Dakota Terrill Sacke (born September 12, 1990 in Dallas, Texas), better known by his stage name Kasland, is an American rapper, record producer, songwriter, audio engineer, and philanthropist. Kasland attended a private French school in Dallas from the age of three where he would learn English as a second language. Kasland was heavily influenced by the European culture. Growing up as an only child, Kasland sometimes relied on his own imagination and creativity for his entertainment. At the age of nine, Kasland convinced his mother to purchase his first hip-hop album… History began.
You may know him for his soundtrack placement for various video games, or from Xbox LIVE with the RxS Gamers. Kasland’s broad imagination and intelligent lyrics are what keeps his popularity growing. When composing a new song, not only does he write music, but he creates a story within. Kasland’s vision for art is far beyond the vocals and instruments. It is a vision where anything and everything is a possibility. Here follows an exclusive interview with the artist.
1. How long have you been in the music game and how did you get started in the first place?
KASLAND: I’ve been active and public since 2011, but I began studying and practicing my craft in 2007. Growing up, music was everything to me. It was therapeutic. I would listen to music that would relate to certain situations or moods, both negative and positive. I have been heavily involved in creative writing since kindergarten so the two paths met at the end of the road, beginning of the journey.
2. Who were your first musical influences that you can remember?
KASLAND: That I can remember, that goes all the way back to Mozart. I would always find myself taken away by the composition of the piano, I was amazed. As far as hip-hop goes, Eminem was the first artist that I was introduced to at an early age where I then became familiar with other artists such as Dr. Dre, Xzibit, 50 Cent, etc.
3. Which artists are you currently listening to? And is there anyone of these that you’d like to collaborate with?
KASLAND: There has been a lot of talk going around about Machine Gun Kelly being my half brother, so my curiosity finally got the best of me and I went and checked him out. I think a collaboration with him would be quite interesting in the near future. I have also been picking up on Wiz Khalifa a lot lately, I would certainly enjoy a track with him as well at some point.
4. Have you suffered any ‘resistance’ or skepticism from within the industry, or from other artists?
KASLAND: I certainly have. As I am sure many of the new faces to hip-hop do as well. I have received nothing but resistance from underground artists where I find the mainstream artists that I have met along my journey to be quite open and welcoming. The underground is a very small pond and I have learned quickly that it is very much controlled by the bigger fish. There are those in the underground who would prefer to remain a big fish in the small pond rather than a small fish in the big sea. I personally could not allow an ego to put a cap on my success. I would rather be where the professionalism and appreciation is. After all, it is all about the art.
5. Do you think video is an important vehicle for your music? And how do you go about producing your videos as indie artist?
KASLAND: Yes, I do find it to be extremely important. Many people view art in different ways. Some could look at a painting and hear music, some could hear a song and visualize a story. I find, when composing a song that tells a story, it is important to add the visuals to that story to help fill in the blanks. I direct and edit all of my videos on my own from beginning to end. I have been building my experience in film production to improve my ability with the equipment. I personally feel having another director create the visuals for your song is not too different from having another songwriter create the story. I am the only one who has the exact vision for what I created, so I put that together the best I can with the help of my crew, of course.
6. Studio work or performing live, which of these do you prefer most and why?
KASLAND: Honestly, I would have to say studio work right now. That could change in the future as I do have more experience in a studio than I do on a stage, but I enjoy the creation of the music the most. Deciding when what instruments should come in where, what kind of sound fits the project best, the possibilities are endless.
7. Tell us something about the beats and music production on your releases. Who creates them and do you work with other producers
KASLAND: I do work with other producers. On my most recent release, Devil’s Delight, I worked with a couple of local producers such as Kajmir Royale, Kimbo Redd, and Jason Porter. I brought D. Prince, who produced the majority of my 2011 EP, back for this project and even worked with an overseas producer in Finland, Life & Death. I work with my producers one song at a time and everything, from the kicks to the snares, is customized around the song to add depth to the final production even after the vocals are laid. I even produced a couple of the beats myself.
8. On which of your songs do you think you delivered your personal best performance so far, from an emotional and technical point of view?
KASLAND: Either “Bottles Under My Bed” or “Prepare Yourselves”. Many of the songs are based on experiences that I either have or still am going through, but those two were certainly more personal than any others. With “Bottles Under My Bed”, that whole song is something I experienced as a child growing up, word for word, so there was a lot emotion behind the creation of that one. “Prepare Yourselves” was more something I had to do for myself and my sanity, so again, a very personal song.
9. Which ingredient do you think makes your sound special and unique?
KASLAND: My lyrics. I tell a story that has never been told, because it is my story.
