CHRIS "KATO ON THE TRACK" JU is a Record Producer/Entrepreneur based out of Atlanta, GA. Kato was formerly signed to an independent label, Funk Volume, and has produced for artists like Jarren Benton, B.o.B, Wu-Tang, Hopsin, Tory Lanez, Joyner Lucas, Dizzy Wright, Trouble, K Camp, Futuristic, Token, and many more. He’s was also the co-founder of online music education and networking platform called Music Entrepreneur Club. He has since gone on to produce and host the Sound Advice Tour across the U.S.
WHEN DID YOU PRODUCE YOUR FIRST SONG AND WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE/PRODUCE IT?
I started out writing my own music in High School. Back then, I wasn’t making beats, I was just writing songs on an acoustic guitar and attempting to sing because my girlfriend at the time thought it was cute. It’s embarrassing to admit because they all probably sounded horrible. It wasn’t until college that I started to make beats and rap on them myself because I didn’t know any rappers at the time. I think I still have some of those recordings but they’ll stay buried on my hard drive forever. It’s always just been something I do because I love music.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE GENRE TO PRODUCE, AND WHY?
I’ve gotten pretty good at producing hip-hop and R&B music - that’s where I started. Because of that, I think it’ll always be my first love but I would love to start collaborating with artists from other genres and evolving my sound.
DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO BE A PRODUCER, AND WHAT'S THE MOST REWARDING PART OF THAT COMMUNITY?
I didn’t get into music thinking I’d actually be able to do it full-time as a career. It was always kind of a pipe dream that was never really encouraged by Asian parents growing up, and that’s probably why I didn’t think it was realistic. That’s why it took me moving out and going off to college to actually get serious about pursuing it. But now that I’ve made it my career, I’m glad I took the leap because I get to work with other creative people and make sh*t. Also, having flexibility with my time and setting my own schedule is also pretty amazing. There’s no better feeling.
WHAT MUSICIANS DID YOU ADMIRE GROWING UP OR EARLY ON IN YOUR CAREER?
I appreciated so many different kinds of music growing up. Everything from The Beatles to Dr. Dre and Eminem. The Roots played a big role in my sound when I first started Producing too. There were so many influences in my career and continue to be.
WHAT WAS THE MOMENT YOU ATTRIBUTE TO YOUR FIRST SUCCESS?
Looking back, getting signed to Funk Volume was huge for me. I’m not sure I realized it at the time, but they were probably one of the top 3 biggest independent labels in the country for hip-hop at one point. Getting to be a part of that movement and meeting so many fans changed my entire perspective on what I do.
HOW DO YOU THINK SONGWRITERS/PRODUCERS HAVE CHANGED IN THE LAST DECADE?
I think Producers have come out of the shadows of the industry. We used to be behind the scenes and rarely talked about when mentioning Artists or songs. Now, a lot of Producers have become Artists themselves and we’ve been afforded so many more opportunities because of that.
YOU JUST CAME OFF THE FIRST LEG OF YOUR TOUR, HOW DO YOU BALANCE YOUR TOUR LIFE?
Touring and having a normal life is impossible. It’s one of the reasons I stopped touring with my Artist, Jarren, for the past 5 years. I needed to focus on getting my personal life and business together. I think I’m able to handle a lot of the touring bullsh*t better now because I’m more experienced and mature now. But it’s definitely still a struggle sometimes.
HOW DO YOU DETERMINE WHEN AND WHERE YOU'LL TOUR?
We have booking agents that route our tours, but I always like to ask fans on social media where they live. It gives ME a better idea of where my audience is at and I do plan on traveling the country for my mentorship seminars, and more speaking engagements in the near future too. Engaging with my audience via social media, email and even Spotify is a big part of that.
HOW DO YOU FIND ARTISTS TO WORK WITH/SONGS TO PRODUCE?
I find talent wherever I can. It’s easy these days and there’s no shortage of applicants because of social media! Sometimes, the artists find me first. It’s the advantage of being more visible. Some of my biggest discoveries have approached me first because I actively engage with that community on social media.
WE HEARD YOU EXECUTIVE PRODUCED AN ALBUM WITH JARREN BENTON ON ROC NATION, THAT'S EXCITING! WHAT OTHER NEW PROJECTS DO YOU HAVE PLANNED FOR 2018?
I stopped discussing projects before they happen. I like to just drop new music and when you hear about it is when everyone else hears about it. Release dates and building anticipation is overrated! The NOW is what’s exciting.
WHERE DO YOU SEE THE MUSIC INDUSTRY TEN YEARS FROM NOW?
I also stopped trying to anticipate where the music industry is headed because I realized that I have no f*cking clue! The best I can do is just learn how to adapt. I’ve spent the last few years trying to get really good at that.
ANY FINAL WORDS YOU'D LOVE NEW AND ASPIRING PRODUCERS, SONGWRITERS, OR MUSICIANS TO THINK ABOUT AS THEY'RE BEGINNING THEIR CAREER?
Make as much music as you possibly can within the first 5 years of your career. Learn the business and understand that you’re an Entrepreneur that just so happens to make music. As long as you remember that, you’ll figure out a way to become successful.
LASTLY, WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SONG RIGHT NOW?
My favorite song right now is “Trip To The Clouds” by Evans Desir. AMAZING song...I also produced it :)
Follow Kato On The Track on: