Skip to content

Maya Crawford speaks with Hikeii on Dancehall influences, Brownies & Lemonade, and more

  • by

A month ago, KOXY marked the beginning of a new year with their debut show, featuring artist Kari Faux and opener Hikeii. KOXY DJ Maya Crawford ’19 had the incredible opportunity to chat with Hikeii before his set about his musical experience, inspirations,  and more. 

How did you first get into music?

I always been surrounded by music, doing music. My Dad played guitar, the banjo, the harmonica, like a bunch of stuff and my mom didn’t really play anything but was like really about me and my brothers being artistic. Growing up, my dad taught me how to play guitar because that’s what he loved to do. And then from that I started going to lessons. I was like three or four, but I stopped around, I think it was like 11 or 12 because I got into drums. I like drums a lot more. I honestly hated playing guitar. I didn’t enjoy it but I feel like my dad was like “you’re living very vicariously through me and my brothers and wanted us play.” But when I, when I started playing drums, that’s what I was really hyped on. And then I played drums from when I was like 12 up until like 16, 17 because I moved, but it was smaller so we couldn’t bring my old drum kit. Then the dude I was taking lessons from was from Ireland and he moved back to Ireland and so at that point I was kinda just like I can self teach myself.

At the same time though I was in dance and I was like doing B-boy breakdance and like my brother was in hip hop and so he would always ask me to like edit songs and like do things for his dance classes and stuff. And so, um, at that time I was kind just like dabbling in Dj like I’ve been DJing for awhile, like 13, 14 before I started producing more. And so I was like, oh, I know how to DJ, like I can learn how to like edit stuff and cuts stuff and mash stuff up. So I started doing edits and matches there for my brother’s dances. And then from there I was like, “yo, I kinda like this” And then I started delving into making music. That’s how I got started in it. That’s how I got into, um, really just producing things like through not having means of like analog production and so moving into like a digital word interface and then also just like my brother and people around me, like really like meeting someone to like know how to do that kind of stuff. And at the same time you just enjoyed it. I love making music and so yeah.

So how did the name Hikeii come about from that?

I don’t know, like lowkey is like when something’s like really, like, like um like nobody knows about or blasé blah and high key I’m like I’m a really energetic person and I like being out there, like going everywhere. I like hanging out with people and shit like that. I don’t know, like just anytime I would do something so it be like, oh you know, like high key blasé, blasé, blah because I would always be doing something crazy.

So I went onto twitter and I tried to do like high key how it’s actually spelled and um, it was uh, it was taken on everything, so I was like, okay, what’s it like, what’s the way I can spell this? So when people Google it, I’m the only thing that shows up, so I ended up spelling it like that because nothing else showed up and spelled it like that. So that’s, that’s, that’s where the name comes from. It was just like, I was trying to be as like Google friendly as possible that was the main reason not to crazy it’s not that deep of a name.

I remember seeing on your Twitter that you’re from the Caribbean originally.

Yeah. I’m from Aruba. It’s like a small island above Venezuela. Yeah, I did not spend a lot of time there. I moved to America when I was like two, I was like really young. So I, I honestly didn’t spend a lot of time there, but I still learn from my mom. And then in my own time, like moving to America, you kind of lose a lot of your cultural background if you’re not, if you don’t move here with like a lot of your family or if you don’t move somewhere very surrounded by the culture. And Los Angeles isn’t a very big place for Caribbeans. Caribbeans usually move to Florida or New York and so I didn’t grow up surrounded by any Caribbean culture and at a point my mom, really just for choices that she made, didn’t really teach us that much about it. Nor did she know that much herself about it past her parents because she didn’t really talk to her parents about her history and stuff.

