blues of being stuck in quarantine. The record recounts his own journey from the bottom to where he is now, signed with Columbia Records. The song also received a standout remix from Channel Tres.
Flaunt caught up with Kris to discuss his Jamaican background, life as a server, Kanye’s influence, the success of “I Did It,” #BlackLivesMatter, and more. Enjoy the new track “Bando” below and dig in!
Where are you located?
I am in Brooklyn right now. It’s a lot better Coronavirus-wise. I live in a quieter area, so I wasn’t as worried. I’m out of the way, a 15 minute walk from the closest train station so it’s not too bad.
Born in Jamaica, how was coming to the States at 5 years old?
I’m always down with change, very good with the flow. Looking back in retrospect, I was too young to understand what a culture shock was. I was always excited for change and different things. At the time growing up, I thought it was okay. The older I got, I’d realize “oh a lot of fucked up shit happened.” As a kid of course, the terms and people involved when we immigrated over, a lot of relationships I thought were strong and sturdy I learned weren’t. My mom was being taken advantage of in terms of her living conditions. It was a lot, but she always shielded me from that so I wouldn’t have to deal with it at such a young age. I do appreciate American culture, it definitely aided me a lot. The mixed bag of Caribbean background and American culture, I really appreciate that.
I know you played Bob Marley a lot, who else did you listen to?
Sean Paul, a lot of Damien Marley. My mom would play that album, Welcome to Jamrock, all the time. That album’s always playing in the house. Alton Ellis, his family’s actually close with my family. Gregory Isaacs, a lot of American music too at the same time. I was a big Kanye West fan, big Jay-Z fan. I love Linkin Park.
Bring us back to when you worked at a restaurant.
That wasn’t that long ago. We moved to Pennsylvania where I went to high school and middle school. A very rural area, there’s a lot of racism. At a young age, I needed to get out. “I need to make a career for myself, I can’t be successful here. I’m going to move to New York, make a career as a musician.” I made that decision when I was 12. I didn’t get a chance to move there until I was 18. I had friends who worked at restaurants before and I knew it was good money. I was living in the Bronx with my aunt and working at Planet Fitness, the worst experience of my life. It was really bad. [laughs]. Eventually, I got a job at this restaurant in Williamsburg, Egg. It’s a great restaurant I worked at for almost 4 years, while making music until I could make something happen.
How did Kanye influence you to produce? Do you produce all your own stuff?
Yeah. I learned how to sing randomly in 7th grade. I went from not being able to sing at all to something fell in place. Very crazy but as soon as that happened, I committed to making music an outlet. I learned to sing, then I wanted to get a guitar. I’m a big Bob Marley fan so I thought I can just make songs. I like acoustic music but it has its limits, especially in 2000’s when I’m listening to Wayne and Drake. The radio isn’t filled with acoustic music so I needed to do something. Kanye’s music really attracted me because it’s very eclectic. He’s very good at being able to mix the mainstream with the underground, incorporate different textures and influences. He opened up a big lane for a lot of people. I realized that you could rap, sing, produce your shit at the same time. I got Ableton and started to grind with that.
What did “I DID IT” do for your career?
It really started it, funny enough. I never expected it to get as big as it did. It was supposed to be a preliminary song for another single that I actually liked more. I made that song 2 years ago. I’m always churning out demos. I always liked it, I was impressed it still held up a couple years later. It felt like a safe decision and a good amalgamation of all my influences and styles at the time. It got popular with memes and on TikTok, shit this is great. It proved to me I’m not the best at judging my own stuff.
What’s it like seeing it go up on TikTok?
Pretty surreal. You know the couple seconds before going to bed, you’ll have all these visions and illusions of grander, or different versions of conversations you could’ve had. When I first dropped it and it was a couple hundred views, I’d have visions in my head like “oh what if it became a meme? and it would grow.” I tell myself not even to think about it because it’s so unlikely that it’d set up a weird disappointment, but it actually happened which is pretty crazy. You can’t even pay for something like that.
What does it mean to have Channel Tres remix it?
It’s very cool. I never took a deep dive into his music, I’d hear singles here and there and I have friends who are into him. We actually had a few people work on different remixes, but this one was very cool. He has a very innate understanding of harmony and textures, because the song has a very minimalist vibe. If you look at the production, it’s very stripped back. I like my voice as the central element, he’s really able to maintain that aspect while also adding more house-driven moodiness. Added these dark textures without changing the actual conscience of the song. He had a very good understanding of balance, that’s why it worked.
What does #BlackLivesMatter mean to you?
It’s an amazing validation. Especially moving to America and dealing with racism, even being a young teenager I’d never ever imagine that there’d ever be a global movement about the sanctity of black lives. It’s very sad to think that. It reminds me of when Obama became president where it really shocked me, seeing what’s happening while also seeing my own personal experiences with racism in that little area I was in. This movement is an amazing opportunity for change. Seeing momentum being gained is incredible to me, I appreciate the movement one million percent.
3 things you need in the studio?
I definitely always need a guitar ideally. I do need some weed, that’s very helpful. Weed helps a lot, I need energy. I need energy. If I’m at my least creative, doing that will help. Even tapping my foot, I can’t understate how adding a foot tap while doing what you are doing helps so much more.
How’s it feel to join the Columbia family?
It’s pretty cool. Remember the time I wanted to be independent, but I have a lot of friends who are independent artists and it’s very difficult. When I first started wanting to be a musician almost 10 years ago, artists didn’t have as much leverage as they do now. Especially since you can go viral by yourself, people can amass hundreds of thousands of followers, millions of views by themselves. Nowadays, it’s safer to sign a deal and plus with streaming. This current climate, I can literally be at home during a pandemic and not have to worry. I’m pretty happy, Columbia has pretty cool artists as well.
What’s your relationship with your mom?
I love my mom, are you kidding me? My mom’s such a wonderful person. We can’t live together long term, that’s the only caveat, We do argue a lot when we’re too close, because we’re very similar. She got me a Macbook when I knew it was a big investment. I had this other laptop but trying to make music on it, it was so slow I couldn’t do anything. She’s always supported my music. She saw I could sing, got me a guitar. She always believed in me, I’ll always appreciate that.
Goals for yourself as an artist at this point of your career?
I really want to live to my fullest potential as an artist, really figure out the methodology to make the highest quality art that lets the inner me come out the most. I’m really study-heavy. I spend a lot of time tracking how I make music: why what works, why what doesn’t work doesn’t work. I’m really trying to hit a pinnacle, chase that peak wherever that is.
Anything else you want to let us know?
Got an album coming I’m working very hard on. I appreciate the love from everyone that’s helped change my life by listening to this song. Especially when we live in a time when there’s millions of other songs to listen to, so thank you to everyone involved.