Kaleo means the voice, the music and the song in Hawaiian language. Kaleo Futuristo is his name and being the voice while makin’ the music & songs is his game. This happy-go-lucky character from sunny Cali is bringing all types of styles to the table. Not just a unique style musically, but also a fresh look personally as well. From wild & zany hair to hip threads to a highly fun & creative sound, Kaleo Futuristo is makin’ shit happen on his latest album, The Future is Now. I had a chance to talk with this cool cat during a phone interview in which a lot of interesting stuff was said.
Jimmy Rae: So, how are you doin’ today?
Kaleo Futuristo: Good man, everything is good. It’s a nice sunshiny day over here in southern Cali, so I’m feelin’ right. Just four blocks from the beach just feelin’ good!
Jimmy Rae: Oh that’s awesome man, so let me ask you this: Are you a beach bum then?
Kaleo Futuristo: I am man if I can get out there and surf, but me and my little lady like to take walks by the beach and do all that kind of fun stuff. It’s a fun, little area to live.
Jimmy Rae: I wanted to talk about your new album now, The Future is Now, I noticed you did a cover of a song that I actually love, which is “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins.
Kaleo Futuristo: Yeahhh….yeah, we love that song man. “Air of the Night” is actually gettin’ a lot of traction. We actually turned that into an Obama tribute video.
Jimmy Rae: Now, I wanted to ask if you actually got any reaction from Phil Collins regarding the song?
Kaleo Futuristo: Yeahh, yeah, we first initially had to have him listen to it and clear it to use it. Phil listened to it and loved it! So yeah, we’re just rockin’ & rollin’ with this and it’s just dope.
Jimmy Rae: Yeah, I don’t think I have ever heard a cover of that song and I was thinking “man, I love this song, so hopefully they do it justice”. You guys definitely had a nice, fresh take on the hit single.
Kaleo Futuristo: Yeah man, of course who doesn’t love that song–it’s a classic right. So, if you don’t flip a classic song right then just leave it alone. We got together and went through a few different ideas like how do we want to tell a story. The lyrics actually went through a few different revisions, which I generally don’t do. I usually get a really good vibe with it the first time through. But, I wanted to do it justice so I worked on it really hard. Just doing the piece writing, you wanna make sure that it’s done right. We got it all together and we just started feeling “coming in the air tonight” getting that it was about something hopeful. You know what I mean, something that comes from a place of despair where you can say “okay, there’s something beyond this and I can feel it coming”. That’s what the whole song is about, ya know. In general, everyone’s felt that way and then to make a song about it to relate to everyone on that level and then to do it with a song that’s already freakin’ crazy. It just came out really fresh and people love that song, so I’m really proud and happy of that one.
Jimmy Rae: Yeah, really good version and I have to say “In the Air Tonight” is probably one of my favorite Phil Collins songs. I love the part where it comes in heavy with the drums, hands down my favorite part.
Kaleo Futuristo: Oh yeah, yeah that’s a classic! That is the song…that’s the song! Actually on the album, we redid that. We took that and actually replayed those drums, so it sounds so much like the original but we recreated it.
Jimmy Rae: Oh wow!
Kaleo Futuristo: Yeah, so instead of using a sample and having to jump through hoops, for recreating a song you just have the rights from Phil or whoever has rights to that song. So yeah, Phil listened to it, loved it and we put the new drum solo on it. It sounded exactly like the old one, maybe even a little bit punchier. It came out and just sounded fresh and one of my boys, Marvin Davis, with his gospel chops killed the hook.
Jimmy Rae: Yeah, I really enjoyed Davis’ vocal performance on this cut.
Kaleo Futuristo: Yeah, and my other friend Nyalle lameh who I do co-production with and is my production partner we did it all together. It just came out really live and after we did it we were like, “man, we got something here–we gotta hit”.
Jimmy Rae: Yeah, “Air of the Night” was a really good rendition, so major props on that one.
Kaleo Futuristo: Thanks man, I appreciate it. So that’s what’s goin’ on with that, we’re just gonna push it out and see what kind of traction we can get out of it from the people. Once we really start to push it, we’ll make some moves and make some shit happen.
Jimmy Rae: I wanted to talk about something kind of off the page a bit. Your fans & your audience might want to know what’s up with the crazy-cool dew man? How did your unique hair style originate?
