K.Raydio is a soulful breath of fresh air to the hip-hop scene. She upstages Kanye West on his own songs. She has one of the most beautiful voices I’ve had the pleasure of hearing, and it only sounds better live. Along with being everything but short of talented, she’s extremely smart and extremely witty. She is a woman, who is without a doubt going places, so you should probably get informed about her now.
UG: When did you realize you had a passion for music?
K.Raydio: My parents told me that they used to play music next to my mom’s belly when she was pregnant with me, and I can honestly say that I’ve been passionate for music ever since. The best gifts I ever received as a kid were (1) a Playskool tape recorder, and (2) a karaoke machine for my 7th birthday because they allowed me to listen to music all of the time — and begin to create it. I was always the kid with the headphones on and I don’t remember many days when I didn’t listen to music to cope with my emotions growing up. Music was everywhere and its influence made me who I am today, without a doubt.
UG: Who were your favorite artists as a kid?
K.Raydio: I grew up in a house where artists from Joni Mitchell to Bill Withers to Paul Simon were celebrated. As a kid, I loved listening to Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, the soundtrack to “The Wiz” and the Beach Boys (believe it or not). And I’ll confess that I was obsessed with Hanson during my pre-teen days. Don’t judge me. They wrote and produced their own music that had amazing melodies. This is a huge confession for me. But I was also in love with film scores and soundtracks. I kept that a secret growing up. No other kids around me were listening to the score to The Godfather on the bus home from school.
UG: What has been the most encouraging force to keep you pursuing your music?
K.Raydio: My “kids”. My day job is working as a special education paraprofessional, so I work with students with special needs in a really amazing public school district. I have been blessed to work with some truly amazing youth both this year and last year at a previous school, and when my students find out that I’m a singer and a songwriter, they give me all of the encouragement I need to keep going because they place me on a pedestal. To them, I’m already a celebrity and more importantly, a positive role model in their lives and when days are tough and I don’t feel like my music career is moving as progressively as I want it to, they are always a constant reminder to keep pushing. I love them.
UG: You seem very well educated, you must have got some college learning under your belt. Where did you go and what did you study?
K.Raydio: Well, thank you. Education has always been a huge component in my life because I was fortunate enough to be raised in a family that strived for higher education in every sense. I am a graduate of the best school in the world, the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I’m a proud Badger! I have a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts with a Radio, TV & Film emphasis, so I took a lot of coursework incorporating race relations, media, education, politics, the entertainment industry, etc.
UG: What opportunities has music brought to your life?
K.Raydio: Music has helped me be a better writer, a better educator, and a better person overall. I’ve been able to perform at some amazing venues in the Twin Cities such as the Varsity, 7th Street Entry, the Cabooze, Honey, etc. And I’ve been able to share the stage with amazing local artists as well. I’ve learned about the music business in a very non-traditional, hands-on fashion and from the perspective of a soul singer in a hip-hop community. And I’ve also been blessed with mentors, such as M.anifest, Ashanti Abdullah and Susan Campion, who have opened my eyes (and ears) to how to make it in this industry.
UG: What was your inspiration for your first 2 solo debuts, Significant Other parts 1 and 2?
K.Raydio: The title “Significant (Other)” was so dope to me because it seemed very natural. I have always felt like the “other” in every social and socio-economic context possible due to my identity, and in a lot of ways being the “Significant (Other)” is the anti-thesis of the “Tragic Mulatto.” I wanted to show that I’m proud of who I am and love the fact that I was born to stand out. I wanted to inspire people to “dare to be different”.
UG: How did you get involved with the “Not Enough Mics” collaborative group? How was it working with them?
K.Raydio: Not Enough Mics Collaborative is a brilliant community founded by good friends Blaire White and Sofia Snow, beautiful womyn that I attended UW-Madison with. They are both hip-hop enthusiasts, educators, and graduates of the First Wave program, an amazing hip-hop and spoken word scholarship program at UW that brings artistic students from across the country to thrive at the university. Blaire and Sofia recognized that there is a huge void of a platform for womyn (yes, with a y) in hip-hop and wanted to establish a collaborative that would serve as a supportive structure for artists such as myself to have resources to depend on with the guidance of other womyn, instead of relying on men in the “industry”. It is not a gender-exclusive group by any means, but it has really taken off. I love N.E.M. I was one of the first affiliate artists and they have been nothing short of supportive. More artists need to know about them. They can check out the website here and learn more: notenoughmics.com
UG: You recently received the highest regarded reward (an awesome teacher award) from one of your students, how does that feel and what do you think makes a teacher “awesome”?
K.Raydio: That was definitely a highlight of this year thus far. I was asked to read a book about the legendary opera singer Marion Anderson for the elementary school kids at Story Time this past week and was awarded the Awesome Teacher Award the next day. I think being patient, empathetic, encouraging and positive makes a teacher “awesome”. When I think back to teachers that meant a lot in my life, like my music teacher Donald Washington in grade school, those attributes really stick out.
UG: What’s one hidden talent it’d be surprising to learn you have?
K.Raydio: I can actually impersonate a baby’s voice surprisingly — and creepily — well. I don’t know how I learned it, but I say “girl” and cup my lips to make songs in a baby-tone. It has been proven to make the crabbiest of babies immediately stop crying. I hope it works on my future kids someday or I’m screwed.
UG: What can we look out for in the future from K.Raydio and where can people be directed to stay up to date with your releases and concert information?
K.Raydio: 2012 will be a very exciting year. I’m planning on releasing four new songs with music videos in the next few months in preparation for my full-length album, which I’m hoping to release in late spring/early summer. I will be doing more performances in February and March and shooting a video for my new single “The Way It Goes” in February as well. I’m also lining up shows in other parts of the country as well. I have an official website that is currently under construction, but until it’s launched, all of my news and information can be found at on my Bandcamp page (kraydio.bandcamp.com) and my official K.Raydio Facebook page. Stay tuned . . . a lot of fun stuff will be headed your way soon.