By: Megan Barbera
It all started with a game of Guitar Hero.
“Kal The Thot Slayer” is known locally as the guitarist for The Color 8, a multi-genre band that has become a staple at Roosevelt Row’s First Fridays.
Kal found his passion for music unexpectedly as a teen through a simple game of Guitar Hero 3 at Walmart. Since then, Kal has developed a diverse musical skill set and unique sound that can not be boxed in a single genre.
“Some people believe you are destined to do certain things,” Kal said. “I think I would have found music either way.”
Kal can be described as a modern-day Jimi Hendrix mixed with a “Tyler, The Creator” persona. Hidden in the underground of the Phoenix music scene, Kal and the rest of the Color 8 can be seen playing local shows, constantly attracting an eclectic crowd and bringing an authentic, in-your-face energy.
Born and raised in South Phoenix, Kal was one of the only people in his family to pursue music. He wanted to try something new as a teenager so Kal went to a now-closed guitar shop called Raptor Guitars. He then began taking basic lessons from the shop owner.
As he became more musically inclined, he joined a metal band in high school. Time went on and he began to adapt and learn new styles throughout high school and college, such as jazz and R&B. While collecting these new genres, he realized that he did not want to pigeonhole his talents.
“I hated making something a side thing, like why can’t we just be a band and make everything?” Kal said.
And thus, The Color 8 was born. Though Kal and other members of the band have their own side projects, the group identifies as one. This can be seen in their live performances, as many songs are impromptu and truly based on what the band and crowd are feeling that night.
The band plays around different styles during their shows, but metal seems to be the one that sticks with Kal the most.
“I don’t ever feel the way I feel when I play metal with any other genre,” Kal said. “With metal, you just feel it in your stomach.”
Kal has an authentic musical talent that hides behind a humble, goofy personality. In a new computer production-based music world, seeing a musician play the guitar with such creativity and skill is not only impressive, but refreshing.
As we were sitting in the corner of Cartel Coffee in Tempe, Kal pulled up GarageBand on my computer and made a beat in 5 minutes. Expectedly, Kal does not solely play guitar. He has taught himself bass and drums, and also experiments with DJing and production.
“That’s really an artform. You’re really a musician if you know how to DJ,” Kal said.
As for the future, Kal doesn’t necessarily dream of a lavish rockstar lifestyle. He’ll probably be doing music despite anything.
“If I can just make music, travel and breakeven, then I made it,” Kal said.