Interview: Paklite on Inspirations, "Visions" and "Reality", and His Journey As An Artist
The name Paklite (aka Collin Stevic) has been increasingly ringing louder in the beat scene for the past couple of years, and his regular appearance on Spotify and Apple editorial playlists has resulted in millions of listeners becoming acquainted with his unique brand of chillhop. An atmospheric gem titled "Without Spaces" was my gateway into the world of the Phoenix-based producer, and in that world, I found a range of instrumentals embellished with a future beats aesthetic.
Talking about future beats, his latest release with Stereofox "Visions" not only carries a similar vibe though it also carries quite an optimistic theme too.
"Visions" represent what I see for my life going forward. A calming sense of goals to reach and fun to be had.
In this interview, Collin opens up about his story as an artist, the two singles "Visions" and "Reality", inspiration and so much more.
For those who don't know your story, how would you describe your journey with music thus far?
My interest in music started at a very young age and has just grown from there, experimenting with different instruments and sounds. I became more serious about what I was producing a few years ago and I started joining local and online music communities. I worked with Brunch Collect in Arizona and also talked with other artists over Discord online. My journey with music and my experience with it changes every year but I look forward to all the new paths that music opens for me. I'd say it's been the one thing that keeps me in a level headspace and the one thing I always look forward to doing every day.
How did you come up with the moniker ‘Paklite’ and what’s the meaning behind it?
At the time I had been writing music under the name "Cultured Swine" which was really just an experimental project throughout college, releasing any kind of instrumental beats I came up with. Towards the end of college, I wanted to take music more seriously and try to only put out projects I really put my soul into. I decided I needed a new moniker and a fresh start. This time, I wanted my name to really mean something to me. In high school I started playing with Garageband and Logic and I would take my laptop with me on plane flights. My parents were separated and living in two different states at the time so I would travel quite a bit and I always found that I came up with some of my favorite beats on the plane. Something about being stuck there in a seat with nothing but time and my headphones really helped me focus on writing music. So Paklite was born out of the memories of myself traveling the country with just my laptop.
Since your parents are musicians, in which ways do you think this shaped your path? Do you remember wanting to become something other than a musician?
My mother plays the keys and sings and we had a keyboard in the basement of our house that I'd love to turn on and just mess with the different sounds that were on it. But I think the biggest influence in my music career has been my Dad. He started drumming in a band with his friends in high school and still to this day writes music with his original guitar player. I can remember going to all of his shows as a kid and by the time I was 10 I really wanted to learn how to play the guitar. He put me in guitar lessons and since then I've always wanted to be a musician but I think the path and the dream changed as I got older. When I was a teen I wanted to be in bands and play grunge music but nowadays I'm happy making beats, meeting other producers and playing my own music live.
What hooked you on making instrumental music particularly?
I think the biggest appeal was that I could make any kind of music I wanted and I could do it all myself or collab with others. I'm also not much of a singer so it's much easier to just write instrumentals.
What had the biggest impact on your sound and the way you blend various styles and influences in such a coherent way?
I grew up mostly listening to rock music: Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Led Zepplin, Ozzy. So that's the style of guitar playing that I learned to play. You can hear a lot of that influence on my "Vice" album. I played a ton of classic blues riffs and rock guitar on those tracks and I think that's one of my favorite parts of my writing process! I typically will start with jazz or soul inspired sample, cut it to find the groove I like, then just riff over it. When it comes to drums, I'd say producers such as Lapalux, Baths, and Shigeto have had the biggest impact on my sound selection. I love the way Baths layers different drum samples to get a huge sound and Shigeto's use of percussive instruments to fill out his songs.
What kind of places or landscapes do you picture when you make music? Or do you have a certain situation in mind, where it would fit the best?
I don't know that I necessarily picture places or landscapes when I'm making music. During the process, I think it's more just about what I'm feeling on that day, whether I've found some new music that inspires me or I'm just in a shitty mood. The sound usually reflects that. If anything, I picture places after the fact when the song is finished and they usually aren't definitive places, more like colorful atmospheres. For example, in "Reality" I picture dark blues and purples in a big reflective space with brighter colors glowing in and out of the picture.
Your single “Visions” just dropped. The concept of time and our “visions” for the future are part of the story behind this track. I’m curious to know how important having and maintaining a precise vision is for you, regarding your success in music. And what is your definition of success overall?
Success in music for me is making sure I still enjoy it every day and I think that's the vision as well. The biggest thing I've learned is to go with the flow when it comes to making music; paying attention to myself and how I feel every day when I sit down in the studio. I can't force myself to work on a piece. I have a few friends that can write music every day and pump out songs like crazy and they all sound really good but I'm not one of those guys. If I'm not feeling super creative on a particular day, I might just listen to music in the studio while I play video games. I still set deadlines for myself because without that I wouldn't finish anything, but the key for me is just having fun and that's when I notice my best work happens.
Could you share with us how the upcoming single "Reality" is intertwined with "Visions"?
"Reality" and "Visions" work together in a yin-yang type of way. "Visions'' is about my excitement for the future. For example, I'm getting married in a few weeks and I'm looking forward to seeing my family and friends! I'm excited to explore the world and go on vacations with my future wife, eventually settling down and raising a family. "Reality" is the stress that comes with all these amazing events: planning the wedding, paying for the trips we are taking, and providing the best life for my future family. The two songs cover the same subject matter but with two different scopes.
These days what would you say is the fuel towards your inspiration?
I think there are a couple of things that drive me every day to push myself creatively. One is that I love discovering new music! When I hear a new song that really bumps, I get excited, I throw that shit on repeat and then I'll hit the studio to make something similar. My second inspiration ties in with the first one and that's community. Whether it's my friends or producers I collaborate with, we all share tons of music and one of my favorite things to do is to just sit down with my friends and pass the aux cord back and forth. I recently went to a buddy's house over the weekend and all we did was brew beer and share new music we found, it was sick!
I know that you collect pop figures. If you were a comic book character or any other fictional character who would you be and why?
I guess you've been watching my Instagram videos! This is a really tough question because I watch a lot of movies and TV. If I had to pick one I'd say Ash Ketchum. Pokemon has always been one of my all-time favorite games/shows and I'd love to just live in that universe. My first Gameboy was the Pikachu special edition one and I still have a Pokemon Blue cartridge somewhere.