Songtrust Spotlight, Client Spotlight

Songtrust Spotlight: Kato

Chantelle St. Clair
Chantelle St. Clair on Sep 19, 2018

Atlanta-based producer Chris" Kato On The Track" Ju CHRIS "KATO ON THE TRACK" JU is a Record Producer/Entrepreneur based out of Atlanta, GA. Kato was formerly signed to 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 also the co-founder of an online music education and networking platform called Music Entrepreneur Club.

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 businesses 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 - pretty 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 10 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 on 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 :)

Related Articles

Songtrust Spotlight: Crunchy Frog

CRUNCHY FROG RECORDINGS is an independent record label based in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was founded in 1994 by the four members of the band THAU.  Though no longer underground, the philosophy remains the same: Releasing quality alternative music giving bands full creative control.

Crunchy Frog shares offices - and staff - with the music publishing company Crunchy Tunes and the promotion wizards at Bobkat Agency. Daily operations and a kick ass staff of 7 heroic music business warriors is lead by Jesper "Yebo" Reginal (THAU, Tothe International, The Tremolo Beer Gut, Junior Senior, Heavy Trash etc.).

In case you were wondering, yes, the name of the label is borrowed from a Monty Python sketch involving a pair of policemen who question the head of a confectioners about his new product, "The Whizzo Quality Assortment", which includes "Crunchy Frog".

Since 2016, we have also been partners in three bars in the greater Copenhagen area, Whammy Bar, The Mudhoney and Crane Brothers. Both the look, taste and of course sound is tastefully designed for maximum crunchiness. If in town, don’t be a stranger!

Feb 13, 2019

Songtrust Spotlight: Mike Casey

MIKE CASEY is an award-winning, fully independent songwriter, saxophonist, and teaching artist with over 1.5 million streams worldwide, Mike is bringing the joy of “jazz” across genre lines to a diverse audience around the world. On a mission to be a passionate vessel for “jazz” in the 21st century, Mike is demanding audiences’ attention with his searing, multi-dimensional sound – whether bringing down the house with a re-imagination of songs as diverse as Jay-Z’s No Church In The Wild, Soundgarden’s Spoonman, or making the crowd swoon on an original ballad. 

Mike has performed with artists as diverse as DJ Logic, Nat Reeves, Benito Gonzalez, Brandee Younger, Zaccai Curtis, Tarus Mateen, Duane Eubanks, Justin Faulkner, and Marc Cary, through his project “The Harlem Sessions”. Through his apprenticeship with Cary (which began just two months after graduating from Hartt in 2015), he has performed at the NYC Winter Jazz Fest, Lincoln Center, NYC SummerStage, Ginny’s Supper Club, and Cape May’s Exit Zero Jazz Festival. 

Musically, Mike wears his heart on his sleeve & aims to tell a story above all. Not one to rely on sizzle over substance, he focuses on rhythm, melody, space, lyricism, dynamics, contrast, communication and phrasing - not simply "displaying" skill for ego's sake - while delivering each musical statement with power, honesty, & passion.

Jan 24, 2019

Industry Spotlight: AFEM

AFEM (Association for Electronic Music) is the trade body for the entire ecosystem of Electronic Music, from Labels to Live, Managers to Media, Technology to Talent. They connect their worldwide membership to develop business opportunities and drive change in the industry where needed. 

Jan 16, 2019