I’m one of the very few people out of my siblings who are very proud, like we’re all proud of where we’re from but I’m the only one who’s like really digging into it and really trying to represent it. I love my island and it is very small and I want people to know it’s more than just a tourist thing. There’s really cool people and sounds that come out of the Caribbeans. And there’s so many artists that are Caribbean, a lot of people don’t know because they’re just grouped as like African American when we’re not. We’re from the Caribbean. So people like Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, Tory Lanez; a lot of people don’t know that they’re Caribbean because they don’t really advocate it. I just think it’d be cool if people represented our islands more.

So kind of switching up gears, you’ve doing a lot of stuff this past year with Brownies and Lemonade. Starting with like your debut show last year going on doing festivals and events with them. How did that happen?

I feel like there’s a lot of reasons behind it. I think the first of it is like the lack of representation of people of Color in electronic music and Brownies and Lemonade being mostly people of color. Like Kush (Kush Fernando) who’s in it and like he’s like my complexion and Chad who’s Asian and it’s a very, very, very open community and I feel like they just like to support cool people who are of color and let them have those opportunities and I’m really blessed to be like really good friends with them.They kind of just like just take me along with them and really give me cool opportunities because they really just believe in what I do. Honestly though, a lot of the times I ended up at festivals was sometimes its been with them, but other times I’d be there with someone else and I would tell them being like super hype and they would be like “let’s just put you on something.” And so a lot of it came from that. Like I went to Coachella with like Skrillex and Lido, and then they brought me to edc last year and then they saw me at Lollapalooza with Lido again because I was doing a lot together.

Lido, he always goes, he loves Chicago but I’d never gone before and then we just did that song with Chance, called Wala Cam. And so I was like, I really wanted to go to Chicago. I really would like to meet these people because I want to see why you love Chicago so much. And so I went and I can see why I love Chicago. I love Chicago. I’ve never been before. That was my first time in like I want to go to Lollas (Lollapaloozas) every year now. It’s one of my favorite festivals. So it’s kind of two things. It’s like me just being there and then also really just wanting to give me an outlet to like show that unique music and sound that not many people in the electronic world know about it or hear.

What’s next for you? What can we expect to hear from you in the next year or so?

A lot to be honest and a lot of it not knowing that I did it, if that makes any sense. I’ve been doing a lot of studio production. Being a drummer, I love drum programming and producing the drums behind tracks. A lot of artists I really look up to and loved who are now my friends have a lot of respect for my drum ideas just because it’s so mixed. I grew up listening to dancehall and Soca and all this music from the Caribbean because that’s where I’m from and that’s where my family’s from. But then I also grew up in Los Angeles where you hear like rap and hip hop and there’s like NorCal where there’s the hyphy movement and like a lot of my Caribbean family lives in New York so there’s light feet and there’s all these underground styles and so I started like just drawing drums from anything that sounded cool. Like when I listen to a song, the first things I listen to are the jumps and like not many people are like that. I could care less about the vocals; I could care less about anything else. I like when jumps are all over the place really crazy. And I tried to put that in my music. And Lido’s one of those people who loves loves my ideas with drums. And loves what I do and he gives me cool outlets and an opportunities so he’ll just send me songs. And they have everything but drums and he’s just like go crazy on the drums.

I want us to do what you’re inspired to do. And then I’d say, 98% of the time he keeps that. So a lot of songs that are like low key, low key production stuff. I’m working on EPs, working on remixes, but also just like I really want to, I really want to start making the move to pushing more dance hall type music. So it’s also finding the right artists to do that with. I don’t want to just do what everybody else is doing, like just hit up random people who kind of know the vibe. If I’m going to make dance hall, I want to make dance hall with people who are from the Caribbean and I want to give them an outlet to show their music in America. People can say what they want about artists like Cardi b and stuff like that. But we can’t deny that she is putting artists from her culture and things like that. You can say what you want about what she said about people, but you can’t deny that like doing stuff with Bad Bunny and doing this is making an entirely new outlet for Latin music to be mainstream in America. And that’s cool. That’s cool. Seeing people from places that I’m from or like areas that are from being able to do stuff that are good because like there’s so much great music out there that will never, never be seen.

Keep up with Hikeii below:




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *