Photos and Visuals by: Joshua Kirk
AZN: Word, what’s good! What is your name and what are your superpowers?
Kirk: My name is Joshua Kirk and my superpowers are yet to be discovered.
AZN: Haha… When you find them we’ll get together, put them to the test and raise hell. Lets get started. Where are you from and what’s on your playlist?
Kirk: I’m from a little bit of everywhere being a military brat. I was born in North Carolina and my family moved out west to Cali early in my life. Then for a few years I lived in the middle of the desert in 29 Palms. Ended up on the Southside of Atlanta where I’ve spent most my years.
I’m currently listening to a lot of old Outkast, Mastodon, 90’s alternative on Pandora and 90’s rap as well. It could be Pantera one day and Tupac the next. I do a lot of digging to find samples to flip as well.
AZN: Dang, you have lived in a lot of places and your playlist touches so many different genres. Have the places you’ve lived had an influence on the spectrum of music you listen to?
Kirk: I think so, my parents weren’t really into music that much. I used to sit with my mom while she cleans houses on base and she listen to pop stations. I remember hearing Whitney Houston… my mom would sing along when it came on. I’ll always remember being in Cali at the pool on base and hearing “Soul to Squeeze” by Red Hot Chili Peppers in the early 90’s.
I was a young buck but that song stuck with me and they’re still one of my favorite bands. Got my first guitar around 13 and was influenced by every band with a good guitar player. I wanted to be that guy crushing the guitar in a great band. Still do. Ha… I got into rap a little later which eventually led to producing music. The guitar came hand in hand with that.
AZN: What did your setup look like at thirteen?
Kirk: At thirteen I had a fender squire. A Zoom Multi-Effects pedal and a Lasonic boombox which I still have and cherish from the early 90’s. Still works. (Kirk and the Laso.)
AZN: That’s rad man, it still looks fresh. Have you been in a lot of bands over the years?
Kirk: I haven’t really been in a lot of bands. Half way through high school I moved to a small town where there wasn’t a music scene. I played with a couple of guys in our parents houses and small house parties. A guy named Johnny Brantley played the drums and Dylan Widener played the bass. R.I.P. to Dylan he passed away in a car wreck at a young age. We’d cover Metallica songs and old 80’s rock.
A while later when I moved back to the Southside I joined a group called Accelerant which transformed into Skys Fall. Not too many “official” bands. I’m usually the hired gun on a guitar solo or some string work on a hip hop song these days.
AZN: Word. Sidebar real quick. Which Mortal Kombat character best describes you?
Kirk: I always used Sub Zero. Man, I haven’t played that since the first one. Johnny Cage was swagn too.
AZN: Sub Zero was and still is my go-to character, the Spine Ripping Fatality is the best. Classic. With you being in the music game for a while. What was your most awkward performance and how did you handle it?
Kirk: Mannnnnnn… I was playing guitar with an artist at an open mic type deal. I produced and engineered the track being performed. I broke a string and the guitar I was playing was equipped with a Floyd Rose setup so there’s no being in tune after that. I grabbed a mic and proceeded to be a hype man. I’m sure it was super wack. It was embarrassing. lol
AZN: Haha… Those situations make us so much stronger after they happen. Super awkward in the moment tho. When did you realize that you wanted to be a hiphop producer?
Kirk: I used to smoke a lot and me and the homies would always freestyle over beats when we were high. I got interested in producing and engineering like around 2004 around the same time I realized I wasn’t good at rapping. I saved up and got an E-mu beat machine for $500 and a Fostex 16 track digital recorder.
AZN: Are metal, punk and rock records influential to your creative process when you’re producing?
Kirk: Not really, I tend to keep them separate. Which ever one I’m producing I’m not really pulling from any of the others. That being said blues has a big influence in the hip hop production from a guitar stand point.
AZN: Who have you worked with?
Kirk: I’ve worked with a lot of independent artists. I like taking new talent and helping them find a path and further their careers.
