In Conversation: Kase Avila
Our latest conversation is with a homie from Sydney who most recently has been juggling producing beats and kidney dialysis. Intrigued? Bloody well should be! In our chat below we touch on everything from how KC started producing beats, his favourite basketball shoe (his answer surprised me, so it will shock you!), a shout out to his cat and partner, his time with CAPSULE and more!
We kick it all off discussing his newest beat tape titled 'As Long As I Got' which the production of got him through some pretty tough times. The beats are resoundingly uplifting and refreshing and the perfect accompaniment to anyone's day. Have a listen to it here while you have a read of our chat below. The beat tape was released in actually tape form and with a collaborative For The Homies t-shirt. Show your support by following this link and buy the digital album and a piece of merchandise which sports the amazing artwork by Japanese artist 'Shi.'
Q. Quick intro for those at home. Who, what and how, is Kase Avila?
I’m husband, father of a cat, who is addicted to streetwear and design, who has kidney issues, works for IKEA and loves making music, in the form of beats.
Q. Congratulations on your latest beat tape ‘As Long as We Got’, it’s had me boppin since it dropped, tell us a bit about it?
Thanks for the kind words. It’s essentially some of the beats I made during 2021. I got super sick and unfortunately had to go back on dialysis after my first transplanted kidney failed on me (lasted 15yrs - had a great run!). I used these beats as therapy and it literally helped with the healing. I thought rather than tucking these beats away in my hard drive, I would share it with the world in the hopes it’d send positive vibes. The title is from a SZA sample and its matched perfectly with what I was feeling, “As Long As I Got” my family, homies, creativity, I would be all good.
I also wanted to release some merch for the project. Having a background in retail, I always loved when artists had something tangible to go along with the release. So whether it’s tees, vinyl, cassettes, it’s so much better to have something to touch and feel especially in todays ‘streaming’ day in age. I hit up Pete from For The Homies to help with all the creative. He listened to the project and got the idea to use up and coming Japanese artist Shi to interpret SZA’s Ctrl album cover. The rest flowed organically, Pete fleshed out a tee, tote and my label Low Key Source thought it be cool and different to do a cassette. Literally creating a beat tape! Show some love here.
Q. When I was listening I pictured guys like Pete Rock, Common, J.Cole, Cordae, or even Pete Philly & Perquisite rapping over the top of your beats. Who would be your dream artist to work with?
Man all those guys are my heroes. I always envisioned my beats with an r’n’b artist who needed a head nodding cut - something that makes you go “oh shitttt, this is different". Rappers are cool and all but I love it when the r’n'b vocals contrast with some hard heavy beats. So I’d probably say someone like Janet Jackson, Erykah Badu or even D’Angelo.
Q. Outside of your own beats, who are your go-to artists and genre’s musically?
My go-to's are usually other producers like 9th Wonder, Dilla obviously, Flylo and some low key beat makers like Freddie Joachim, Groovemam Spot, Budamonk Funk. I do like to think I listen to a wide range of music - I was addicted to bands like At The Drive In, The Mars Volta, Deftones and I also love my 70’s, 80’s soul and power ballads - thanks mum and dad. I do get mad inspiration from the local scene too. Heaps of talent here in Sydney as well asMelbourne. Go peep Jade Kenji, Solly, Zion Garcia, Yibby, Butrus, Cabu, CD, Inquisitive Minds and Apollo Fontane just to name a few.
Q. Do you have any words of advice for anyone thinking of exploring a musical career?
Do it because you love it. Not because you’re looking for props or trying to impress people. Find some inspiration and get absolutely obsessed with them. You’re not going to get it overnight so be patient and also never stop learning!
Q. I first met you in the early days of Up There on a trip to Sydney when you were doing your thing at Capsule, how was the retail game for you, do you miss it?
Bro those were great times. I miss it heaps. I learnt so much in those times and I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for CAPSULE. Learning how to operate a small business literally prepped me for life man lol. Sounds a bit extra but it’s true. Lessons like customer service, managing relationships, presentation, camaraderie, community, design - all can be applied to everyday life. I still love to help and support the homies who run retail today in Sydney - I can’t keep away. Shout out UPS Skateshop, Big Trouble Store, 108 Warehouse and Maillot!
Q. You carry and emit a uniquely KC ‘swag’, which exudes refreshing, positive vibes. Has this always been you?
Haha thanks bro. I’d like to think that this has always been me. I’ve always been a “glass half full” guy, and always remain positive in all situations. I try to be nice and respectful to everyone - I’d like to think it makes everything better. Being angry and sad takes too much energy lol.
Q. A large part of your everyday at the moment seems to be maintaining your health, do you mind telling us about that? How do you keep a positive mind through it all?
So I was diagnosed with IGA Nepropathy when I was 18, which is essentially an autoimmune disease that causes kidney failure. I was on dialysis for a couple of years and received a kidney transplant when I was 21. The kidney which was donated by my older brother, lasted for 15 years. It had an amazing run - managed to live life normally during that span. Unfortunately a kidney transplant isn’t a cure and the disease returned last year which means I have been on dialysis since. I am super blessed to have an amazing cast of family and friends who have supported me throughout everything. I guess reflecting on those relationships and seeing how good I actually have it really helps with the positivity. Like I mentioned before, it is really tiring being sad and angry - I’d rather use that energy into something creative and something that keeps me motivated. That’s where music really played a big part. Fun fact - I actually started making beats on an Apple iBook G4 with GarageBand when I was first on dialysis when I was 18. It’s crazy to see how far I’ve come. I guess being proud of my accomplishments helps with the positive attitude as well. Self love is important y’all! Also owning a pet helps. Shout out my cat Neptune! LOL
Q. Basketball is a big part of your life, all time favourite ball shoe?
Music and basketball bro. Haha typical Filipino - I live and breath that shit. My favourite ball shoe is something super underrated and doesn’t get a lot of attention. Actually, its a brand you guys used to stock. Its the Brandblack J Crossover 2. The materials, the feel, the design. All on point! And it was a signature for a mad underrated player - Jamal Crawford. Shout out Geoff Nishimoto who used to be the brand rep. I know he’s a homie to you all! A close second would be the Jordan XIs - absolute classic!
Q. You have a very well curated lounge room, fill us in? The rug, the mirror, the paint colour, the artwork?
Thanks bro - I guess streetwear and fashion evolved into homewares for me. It'’s the stage where I am at the moment in terms of creativity and passion with design. I have mentioned that I work for IKEA (as an Online Merchandising and Content Specialist), so it all goes hand in hand. Getting the run down of what’s coming in at IKEA, the collaborations they do and being able to see what fits and what doesn’t is something that I find super fun. It all started when my wife and I bought an apartment and we were able to do renovations. My mind just went wild with ideas and I’m one of those guys that just does it - I hate second guessing. It’s the same method I have with music as well!
I love how my partner also likes to take risks with interior design (she works at IKEA too btw haha). Having a colourful home really sets the tone physically and mentally for us too. A lot of my favourite pieces are done by homies too which is something I’m proud of. I always love to rep the homies. Shout out Mark Chronic, Pete Le Chic, Claire Pony, Chris and Andrew Yee!
Q. To round out the interview, either from your mouth or someone else’s, do you have a favourite quote you always find yourself going back to?
2 quotes pop to mind:
“What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger” and
“Worst comes to worst my peoples come first"
Appreciate the time KC! Stay healthy and keep feeding us those beats!