Interview Series: Knapsack.
At the tender age of 14, Gabriel O’Leary AKA knapsack has already accomplished what many producers can only dream of: he has crafted a truly unique and distinctive sound – which continues to evolve and progress at a breathtaking rate – achieved several play counts in the tens of thousands, and garnered the support of many of his idols (e.g., Ramzoid, a ground-breaking Canadian producer to whom a very flattering comparison might soon be made on the basis of artistic direction, both visual and sonic).
What’s almost scary about knapsack is that which makes him so fascinating to follow: he can and will only continue to improve over the course of the next few years (at which point in time he’ll be another half-decade away from legally ordering a beer in his hometown of Chicago).
Knapsack is as adept at producing feel-inducing chill ballads as he is at pumping out energy-infused bangers: in “burp,” knapsack’s latest release, he combines a lo-fi-meets-future synth chord progression with intricate and jazzy percussion; by contrast, his”avenoir” remix is noticeably uptempo, and features a crazy lead overtop of swooning future saws, all backed by crisp drums (including some awesome fills).
Having just hit 1k followers on SoundCloud, and showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon, this talented artist is one to watch closely as he continues to refine his production and expand his already impressive catalog of releases. Living proof of that which can be achieved from a young age through hard work, dedication (and maybe a little bit of innate talent), knapsack is the embodiment of a musical wunderkind in the Internet age. Catch the full interview below!
Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Well, I’m 14 years old, which is something that a lot of people get confused about. I’ve been making music for nearly 3 years and I started the knapsack project only 6 months ago which is absolutely crazy considering how much I’ve grown!
What inspired you to learn music production?
Well being like 11 years old I was listening to Monstercat [which is a prominent Internet-based electronic music label]. So one day I opened up garage band and made some terrible music but it just expanded from there.
You’re part of a seemingly ever-growing contingent of super young producers making a name for themselves – what do you think has spurred this trend?
Ok so I’ve also noticed this surplus of 14-17 year old producers whose music is superb. It’s hard to say exactly what sparked it but I think that younger people have become more attuned to technology and have more time on their hands.
From “acadia” to “Dreamscape Records” to “Future Coast,” you’ve had a hand in either founding or otherwise contributing to several music collectives and/or online labels – what, in your view, is the importance of the former and the latter?
Small labels are great mainly because they provide an opportunity to meet other musicians alike. I like starting them because they are always fun!
Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations? Who would you love to work with?
Well my influences always change around but some of them have always been at the core of this project. Electronic artists that I’m influenced by are Ramzoid, poly pines, octbr, and so so so many others. I even get massive amounts of inspiration from tracks that my friends put out. I also get a lot of inspiration from thematic “collective” type deals like Soda Island. But then again I’m also inspired by the music that I’ve listened to for a long time like belle and sebastian, sigur rós, and a bunch others in that field.
As for who I’d love to work with? I would be stoked to work with artists like Ramzoid.
Your album artwork is very cohesive and seems to draw inspiration from your production (and vice versa) – how do you combine musical and aesthetic direction in your work and how important is that dynamic to you?
I like the way that SoundCloud pages look when they are cohesive and draw together a way of thinking when you listen to the music. Although, I’m probably going to stop paying as much attention to how my SoundCloud looks as a whole. I’ve been taking the pictures myself for the art that will be showing up soon and will be focusing more on individual artwork. All in all, I would say that it really is not that important to the music.
Last one. What can we expect from you over the course of the next year and beyond? ‘Chella 2017 bruh?
Haha, well this year you are definitely going to see some major collabs, but also I’ve been working on my debut LP which I think everyone is going to love. I’m going to do what I can to start playing some shows as well!
. . .
Show Knapsack some love:
(And check out our full SoundCloud Artist Spotlight playlist for knapsack here.)