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Arts and Entertainment

LAist Interview: The Knux

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Krispy Kream and Rah Almillio collectively known as The Knux drop their debut album today.

I was first introduced to The Knux on a late Monday night back in June 2007. Instead of staying at home and resting up for the next work day, I decided to take Interscope up on their invitation to check out the latest addition to their roster perform at the Viper Room. That was a brilliant decision. As I said in my review of their show, "the hours of shut eye lost were worth the chance to have my eyes open to something new and fresh from a genre of music that has been putting me to sleep."

More than a year later the blood brothers from New Orleans, Krispy Kream and Rah Almillio are ready to open the eyes of a whole lot of people with their debut albumRemind Me in 3 Days which hits shelves today. Krispy and Al, who can been seen on Carson Daly tonight and at the House of Blues with Q-Tip and Pacific Division on November 15th, took time out from their busy schedule to catch up with LAist.

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The Knux - "Cappuccino"

How are you guys feeling about the release of the album? Excited, nervous?
Krispy: It feels good, I'm not nervous though. We been around for so long, we're past being nervous. It's more like "Finally!" It's definitely more like a big sigh of relief.

Following Hurricane Katrina you guys headed out to Houston but you were unhappy there and eventually moved out here to LA. What was it about Houston that made you so unhappy?
Al: We couldn't get too creative there. It wasn't necessarily Houston. It was what was going on with us. There were a lot of other things going on that just so happened to go down during the whole aftermath of Katrina. On the business side of our game, we were still on point. We had just signed publishing deal with Matthew Knowles just before Katrina. Lots of great things were happening for us but the creativity just wasn't there.

Krispy: We felt like we were on the run, we weren't in a place to be creative.


You found LA more conducive to making music than Houston, what is it about LA that made it easier for you?
Al: We had been to LA a bunch of times. We always had a good time out here but we never were here for more than like a day or two. It was great to be able to sit down and really enjoy LA, enjoy the music here, enjoy everything that we love about LA. It was like a breathe of fresh air being here. Waking up in LA as opposed to coming back and forth really helped the creative process. I think we could have done this album in New Orleans, if we were able to. We just needed to be somewhere where we could let our creative juices flow. Shit, we could have gone to Buttfuck, KY and did the album if it would have got our creativity going.

You guys were living in a house in the Hollywood Hills. How did you end up there?
Krispy: Once you get your album budget you can do whatever you want. So we wanted to get a house and do the album there, on some Red Hot Chili Pepper type shit, you know.

What's the biggest distraction here in LA?
Al: Come on you already know that. The girls, the partying.

Krispy: Actually, I think the girls and the partying helps get those creative juices flowing, you know. It helped the glam bands, it definitely helped us out.

The Knux - Daddy's Little Girl

I have seen you guys a few times now and one of the first things that caught my attention about you had nothing to do with what you did on stage. Prior to going on stage, you guys are in the crowd watching the opening acts and interacting with your audience. How much do you think your accessibility has allowed you build a fan base?
Al: We pride ourselves on not doing unnecessary asshole shit just because we can. The more and more successful we have become the more we thrive on being humble. We feel like the way you build strong fan base and just by being ourselves. Me being a fan of music, I think to myself how would I want my favorite artist to be with his fans, and do just that with our fans. We want our shows to feel like one big house party, like you're chilling with us at our house listening to our music with all of our friends. That makes for a better show, I think then when the artist has that the almighty God on stage complex.

You mentioned you wanted the shows to have the vibe of a house party, I read that you guys threw some pretty big house parties when you first moved here to help build your audience?
Al: In the process of recording the album, we threw old school hip-hop parties at our house. We'd gather some motherfuckers we found off the streets of Hollywood, mix in some of the hot socialite girls along with some record exec, industry type of crowd to come to our house and watch us perform some of our shit, we'd do some Tribe songs, some old school shit. That definitely helped us get the word out, we definitely wanted to bring that same exact vibe to our shows.

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Krispy: It's too bad you weren't around for those house parties. You would have had yourself a good ass time.

Al: Another thing we did early on, when we first moved out here was play at the Largo with our friend Dave Palmer. He's like a classical pianist and his shows would bring out an older crowd and we'd go up there with him and the crowd would be into us even though we were doing some hip-hop shit.

Krispy: The diverse crowd you see at the shows wasn't really something we were aiming for, but the type of music we play touches on lot of different things because we are inspired by a lot of different styles of music.

The fact that you guys play your own instruments and produce your own music seems to startle so many people, why do you think that is? Do you think more hip-hop acts will get into instrumentation?
Al: Hopefully that will be something that more artists will do. Trust me, not everyone was meant to play instruments. When I say I hope more hip-hop acts will get into instrumentation, I mean I think more artists will start to take music in their own hands. I think you're already seeing that in music. But in hip-hop it startles the fuck out of people when they realize that we are playing instruments and producing. Back in the day you know the DJ did all the beats, rapper just did the rhymes. I think in order to fully elevate the genre, we need to go beyond that. Hip-hop is one of the biggest genres in terms of the business it has created and the amount of money being made, but as far as a respected genre goes, we're still not there. There is a lot of money flowing, but not a lot of respect.

When you mention hip-hop not being respected, would the Oasis/Jay-Z situation be the appropriate example?
Al: Exactly. I'm not justifying what he (Noel Gallagher) did, because that was an asshole move. But yes, that is an example of what I am saying regarding the artistry. What I think what hip-hop needs to do is try to explore a little. We get too caught up in the money and think whoever sells the most records must be the best.

Krispy: Hip-hop seems to be the only genre like that. I don't know why that is but if you look at any other genre you'll see what I mean. The Clash made a ton of money but nobody would say that they were more influential than the Dead Kennedys. Hip-hop has so much respect for Jay-Z, and rightfully so, but a lot of that respect comes from the fact that he's worth $500 million. It's like we've turned the music into a sport, whoever has the most wins. This is art though and you got to look at it like its art.

Because your music is genre bending and so different, did you ever expect that a major label like Interscope would be the ones to sign you?
Krispy: We had already been in and around the music industry, we talked to a lot of a labels, there was interest from lots of majors. So getting the deal wasn't the hard part. Finding someone who believes in the music was the hard part. Jimmy Iovine came from the production side, so we felt comfortable working with him. One of our first meetings with Jimmy, he pulled us aside and told us "I pride myself on finding original artists." Go ahead and take a look at the Interscope roster and you'll see a bunch of talented and original artists.

What is the best part about being a group with your brother, and what's the worst part?
Krispy: Professionally, I think it's a big help. When you are playing with people who aren't related to you, there's always that threat of this thing ending and that if you say the wrong thing that guy can walk out the door. We don't have that problem so we can be as brutally honest and unbending as possible. I can say "that shit sucks" and not have to worry about it. But for our personal lives, it fucking sucks. Imagine having to be with your brother all the time. We are two very different people, even though we are brothers, and we like to do different shit so having to be with each other all the time really gets to us. That's why we love having time off, like right now we are talking to you on two separate lines, (actually I think he lost his signal) he's in one place and I am in other place. Fortunately, our younger brother who is our tour manager keeps us from killing each other. He keeps us in line.