After starting out as a talented battlerapper at the age of 14 and losing his ability to speak at the age of 17, PK became one of the first artists in Estonia to start making new-school hip-hop in the 2010s after relearning everything. In addition to record tours across the country, he has played on the main stage of the Estonian Hip-Hop Festival multiple times. His song “Parema Elu Nimel” inspired him to create his own party series of the same name, which ran for a year in Suhkrumoll, a pub in Tallinn’s Old Town. The “Parema elu nimel” events were about bringing people together and eradicating all forms of discrimination.
PK refers to himself as a “genrejumper,” having experimented with various aspects from several types of music. His album “Wet Dreams & 911 Calls” was a blend of trap, emo rap, and euro-trance, and his most recent album “appear offline” was well-received by indie and alternative press. PK is recognised for melodious tunes with big synthy leads as well as quiet acoustic heartbreakers.
He’s also made public statements about his love of punk music and has covered a number of well-known rock musicians, including Blink 182, Panic! at the Disco, and Machine Gun Kelly. The first video from his alternative rock chapter, “after eight,” was published on February 22, 2022.
Today we had a chance to interview PK about his journey into the music industry and his freshly released single, “White Pants.”
- How did you first get into music?
We had a rapper in Estonia who was rapping superfast, faster than anyone I ever heard before. I started out trying to emulate what he was doing. Soon enough the situation organically modified itself and developed into something different, something to call my own.
I also met a lot of battle rappers on the streets near my school, we would have battles during classes and whatnot. The battlerap scene was actually really good to me in my early years and I managed to do some awesome things there. The melodic parts of my music only happened years later.
- What instruments can you play?
I like to pick up the ukulele now and then. Wouldn’t really say that I KNOW how to play it, I can play maybe 3 or 4 chords. I would love to know how to play the violin though, I loooove the sound of violins.
- Where do you see your musical career in 10 years?
Wherever I am. There is no me without sound so wherever life might take me, I know sound will be right there next to me in one way or the other.
- Which instrument is your favourite to play?
My favorite to play is the piano and it doesn’t even matter that I don’t really know haha. Something about it just mesmerizes me.
- What would you say is your greatest strength as an artist?
The same thing that i consider my greatest strength as a person overall – transparency in my passion. Life is all about the details, in music or any path you choose, for that matter. I love the little things and am loud and proud of it. Too many people are ashamed of how they are in one way or another.
- What would you say is your greatest weakness as an artist?
Probably the inability to completely let go of missed chances. It’s getting better though, I feel like it has gotten way better parallel with my overall persona who is always overthinking.
- Who is your favourite musician?
I have many but if I have to pick just ONE it would have to be an Estonian punkband called Vennaskond (brotherhood in English). They have the perfect combination of rebellious, romantic, hopeful, melancholic poetry accompanied by the violin and a “whatever” attitude. But I enjoy the work of many more.
- What is your proudest accomplishment as a musician?
The times that people have told me me how I changed their life and gave them hope with how I put my story in my music, are pretty special. But overall I’m very proud every day to be doing what I do. Some years ago somebody told me that they saw me in the city and that I was walking with my head low. They said “you should hold your head high, you should be proud of who you are and what you have done”. I think about that every time I find myself letting my head drop, it’s safe to say that person changed my outlook on life and myself.
- What interests or hobbies do you have outside of music?
I really enjoy football and basketball but it’s more than just watching a sport for me. For me it has always been about belonging. The movement I started in Estonia, the purpose of the party series, everything is for people to feel like they belong. I have followed a football team for over a decade, it was the first football team I ever knew outside of Estonia. I feel like I don’t watch their games but they are something that belong in my life and vice versa. So it’s more than just interest, it’s an urge. I really like comics too, the whole superhero universe plus I used to collect stuffed animals, they are just supercute. Sometimes I still buy them but not very often because I have so many already that I wouldn’t fit in my own home if I bought more.
- What is your creative process when making music?
It all starts with a sound, always. I see a lot of people writing lyrics before and then adding an instrumental to it later. That has never been my way, I love the feeling of a sound inspiring an original idea in my brain from nothing. It’s a beautiful creation.
- Tell me about your top performances.
Considering everything, I think I’m an expert in existing. That’s my top performance – life has been trying to boo me off stage countless times, yet here I stand. When talking about live shows – some of the sets I did at Red Emperor Bar were the dopest ones. There has been several amazing ones – club Prive, the Estonian Hip-hop festival mainstage, Tallinn Music Week, at my own party series in Suhkrumoll. Õllesummer festival was great, iIwas just 15 or 16 and there were thousands of people.
- Take me through how the song idea came about, the writing and production process.