As far as bigger names… I’ve played guitar on, produced, or shared the stage with Big K.R.I.T., Bohagon, Pastor Troy, Chamillionaire, JohnBoyOnTheTrack, Kane Yang from Ying Yang Twins, 808 Mafia to name a few.
AZN: That’s a packed list. How did you and Big K.R.I.T. connect?
Kirk: I connected with him through DJ Burn One. If you don’t know about him check him out he has a big movement going on and a talented producer as well. Big K.R.I.T is one of the most talented artists/producers in the game in my eyes. Very humble as well.
AZN: How many tracks did you do with him?
Kirk: Maybe three or four that he used and then he gave a couple to other artists. Fat Trel being one of those.
AZN: Which project did you most enjoy working on?
Kirk: Probably the one Fat Trel got called “Swishers and Liquor” but they turned the guitars down a lot in the mix. You can see us do it live if you search YouTube for “Kirkle Trakn with K.R.I.T.” Im the first thing you hear on his album “King Remembered in time.” The The track is called “Purpose.” I think that’s pretty dope!
AZN: That is man. I just checked the “Kirkle Trakn with K.R.I.T.” video. Was it hot in that room and are all of you in there?
Kirk: This was right before he signed to Def Jam. It was hot! Trel wasn’t there but Big Sant was there. He’s an artist and K.R.I.T.s homeboy. And shout out to my girl Ashleigh Culpepper behind the camera.
AZN: Man you have many talents. I know you do visual work as well. Tell us how you made the transition from guitarist/producer to director/videographer?
Kirk: The artists I was working with wanted visuals too. I always enjoy a dope visuals and am intrigued by film. I figured with my creativity I might as well give it a shot so I saved up for a camera and went to work.
AZN: Where do you get the inspiration for putting together these videos? And how long have you been doing this? Because I was just lurking your YouTube channel and its stacked full of videos.
Kirk: I’ve only been doing videos for maybe three to four years. Most projects I get the song and collaborate with the artist on a visual. They usually have a spot in mind and we brainstorm together. As my operation grows I plan on having a dedicated treatment guy. Right now it’s just me. Jib, glidecam, dolly, aerial drone operator, editor and colorist. I like knowing how to do everything and studying new techniques. Always have.
AZN: How do you juggle your time between producing and directing?
Kirk: They come hand in hand. I’m focusing on the whole production these days. The music and the video. That’s my brand. Hopefully someone of higher powers will notice my work and scoop me up. If not that’s ok. I like doing it independently, on my own as well.
I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart. I worked for myself as an irrigation technician for five years. My brother Ted Kirk taught me that trade. I owe a lot to him. He gave me a place to stay, helped me out with money when times were hard, helped pay for important pieces of gear along the way that got me in the game. Taught me how to work hard. I look up to him a lot.
AZN: Sounds like a great brotherly bond. Tell us what the music landscape looks like in Atlanta through your eyes? Are there any new musicians that have mind fucked you lately?
Kirk: You know… I’m not able to get out as much as I’d like. I’m still working a full time job on top of everything else. The hip hop scene is a lot of copy cats and unoriginality, unfortunately. There’s definitely some talent in Atlanta in every genre. Atlanta is a melting pot for music. It’s not hard to find talent here but there’s also a lot of cats trying to do it so it makes it a little harder to stand out.
AZN: Do you sleep? What’s next for you?
Kirk: Kings Never Sleep. Next is expanding my musical and video ventures. Maybe form another band and quit my “9 to 5.”
AZN: That’s what’s up! Any words of wisdom for the aspiring guitarists, producers, directors and videographers out there?
Kirk: Make your own lane. Be original. Study your influences and make them your own. Practice and study all the time.
AZN: Thank you for taking the time to hang with us. Before we go let everyone know what your handles are and where they can find you at.
Co-Founder of S.A.F., Artist and Designer | #AZNmade | #SAFlife