Exclusive: Producer Kato of Funk Volume / SMKA Talks How He Started, Engineering, Working with Artists, TV/Film relationships Plus more


CW Music had the opportunity to catch up with Funk Volume/SMKA’s talented record producer Kato for an exclusive interview.

Originally hailing from Fairfax, Va, in 2006, he moved to Atlanta where he currently resides. In 2012, after several years of putting work into the underground Atlanta hip-hop scene, Kato joined established production group, SMKA – founded by Mike Walbert (also General Manager of A3C Hip-Hop Festival) and 808 Blake (Producer). After collaborating and releasing multiple projects under the SMKA umbrella, frequent collaborator and friend, Jarren Benton, caught a break and signed to independent label, Funk Volume (Hopsin, Dizzy Wright, SwizZz). Shortly after, in September 2013, Kato followed with his own signing to FV as an in-house producer. Read more for Kato’s interview and production Credits.

CW: How long have you been producing and how did you get started in the first place?

Kato: I've been producing for about 7 years now, it all started in my college dorm room - I was heavily influenced by the local hip-hop scene in Philadelphia (where I was attending college) and it inspired me to start messing around in FruityLoops. Never stopped since then.

CW: Do you work solely as producer or do you engineer as well?

Kato: I've had to learn how to engineer over the years out of necessity. When I was too broke to afford studio time, I just learned how to record and engineer myself, so now I do both and actually prefer to engineer my own stuff.

CW: Is there an artist you want to work with that you have not yet had the opportunity to work with?

Kato: I really want to start in my own city, so anyone and everyone in Atlanta who's on the come up is who I want to work with.

CW: Do you have any Publishing, A & R or T.V/Film relationships?

Kato: My publishing is administered by my label, Funk Volume, I generally don't like A&R's (let alone understand what they even do), and I'm building my TV/Film relationships... recently got my first song placement in a movie titled "Kid Cannabis"

CW: What is the best piece of advice in this business you've received thus far?

Kato: Work hard.

CW: What other producers, songwriters and/or artists do you see as your primary inspirations?

Kato: I've adopted sounds from everywhere. Dre and Premo were some of the earliest to inspire me, and then later on when down south music started poppin, the 808s fucked my whole world up.

CW: What is distinctive about a Kato production?

Kato: I think the fact that I can produce so many different styles yet still maintain a sound that people say they know is me, is something that is inherently embedded in my "sound." I constantly challenge myself to push my own sound and do something I haven't done before.

CW: What’s your favorite thing to do when you aren’t producing?

Kato: I like doing normal things - trying new foods, taking my dog to the park, watching movies, etc. Whatever takes my mind off the mundane studio routine is a big help in creating new music.

CW: Where did you grow up?

Kato: I was born and raised in Fairfax, VA.

CW: Do you have advice for young people who want to become music producers?

Kato: Work hard, be original, be yourself and stay positive.

CW: How do you separate yourself from other producers?

Kato: I become less concerned every day that passes about what others are doing. I just do me.

CW: What schools did you attend?

Kato: Drexel University, and then I transferred to Georgia State.

CW: Do you have a favorite musical project that you've worked on?

Kato: Every project I take on is my favorite one at the time, that's why I do it. It's a chance to grow and try new things.

CW: What can we expect from Kato in 2015?

Kato: Stuntin around the city with a lot of money in my pocket.

CW: Tell us something about any projects and ideas you have in store or are already working on?

Kato: I'm working on some instrumental albums, Jarren Benton's new EP and album, my next album - Kato's Revenge 2, and some crazy new singles for Fall/Winter.

CW: In closing, is there anybody you want to shout out?

Kato: S/O all the folks that support me, my Funk Volume fam, Schweinbeck and my dog.

Jarren Benton
2014 XXL Freshman
- “Justin Bieber” ft. Elz Jenkins, 2010, single, ʻHuffing Glue With
- “Skitzo”, 2011, single, ʻFreebasing With Kevin Baconʼ
- “My Grandmas Basement”, 2013, album, (executive producer
- Kato, #4 Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart, #12 Billboard Rap
“Razor Blades & Steak Knives” (single) 
“Life In The Jungle” 
“Donʼt Act” 
“My Adidas”
“Bully” ft. Vinnie Paz 
“I Deserve It” 
“We On” 
Dizzy Wright
2013 XXL Freshman
- “Hotel Stripper” ft. Jarren Benton, 2012, ʻThe First Agreement
- “Step Yo Game Up” ft. Tory Lanez & Jarren Benton, 2013, ʻThe
Golden Ageʼ (#39 on Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)
Grammy-award winner
- “H-Town Legend”, 2014, remix
- “End Of A Knife”, 2014
Trinidad James
- “Breathin” ft. Dizzy Wright & Devin The Dude, TBA
- “Struggle No Mo” ft. Scotty ATL, TBA
- “She Da One”, TBA, single
Kalenna Harper
- “Put It In The Bag” ft. B Simm, 2012, single, ʻChamber of
Sy Ari Da Kid
- “Popular” ft. K. Camp, 2014, single, ʻKatoʼs Revengeʼ
- “On ʻEm” ft. Coolismac, 2014, ʻKatoʼs Revengeʼ
- “Blow”, 2014, ʻNext To Nothingʼ (#14 Billboard 200 chart)
- “Pimpin Mane Remix” ft. Jackie Chain, Scotty ATL, RaRa,
2014, ʻKatoʼs Revengeʼ
Chris Webby
- “Day 1 Homies” ft. Futuristic & Irv Da Phenom, 2014, ʻKatoʼs
- “Trouble”, 2014, ʻThe Checkupʼ
- “RAD (Roll A Doobie)”, TBA, ʻChemically Imbalancedʼ

Next Post »


Click here for comments
October 7, 2014 at 9:05 PM ×

Yo this thing got ass everywhere

October 7, 2014 at 9:12 PM ×

This video got alot of assssssss .. #throwitback