Daniel Hornell is having a hard time containing his excitement as his new album, “Kings EP,” was set to be released on iTunes Sunday. His broad smile didn’t leave his face during a Skype interview the day before his new EP dropped.
Hornell, who is originally from Conception Bay South, relocated to King’s County, N.S., last year with his family. The move sparked a new, more in-depth interest in hip-hop for Hornell, who was formerly known as DJ Hornell.
The DJ took a step back from the turntables, only to take a step towards the microphone. Under the name Kioti, Hornell now spits rhymes over his own beats, collaborating with Nova Scotian rappers and delving deep into a new scene.
Rap wasn’t the first musical journey Hornell embarked on. The 21-year-old has been involved in numerous bands of different genres over the years, writing and recording both electric and acoustic tunes.
He plays guitar, bass, keyboards and drums, and amassed all of his recording gear by working at McDonald’s.
“The first time I rapped was when I was 16, because a girl had broken up with me,” Hornell laughed. “Once I started recording my own music, I started making my own beats. It kinda just drew the rap out of me. I never planned to be a rapper.
“It all started when I moved here last September (2011). Some random local kid added me on Facebook and it somehow led me to a video of Bowen, who is also a Canadian rapper, on Youtube,” Hornell said. He linked up with Bowen through Facebook, explaining that he was a DJ and producer who had just moved to Nova Scotia from Newfoundland. The pair ended up collaborating on Bowen’s album, “On Top and Reckless”. Hornell and DJ C-Cash produced the beats on all 12 songs. Hornell also raps on the album.
Hornell has now gathered a large posse of like-minded souls who share his passion for the microphone.
“I got a couple kids around town, like Neary, that I just found”, Hornell said. “He’s an awesome rapper, I mean the ladies love him and he’s already got a bunch of hits on Youtube. We really clicked, so a lot of times we’d just come over, get drunk and then just make a song that was good for being drunk to, y’know what I mean? We made a lot of mistakes and things didn’t always come out the way we hoped it would, but we didn’t really do a whole lot of retakes, which was something big on this album.”
Hornell recorded and produced the 12 songs on his new album, and collaborates with his new Nova Scotian pals DJ C-Cash and Neary, as well as artists like Young Marz, Lil C, Nazz-T, Innov8, Jfro, and Sidewinder.
“The mixtape is called ‘Kings EP’. It’s kind of a dig at the idea that I do live in King’s County of Annapolis Valley, but most people are poverty ridden, so it’s kind of ironic that they called it King’s County. We like to call ourselves the kings, the whole group, as kind of a joke to say, y’know, we’re really not,” Hornell laughed.
When talking about recording, Hornell had an interesting take on the process.
“I always compare it to oil painting. You can’t really turn back,” he said. “We just put down the kick, the snare, put some instruments on it, rap on it, sing over some chorus, just layer it up constantly, like it was oil paint. Any mistake, we just usually keep it. I find that to be the funnest part, just making pictures with sound.”
Hornell has been spreading his DJ name around through various projects and recently assumed the name Kioti in an attempt to keep his DJ life and rapper life a little more separate.
“I guess he’ll always be more of a corporate name in my music career,” Hornell said about the title DJ Hornell, which he has been using for more than two years. “With the rap and such profanities and subject matter, I felt it would be a good idea to cover it with some other umbrella name, like Kioti.”
Aside from DJing and rapping at local house parties and barn bashes, Hornell has done well with self-promotion through social media. He shares his music via SoundCloud and DatPiff.com, a site used to release and share mixtapes with other artists. However, Hornell said getting himself on iTunes has been quite a process.
“You have to do it through some sort of distributer, so I went on DittoMusic.com, which is really good. Pretty cheap and easy to navigate. You can actually make your own record label and stuff like that so, technically, I do have my own label right now,” Hornell laughed. “Through my label, I published my own CD so I get all the royalties and everything if I decide to sell it, even though I just plan to have it free on iTunes.
“When you go through DittoMusic, basically you upload your album and release it through them. They’re a distributer. They take like $30 for the service, which is totally cool because it saves me a bunch of paperwork. Then they’ll just put it up there (on iTunes). I think it’s also going to be on Amazon and Rap City, a bunch of different stores,” Hornell said, clearly excited at the prospect.
Hornell acknowledged he does need to take a more in-depth look into copyright laws in the future so he can ensure he receives royalties if his beats are sampled. Right now, he is more concerned with making art.
As a rapper, writer, singer, producer, DJ, musician, beat-maker, graphic artist, sound technician and now a record label owner, Daniel Hornell is someone to look out for in the future, as both DJ Hornell and Kioti.
“I’m excited, but I’m also scared,” Hornell said with a chuckle. “I feel like I’m halfway out in the woods, wondering if I should turn around but, of course, I see that in a lot of artists. It’s like they wake up and they’re confused, thinking they must be a phony or something, like it’s all not real or something. But yeah, I am excited.”
“Kings EP” is available for free download from iTunes and at DatPiff.com.
Kioti can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thewildkioti and on Twitter at @TheWildKioti.