Archive for the ‘Press’ Category

Kerwin Young Sets the Record Straight

Posted: August 28, 2018 in Press

Contrary to belief, and due to much ignorance by interviewers who constantly reject publishing the facts I give them, I come from a traditional music background.

I may not have had piano or violin lessons, but I was first chair alto saxophone in my elementary school band for four years, where I learned how to read music. I also studied with my dad, who was a legendary trombonist, and he taught me how to transpose parts and read both alto and bass clef when I was a pre-teen! I also sang in a church choir (to my reluctance) from 1977-1983, and we performed at Carnegie Hall.

I was in my school’s band from 1979-1983, and rap music was in full force (The Treacherous Three, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Kurtis Blow, Sequence, Crash Crew, Funky Four, Run DMC etc…). I was feeling the current music scene a whole lot more than Sousa. I was feeling pop music in general, and not just rap music. So, quite naturally I discontinued playing in band.

I did, however, resume playing the saxophone in 1994; but I switched to tenor saxophone (heavily influenced by John Coltrane). I was also mentored by famed drummer Roy Haynes, who was a local resident in the neighborhood.

Yes, I was a professional disc-jockey, which did launch my career spinning alongside DJ Tommie Allen at the Spectrum Café, in East Meadow, Long Island, five nights a week (August 1988-Spring 1990). I was an under-aged dj in a grown up environment. Everything was overlapping. I graduated high school in June 1988, and I had already begun working with Public Enemy a year earlier.

Here’s An Unknown Fact: I actually began needle dropping and making mix/pause tapes in 1978! That’s one year before Rapper’s Delight!! My eldest brother would bring home party tapes in 1977 and ’78, so I was well aware of the beats used underneath the mc’s. I had a thorough knowledge of pop music since the age of 4, and my dad always kept me with a musical instrument since that time as well. I grew up when the radio was not stylistically segregated and splintered as it is now. The playlists were quite diverse. AM radio was popular when I was a youngster. FM didn’t become mainstream until 1979, and that’s when the division became more and more apparent. I was exposed to all genres of music as a child, and I was also fascinated by movies and film music.

I began composing to paper in 1994, and by 2000, I had completed 2 large orchestral scores, and was writing my first symphony (symphony no. 1 took ten years to complete). In 2002, I enrolled at the Paris Conservatory, and they told me that I was too old! Stunned by this, I spent the next six years off the grid, disgusted; though remaining creative. In 2009, I enrolled at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance to resume my studies in orchestration and harmony. However, at that time, I had an enormous body of work already.


Rap Artists Kerwin Young Has Worked With

Posted: August 23, 2018 in Press
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Several people have requested that I post a list of all the rap artists I’ve worked with over the years. There may be a listing somewhere in a previous blog, but here is a dedicated blog that addresses this concern.

Here is a complete list of artists that I as a producer have collaborated with since 1989. This list ONLY pertains to artists who have had recording deals with national and/or international releases.

  1. 5ive-0
  2. 8-Off the Assassin
  3. Apache
  4. Brothers Grimm (aka The Gravediggaz)
  5. Busta Rhymes
  6. Chief Groovy Loo and the Chosen Tribe
  7. Chuck D
  8. Cracka Jacks
  9. Daddy-O
  10. Dr. Dre
  11. Dream Warriors
  12. Eric B. & Rakim
  13. Fric-n-Frac
  14. Grandaddy I.U.
  15. Ice Cube
  16. I.G.T.
  17. Intelligent Hoodlum (aka Tragedy)
  18. Interrogators
  19. Kings of Pressure
  20. Leaders of the New School
  21. Lejuan Love
  22. Luke Skywalker and the 2 Live Crew
  23. MC Trouble
  24. Mobb Deep
  25. Poison Clan
  26. Prodigy
  27. Professor Griff / Professor Griff and the Last Asiatic Disciples
  28. Public Enemy
  29. Punk Barbarians
  30. Queen I-Asia
  31. Roc Marcy
  32. Rich Nice
  33. Rahiem (of the Furious Five)
  34. Schooly D
  35. Sista Souljah
  36. Smooth Ice
  37. Son of Bazerk
  38. Sonny Skillz
  39. True Mathematics
  40. Undercover Anarchists
  41. Young Black Teenagers
  42. Yung Joc

Super-Mega props to my buddy Brian Tyler for a kick-ass score to Kevin Costner’s Yellowstone. A few months back, I read in Film Score Monthly that Brian had the gig, but totally forgot; until I saw his name appear in the opening credits. What I love a lot is that it’s a far breath away from the more action driven music we’ve grown accustomed to hearing from Brian Tyler. I’m also loving the show as a whole, and I plan to continue watching. HOT!


