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In conversation with Cakes Da Killa

“It’s not just about music; it’s about the nightlife and communities of my culture.”

Today Cakes Da Killa unveils his third studio album Black Sheep – and oh has the weekend come early. But this is no mere album, Black Sheep is a manifesto of unapologetic authenticity. Cakes takes on a tour of HIS New York, holding our hand as we run from club to club, heartache to drama. Just as we caught up with him for his sophomore album Svengali, we checked in with Cakes to see what’s up, talking all things from the cocktail test to his upcoming move.

Hey Cakes!
Hi, good morning!

Let’s catch up, how have you been since we last spoke?
I’ve been busy. I’ve just been constantly working; a lot of working and learning at the same time.

Nice, any new latest obsessions?
I think it would be this whole Wendy Williams documentary. It’s not only telling about health and ageing but also just how we consume celebrities.

Jumping right into it, last time we talked it was at the dawn of your sophomore album, and now we’re talking again on the release of your third album. Reflecting on that time between two albums, how do you say you’ve grown?
Well, I would say I’ve definitely grown, but I really can’t put my finger on it… I know I’ve grown a lot personally and I think music-wise I just don’t give a fuck anymore. I don’t really think I ever gave a fuck, but I just keep giving less of a haha. The older you get, the less you care.

Sounds refreshing, to be honest.
It could be a lil dangerous, but it’s pretty good.

Well, it has allowed you to make a beautiful new album: Black Sheep. Do you have any meditations on it?
Yes and no. In this type of career, you’re always onto the next one. Even now, I’m already working on a new record. So, my meditation is seeing how other people react to it. It’s like I birthed a baby and now she’s in college; let’s see if she can make friends or not.

Do you have any favourite memories while creating this new album?
Definitely writing the demos for the song that I have with Dawn, Wuhryn, and Stout. Just sending demos to artists I respect and them being down for it. Especially with someone like Dawn Richard, working with an artist of that caliber was kinda like… wow I hope she likes it. Then once they say yes you just realize we’re all people – we’re all artists.

Nooooo, you’re not giving a fuck anymore, remember?
Yeah, you’re right. Also, what’s the worst that can happen? Someone says no? Come on, it’s not the worst thing that someone has ever said. But that’s the main thing, I don’t take myself too seriously.

Yeah, rejection is just a natural part of literally everything we do.
For sure, although it is delicious to get what you want.

Were there any notable challenges?
Mhh… not the recording, but my process is usually very seamless because I’m working with Young Art Records, who is the same record label that put out my last release, so the honeymoon period of our relationship is still going strong. I think what caused the most drama is the music video for “Mind Reader” because we did it last minute and filmed it in LA, but even that worked out– I’m the kind of person like “Just gimme a cocktail and it will all work out.”

Honestly, I’d give anyone a cocktail to test their character, and if it doesn’t work out after the cocktail…
Then you’re the problem.

Exactly. Focusing on Black Sheep itself, what was the inspiration behind it? Is there any overarching energy you want the listener to enjoy or take in?
I wanted to do something that was a clear evolution of Svengali. It’s still in that moody clubby wave that I’ve been known for lately. I would say it’s my most personal project in the sense that I’m addressing things that impacted me in my career and the feeling of coming up in a scene but still feeling an outsider amongst outsiders– hence Black Sheep.

I wanted to ask you about this clubby side of your music actually. Your music is very danceable, but at the same time, it’s totally rap. It transcends all those boundaries. Could you speak more about that danceability? Why is it something you are drawn to?
I don’t know if it’s just the homosexual slur or the fact that I talk so quickly, but there’s a rhythm to my rap and how my energy flows which is why I tend to gravitate towards quicker beats. When I started making music a lot of people wanted to put me in that urban hip-hop market and I could make that kind of music but for me music is more of a lineage. It’s not just about music; it’s about the nightlife and communities of my culture.

It goes to show that the idea of genres itself it’s more of a boundary more than anything. By blending them with who you are, what you love, and your community you create something that may sound so new but it’s in reality just an expression of who you are.
Yea, I definitely operate like that. It’s not anything that I’m trying to do purposefully, I’m not trying to be an artist that does not have a set genre cause it makes it a bitch to market. If I stuck to one thing it would be better for me. But it’s also the reality of saying where’s the fun in that?

Well, If anyone gives you trouble just hand them a cocktail and see what happens.
Exactly, everyone should just stop taking themselves so seriously but you know.

I want to go a bit deeper into you and Sam Katz’s creative energy. This is the second album you guys are working very closely on. I’m wondering, how would you describe the nature of your ongoing collaboration and artistic relationship?
I think what makes me and Sam great is the fact that we don’t care to colour within the lines. 

He recorded some of my earliest music back when he used to work at a gospel studio of all places haha. Upon meeting him I was like “Okay yeah this is somebody I’m gonna keep in my back pocket.” I’m just happy we were able to grow as creatives but still be weirdos together.

Do you have a fav track from the album?
It changes; even me and Sam talk about this. In the process, we might have a song that we are obsessed with, but it changes super often. But right now, what’s my fav… I really do like the song with Dawn because I think it wasn’t really expected and I really like the way it turned out. So “Do Dat Baby” with Dawn is the one cause I’m just like you bitches are gagging.

Hahahhaa. Black Sheep is described as a “spiritual trip from the clubs of Manhattan to the blocks of Brooklyn.” Let’s talk about it, how has the city played a role in this album?
Well, New York always played a big part in any album I do, even though touring and travelling keep your juices flowing, for me New York will always be the backdrop for everything I’m dealing with. I like to break the album down like that cause the beginning is very sugar-coated and that is just a testament to me and my party hopping escapades. I was that person who had no problem going to clubs in the Bronx or a ladyfag party midtown to the club in Brooklyn. So, New York is special to me because it has that kind of experience. And I’m not the type of person to shit on other cities, but it’s like come on, it’s no competition.

Every New Yorker has their own New York; it can be to you what you need it to be.
New York gave me not only the space to exist and be able to do what I want to do, but also it gave me examples. Even if I didn’t have the courage to do what I wanted to do, it was great to be around people who weren’t scared. That’s what makes it so special; you can always see somebody who is taking it there.

I hear that. I don’t think there’s really any other city out there quite like that, maybe London, but…
No, I mean come on, we have people like Fran Lebowitz, like so many personalities, so it’s a lot but also…I’m moving so…

You’re moving?!?!?!
Yea, at this point I’m so overstimulated that I need to just be in a corner and chill out so I’m going to Canada.

To Canada?! Where in Canada?
Montreal haha. Listen, New York is also one of those places where you’d rather do the breaking up, than New York breaking up with you.

Ok ok, two more questions. First, what’s your last used emoji?
Omg let me look, it’s nothing sus. I know people have really sus emojis… oh it’s the crying emoji with the smile.

Oh yeah that’s a good one, very expressive.
Yea and it could also mean so many things

And lastly, what’s a question nobody has ever asked you but you wish they would?
I don’t know… I just feel like in this day and age with Twitter people ask too many questions so I don’t want people to ask me questions, I want them to tell me things. So tell me something new

Yea right, now you’re on the spot

National Geographic Kids used to have these “weird but true” facts and one was that strawberries have more vitamin C than oranges
I didn’t know that… Oranges are so deceptive … but it’s all just American marketing, oranges have good PR.

You heard it here first folks, oranges have good PR.

Words by Ella Paritsky
Images courtesy of the artist