I spend quite a lot of time just listening to instrumentals, letting my brain flow and see if something clicks. Sometimes nothing does but that’s fine, they will some other time. I used to think exactly what I was going to write about, take a subject and try to stick to it. But as I evolve as a person and an artist, it changed. Right now, after a sound inspires me, I just write. Rarely I think about the topic, I just let it happen. It’s a kind of meditation, I guess. A trip inside my own head that I kind of control but at the same time, it just goes where it wants. Usually I fix up the first draft a bit but it roughly stays the same as the very first ideas. Production process is very intimate, I do it all alone aside from the occasional collab on mix/mastering.
- Who would you most like to collaborate with artistically?
I would love to work with Michael Jackson but that train unfortunately left the station a long time ago. I always love to work with somebody that doesn’t really make sense to work with. Maybe an opera singer? Musically thinking I would like to work with blackbear, I feel like we would sound pretty nice together. Emotionally – Blink 182, Vennaskond, Belle and Sebastian. Belle and Sebastian would be an interesting one, I don’t really have a vision of how that would sound but saying this now, I should look into this 😀
- Have you ever taught or mentored another musician?
I’ll answer these two together. Through the years I’ve been lucky to meet a lot of musicians – the ones who are just starting out and look for me for guidance and the ones who have been in the game way longer than me and give theirs to me. It’s kind of an organic centipede system, knowledge gets passed on just like in the generations of a family. There are some guidelines to follow the bigger you get as an artist and ofcourse I have shared what I’ve learned with several artists coming up. But it’s a kind of a natural selection to whom – some people just click no matter the genre, outlooks or attitude. With those people I have shared everything I know. I remember how much some people helped me when I was starting and it was vital. The way minds work is amazing. Sometimes they just want to give you everything they have and it’s the same with me and some younger brilliant souls I’ve met.
- What was your worst performance?
The worst gig was after an albumtour a few years ago in a city that I had never performed before. Not sure if the marketing was bad or nobody there knew me or both but nobody showed up. Literally nobody, it was just me, the DJ, the soundman, my manager and the warm up act. The warm up act did their set to but I cancelled mine. That was the only time I have ever cancelled a show and it felt horrible.
- How do you deal with disinterested or unruly audiences?
I think it’s only fair that I don’t expect everybody to give out the same kind of energy. Who am I to say that somebody is not enjoying the show just because they look disinterested. Besides, this is a two-way street. If the audience is disinterested, I should probably be more interesting. Living in Estonia you kind of get used to people being more introverted though.
- Do you prefer to work alone or collaboratively?
Alone, for sure. But as of late, I’m seeing the beauty in working together with others. I actually more-less started out in a rap group but I quickly saw that this was not for me. Now – almost 20 years later I am learning to play with others and widening my spectrum with all the amazing things people can offer.
- What are your favourite venues to perform at?
I definitely loved the Red Emperor Bar, which is unfortunately closed now. I actually prefer medium sized stages instead of full sized. Mainly because I’m a soloact and I get lost in the music so much that I pretty much run myself in the ground during the first songs so as the set goes on, it just gets more and more difficult. The smaller the stage, the more still I have to stay haha. That’s a question of self-control ofcourse but as soon as I get up there, there is nothing else and everything just happens.
- What inspires you as an artist?
The beautiful struggle. Everything we do here, everything we are, everyone we ever met, everyone we will never meet. Life is magically, transformingly, painfully gorgeous. The fact that my sounds are a piece of this miraculous, ridiculous universe, is syrreal.
- How do you nurture your own creativity?
I don’t. I kind of just breathe in and when I breathe out, a song is born. Life nurtures it in it’s own ways, when needed.
- Do you have trouble with performance anxiety?
Yeah, ofcourse. Some years ago it was so bad that I couldn’t talk to anyone for about an hour before going on, had my own heartbeat painfully beating in my ears, the whole 9 yards. As time went on, it got better though. Anxiety is a big part of my life in any aspect and I just learned to live with it a little better than before. That probably translates to performances too.
- What are your favourite musical genres, and are there any you dislike?
Well, I grew up on punk so I love that unconditionally. Hip-hop will always be in my heart because we’ve had such a close relationship for over a decade. I wouldn’t say I DISLIKE any genres but I think jazz is quite boring. Maybe I have just haven’t listened to it enough yet. There are some electronic music genres that just don’t offer me anything. Having said that, there are some sub-genres that I really love – like euro-trance or anything with massive synths. I’m a sucker for those.
- How do you differ from most other artists?
Not most, all of them. The same way that every person differs from every other person in the world. We put musicians in a box but in the end, we are all just telling our personal story in our personal way. There are always similarities just like you can find a person who reminds you of someone else with their attitude, laugh, jokes or appearance. But there are also always differences. Everything is in the details, we just have to look.
- How do you think of your previous song comparing to this newly released?
I always like my newest one best. Actually, I always like the next one best. My songs are all blog posts and I feel like the next one will always reflect my thoughts and feelings best. But then I write a new one and it will take over and so on.
Don’t forget to follow him on Instagram as pk_estonia
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