Cali Vibes, Minnesota Nights: an interview with KenSoul and Pete Stylez

KenSoul and Pete Stylez
Singer/artist KenSoul and music producer Pete Stylez first connected in the Twin Cities before deciding to work on a project together in Los Angeles. (courtesy the artists)
An interview with KenSoul and Pete Stylez
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A few weeks back, I sat down with singer/artist, KenSoul, and his producer, Pete Stylez, before their listening party event, hosted at 508 Bar + Restaurant in Downtown Minneapolis. KenSoul is a singer and rapper from New Roads, Louisana, currently residing in the Twin Cities. Stylez is a producer originally from West St. Paul who relocated to Los Angeles at the end of last year. Stylez has worked with artists ranging from Chief Keef, Meech to Gudda Gudda, Post Malone, and various local talents in between.

KenSoul and Pete Stylez linked up in the Twin Cities before deciding to work on a project together in Los Angeles. In our sit-down interview, I ask them about their musical origins, their collaboration and relationship as artist and producer, the state of Hip-Hop in the Minnesota and their upcoming project, Cali Vibes, Minnesota Nights. Listen to the audio above (you can also download it) to hear the full story.

Interview Highlights

Pete Stylez - on how he met KenSoul:
"I actually heard about Ken through one of my friends I grew up with. He was like, 'Yeah, I got this artist named KenSoul.' He was dope — I could hear from the moment I heard his stuff he had a vision of what he wanted to do."

KenSoul - on how he met Pete Stylez:
"When I touched down in Minnesota, I just had this drive that I wanted to take the city over. I was everywhere performing and collaborating in different studios. In passing, I heard the name Pete Stylez … then I met somebody who actually worked with him, and we were introduced."

Pete Stylez - on what it means to work with an artist with a vision:
"It sets a certain tone. You get to push certain limits. You get to know the artist. You set a mood in the sense of 'This is what I want to do; what do I pick from?' … It's so commonsense, but there's so many artists that think they have a vision but don't know how to manifest it. … When I met Ken and saw the drive, I was like, 'Oh yeah' because he's dedicated to his craft."

KenSoul - on what it means to work with a good producer:
"I feed off of my own expectations of myself. I'm super duper critical of myself as an artist because I really, really want to be really great at this sh*t. … Once I run into people who can help push that level, then that just makes me want to go and work."

Pete Stylez - on why he relocated to Los Angeles:
"I wanted to go out East, really; that's where I wanted to go to first. New York is New York, and I'm a city guy, so New York is, I guess, pretty much the ultimate city, you could say! But my manager and my cousin were already out in [Los Angeles] working and they told me about it and kept telling me to go. So I went and checked it out … I'd been to L.A. quite a few times growing up, but I went and I liked it and loved it. They showed me the scene and I fell in love with it right away in terms of the movement and how fast-paced and how anything can happen at any moment … I've loved it ever since in terms of the grind. There's so much competition, and it feels like everybody's doing music or some type of art."

KenSoul - on why he went out to Los Angeles:
"Just to work, man. I feel you've really got to take yourself seriously, so if I need to go to L.A. to get a dope project done, then I'm going to L.A. to get a dope project done. … If I have the opportunity to go out to L.A., I'm going to go."

Pete Stylez - on his long-term plans as a producer:
"I think the goal that I have for myself is I don't want to do just hip hop and R&B; I really want to do as much as I can."

Pete Stylez - on working with KenSoul in the studio:
"It was pretty straightforward. … With Ken, I played the stuff for him and he liked it. He's so creative off the top, he'll start humming something … he's easygoing. He never really questioned anything. If I told him, 'Hey, do this,' he never really argued. There were moments when we ran out of patience, but that's going to happen with anybody. It was easy for the most part because the vision, it helps a lot. And he's easygoing, so it's going to work."

"We worked hard on this. We fed off each other. We bounced back and forth. He's easy to work with, he really is, and he knows his worth. When he feels like he can't do something, he'll try to figure it out. It came to the point where he wasn't afraid to elevate to the next level."

KenSoul - on working with Pete Stylez in the studio:
"It took a little while for me to learn. Everything was about a vibe. The thing about Pete as a producer and as a musician, he knows his [stuff]. You can tell when somebody knows their stuff and you can tell when somebody's learning and has potential. You can tell when somebody's super-duper creative and doesn't have direction. Pete, he knows his stuff on his side and he knows his stuff on my side as far as he's able to see things I could do that could help. As an artist, artists are real sensitive to their craft and stuff like that, and that's something I try to keep out of the process of recording — the egos — because I think that affects the music. Because everybody has an ear. And we respect each other as musicians. "

"This whole project, this collaboration, felt like an elevating moment for me as an artist. … This is a body of work between two talented individuals who have different styles, unique styles, but can still work it out and work together. I feel like it definitely pushed me, working with Pete and having his input and his ideas, and his expectations of me. It's good to have somebody who has expectations just as high if not higher than you have for you, because then you get to meet those expectations."

KenSoul - on the sound of Cali Vibes, Minnesota Nights:
"You can expect some good vibes, you can expect some good R&B music, but then also some alternative-type feelings, too. A nice collaboration of feelgood music, man, good vibes."

Pete Stylez - on the sound of Cali Vibes, Minnesota Nights:
"The music is feelgood music, I always like to make record that, regardless if you're listening [closely] to it or playing it in the background, it sets a certain tone to whatever you're doing."

Jeffrey Bissoy-Mattis is a researcher at APM Reports. He's a Twin Cities native by way of Yaoundé, Cameroon. When he's not in the zone researching, you can find him binge-watching Master of None, perfecting Spanish, or working on his podcast, Maintainin', which debuts this summer. Follow him on Twitter @JefeThaNomad.


KenSoul - Soundcloud

Pete Stylez - official site

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2 Photos

  • KenSoul
    KenSoul is a singer and rapper from New Roads, Louisana, currently residing in the Twin Cities. (courtesy the artist)
  • Pete Stylez
    Pete Stylez is a producer originally from West Saint Paul, Minn., who works in Los Angeles. (provided photo)

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