BK Bonez is so many things, a Hip-Hop producer, beat creator, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, filmmaker, and a published writer (of a RPG gamebook "Tombcrawler"). He also was a co-host for a comedic podcast. I mean, what can't this guy do, among all that is listed above, he has also written music for video games and created numerous self-made record labels. In this regard, he is always a busy man creating something out of thin air for anyone who wants to create music or listen to music. He's the producer of the Underground Hip-Hop group, Grave Wax Music along with Donny G, Emerg Da MC, and Marz One (all spread out over the North American continent; Canada, Georgia, and Arizona).
He started out as a teen in the world of metal music, being a founding member of Cuff. He played with them for over a decade. He was also a drummer for the hardcore punk group, Whisker Biscuit. He founded Housewife Records which later changed their name to Static Void Records. Who also published a RPG gamebook called "Tombcrawler" which was later re-issued by Exalted Funeral the same year it was published in 2019.
He also co-founded Black Glove Analog that focused on creating releasing obscure horror and exploitation films from all over the world. On top of being a part of Grave Wax Music, he also is a member of the death metal group, Chasmdweller and a dungeon synth/ dark ambient project, Execration Chamber. In late 2020, he started a new death metal project, Malgöth with Donny G and Steve Rasmussen (who he founded Black Glove Analog with).
You're the last member of Grave Wax Music that The People's Theorem hasn't interviewed yet, crazy how four guys met each other from music and got together and formed a group. You guys are all very different and it's an honor to construct an interview for all of you individually. We'll save the questions about the group for a group interview. As a multi-instrumentalist/ producer / beatmaker/ and engineer, what do you use out of these skills to create your music? What instruments have you used to create your beats and are they more sample driven or are they instrument driven or a hybrid?
BK: Hey man, thanks for the interview. Grave Wax was put together earlier this year. I found Emerg rapping on Instagram last year and reached out about doing a project, which turned into our first collab 'Hail King Fabio!' back in December 2021. I've known Donny for a very long time and we play in two metal bands together. We're always collaborating and talking about music. I met Marz close to 10 years ago through one of my earlier bands, he was actually a fan and supporter. We linked up again years later through Hip-Hop and started working together. Grave Wax is very diverse in what we each bring to the table, and I think we're doing some really great work together as a group and as individuals. These are my favorite people to work with. I've been playing instruments since I was about 12 years old, and I'm 32 now.. so it has been a solid two decades of learning as much as I can and recording and releasing as much music as I can. When I make beats, I'm thinking about 'composing' it as a song instead of just doing whatever and hoping for the best. I use a full drum kit, bass guitars, electric guitars, keyboards, synthesizers and more in my beat making. I also use a lot of digital instruments, so yeah, it's definitely a hybrid approach. I would say being able to play an instrument is basically required if you truly want to understand the ins-and-outs of music production.
When it comes to all the textures that surround your beats, like the samples that form the beginning and ending of songs, how do those come about? Do you throw them all together or do you and the MC sort of come up with the themes of the songs and take ideas and formulate the whole song or do those get added later after the song is written or when the whole project is written?
BK: I always work alone when it comes to crafting my beats, and I don't really take any input from the MCs unless they want something very specific. I basically direct, arrange and decide how my collab projects will sound from start to finish, and then the artists will come up with their own concepts for each song lyrically. We do always collab on the main concept of the projects, though. I would say all of my albums are heavy concept albums in some way. When it comes to getting the sounds sampling vinyl records is key, but I'm also open to getting my sounds from elsewhere. Some beat makers will only sample vinyl, but I see that as severely limiting and I'm not trying to limit myself. It's great, but you're missing out on a whole world of music and sounds.
It's crazy how different you are as a producer than most, you have an abstract-like approach to your beats and layer it with so many different sounds and how immaculate they sound. It all makes sense, how did you develop your style, what would you say is a big contributing element that turned you into the Hip-Hop musician you are today? You are a metal musician, filmmaker, Hip-Hop producer, gamebook writer (to which you have been published), video game music creator, film producer, and able to pick up any instrument and create such a wide variety of music styles, what made you want to be this modern "Renaissance man"? Or did it just kind of happen? What is your main focus in all your ventures?
BK: Thanks man, I appreciate the kind words. I don't really think too deeply into it. It's just something I've always done since I was young. It's like I have this driving force that compels me to create as much as I can, and that driving force hasn't let up in over 20 years. Sort of a blessing and a curse. I love doing this, but I also get burnt out sometimes and need to step back and take a sort of 'vacation' every once in a while. It's my one true calling in life though, for sure. My main focus with all of this output is to just explore what I can do musically and as a creator in general. It's also about leaving behind some kind of legacy to some extent. My hundreds of projects will be around long after I'm gone, and I think that's fantastic.
Can we expect a full-on group project for Grave Wax Music? When can we expect that and do you guys' plan on adding features? Who will be a part of the overall creative process of the project; how will that go?
BK: Yes! Definitely a full project on the way. Can't say too much, but it's coming!
