An alum of the Berklee City Music program and a current student at the college, Kemet Crayton (who performs as KM.T) is a drummer, producer, and rapper telling his life’s story through his music. In his interview with Berklee Groove, he shares that though sometimes the road to success is lonely, it reveals who your true friends are—as well as how music has been therapeutic for him in his journey with mental health.
What’s your story? Is there a moment that sparked your journey into music?
I started playing piano when I was about four, but I wasn’t really that into it because I hated taking lessons. I was very passionate about playing drums, so I started around seven years old, and that took me through high school and got me into the Berklee City Music program. I’m at Berklee for drums now, but when I got here, I started producing more. In high school, I used to arrange and produce for my high school’s talent show, but when I got here, it was the first time I had ever collaborated with a vocalist on my track or put an actual song together, so that was a whole new experience. Ever since, I’ve fallen in love with making my own music because it’s very therapeutic to me. To be able to just talk to the track and create my own sound, it’s like therapy.
Is there anyone that inspires you?
Definitely my family. They’ve all pushed so hard to get to where they are and where they’re trying to be in life, so mostly my family. Music-wise, I would say Drake. I just like the way his music sounds sonically. It’s hard to explain, but the way stuff sits in the music is fantastic. It’s like a whole new realm of music; it’s a whole new world.
What inspired “Price of a Dream,” and what inspired you to make your video?
I’m currently working on my first album, so I wanted to do a video because it felt right in my spirit. I’m a very visual person, so when I made “Price of a Dream”, it just felt natural to put it with a video. It’s representative of a time in my life and where I was at, and I felt like I was in a real depressive state. I felt lost, like I didn’t know myself, and that gave me a subconscious distance from things. I hadn’t realized that it was happening; I just wanted to work on music and I didn’t realize that I had been disconnecting from so many people, but I felt that I almost needed to. I couldn’t find myself, and every time I’d go out into the world, it felt like I wasn’t being honest. I wanted to spend some time getting to know who I was, and this project helped me to do that. For me, music is both a therapeutic and very spiritual experience. It almost feels like I’m a passive force in creating the music, and I’m being used as a vessel, as if the music is spoken through me. Sometimes, I'll go back and listen to my songs to ground myself and figure out where I’m at. It’s soul-searching for me, and through my faith I feel I’ve been gifted this project to help me through this time of uncertainty.
When did you start the project?
Around this time last year. I lived in 98 Hemenway, and when the fire happened and they moved us to the Sheraton, that was around the time when I thought “okay, I’m going to do a project.” I had a few songs already—those I had started about a year prior.
Did working on your project help alleviate feeling disconnected?
Yes and no. Yes, because it helped me filter the people who really had my back. I felt that I was seeking approval from others, which is not the type of person I am, but it was starting to happen naturally because of my instinctual insecurities and the people I surrounded myself with. However, I felt my project helped me reconnect with people I felt I needed in my life, and helped me reevaluate what friendship meant to me. There will always be people in our lives who are seasonal, who may not have the same common goals as you. It’s okay to have those people, but you’ll cherish those you take with you to the top more when you know for certain that they’re kindred spirits. Sometimes people can distract you, so it’s important to keep people whose journeys are similar to yours close. So that’s why I would say no, because it didn’t help me reconnect with everybody, but only with those who I truly connected with. Being alone helped me realize that sometimes it’s just got to be you and God. It may be hard, and on the road to success, you have to be okay with being alone. That’s the price of a dream; everyone has to pay the price.
If you could give any advice to your past self, what would it be?
Keep pushing through. Don’t let the fear of being alone or not having certain things you want in your life detract from what you’re going to get. There are times in our lives where we want everything now—we want success sooner than they do. We work hard and we dedicate our lives to the craft, but we want success immediately. I guess I would tell myself just to be more patient. Trust yourself and your process, and paint a bigger picture of what it is that you want. Sometimes you might not even feel successful if you have the money, the house, the cars, the clothes; I don’t even think that’s success. It’s just a feeling, a feeling of peace and happiness. That’s why it’s hard to define success, because once you get there, how do you determine it? Do you view success as an end point to stop at? I guess I see it as continuing to do my artistry every day, taking care of myself and my family, and providing exceedingly and abundantly with my music.
Do you have everyday habits that feed your process?
I work on my music every day, since I’m very involved in the process. Before I started making music, I would naturally wake up at five every morning to sit down and just create. It really helped me build my creativity and passion and expand my thinking. It was just exercising my productivity and letting the project take me where it wanted to go. Being able to trust myself and my process more is something I try to do every day, because when I start trusting myself I see more things manifesting themselves in my life. I produce every part of my music, and my big thing was mixing. I wanted to incorporate every one of my emotions; I wanted that to translate in my songs. In the intro, I have rain in the background to feel like I’ve created an atmosphere, and I want people to notice that.
How do you #getinthegroove?
I think I started being very honest and accepting of myself. We live in a time where everyone wants instant validation, and I understand—who doesn’t want a million likes and everyone telling you you’re good? I got to this point, though, where I sat there and let myself feel the amount of true pain that I needed to push through and create from it. When I was in that low state, one of the things that pushed me through was that there was a reason I was supposed to be there. I was in that headspace for around a year, and I was questioning why I was there. I realized that for me to grow and develop into who I am, I had to stay in that state and figure out how to turn that light on inside of myself that turns my pain into creativity. That took being really honest with myself. I feel like a lot of artists at Berklee or otherwise don’t let themselves feel that true and honest pain that we need to create really honest music.
A lot of songs feel so commercial...it’s gotten to a point where things are so happy and overly-saturated that it doesn’t feel real. It’s a weird type of happiness. It feels like they’re trying to sell you this image of happiness when they’re really hurting on the inside. I feel like a lot of people don’t want to accept that they’re hurting, and I think that’s what makes me stand out. I don’t like to hide how I feel; I love being very expressive in my music and whether I’m praised for relatability or just scrolled past, it’s still my honest truth. I accepted that dark time in my life, and it ultimately made me stronger. I thrived in my depression, and it made me a source of light for myself in the darkness.