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He's got deep Milwaukee roots and a unique sound.

Stir in a spoonful of hip-hop into the city’s indie music melting pot, add a dash of jazz, a pinch of new-wave nostalgia, and you get Klassik (aka Kellen Abston). The artist, who opened for Collections of Colonies of Bees and Sylvan Esso over the summer, spoke with our partner 88Nine about his background and his latest studio efforts.

How did you get into music?

Through my dad; he was the artist. He bought me my first saxophone. … My background is heavy in jazz, which I’m trying to get back into.

You went to High School of the Arts, right? That place seems so cool.

Yeah, everyone asks, “Is it like Fame?” Kind of, actually … yeah. People were playing music in the hallway; dancers were dancing; artists were painting, rehearsing, singing in the cafeteria.

As an artist, you work across disciplines. Is that something you carry with you from that experience?

Absolutely. It’s a big reason why I try to be involved in as many youth programs and anything that has that kind of cross-pollination and exposure, because those opportunities I had when I was in school don’t even exist or are greatly diminished from what they were.

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What’s the difference between Klassik the stage performer and Klassik the recording artist?

Not very much. Very recently, as silly as it sounds, I had to remind myself that I am a recording artist. I was recording things, but really focused on this one-take method, because that’s how I was doing the shows. You see people really good at recording because they’re in a completely different mindset, and a lot of times it doesn’t transfer live. You have all these great studio bands and artists and they suck live. Or vice versa – you see a band that’s really great live and you hear the recording, and it’s not good. I’m not trying to hit people with the bait and switch. I want to be consistent.

This story is from our partner 88Nine Radio Milwaukee.

Find the full interview with Klassik on radiomilwaukee.org.

“Milwaukee Artist You Should Know: Klassik” appears in the September 2018 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning September 3, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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