Music I’ve been diggin’ on lately is Rachmaninoff’s The Isle of the Dead, Sun Ra, Fletcher Henderson, and Giacchino’s score to Incredibles 2.


As for my personal endeavors, I’ve edited my Symphony No. 1, Bolivar, and U.S. Marshall Bass Reeves. And, after some amendment to Reclamation, and Symphony No. 5, I can begin to focus on the new works in progress as Guanyin of the Southern Sea.

Of course there are ALWAYS recording production projects I’m working on, but I NEVER mention those until after they’ve been released; and that also goes for project ideas I’m working on. But, I’m still pushing to score my first major motion picture, and to be busy composing for media and concert orchestra (earning); not jumping through hoops for anyone. It would be great if I were busy doing that.





Hot off the press is the newly composed and completed ballet suite, Dumas – Pushkin Suite. Mentioned in my latest blog, it remains highly anticipated in Europe (France, Russia, Prague, and Berlin). It’s a homage to two of the greatest literary artists since the early nineteenth century, Alexandre Dumas and Alexander Pushkin. It’s a twenty-two minute epic suite for orchestra.

Up next, I am completing my long awaited concerto for zheng, orchestra, and women’s chorus, Guanyin of the Southern Sea. This work has been almost nine years in the making! Revision after revision. It should be completed no later than December 2018. I’ve contacted some incredible zheng performers as well. I have to admit that I’ve actually known some for quite awhile. This work has taken so long because I’ve been wanting to figure out how to approach writing for zheng, not repeating myself when compared to previous works I’ve written for zheng. The guzheng is one of my favorite instruments, and I don’t like repeating myself. Oh yeah, here’s a little side note…Guanyin of the Southern Sea will receive premieres in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei, Tokyo, and Singapore.

Revisions to Reclamation and Bolivar are also underway; with no set deadline for either. I’ve got enough concert works in the shed (incomplete sketches, proposed ideas, and finished works needing amendments) to keep myself busy in-between media scoring assignments.

Film scoring mock-ups, utilizing the many sound libraries for my mock-up cues, have provided me with a new inspiration. I’ve been re-introduced to certain combinations of colors that I’ve long since abandoned or have forgotten about. Since the fall of 2017, these colors have found their way into my concert works. Some pretty awesome combinations of instruments that I’ve been using. I’m sure you’ll like to know which! But, now is NOT the time.

Once upon a time, my scoring process was quite different! I started out as a media composer before sound libraries existed. I’ve come a long way from pencil and sketch paper, external modules and synths racks to the current one-stop DAW.  So, I’ve grown with the new advancements in tech and so forth since the early 1990’s. It’s wonderful! However, I continue to blend the new with the old.

While on the subject of media scoring, I use a few different DAWS depending on the size of the project and the required speed of turnaround. Pro Tools is always a mainstay for mixing and mastering. On the creative side (the writing end of it), I prefer Digital Performer and/or Logic Pro for the larger projects, and for projects that have a lengthy timeline for turnaround. On the smaller projects; those often requiring a quick turnaround, I’ll work in Studio One Pro. Although the video engine in Studio One isn’t the greatest, it serves my needs for that particular workflow. I use what works best for me; what I’m comfortable with. I could care less about what other composers are using. A composer and/or producer must use those tools that best serve him/her, and that can perform at a high level. It’s about creating the optimum workflow for oneself, and finding the tools that best serve YOU and the people who have hired you.

