The Superb Karien Barnard

The Cape Town hip-hop engineer changing the wave

If things had gone just a little differently, the producer responsible for the hook on AKA and Kwesta's Day One may have ended up making the album art instead of the beat. Kay Faith got into music by accident when her art school application portfolio got lost in the mail, leading her to apply for sound engineering on a whim after it was suggested to her. With production work for Da Les, Tweezy and Youngsta as well as collaborations with Yasiin Bey and Whosane now under her belt, we're guessing it all worked out just fine…

What’s your favourite thing to do when you’re not working?

I'm literally consuming culture wherever I find myself. I love how many different cultures we have in this country and how each has their own uniqueness. I feel like it helps in terms of comfort when you work with people who have an open mind about such things. So you can probably find me on Lower Main, Obz in Cape Town at night just walking around, or maybe at the Maboneng Precinct having breakfast, drinking coffee and reading. That’s what I do when I’m not in bed catching up on the lost sleep over the last 22 years haha.

What’s the next thing you’d like to tick off your bucket list?

Travelling more. I have travelled around South Africa a bit, but I would like to go abroad and see the cultures and lifestyles of other countries. For my engineering, I would love to go to the US and learn from the legends there. But anywhere is cool with me.

What are the top 10 things on your Wishlist?

10? Eish okay, let me see. These are in no specific order at all.

  1. Winning or being nominated for a South African Music Award.
  2. Winning or being nominated for a South African Hip-hop Award.
  3. I would love to meet Rick Ruben. He is a big inspiration to me.
  4. I want to own or run my own studio/label one day.
  5. Designing my own range of clothes or sneakers would be dope. That’s on the wish list for sure.
  6. I want to help get the Cape Town hip-hop scene to be greater. To be an empire. We have a true creative edge, but the execution sometimes lacks. I want Cape Town hip-hop to rise.
  7. I would love to represent South Africa on an international level, like what Black Coffee is doing at the moment.
  8. I want to start a dope coffee shop back in my hometown of Knysna. That’s been on my wishlist for the longest time. 
  9. I want to get back into art. I painted a lot when I was younger and did some graffiti. Since I started doing music and sound, that has taken a backseat, so I would love to get back into it.
  10. To be able to provide for my baby niece and little sister. I love them a lot.

What’s the weirdest thing in your bag right now?

I have a little bag full of painkillers in my bag and it goes everywhere with me. I barely ever take painkillers and I always end up handing them out. But I just always have them with me. Does this make me a low-key drug dealer?

What’s one question you would ask the president?

Why don’t we get more support for artists in South Africa?

What’s the last thing you bought?

A dope reversible jacket by local CPT brand called Instangu.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

That you are in control of your own happiness and destiny and that you should never allow anybody the opportunity to take that from you.

What would you do with a R100 000 investment?

I would put it towards my career and those who work with me. I work with a lot of young creatives and would love to see those who I work with grow along with me. So that collectively we can help our scene grow.

Which words or phrases do you overuse?

“It’s lit”, “Salute”, “Jy Kykie”, “Hayi Nkosi’yam”, “Mfana Kitsi”...

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

The way I overthink actions and statements. I tend to overthink things and it causes me to stress out over small things.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I have a few achievements that I feel fall into that category for me. I wouldn’t be able to name one as the greatest. One of my favourites though was working with Yasiin Bey.

What is your most treasured possession?

My ears and my hearing. Without that I am nothing.

What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve had to face in doing what you do?

Being young in an industry ruled by the older crowd. Being female in an industry ruled by men. (Even though it is not an issue anymore, I had to fight for my stripes). Working and living away from my family.

Which historical figure do you identify with the most?

Ludwig van Beethoven. Now I know some people are gonna say it’s a boring answer. But this guy was doing revolutionary work in music and probably had an impact that reflects back to how we consume music now. He was one of the greatest composers of music and was one of the hardest working composers. I can only wish to have the kind of impact that his work had, but in terms of hard work and push, I identify fully.

What is your idea of complete happiness?

Just being successful with my music career and being able to live comfortably and to provide for my family and extended family of musicians and creators.