What are your goals as a musician, or do you sort of take things how they come and focus on each step as it comes and not look too much into the future? I guess something to touch on is if music is just a passion or if you have business goals you would like to achieve through music. Is there anything about your musical journey you could go without?
BK: There's definitely a part of me that wants to see the music succeed, like any artist would. It's always nice when someone buys a CD or supports your art in some way. I prefer to take it one day at a time and let things fall into place naturally. This is how I've always done it. Having worked with at least 80 record labels all over the world, there is definitely a lot you need to understand on the business side to make things work. If you're just making beats in your bedroom that's cool, but if you ever want to distribute a vinyl record through an established label you're going to have to understand the business of the game if you're signing contracts and shit. So many artists get absolutely screwed in these deals because they're not experienced on the business side. I'm content with my work, so no, I wouldn't change anything.
What are some of the projects in your musical career you are most proud of outside of Hip-Hop and inside of Hip-Hop? What was it about those projects that make it so enjoyable to look back on it with such pride? Was it just like magical or was the direction of the project organically fought for by all parties involved?
BK: Mine and Donny's band Chasmdweller has an album called 'Flesh Crusade', and I think that's some of my best work as a musician in general. I wrote and played a 20-minute song on that album that damn near killed me. My hands were bleeding after recording it. With the Hip-Hop stuff, I'm a big fan of everything we've done together and I really love the guy's solo work and their stuff with other producers too. I'll give you the best answer and say yes, it was magical. Everything comes together so quickly and effortlessly when we work together.
Who are some of your musical influences all across the board in Hip-Hop and also in rock music and why are they so important to you? What did you learn from listening to their art and what is it about them that you try to bring to your music?
BK: Man.. I listen to so much music and it all kinda just spills over into my Hip-Hop production. Everything from Prog Rock, Death Metal, Jazz, Film Soundtracks, World Music.. basically anything I can get my hands on. If you're a producer and you're not listening to like 50 albums a week or more, you're doing it wrong. I'm very influenced by 70s music. There was something about the energy they had back then that I try to emulate in almost everything I do. To them, there were endless possibilities with what could be done musically, and that's how I choose to approach my production today.
What do you feel that Canada brings to Hip-Hop and how are you a part of the whole Hip-Hop scene in Canada? What do you feel you have contributed to the Hip-Hop culture in Canada? Are there any Canadian OGs that helped you on your journey? How did you come into creating Hip-Hop coming from a metal and punk background earlier on, was it something that you always wanted to do?
BK: Canada has a lot of legendary artists in general, Hip-Hop included. I'm kind of a recluse and don't get involved in my local music scene, but I was a part of that with the metal and punk bands for years. Playing live isn't my favorite thing to do. Some of my favorite current artists in Hip-Hop are Canadian, like Asun Eastwood and Daniel Son for example. They're doing incredible work and it's refreshing to have these dudes killing it so hard for Canada. I've been a fan of Hip-Hop since I was a kid and always wanted to make my own beats, but I was too focused on playing drums and guitar in bands. One day I bought the equipment I needed to produce beats and the rest is history.
What are the ideal steps to making a project? How do you start it and how do you finish it? Does it go idea, create beat, give to the MC, and record...you know what is your ideal process for creating a project with someone? Is there any deal breakers that will halt you from doing a project with someone and what kind have you run into?
BK: Usually when we start a project I'll make anywhere from 30 - 40 beats over the course of a week or two. Then the artist and myself will narrow those beats down to the best 10, or whatever. That way you only get the best ones and they'll all flow a lot better together in the context of an album. I tend to work with the same people because I know for a fact they can deliver and don't take forever to record. Lots of dudes are just unprepared, slow, lazy and not even in the same universe musically.
How do you go about promoting? This includes yourself and your music. How do you promote yourself to meet new artists you want to work with? When a project is done, what do you do to promote it? Is there anything you wish you could do to make the process more successful?
BK: Promotion is easily the most boring part of making music. I just kinda put it out there and let people find it themselves. I post a lot of beat videos on my socials and that seems like a better way to spread the word than just constantly spamming links everywhere. That shit can get ridiculous.
How did you come up with the name BK Bonez? What does that name mean to you?
BK: That's been my nickname since highschool. My buddy came up with it and it stuck.
Do you get involved in live performances often or do you just stick to doing stuff in the lab? What kind of equipment do you use and what type of instruments have you used throughout your life and what is your favorite? I've seen you play guitars, harps, drums, bass...what you got in the vault. Do you prefer active basses or passive basses? What brand of guitar is your favorite, you know all that type of stuff...
BK: I've toured and played hundreds of live shows over the last 20 years. Recently I stepped back and just started focusing on recording 100% of the time. Playing instruments was always a strong passion of mine and it's something I doubt I'll ever stop doing. Anything from 5-string Banjos to Sitars or Theremins.. I've tried most and can play most satisfactorily. I would say drums are my favorite, you get a full body workout and it's the backbone of any good beat. I currently own a Jackson 7-string and a Kramer Nite V and use both in my music heavily. I would encourage anybody to pick up an instrument and learn. It will bring you so much joy for years to come.