Kaleo Futuristo: Yeah, you know that just originated out of bullshittin’ and fuckin’ around with my hair one day in the shower. I actually had it bleached blonde and it just started growin’ out and growin’ out and I didn’t do anything with it. I had shampoo in it and I just started twistin’ it up & playin’ around, fuckin’ around & makin’ all kinds of different hair-dews and shit. All of a sudden, I was twistin’ it up and thought to myself, “damn, that looks kind of fresh. Man, that’s dope!”
Jimmy Rae: Yeah, I guess that’s the look then–you got the look down–lol.
Kaleo Futuristo: Yeah you know, so I started twistin’ it up and then I took it out to the club that night and twisted it with some wax. People were like “that shit is dope! Wow, love your hair, it’s cool.” I always had my hair doin’ a little something different, but that one really kinda stood out. You know, I had all different types of colors from blue to pink to spotted to cheetah to stars in my hair and everything. But that one really stands out because it’s all twisted out and crazy. It looks dope and people like it.
Jimmy Rae: So, is that the official Kaleo Futuristo look now?
Kaleo Futuristo: Yeah that’s me and it’s unmistakable when you see it with the jackets and stuff and the way I make it all up. That’s the look, the Kaleo Futuristo look–yeah.
Jimmy Rae: Well maybe you can have some Kaleo Futuristo bobble heads someday, ya know–lol?
Kaleo Futuristo: Yeah man, look for it! We want the bobble heads and the kids to be rockin’ the Kaleo Futuristo dews and Kaleo Futuristo dolls–whatever it takes man, ha-ha. That’s what we’re gunnin’ for, ya know. This is an album that you can play at the park, you can play at a barbeque, you can play at a club, and you can play at a church. We purposely made it with no cussing. I cuss in my daily life, shit I’ve been cussin’ on the phone with you. But, what I wanted to put out there was something that everyone was poppin’ in, anybody could listen to, anybody could get into it. There’s nothing too over the top, but there are some serious topics that we do cover. Even the ones that are serious topics, people can check out, get into and play for anybody. That’s how we wanted to make it. We wanted to get as many people to listen to the album as possible and we wanted to inspire as many people as possible.
Jimmy Rae: Hmm…Well that’s what I was gonna talk to you about actually. I noticed on the record that it has a real, fun hip side to it, but then it’s got also the serious tone. I was going to ask, does that match up with your real life personality?
Kaleo Futuristo: Yeah, absolutely. You know, I wanted to make something that’s fun and bouncing but also make you laugh and dance. I also wanted to make something that have people contemplate, cry and get serious with too. I think that makes a good album, I think it makes it dynamic enough to where people don’t get into just one thing or another. If you make an album that’s just one thing, that’s cool but how I wanted to express myself and who I am are all these different & multidimensional facets. These are the things that are in paramount of importance to me and I know that it is to most other people. I hit a broad scope of ideas, you know like takin’ care of the young ones on the song “Young Ones” or “Suzie Q”, which is about teenage pregnancy. You think of things that everyone has to deal with and everyone’s a part of and to bring these broad topics to the people through music is what my goal was. And I think I’ve done it pretty fresh so far.
Jimmy Rae: Yeah, that’s really cool. I dig how you have the different styles jive together to where it’s not just hip-hop, it’s not just rock, it’s not just pop; it’s all one. You have an international appeal as well man, so it’s fresh and definitely original that way–you know what I mean?
Kaleo Futuristo: Yeah, you know that’s what we wanted to do as well to make it with a bunch of different sounds. If someone says it’s a hip-hop album, that’s really not accurate and it’s really not doing justice. There are songs like “Rock Hard” where it’s just straight rock. I don’t really consider myself a hip-hop artist; I consider myself an artist. You know, I consider myself a creative, musical artist and that’s what I am.
Jimmy Rae: Yeah, I noticed that it was all over the place but that it was really working well for you.
Kaleo Futuristo: Yeah, that’s what I wanna keep on doin’. I would like to say that it is for the modern music listener because no one listens anymore to just one style. Whenever you ask someone what kind of music you’re into and they say “I’m into everything”. So, this album caters and gives something for everybody. If you’re looking to find something on the album, you’re gonna find something for yourself–you know. And all of it is either gonna be fun or bouncing or somethin’ that’s gonna make you think a little bit.
Jimmy Rae: I loved your song “Rock Hard” because when I was younger, I started getting into that rock-rap music with groups like: Linkin Park, Rage Against the Machine and Limp Bizkit. You know, I love that shit man and this track had that feel to it. I was thinkin’ “nice man, bringin’ that shit back!”