When prepping my scores, I use Sibelius. I also fidget around a bit with Notion whenever working in Studio One. On larger projects, when I have the time to write and am not rushed, I’ll sketch my cues down on paper with orchestration notes and harmonic outline. I’ll input that into my DAW and will go from there. However, on the smaller projects, I’m at the piano going through sounds and trying things out that way.

Regarding templates, I’ve got a few custom templates for scoring; but generally, I’ll start from scratch with each new project. If I’m really pressed for time, I’ll load up one of my pre-assigned, custom templates and get right into it. Though generally, I like to create a new palette for each assignment. In this regard, it’s the same as when I’m composing a concert work. There’s a story, and that story needs to have a certain ambience to support it.

Until next time!



Kerwin Young Scores Big in Europe

Posted: May 14, 2018 in Press

Kerwin Young composes new orchestral suite adulating two literary icons, Alexandre Dumas and Alexander Pushkin.

His Dumas-Pushkin Suite is highly anticipated in both France and Russia. It’s only a matter of time before America recognizes it’s genius composer, Kerwin Young. He is by far, one of the most relevant composers of the 21st century.

A little reminder: Kerwin is also a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee as a member of Public Enemy (the Bomb Squad 1988-2018); who gave the world a new social consciousness through music.

On April 22, 2018, the University City Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of maestro Leon Burke III, premiered my Season of Autocracy. University City Mayor, Shelley Welsch, on the final day of her term, issued a proclamation in honor of the concert; including the premiere of Season of Autoctracy and its composer, Kerwin Young. I had a fantastic host, Ms. Janet Riehl! I was indeed treated like a king for entirety of my stay. Great food, great art, great people, and I also had the pleasure of seeing the St. Louis Symphony with guest cellist, Narek Hakhnazaryan.

Missouri has now been like a second home to me since I was thirteen. You may not know this, but once upon a time, I wanted to play professional baseball since the age of seven. Below is an article featured from the Columbia Daily Tribune’s Sunday newspaper during the summer of 1984, while I was attending the Mickey Owen Baseball School in Miller, Missouri. Though at the time I was living in Roosevelt, NY, I’ve always claimed Queens, NY as my home; and still do.

While a junior in high school, I separated my right shoulder in 1987, during a pickup basketball after school one day. The very next day was baseball tryoKerwin at Mickey Owen Baseball School 1984.jpguts. I batted well, but in the outfield, a line drive was hit deep to me. I fielded it, and then threw the ball to the infield. The ball never made it. The ball went straight up into the air and landed three feet in front of me. I picked the ball up, and then ran it in to my coach, told him my arm was shot, and I’ve got to move on and leave baseball behind. I was personally hurt, but right in that moment, I knew I could make it with music; so the choice was instantaneous and with confidence.

I find it ironic how Missouri has been a place of return since my baseball days. In 2009, I enrolled at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance.
While at UMKC, a chance encounter happened when Catherine Lehr Ramos, former St. Louis Symphony cellist, and I met during a Western Music History class. Our friendship led to the commission of Cellét (a masque for ten cellos), which premiered in 2016, in St. Louis at Catherine’s annual cello festival. It was at that festival when maestro Burke and I were introduced, and then began our dialogue and collaboration leading to the April 22, 2018 concert premiere.

This recent premiere was my first by any orchestra. What you may not also know is Season of Autocracy was composed over a three-day period immediately following the completion of my Symphony No. 5 (Perseverance). After its completion, I then wrote Symphony No. 6 (The Plagiarist); which happens to be my favorite!

Orchestral Notes, Two

Posted: August 29, 2017 in Composing Insights, Press

Every orchestra in America that isn’t serving it’s community with music composed by living composers, and programming that does not engage or reflect the ethnic diversity of its city or community at large, should be terminated. Any orchestra not serving it’s community and/or humanity is misusing the power and gift of music! It’s no good.

Conductors and programmers alike should be fired; as many are no doubt working against the culture rather than with it.

Why be a part of something that doesn’t act toward the interests or benefit of the people? We need new orchestras! We need new orchestras led by forward thinking programmers, conductors, and musicians who appreciate all music, and who are willing to develop orchestras for presenting fresh ideas on top of a respected, proven foundation.