The global hitmaker turned solo artist reintroducing himself through his sleek, soothing tracks.
Knox Brown might be making new noise, but the Kingston-born Birmingham-raised artist is no novice to the industry. Having already produced and written for some of the biggest in the business (Mary J Blige, Beyonce, Jay–Z and H.E.R to name a few) Knox stepped out from more of the behind the scenes side of the industry into the limelight with his 2016 debut EP, “Searching”. Not looking for a record deal but rather publishing at the time, the Kingston-native came to the attention of Matt Chalk who alongside his managers (Zeon Richards and Richard Antwi) believed in him beyond his powers as producer and signed Knox as an artist.
The six-track debut which features Anderson Paak, Kojey Radical and BJ The Chicago Kid is a fluid, soulful and authentic introduction to Knox, that fuses his musical childhood memories of jazz, reggae and soul with his musical inspirations. Since laying down this blueprint back in 2016, Knox has alongside becoming a father and producing for other artists, steadily cemented his solo sound with a stream of releases this year. “Always”, “Goosebumps” and “Flex” are not only testimony to his ear as a producer but also skill as a vocalist adding to his laid-back yet rich balmy sound. However as Knox states over email, his music doesn’t necessarily classify as one genre over another but rather an amalgamation of inspirations which can come anything from his dog to a “picture or a video game can inspire a whole song”.
Amidst raising his newborn son and making music, Knox took some time to talk to us about his move from Kingston to Birmingham at 12 years old, new track “Flex” and who after working with the likes of Timbaland and Jay–Z he wants to work with next.
What was your first musical memory?
I was three or four and Mom and Dad bought me a xylophone and a trumpet and
they would host these get-togethers and I would recite poems and play the two instruments.
What kind of music did you grow up listening to?
Dad had a vinyl record player and he had collected LPs over the years before I was born. Reggae (Dennis Brown was his favourite), soul (I can vividly remember Sam Cooke’s “What A Wonderful World” being played) and also jazz. Oh and the Rat Pack! I almost forgot.
What was it like growing up in Birmingham?
It was quite a huge shock to the system. For the first year living here I had to adjust. I found it difficult to understand what the kids were saying!
And has Birmingham influenced your music in any way?
No, not really, although people here just love good music. I had already been influenced by the soul and reggae my mom and dad used to play but a new found love for hip-hop developed because of Tim Westwood. Every Friday and Saturday night I would record his shows religiously on a tape deck I saved up and bought through having a paper round at 13.
When did you decide to pursue music seriously?
I think I’ve always done whether consciously or subconsciously. In year nine I hung out with my friend Lance and that’s when we discovered Eminem Slim Shady LP. It inspired us to make beats and write raps and at this point I was already making beats on my PlayStation 2. So I decided to make a mixtape and in year 10 I had work experience at a studio in West Bromwich where I furthered my knowledge of the studio (mixing desk and how it works etc). Then I mixed the songs at that studio and the following year I packaged the project myself and sold over 50 copies in and around school (now I think I’m ballin’).
Has your process toward creating music changed much since the release of your EP “Searching”?
No, not really, it all starts with the production and jotting melodies down while I create.
Has it been relatively easy finding ‘your sound’ so to speak?
Some people might disagree but I don’t think I really found one. To be honest I’m at a stage where I want to be like Quincy Jones and just be good at music and the rest will follow. I’m a producer first so the sound should match the project. If I had to classify then I would say soulful with a 70s/80s influence but all that can change if you heard the songs on my HD you would be like “who is that singing?” or “who’s that rapping?” I still get that from my label and manager from time to time…
Can you tell us about the inspirations behind new track Flex?
Initially, I made the beat and it was part of a batch of beats I would play in the Lexus I had at the time. Listen… that car… was like a club, the speakers were amazing! I came across the beat after forgetting about it and felt like I need to finish this.
Who are your musical influences?
Superhero Cartoons from the 60s/70s and 80s – I was thinking of He-Man and Thundercats when I did the intro to “Always”. Also anything that makes me feel some type of way – a video or a picture can also inspire a whole song. I made an interlude “Legend Of Güber” about my dog Rex just for the sake of it. It’ll probably never see the light of day because it contains a sample – I miss the sampling days.
Have you found any challenges switching from songwriting and producing for others to making your own music?
I dislike cheesy writing. So for me, it’s hard to write for others because I need the lyrics to connect on a conversational level.
How do you choose which artists you’d like to feature/collaborate with?
I just need to be a fan of the music .
Is there anyone you’d love to work with that you haven’t already?
Frank Ocean, Future, Ye, Capital Cities, Hiatus Kaiyote and Honne – I friggin’ love their album artwork! Also, I know this guy isn’t an artist in the musical sense but somehow or someway I would love to work with Wes Anderson!