Kaleo Futuristo: Right, yeah we’re actually gonna be doin’ a lot more tracks like that because I have one person in my band that plays with pretty fresh, rock guitars. So, we’re gonna mix a little bit of that with a little bit of rap and a little bit of singin’. Whatever kind of comes up creatively is what comes out. But I like that melody of those two worlds because it really makes for a fresh sound.
Jimmy Rae: Next, I wanted to talk about the significance of your name. Were you born with that name or is just merely a stage title?
Kaleo Futuristo: Kaleo is my birth name. Kaleo is a Hawaiian word and means the voice, the music & the song. What you’re named in Hawaiian culture you’re supposed to become or get into. It just so happens I was named Kaleo, so this is what I do. Not by choice, but just kind of wound up that way. And Futuristo is just a character I created. You know, it’s kind of like a superhero character that you can see with the hair and the bobble head dolls. Futuristo, he talks about future things or just a future kind of thought process where it’s not just all surface. It gets a little deep, it gets a little fun, and it covers all these different areas. I wanted to create this futuristic character and look in the sense that it’s covering a lot of different topics. We’re happy with it and we’re rockin’ with it.
Jimmy Rae: It definitely seems very marketable with the name, the hair and the sound. Seems to be a nice-put-together-package you’ve came up with here.
Kaleo Futuristo: Yeah, you know that’s what we’re doin’ just pushin’ it out there getting it to as many people as possible. The shows are really upbeat, fun and high-energy. We’re ready to get as many people as we can on board with this and then take it to the next level.
Jimmy Rae: I wanted to talk about the many messages scattered throughout the record and if you had to pick just one of those topics you sang about that meant the most to you, which song would then be your #1 choice?
Kaleo Futuristo: Ohhh man, that’s really tough. Probably “Air of the Night” because that song really speaks to everybody. It’s one of those songs, you know, that everyone can relate to because everybody has those feelings. There seems to be a hopeless feeling and you’re lookin’ for somethin’ to hold onto to make it through the day or just kind of turn it around. That’s really comin’ at that real human level where we’re all in this thing together and we all understand where we’re coming from and we all understand where we wanna go and what we can be. So, you know, it’s a hopeful song and it also talks about being in those doldrums and getting to that higher place. That’s the song that I feel is one of those topics that everybody can relate to and hopefully inspires everyone.
Jimmy Rae: I wanted to ask next what kind of artist do you consider yourself now compared to the artist you were back then? How have you evolved?
Kaleo Futuristo: Yeah, you know artistry and creation is just an ever-changing, evolving, organic thing to me. As far as who I am as an artist, I just want to be truthful in what I present and do it in a way that really pleases me and hopefully pleases everybody else. You know, it could be something where exploring all the different aspects of what it is to be creative and exploring all the different aspects of what it is to make good art. That’s who I am and that’s what I continue to wanna be to just keep on growing, exploring and seein’ what comes out.
Jimmy Rae: This will be a perfect follow-up question then: what brand of artist do you see yourself becoming in the future Mr. Futuristo?
Kaleo Futuristo: Hmm…That’s a good question. What brand? You know, the Futuristo brand is a kaleidoscopic kind of thing with so many different things wrapped up in one. I don’t know what holds for the future, but what I do know is, like I mentioned, is just making really great music. I want to touch on the social consciousness and really kind of delve into the human emotions with all the different types of highs & lows with it. That’s what excites me and then doing it in all different kind of ways. I know that my next explorations will be a lot more electronic mixed with organic instruments. So, I’m excited to do that. We’ll call it Fu-tribal.
Jimmy Rae: Now, moving along wanted to ask when it comes to your own life, what would be the one most important thing in your personal life?
Kaleo Futuristo: Ahhh man! The one most important thing in my life… Shit…Straight up just off the top of my head without trying to sound too clichÃ©, one word I’d have to go with love. That’s an easy one to come up with for myself because that’s what I wanna be known for and remembered for. You know, being a contribution to the world where if I die tomorrow I’ll know that I’m doing something to make a difference. Love of my family & friends, love of music, love of the highs, love of the lows, love of the ugliness, love of the beauty. I’m also into hangin’ & surfin’ or you might catch me exercising. I’m really into keeping myself in shape & healthy. Fun is also very important to me, you’ll always catch me havin’ fun whatever it is. I’m always up for a good time; I just have a fuckin’ great time!
Jimmy Rae: Life’s too short not to have fun, right?
Kaleo Futuristo: That’s it man, everyday! You don’t know when it could be your last breath, so you might as well do it big while you’re still here.
For more on Kaleo Futuristo and his latest release, The Future is Now, SKOPE out www.kaleofuturisto.com.
By Jimmy Rae