Miami-based The Hoy Polloy sound is reminiscent of Childish Gambino, Gym Class Heroes, and The Roots. Over the years they have released seven different albums in various genres from rock to hip hop to Jazz, their latest album Valkyrie is hip hop.
“Dangerous” is the first single off their just-released album “Valkyrie” (September 17), which features Brooklyn rapper AZ, French R&B duo Les Nubians, Atlanta rapper Scotty ATL, Ariel Morer, UZO, Tay Evans, DJ Heron, FlynnFluence, Mustafa Shakir, KD of the NOC, and JO of the NOC. Multi-talented band’s frontman, K Sos sings plays sax, drums, bass, guitar, and piano.
Since 2009 their albums artwork has been designed by artist Nick Beary. Valkyrie cover is designed to embody the whole female-warrior perspective with the eyes closed. They wanted to create something that encompasses the darker side of the female protector.
Known primarily for their rock music, The Hoy Polloy boldly turned a page, venturing into the hip-hop arena in 2018. They debuted their first hip-hop album, No Pressure, and soon after joined the 24-city U.S. & Canada, Trust The Process II: Undefeated Tour, with rapper Ace Hood. Their resume also boasts opening appearances for Talib Kweli, Dead Prez, Project Pat, GZA & KRS-One.
Read my interview with K SOS.
Why did you name your band after a Greek phrase?
So, when I was growing up, the neighborhood next to where I grew up was a very big Greek community. After my mom passed, my Dad and I used to go eat at this Greek restaurant all the time and when I was home one time visiting him, I just started the band and I didn’t want to go under just my solo name. I was brainstorming for titles and my dad said something about, “Oh well let the Hoy Polloy decide”, or something. And I was like Hoy Polloy?! And we had a laugh about it, and I was like that’s a cool name for a band. So, when I started the band, I wanted to not be any genre denomination. I wanted to do a little bit of everything: Rock, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Dance & beyond. So, I figured Hoy Polloy would be a cool name because it means We the People, The Masses. That way I feel like we didn’t leave anybody out by calling the band that. So, it’s kind of encompasses all of those things.
What’s your real name?
My real name is Neil Cantor actually. Which is also my dad’s name. When I started doing music, I decided to go by something different just kind of distinguish myself from my father. Even though he didn’t do music, it’s just something that has always stuck with me. All my friends over the years have converted to calling me K Sos. Even the ones that didn’t originally know me as that starting calling me K Sos and then people just really like the name Hoy Polloy. I was actually at Publix, which is the supermarket here. Like two days ago, some lady randomly walked up to me and she was like, “I love the band. Do you have a business card?” I carry CD’s (and usually business cards) in my pocket everywhere I go. If I leave the house without CD’s, it’s like I feel naked. Like I’m not prepared to talk to people because anybody who talks to me gets a CD, whether I’m at the Post Office or the Grocery Store or you know…if you come across me, you’re getting an album so…
That’s great. So, is that like your business card?
It is and I’ve been doing that now for 50,000 CDs. And I burned the first 20,000 of them myself. Back in the day. I had revolving process of burning, labeling, sleeving and bundling that was down to a science. It really helped.
Which album do you carry with you?
I have 24 albums altogether. So, I have, well, the last eight of them were actually officially pressed... Sometimes I carry like a couple of Rock, a couple of Hip-Hop with me depending on who I run into. Usually like I carry a couple of each genre, but it depends on the album or whatever is hot. Like right now we have one of my solo hip hop records and the band’s rock album that I carry around with me. So, give…people…depending on what vibe I get from you. Sometimes I just ask people, “Hey are you more into Rock or more into Hip-Hop?” So, if they say they’re more into Hip-Hop, I give them the No Pressure or Al Malnik album and if they like rock a Bye Bye Bogota.
So how do you go from Rock to rapper?
I was originally a Hip-hop artist. I worked with a band called No Ordinary Cats back in the day. We were based out of Orlando and after our first record, we did some big shows. We opened for Ludacris, we opened for Redman and Method Man. Toured with Curren$y. But the band, the rest of the band itself, was not about putting in work beyond making the music. They just wanted to create and weren’t interested in managing or promoting our success. Many musicians have trouble balancing both sides and that is understandable. At the end, I found myself kind of just doing everything. So, I decided that if I was going to do it all anyways that I was going to start my own band and so I moved to Miami. Fresh start. I started working in this back apartment in like Hollywood Beach with this guitar player. It was really fun at the time. I really thought at one point that The N.O.C. might get back together so, in the beginning, the Hoy was just a project we were doing for fun and all of a sudden, we had 20 songs and I was like we really should make a record out this.
