Kami Awori is pianist-turned-producer Kami and singer-songwriter Awori. The two play a minimalistic, polyrhythmic concoction of electro-soul, infused with traditional percussion influences from Mali, Uganda, Haiti, and Cuba. For the second season of Native Sketches, the duo contributed a track that layers Awori’s 80s-tinged vocal line over MASCHINE drums, MASSIVE bass, and pads from REAKTOR PRISM.
Watch the video below to find out how Kami and Awori put their sketch together, then read on to find out about the creative processes behind their work.
What did you want to achieve with your sketch?
Awori: For me, sketching a track is very close to sketching a picture – it’s about starting something new from scratch, and bringing it to life. In my case, that means starting with an emotion and seeing where that emotion takes you sonically. It’s like being an explorer and searching for sounds that best embody your chosen emotion.
With this track, we wanted to take advantage of all the new software that was available to us, and use it to create a sound that we’d never achieved before – and also to have fun while doing so. The result of that was a very playful sound, and we both really like that about the sketch.
How did you go about creating your sketch?
Kami: We started with drums and additional percussion, then built it up into a loop with an interesting Rhodes sound. Awori wrote lyrics and found a melody to fit the loop, then her ideas inspired me to add more instrumentation and put together an arrangement. I added bass and other pitched elements from Maschine, then imported the separate tracks into Logic to finish the sketch.
How do you keep ideas flowing in the studio?
Kami: For me, it’s important not to break the flow once ideas have started coming to me. That’s why I generally try to reserve enough time that I won’t be interrupted in the middle of my creative process.
What’s the best production advice you’ve ever been given?
Kami: I was listening to a podcast interview with [Australian producer] Ta-ku. He said that it’s the first ideas he has – the ones that come to him spontaneously – that he values the most. He stressed the importance of having confidence in your own creativity. When you listen to your beat and ask yourself, “Does it sound good?” trust your feelings. If the answer is yes, then keep moving in that direction. As someone who often comes up against the wall of perfectionism, that really resonated with me.
Can you give any advice to young or new producers?
Kami: There are two things that I really would have loved to hear when I was starting out. Firstly, be faithful to your own musical universe. By that, I mean that you really need to search deep inside yourself and find out what it is that you want to communicate musically. In this internet era, a lot of people are producing music and putting it out there for people to listen to. That’s a great thing on one hand, because it opens us up to an infinite world of inspiration. On the other, it can be a destabilizing influence – it’s easy to get lost in a sea of different sounds, platforms, and trends.
My second tip relate to that: Frequent places that allow you to experience music collectively. Go to concerts, listen to DJs, listen at home with your friends, relatives, housemates, or whoever. Music is more inspiring, and more healthy, when it’s shared.