Beneath the radio and popular music, there are humans making music that comes organically from their mind, body and soul. Master producer, artist and engineer Ken Barrientos is of that realm. While Ken is a multi talented artist with his own commune and workshop called The Breath in Los Angeles, he is also conducting an ongoing and open-ended experiment he calls The Log.Os. With help from Nikko Gray and Iman Omari, two Los Angeles locals, the music they make is perfection.I could list all of Ken Barrientos accomplishments, but wouldn't you rather have him tell his story?
Next In Show Presents Ken Barrientos aka The Log.Os
When did you first get involved in music?
Music wasn't ever a conscious decision in my case, I sort of found myself doing it though. It was always prevalent in my upbringing; in my understanding of the more abstract world and I feel it was always somehow a part of me in my internal language. My father was a musician too [a guitarist]. The chords he would play, I’ve realized, have been carried with me and into my own music a lot. Ultimately, I suppose my process has always been one where I’d only find myself creating once there’d be a real message behind it. Something you tap into and become responsible of delivering through. It’s a spiritual thing as much as it is just therapy or a pastime for me. It’s transcendent, for me anyway.
You’re an artist as well. When did you discover that talent?
My mother says I was drawing at the age of 2. Anyone who knew me then would say that I wouldn’t stop. I was obsessed. Eventually, anything visual-based or design-based I'd become into and found myself doing. I would love to build things with my hands, with limited resources, and to reverse-engineer things – to get something out; I’ve always had the drive to manifest. “The ghost in the machine”. I believe its still a cornerstone of all of my creative processes – whatever that same logic and emotive force is.
What were you listening to growing up?
“Eleanor Rigby” was the first song that gave me "that mood". I think I was 5 years old. I’ve always liked darker sounds that have a certain sweetness to it. I had my father’s music around early on too, as a child. Later, I never really wanted to fall into any crowds or music scenes. I’d have my stints with [say] the hip-hop and the formal band-type kids, but I could never agree with the regulations that were imposed on either of them. I enjoyed [and continue to enjoy] the aesthetics of underground art and music. I think that, with too many rules, they could easily become too insecure for their own good. I feel a good artist is willing to destroy and rebuild his or her own work and comfort zone. Anyway, I think I’ve consistently appreciated anybody that would transcend the confines of genres that never really existed in the first place. I never listen to any types of music as wholes, but each artist or artistic statement on their own – whether that be Brian Eno or Pete Rock. To me, Aphex Twin is greater than house; and Autechre or Dilla are greater than hip-hop – the types of music which they’ve each ironically failed to adhere to. That's the twist, I guess.
What do you listen to now?
It's luckily mostly peers and friends of mine, namely Nikko and Iman. Quadron's really amazing, and I'm really excited for them right now [for their deal with Epic]. Currently, Inc. [on 4AD] and a lot of the signees on Tri-Angle Records and Hippos In Tanks are really instilling lots of hope in me with what they're bringing to the table. Actress, Hype Williams, and Zomby have also put out some really fucking beautiful works that cross into full-fledged art. Rap has been good lately too. The Weeknd. Beyond that, I appreciate anyone that’s delivering a breath of fresh air into everything.
Are your inspirations similar with music and art?
Yes. The two are one in the same for me, I can surely say. It’s just life.
Have you always lived in the Los Angeles area?
No. I was born in New York. I have to say that it's a pretty intense place to be all you know for so long in your life. It's a main hub, if not the center of the human universe, in terms of it as a source of information. I take the good and the not-so-good that that implies with me. It’s sort of influenced a dystopic view of things for me, but with a light at the end of the tunnel; some Philip K. Dick stuff.
In my opinion you are already a very accomplished producer and engineer. Who have you worked with that are most special and that would help solidify my statement?
Well, to their credit, I'm personally honored to have worked with Sa-Ra, Erykah Badu, J*DaVeY, Blu, Quadron, and Flying Lotus. I also co-produced “Levels” for Bilal. I don't even know how I can trace myself to now claiming them in my resume. I often feel like I'm a fan, foremost. I guess it took my obsessiveness with sound to make us find each other. Still, everything I’ve done is an experimentation. I don't know what I'm doing.
The Breath is a boutique label that you and Nikko Gray started. What does the brand mean to you?
It's a commune and workshop I've built. It’s a remote creative oasis with an open-door policy. You have to seek it but you kind of have to let it find you. It’s like a tiny cult. Ha. It's also a venue, studio, and art gallery. Nikko designs and sells her own art from it. Everything that comes out of it is "it".
Who are The Log.Os and what do they represent?
The Log.Os isn't any one body. It is an ongoing and open-ended experiment of mine. I've recently related it to time-travel. It's hard to explain. Iman Omari and Nikko Gray sing on it. Honestly, they’ve been amazing enough to endure through my crazy vision and strange requests!
Your self titled debut album is a classic in its own right. What were the studio sessions like recording that project?
Thank you. It happened pretty organically, yet also a little disjointed. That also kind of hits the nail on the head of my intention with it. These songs were cultivated almost accidentally, during a 3-year period. I had written some of it literally in my sleep. I would transcribe it when I’d wake up. I didn’t know I was making the record until it was too late. I sort of saw the path and took the reins from there. Nikko and Iman never met each other until it was completed. I asked each to sing on it as my voice, essentially. Also, the reason I had revealed it on November, 11 2011 was because the numbers 11:11 had been haunting me in an ominous way for the whole time leading up to its completion. I’d owed it to make that an acknowledged variable in the whole experiment. I was using my life as grounds for the poetry.
What do you hope to accomplish for 2013?
To just be.
If the rumors are true and the world really does end this year, how do you want to be remembered?
I believe I’m just energy and my “memory” will continue into the next world and into deeper levels of existence, regardless. It’s the butterfly effect and that’s enough to be my legacy.
The Future Is Now. Listen To The Log.Os. Energy Is All Around Us.