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Iced Tea and Wine: An Interview with Musical Artist KICCC

Carson Cheng, aka KICCC, has been working on breaking into the Vancouver music scene since 2018. He has released several singles over the last year boasting electronic vibes, snare-beats and synthy vocals that match the vibe of his sci-fi style music videos. We talked with the musician about his inspiration, process, and newest projects, to learn more about what goes into producing these high-intensity party tracks.

Interview by
Alyssa Mattei

Photography by
Cody Briggs

Where are you from?

I’m originally from Macau (澳門 “Oh-moon” in Cantonese), a city on the southern tip of China known by some as the Las Vegas of Asia. My family immigrated to Vancouver, B.C. Canada not too long after I was born.

Where are you currently inhabiting? After moving around the last few years for work, I’m finally back in Vancouver where I’m working hard to establish a base for myself.

How long have you been in music? I’ve been working in music with intention since 2018, so it hasn’t been that long “officially” but I’ve always had a strong affinity with music.

What got you into music?

I think everyone can relate to having a song or artist that would just make you feel seen. Music gave me a sense of solidarity. “I’m not the only one who’s had those thoughts, experiences, fears or fantasies.” Just the other week I was listening to Shakira’s album Oral Fixation, Vol, 2 and I kept thinking how naive young Carson would have seemed to myself now, dealing with imagined heartache while falling asleep to “Illegal” playing on my portable CD player that I hid away under the pillow. But I think music always had that great sway over my emotions for better or for worse. It allowed and continues to allow me to vicariously experience things that I wouldn’t necessarily be able to in my own life in a safe manner and I’m really grateful for that. That’s why I decided to pursue music. As a writer and performer, I want to be able to channel my creativity and desire for communication into something that people can relate to and glean from, just as many other artists’ work have allowed me to. It’s an ongoing thing trying to get there but I’m giving my best efforts and offering what I can so I hope that comes across when people listen to my music.

What is your favourite part of the process to tackle?

I think sharing my work, no matter the reaction, is my favourite part of the whole process, even though it’s such a vulnerable thing, knowing that my thoughts have made a connection with others, it allows me to be a part of something. But to be honest it’s also one of the hardest parts of the process because there is a lot of business and logistics that goes into getting people to give you a chance and listen. I guess that’s how it is for many things in life so when you are blessed and given that time of day by other people, it’s a good feeling.

stills from KICCC's music video “Control”

“Music gave me a sense of solidarity. ‘I’m not the only one who’s had those thoughts, experiences, fears or fantasies.’”

How would you describe your music? What genre, or subgenre does it best fall into?

As I’m developing my voice as a songwriter, I think my music is becoming a bit more honest. I don’t know if that really answers your question but it’s a bit challenging for me to describe my music. Maybe my music is better at describing me. My album, The Water Knows is a collection of songs that would most easily fall under the umbrella of pop but it’s influenced by a lot of different sounds that I’m drawn to such as that of synth house, dance, jazz, R&B. My first three singles “Here,” “Control,” and “Iced Tea” were all a bit more upbeat and dancey but I’m really excited about putting out “Wine” which is much more downtempo and chill. I think it’s going to show another side of KICCC and give a peek into the breadth of my album.

Where do you get inspiration for your songs?

For this particular album, I was really drawn towards the imagery and symbology of water. Water can take on so many different forms and represent the good and the bad and I used that as inspiration that would lead me into writing about different things.

Do the words/lyrics come first or the vibe/sounds?

When I write a song, a feeling or vibe always bears all else. So many elements come hand in hand and I try to flesh them out. I will sketch the melody that’s tickling my brain with a voice recorder and start putting words to what I’m feeling or thinking about. Most of the time the first few words that come to mind become the theme and topic of that song and I go from there. At this point I can already get a sense of what I want the track to sound like so I’ll record a rough sketch of the vocal melody and give it a bit more structure so that when I share it with my producer/arranger it’s easier to understand where I’m going with it.

What part of the music are you most involved in; lyrics, production, writing, instrumentation?

I’m very involved with the production of all my music from start to finish as I’m mostly trying to actualize songs that are in my mind. When it comes to the technical parts that involve touching the computer (arrangement, engineering etc) I’m less in direct control but I’m learning through observation and experience so I’m always offering direction from the backseat when it comes to that kind of thing. I think the most obvious part that I can take full credit for is the lyrics and topline as that’s where the production usually starts but all in all it’s a really collaborative and dialogical process with lots of fine tuning and effort to make the song as good as it could be. I’m really thankful to be working with people who are patient with me and teaching me as we go along. Thanks Josh! Thanks Enan!

What is the process of creating a new piece, whether it be a song or music video? How do you approach working with others when you have specific idea in mind?

With regard to the music videos it’s also a very similar process of idea communication and story sharing. I’ve been lucky to work with directors who take time to try to understand me as a person and take inspiration from my story and the journey I’ve been on so far to create my music videos. It makes them that much more personal for me and it’s all a part of the package and message that I’m sharing.

stills from KICCC's music video “Here”

“When you are dealing with tough things and feeling trapped, you are often your own worst enemy and conversely the only one who can save yourself.”

Can you talk about how the idea for your music videos came about? What about it called for them to be a continuous series, developing over multiple videos? What is the storyline that connects them all together?

One of the themes that are carried throughout all of my videos is the idea of multiplicity and possibilities. In the development of my first music video for “Here,” I was really struck by the idea of rebirth, not only because I was constantly having to talk to my creative team about rebranding myself after my short lived career abroad as an actor (more of that “fun” business, professional stuff that is involved in giving myself a better chance of getting heard), but also because I realized for myself that on a small scale and larger picture, I am always having to adapt and adjust, depending on my environment or the purpose I have to fill. As water does, I too am rebirthing to meet my challenges and demands. Riun Garner interpreted that stream of thought (and our common belief that there are infinite perception and consequence based realities) together with his storytelling to present KICCCs of different realities. Having established that type of sci-fi lore in the first music video, it’s been really fun pushing and expanding on those theories with each music video we present. Though I wouldn’t say the narratives of the videos are directly linear, they all share a core DNA and spirit, as well highlight and magnify different aspects of KICCC which by presenting as a character who can be many things or anything, I hope that I can work towards greater representation in media and give a sense of fantasy for people who can relate to me either through the way I look or what I am doing.

What is one thing that makes your new single unique and standout? My upcoming single, “Wine,” is where I’m showing a more vulnerable side to KICCC. In that sense it’s a special song for me, I think with some of my other singles I was still testing the waters a bit but this is me now. I think it’s safe to say that the past few months have not been easy for any of us and amongst all the chaos we can all relate to having to really sit with ourselves and our thoughts and it can be very confrontational. When you are dealing with tough things and feeling trapped, you are often your own worst enemy and conversely the only one who can save yourself. I think “Wine” would be a great soundtrack for when you are in those moods ‘cause I sure was when I wrote this song. Lol.

Is there anything else you would like to add about previous releases or upcoming projects? I sincerely hope that everyone’s safe and if you’re bored and have time to spare, check out my single “Wine”! The music video for “Wine” is coming on July 8th, along with the pre-order, pre-save options for your streaming platform of choice for the full album which will be available on August 26th. I’m really excited to share what I’ve been working on and there is much more to come. Thank you!

Cover art for "Wine"

Learn more about KICCC through his website and follow him on Instagram