10. If you were forced to choose only one, which emotion, more than any other drives you to stay in this tough business. Is it joy, anger, desire, passion or pride and why?
KASLAND: Desire. I have encountered one road block after the other and I am far too driven to allow any obstacle to get in my way. I use all of my emotions, from joy to anger, as strength to push forward. I do not take no for an answer.
11. Which aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process excites you most and which aspect discourages you most?
KASLAND: To me, there is nothing more exciting than hearing the final production of a song or album after all of the time and effort invested. The most discouraging aspect would be when that production that you worked so hard on for so long and have so much pride from is heard by very few people due to lack of exposure.
12. Tell us something about your songwriting process. What usually comes first the lyrics or the beats?
KASLAND: It varies back and forth. There will times I will come up with a concept and know what kind of sound I am looking for for the beat, other times I will hear a beat that will instantly spark a concept in my head.
13. How involved are you in any or all of the recording, producing, mastering, and marketing processes of your music. Do you outsource any of these processes?
KASLAND: I stay one hundred percent involved in every aspect of my music from the production to the marketing, but I do outsource many of the processes. However, at the end of the day, I am the one who makes the final decision.
14. The best piece of advice in this business you actually followed so far, and one you didn’t follow, but now know for sure that you should have?
KASLAND: I can’t say I’ve been given much advice. The hip-hop industry is very cutthroat at the bottom and it is survival of the fittest. Everything I have learned, I have learned from experience. No one told me the stove would be hot, but I found out after touching the burner.
15. At this point, as an independent artist, which is the one factor you desire most, and feel will undeniably benefit the your future (for example increased music distribution, better quality production, more media exposure, bigger live gigs etc…)?
KASLAND: More media exposure, I would say. You can be the most talented artist in the game, but if no one knows you exist you will go nowhere. I am far from in my prime, but I am confident in my production at the level that it is now with the intention to only progress from here enough to not worry too much about that. Having bigger live gigs is always beneficial as well, of course.
16. Do you consider Internet and all the social media websites, as fundamental to your career, and indie music in general, or do you think it has only produced a mass of mediocre “copy-and-paste” artists, who flood the web, making it difficult for real talent to emerge?
KASLAND: That is an excellent question and I personally find it to go both ways. In one hand, it does actually increase the ability to gain exposure for those who are just starting off and do not have the proper budget to really put themselves out there. On the other hand, there are way too many artists who do not nearly put forth the effort that others do, yet gain the same amount of attention due to the mass amount of heads in the crowd which of course makes it far too difficult to stand out. It’s a catch twenty two.
17. Could you tell us something about the importance of Mr. K. Sleezy and how he came about?
KASLAND: I don’t want to say that Mr. K. Sleezy is an alter-ego, but that would probably be the closest way to describe him. Mr. K. Sleezy came about in a dream, he was a mischievous little character that I had created early in my career as a simple idea that just came to me. Shortly after, I had the dream where I envisioned his personality and character. I then chose to incorporate him in my music as the fall guy, if you will, for when I just really need to blow some steam in no particular direction.
18. Tell us something about your work with video games?
KASLAND: I have come to meet and become good friends with a lot of the people behind the games, from voice actors to engineers, you name it. The wonderful thing about that is getting the opportunity to watch the development. It is very intriguing how everything is put together. Plus, everyone is so family oriented, it is truly fascinating.
19. What do you think is the biggest barrier you have to face and overcome as an indie artist and performer, in your quest to achieve your goals and wider spread success?
KASLAND: The independence in general. It is very difficult to grow and learn the ropes of the industry, from the music to the business, on your own. Of course, I do build relationships along the way, but over all, it is only me with this goal who will put everything in to making it happen. At the end of the day, I’m the only one with something to lose. Media outlets are too closed to mainstream. No one is ever willing to look over the walls which takes talent out of the equation of exposure in many cases.
20. What is the ONE thing you are NOT willing or prepared to do, EVER, in your quest to achieve a successful musical career?
KASLAND: I am prepared to take on every challenge that comes my way throughout my journey, but the one thing I will not do is let go of the person that I am. I will never disregard my moral values or beliefs for any amount of success. I believe that artists should always grow, and with growth there is change, but I will be sure to stay grounded, humble, and the man I was raised to be throughout those changes.
21. One more curiosity. What was the idea behind learning English as a second language in a private French school?
KASLAND: My family is American, I grew up in an English speaking home. My mother wanted me to have the French language as a native language as well as English. She wanted to give me this tool to use to open any doors I may need in my future. I do plan to utilize this tool with my music career later on.