Now in its 20th year, MoPOP’s Sound Off! is the premier 21-and-under music showcase in the Pacific Northwest. This year, we’re celebrating a milestone anniversary of the program, which has built upon an incredible legacy in the local music scene. Celebrate with us at 7 p.m. PT on Saturday, May 15 with a virtual music showcase featuring performances and interviews with eight artists from across our region.
The first thing you hear when Kiddus Fecto takes the stage is the deep bass of his voice, and though he immediately commands a space when he sings, you’re also drawn into the depth of his craft as a songwriter, producer, and performer. Swinging naturally between hip hop and R&B, and fiercely devoted to the music community, Kiddus lifts his listeners up.
Kiddus Fecto: My name's Kiddus Fecto, I'm a producer, rapper, vocalist, songwriter, and performer. I'm born and raised in Seattle. I've been making music for like six years now. I started producing in my high school basement because they had the equipment there and my teachers saw how much passion I have for music and he just allowed me to utilize everything that was there. I would just go crazy. I would produce for artists that were in my school or just people who wanted to rap. Then after I graduated, I joined The Residency, this program funded by Macklemore, and did that for a few years. Then went on to be a part of Totem Star. So it's just been a blast.
How did you hear about Sound Off! and what encouraged you to apply this year?
Kiddus Fecto: I heard about it through The Residency and when I heard about it, I wasn't ready. I just didn't have as much materials like I have now. Then a few years later, somebody who I collaborate with at Totem Star, her name is Mirabai, she was in [Sound Off!] last year. I played in her band and then I knew that I always wanted to do it myself because I just I have the stage presence. So I was just like, "Man, it'd be perfect if I get this shot" and just show people what I really do and what I'm really about.
What was your reaction when you found out you were going to be part of this year's program?
Kiddus Fecto: I was going crazy because I was speaking this into existence the whole quarantine. Then when I got the call from [MoPOP Manager of Public Engagement] Robert [Rutherford] saying that I got selected, I was like, "Hey!" I got lit as hell and then turned up to A$AP Rocky and slowthai's "MAZZA" song. I was just like, "Hey!" I spoke it into existence. It means the world to me because I honestly thought that this wasn't going to happen. Last year, they ended [Sound Off!] early, they didn't even go to the finals [due to COVID-19]. So just the fact that I have another opportunity to do this. It's crazy, you know?
How would you describe your sound?
Kiddus Fecto: Very atmospheric. Euphoric. It's very synthy, but at the same time, there's that hip hop element into it with the sampling and the drums.
xxxxXXSpeaker 2: (02:16) My reaction, when I found out that this was the year we were going to do sound off, I was kind of surprised and excited that it was still happening. And so I was just very excited and it felt a little bit validating to have my songs get a chance to kind of stand alone. Um, and it was very vulnerable submitting them because they were kind of just rough demos and I'm excited to see how far they've come in this performance and with some new instrumentation and everything. So, yeah, very excited.
Why do you make music?
Kiddus Fecto: It's the only thing that brings me joy, like real joy, you know? When I do other things, whether I'm just hanging out or whatever, like it's cool, but you could listen to music when you're hanging out with people, when you're by yourself. Music's a beautiful thing because it brings everybody from all walks of life to come together and just enjoy this production. It's big.
We heard a story about you hiding in your school's music room after hours, just so you could get more time with music production.
Kiddus Fecto: The first time I did it, I didn't get caught. I was hiding under the table where the MIDI was and everything, and he checked the studio to see where I was at, but he couldn't see me, the lights were all off. So I was like, "Perfect." He left, stayed there for like another hour or so. And a few people were in the hallway, they had caught me. He was like, "Yo, were you hiding in the studio?" I was like, "Yeah!" But the second time I got caught, and then after that I would go in the studio with other people and then I would leave and then they would stay back like and hide. So the teacher would leave, I would just go right back. It always worked out, you know?
What does that story say about your interest in music?
Kiddus Fecto: Love. The passion. I really want to do big things in Seattle. I really do feel like we have so much here. We have so much culture here and we just got to figure out a way to put the egos aside and come together and make something bigger because we have so much talent out here. With everything that's went to the mainstream, like that was cool too, but it's like, there's so many other unheard artists, we're just going hard and just crazy.
What role does community play in your music?
Kiddus Fecto: It plays a big role in my music. I was having this conversation with myself one time. I was like, "Yo, these rappers or these artists out here acting like, 'Oh, I'm going to do this all by myself.'" It's like, cool, you can do it by yourself, so what? But the best music is created when you have other artists in the room with you and you all are just creating something that's not even planned. It was out of the blue because you don't know where this person could take your song. You could go as far as you can go, but if you get another set of ears and another idea, you never know where your music could go. I could drop an album all by myself, but it's not going to be as impactful as if I work with other artists, because the best music is made when you're collaborating.
This program takes a village to build, and we are grateful to The Looking Out Foundation and Mackie for their generous support of Sound Off! 2021.
We’d like to thank our community partners in helping to amplify the work of these young artists and for their support of Sound Off! 2021: KEXP, London Bridge, and The Recording Academy Pacific Northwest Chapter.