Yukoner credited on Kendrick Lamar's Grammy-winning album
'Yeah, I'm pretty lucky,' says Stephen Kozmeniuk, who worked on Kendrick Lamar's acclaimed To Pimp a Butterfly
Stephen Kozmeniuk wished he could have partied a bit more in L.A. on Monday night after attending the Grammys, but he was a little under the weather.
"It's like the worst time to get sick. I wanted to go out and have some fun!" Kozmeniuk said.
The Whitehorse-raised producer and composer had plenty of reason to celebrate. He had a hand in one of the night's major award winners — Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly, which won the Grammy for Best Rap Album.
Kozmeniuk is credited as a songwriter and producer on the song The Blacker the Berry, which Lamar performed to great acclaim at Monday's ceremony.
"It's exciting," Kozmeniuk said. "I mean, a Grammy. It's the biggest honour that I guess you can really get in music."
Kozmeniuk has come a long way since starting out as a songwriter and performer in Whitehorse a decade ago.
In 2002, he released his first album with his band, Boy. The record was largely recorded and produced by Kozmeniuk on his computer, at home in Whitehorse.
Today, he's based in Toronto, and boasts a resume that includes credits on albums by Madonna, Nicki Minaj, P Reign and Lamar, and on Monday, he was rubbing shoulders with icons and heavy-hitters at the music industry's biggest shindig of the year.
"It's pretty surreal, you're just chilling and everybody in the world is right there — Adele, Taylor Swift," Kozmeniuk said. During the ceremony, he sat next to Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic of Nirvana.
"It's pretty cool when you do look back at it for a moment. Yeah, I'm pretty lucky."
A 'culturally important record'
The Grammy is just the latest honour bestowed on To Pimp a Butterfly. Many critics listed it as one of 2015's best — and most consequential — releases, citing its musical inventiveness and lyrical ambition. President Obama is a big fan, and David Bowie said it was a major influence on his last album, Blackstar.
"It's a very culturally important record for our generation," Kozmeniuk said.
"Honestly, even to just be involved with it is an honour for me, because there's a lot of records you could be involved in and most of them don't say anything that important. So for a record like that to get recognized at the Grammys — that's amazing."
Kozmeniuk is reluctant to talk about his next plans or projects, but said he's now working with upcoming U.K. singer-songwriter Dua Lipa. He said he likes working with lesser-known acts, helping them try to break it big.
His Grammy connection could open more doors, but Kozmeniuk is not fixated on that.
"We'll see over the next year what it means. It's cool and it's an honour and you've just got to keep working."