Milwaukee - September 5, 2017 - If you have been around the Milwaukee music scene in recent years, chances are you’ve seen Kellen Abston, better known by “Klassik.” Klassik is a musical prodigy and virtuoso performer who combines elements of jazz, r&b, blues, soul, and hip hop to create unique, catchy and engaging music. Did I mention that he also has a great voice and can sing and rap? Klassik can work an audience by himself, or be seen playing a wide array of instruments alongside his talented contemporaries. 2017 has been a banner year for Klassik, starting with him curating a sold-out tribute show to A Tribe Called Quest at Turner Hall Ballroom as part of the revived Alverno Presents series.
We had a chance to catch up with Klassik to chat with him about his many musical endeavors going on and his upcoming performance at Rock the Green.
Rock the Green: How would you best describe the "Klassik" sound?
Klassik: The "Klassik" sound is timeless and ever-evolving. Rooted in Hip-Hop and soul, with heavy undertones of jazz. Leaning now more towards electronic R&B. But timeless, in so few words haha.
Rock the Green: This past January you curated on of the best concerts that we’ve attended all year... the "Uncovered" reinterpretation of A Tribe Called Quest. This show was at Turner Hall, and sold out the large venue with fans enjoying every note of it. Being there it was truly something special. Are fans going to be treated to any collaborations like we saw at Turner Hall when you did the Tribe Tribute show at RTG?
Klassik: I appreciate that you all thoroughly enjoyed what was a huge undertaking. That was my first time curating something at the level and really taking on the curating/producing role at such a high level. To be honest, I worked on that for the better part of a year with a lot of really great, uber-talented individuals. I can't say for sure when something like that will happen again, but I know that when the opportunity presents itself, I'm up for the task!
Rock the Green: The Milwaukee music scene seems to really be flourishing these days with a variety of acts garnering great crowds and support both locally, regionally, and nationally. Can you please share your thoughts about the current state of the Milwaukee music scene?
Klassik: The Milwaukee music scene is more vibrant and diverse than I think it has ever been. This has also been in part due to the wonderful effects of cross-collaborating. However, in order for us to sustain that momentum, we must sustain the spirit of collaboration and togetherness, which is the hardest part of any growing arts scene, but especially here in Milwaukee, where we have often times submitted to a "crabs-in-a-barrel" attitude, stemming from egos and distrust and lack of humility. I think, though, that now more than ever we have a chance to check that, hold ourselves accountable, and work together to grow this into what it is set to be: great.
Rock the Green: Rock the Green is a family-friendly event, and there will likely be fans ages 9-90 in attendance. If there are young musicians in the crowd hoping someday to become artists like yourself, do you have any advice you could share with them?
Klassik: I will say what I say to the kids I have worked with and currently do with my music class at my friend’s art studio in Bronzeville: confidence, humility, and diligence and perseverance. Surviving and furthermore excelling in this industry requires a constant self-awareness and honesty with the work that you produce. Everything you make won't be great, and even the quality work that you get comfortable producing may not always be received in the manner in which you anticipate. It's really just a life axiom.
Rock the Green: As you know, you'll be performing on the world famous Rock the Green pedal power stage, with a team of bicyclists providing the power for you and your band. This is a unique feature to Rock the Green. Can you share your thoughts going into this experience?
Klassik: I had the honor of playing the pedal power stage with Foreign Goods last year, and I think the beauty of that stage and that performance is a testament to the goal of the festival, which is sustainability and the collective power of change and evolution. Without all of the bikes and people putting forth their physical energy, we would have no sound, and there would be no music. Everyone has to be on the same accord for that stage to work, just like our efforts in sustainability and leaving a safer, greener space for generations to come must be. If we are not banding together and combining our unique talents and thoughts to actually create change, than we are just talking and wasting precious time. We should all be very well aware now that our ignorance to the health of our planet has put us in dire straights, but once we get the majority to fully realize that and then furthermore engage, we stand a far greater chance at undoing some of the harm and more importantly, putting systems in place to sustain those efforts, and our planet's well-being.
You don’t want to miss Klassik and his exceptional sound on the Pedal Power Stage on Saturday, September 9th, at Rock the Green!