In late-February, Kala Btz dropped his newest EP, Instatution. Just weeks before the release, we had the chance to sit with the producer-vocalist to share his thoughts on the project as a whole.
For those who are unfamiliar with Kala Btz, he’s one of few musicians from New Jersey combining electronic music like club and techno with hardcore metal. It was no surprise when he told us that he used to be a drummer in a metal-rock band growing up as a kid, but it was jaw dropping to hear that for him, producing club music felt more forceful than hardcore.
“It feels more at home at times. I grew up on rap, metal, and hardcore. Electronic music is mad new to me. I didn’t even know that electronic music has house. I didn’t even consider house as electronic. And club music, jersey club, I never considered it house music. But it is, it’s like really electronic music because of the basses.”
In the past when you listen to Kala’s club music, it didn’t feel as he described, forced. The sounds he would use in a remix felt natural if anything, but then he began to talk about his familiarity with the metal genre and how it was a lot easier to express yourself more freely when you’re able to include lyrics.
“I couldn’t express myself the way I wanted at times. Like, I want to make sad songs, I can’t make sad turn up songs, really. You can but it’s like a weird world I don’t know if EDM crowds would be more into it. Like it’s just drops and sad and shit. But now I just make straight emo music with guitars and it came out of me and it felt cathartic.”
Instatution is a blend of trap and metal and we stan a good genre fusion. The 7-track EP demonstrates what it feels like to be angry, resentful, sad, and bitter all at the same time…kinda like how you’d feel after scrolling through Instagram and seeing your friends at a party you didn’t know was happening and then finally seeing the event flyer a day later. Kala is the embodiment of his Instatution EP and it’s not because he wrote it. Growing up in the projects of New Jersey, Kala would describe himself as a rebel without a cause. “I got locked up when I was 17…didn’t get out till I was 19. I got locked up in juvenile…Me and my friends would just run around get stoned and fucked up then break shit.” From time to time they would do “random ass shit” like sell drugs or do wild shit.
Kala continues, “I got my GED while I was locked up. This program I took had put credits to my schooling while I was in jail and I was able to study and pass the test. I changed my life… I stopped hanging out with crazy people, stopped getting high and shit, like even stopped smoking weed. I was like fuck it, I’ll just be straight sober and went spiritual.”
When Kala was finally released, he was on a mission to start a band but it was difficult “to get mad heads together” as he put it. It took awhile but during that time, he turned to electronic music and started making beats. “I got Fruity Loops, then Ableton, Logic, whatever floats your boat it’s the same shit.
“After so many years of making electronic and then all this metal and hardcore background…it came through…like the timing was good in a way. For a whole year, I didn’t know anybody doing it but like a couple from our scene…who like fuck with it but only a song here and there…Now I’m starting to meet more people that do electronic music who were like closet hardcore and metal kids…Like I had no clue. The only way you really know is if you see them wearing a band shirt, gauges, or septum piercings.”
Today, Kala has found his tribe and is constantly in work mode producing beats, recording vocals, and performing at shows. Trap metal is still fairly new and even Kala confesses that he’s still learning the throes of it all. He tells us, “I’m still new to it, a lot of the people that I’m meeting that are doing it…we’re all new. Like no one has been doing it for more than 3 years…It’s just like an evolution of what punk and emo and metal were. It’s just that kids got more access to this. And it’s easier to do this than on guitar. Rapping is like the new rock. Everyone’s dressing weird and shit, and I’m like yeah I like this. And it’s more Black and Hispanic kids doing it. So I’m like even more fuck yeah.”
The energy we get from Instatution is very telling when speaking to Kala. It’s energetic and wholly when envisioning what trap metal should sound like. Find Instatution on all streaming platforms including Spotify and follow Kala Btz to see him perform live.