I found that because I love music so much. We are working hard and continuing to sharpen my skills that I just I've always wanted to add stuff on and learn how to mix and master on my own. I mean all the composition from all the way to completion or at least I do it with somebody else who maybe has another set of ears and they engineer with me. But I’m there for every step of the process now over the years I've learned how to do it all and that way I don't have to relinquish control. And be like, “Oh well mix and master this for me.” Well, no I want to be part of the process. I want to tell you how I want it mixed and how I want it mastered and whom I want to shine-on on certain moments. As I’m sure you know Selma, the music business is fierce competition so I always worked extra hard to always continue to broaden my horizons, create new stuff ideas and learn new stuff. One, you’ll never get bored doing what you love and two it always gives fans something that surprises them.
Then K SOS showed me his awesome studio while we were video-talking via Skype
I’m going to give you a quick scan of my studio. Are you ready?
Selma: Alright. Wow, that’s your studio? Is that at home or somewhere else?
So, I basically gave up the chance of having a living room and created my giant studio here. We use to practice; the band used to practice here. The roof is soundproof. Even the floor is sound-proofed, padded, and multi-colored.
Yeah, color is very important to me. Especially in your work space because it helps stimulate your brain. Color is such a stimulator when you have so much going on and so when I go to sit down and write or whatever looking just even take a quick look around the room, I am poised to so many thoughts. Plus, it’s all full of music memorabilia everything from Barbra Streisand on the wall to ticket stubs from Tribe Called Quest and Van Morrison and tributes to Prince & Bowie. I have a life-size standup cardboard cutout of Michael Jackson. My cousin and I, that’s all we knew the first ten years of our lives. We used to choreograph our own dances and stuff when we were young. We used to do like little shows for my aunt and uncle and my parents and stuff.
Let’s talk about the Album.
The album Valkyrie is packed with so many great features. I mean Les Nubians and AZ are on there, some great local talent is on there, DJ Haron, Scotty, from Atlanta, um I mean we even got Mustafa Shakur, an actor who’s the villain in season 2 of Luke Cage which is a Marvel series on Netflix. He’s also a musician and he did a guest verse so we have such an eclectic lineup of features on this.
Why did you choose the name Valkyrie for your album?
Because Valkyries are the Female Warriors that kind of choose to live and die on the battlefield as kind of symbolically as to what they represent. Valkyrie is actually the first album I've ever done which is all collaborations. I wanted to work with some of my favorite artists. So, the Valkyrie concept, being the most bad-ass female warrior. For me translated to these are the best of the best collaborations and I can put together as an artist and so it kind of parallels that and I wanted to add a little bit of feminity to it because the album mostly except for one of the features is all male. So, I kind of wanted to have uh… you know there's so much misogyny in hip-hop these days and I hate that about hip hop. And so, for me I thought it was kind like celebrating feminism in its own way and hip hop is kind of important because you know it's the genre that doesn't always do such a good job of celebrating the female and so I felt like by putting a bad-ass female warrior on our cover, it’s like us saying we’re embracing you know all that it is awesome about the woman.
Tell me now about your songwriting.
I have a very strict process I go by. 90% of the time I work anywhere from about 9 or 10 a.m. to about 4 or 5 p.m. I work really good during the day time. I'm not as creative at night unfortunately but what I like to do is I roll up a joint. I set up whatever gear or instruments I inten to use. I sit down and I say to myself you know what am I feeling today? Do I want to compose music or do I want to make a beat or do I want to work with another producer and just right lyrics or whatever so I try to figure out what my body is trying to tell me to do and I call it kind of just submitting to the process but when I'm sitting down on my desk , trying my best to shut everything that I possibly can out of my mind or my phone away put everything away so that I just…And like I said with the studio, I have all my instruments and stuff set up so I can pick up my guitar if I’m feeling the guitar or the bass or my pianos right next to me. So, a lot of times I just start creating and I don't always worried about what it's going to become. I just do it and then when the session is over I look back and I'm like wow I just laid down all these parts or whatever and then so one day I may do all the music and then the next day I’m like, “Oh that was a great instrumental” and ill just write some lyrics or I might reach out to one of my producers or so then say do you guys have some new beats but I'm just trying to do just do lyrics today!
K Sos last words:
“You know I've been in a band a long time since I was 9 years old man, I'm 33 now. My only wish in this life is to be able to do it until the end.”
Hoy Polloy actually have two records been released in 2019, Valkyrie and then a Rock album which comes out on Valentine’s Day called Kiss the Princess.
Check out their website: http://www.thehoypolloy.com/bio.html
And YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC43kAAW9aWXRqXoDpWiNh-g