K-OS Drops His Most Socially Conscious Album Yet

April 14th K-OS releases his fourth studio album through Nettwerk/Universal, entitled Yes!. Whenever I think of K-OS, for some reason I think of his single Crabbuckit and I don't really know why. It used to get in my head and quite frankly it drove me crazy. Not that I thought that it was a bad song or that I didn't enjoy it, it just had that infectious catchy quality that manifested itself in my brain for extended periods of time.

Speaking with K-OS about his newest release, he brought up that particular 2004 single and said that now when he hears it "it's like a joke and makes me laugh, but that's just where my head was at then. It's how I felt." So we talked about where his head is at now.

Starting with the first single 4,3,2,1, K-OS makes it pretty clear that there is a prevalent theme to his album; gender wars.

"This album was shaped a lot by the lives of my two younger brothers; they both have two younger daughters, so I have four nieces. And being around all these girls, and being around my brothers and their wives I just watched their relationships. In a relationship I always just want things my way. I've kind of hit my head against a wall, in my life at least, with my relationships with the opposite sex. So, this album very much has a lot of undertones of anger, excitement, arousal from my relationships with women - but not put in a cliched way."

I asked him for an example and he mentioned Feist and her recent explosion to the main stage of the Canadian music scene (and beyond).

"Take my friend Leslie [Feist]: when her song 1,2,3,4 blew up I was really happy for her, but at the same time I was like 'damn I gotta outdo that shit' and that's the way I looked at myself for awhile. I was like 'Kevin, why can't you just leave it at that, why do you gotta outdo it' and that's when it hit me. 1,2,3,4 - 4,3,2,1... Four... what are we fighting for? The lyric just came to me. It was a joke at first. When I told her, she said I was crazy. So in that song, talking about the battle of the sexes is like talking about battling her as well. But it's fun... it's all in fun."

The album features appearances from the likes Metric's Emily Haines and The Dears' Murray Lightburn - among others who are all Canadian. I asked how he selected who would appear on the album.

"I'm actually in love with Emily Haines. She's a close friend and a confidante and we have many close conversations, just both being in the same business. After my last record I left something on her answering machine, and she was like 'this thing on the answering machine, I want it.' These things are just a work and progress. And Murray from The Dears is like my big brother. He's like a composer, genius, guitar player and amazing songwriter. I bump his songs when I'm on tour and we were just waiting for the right minute."

There will also be a companion disc featuring eleven of the twelve tracks featured on Yes!, but that have been remixed by other people. In December, K-OS held a contest and people worked with his tracks at the chance of winning $1,000 and having their work distributed alongside K-OS. You get get a taste of the music here.

"At first I was like 'what!', but one of my favourite sayings is 'never be afraid to try things on'. So, I said, let me try this on and see how it feels and for a long time I didn't check the site; I didn't want to hear people. But then I heard the 4,3,2,1 remix and that's the one I got into first, then I listened to all these kids' songs and I had to e-mail them. I was skeptical, but this is cool for the kids, and it's cool for me to hear. A lot of them were astonishingly really good."

But I wanted to know about that twelfth track that wasn't included in the companion disc. What's the deal with that?

"You gotta keep ahead, know what I'm saying? You gotta keep some stuff for yourself. I got another track called On The Run. It was a late addition, and that was just by accident. There's a couple interludes as well... but it was mostly by accident. I think that deep down subconsciously I let it drag out."

Subconsciously phhhh. That's what I say to that.

Photo courtesy of Universal Music Canada

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