By CHRISTIANE BARRO
For Melbourne-based rapper Michael Bradea, commonly known as K-WAK, the key to making his way in a challenging industry has been "God's love".
K-WAK aspires to be a positive role model through the production and musicality of his work, which he says is very much influenced by his decision to walk in the way of God.
"To feel like I can be entrusted with something, I would have to say that’s extremely satisfying for myself … we're made to build each other up, and spread positive messages, and that's what I want to address through my music," he says.
With his presence in the local music scene growing quickly, K-WAK will perform at the indie talent showcase RAW Melbourne on February 12 and plans to release an eight-track EP/album early this year.
His artistry has grown out of past hurt, he says. He was consistently bullied throughout his younger years and teased by the so-called "popular" guys at school. It damaged his sense of self-worth, leaving him feeling torn down, mentally, physically and socially.
Nevertheless, it was through "sincerely beginning to understand God’s awe-inspiring love", he says, that this difficult time became a path to transformation.
"I talk differently, I walk differently, I act differently and I produce music and write music differently."
This has shaped the production and musicality of his songs and tracks and is clearly present through his self-titled mix-tape, Kid With A Kalling.
"I know a lot of people, when it comes to music, like to brag and speak about themselves, their possessions, their status, girls, cars, etc., but I could never really relate to that on a personal level. And I don’t think many others can relate to that either," he says.
"I’m not perfect — nowhere near it. But I know someone who is, and I want to show people a better way of living."
For as long as he can remember, music has simply been part of his being.
After playing piano for more than 10 years, K-WAK’s lack of interest in classical music finally led him to try a more contemporary style.
He became a music producer at 12 through his discovery of a music-making program called FL Studio, and was later enticed into rap and freestyle.
His first live performance came about unexpectedly when a friend requested a beat to play during a school Easter service.
"As we were producing it, I felt a strange urge to ask if I could feature on it," he says. Before showcasing this collaboration, K-WAK was anxious about how he would be regarded by his school peers.
"It was more for my reputation, and how people would view me, after hearing me come out and express my faith through my music."
Since overcoming these anxieties, K-WAK has developed into a refined performer and producer while maintaining his relationship with God. His aim is to spread a message of leadership, highlighting the need to maintain a sense of truth to oneself and "calling people to step into their potential, and not be led by the words of others".
When it comes to his plans to release an eight-track EP/album soon, he says what is important is making it "a high-quality project".
"With every track I write/compose, I feel I learn something new."
Musically influenced by Lecrae, Dr Dre, Andy Mineo, Eminem, !llmind, Cardiak, Boi-1da, KB, Trip Lee, J Cole, Kendrick Lamar and Timbaland, K-WAK’s principal motivation, he says, is nonetheless from Jesus Christ.
"I wouldn’t be where I am today without Him, and every song I’ve ever made wouldn’t have happened without Him.
"Since I’ve come to know God, I’ve always had a certainty that I was created to make a difference in this life."
The Kid With A Kalling is on his way.