KhmerLife Exclusive: Interview with SK Illerest

SK Born to Cambodian refugees who escaped the murderous Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970’s, Ken R., who would later adopt the stage name, “SK ILLerest,” found his love for hip-hop shaped from his early childhood experiences amongst the harsh realities of crime-riddled, gang-infested Providence. From a young age, SK watched his mom struggle to provide for her family when his parents divorced. When SK was just 14 years old, his father was murdered. Last year SK release 2 albums Double Diamonds and Life Flo’s On all original music

Thank you for taking the time to do this interview?

No problem brother

Tell us about the city you are from?

I’m from Providence, Rhode Island. 

What first got you into music?

I’ve always been a fan of music. Growing up to mainly 90’s hip-hop. My mom and dad were also part of a band. I’d go to the Khmer shows with them and just watch them sing on stage. Although, I don’t sing I guess that’s where my musical background comes from. 

Who inspired you to make music?

That’s a great question. I think the more I get older the more my musical inspiration switches up a little.  I was inspired by the things around me and it was a way of self-reflecting and alone time I guess. My inspiration now comes from my kids and the positive vibes around me. Such as the growth and changes and obstacles I’ve overcome over the years and that’s what keeps me moving.

How would you describe the music that you typically create?

I’d like to say real-life stuff. You know, I’m all about authenticity and positive vibes. I’d like to bring good energy to people’s ears. Although once I. A while I might get on a track that is far from what I’m used to like a trap beat or something but I love that boom bap raw 90’s feel that what I’m used to so I’d like to find a way of improving on that. 

What is your creative process like?

I think about life and reality so I would think my listeners would feel the same as well. I’d like to touch on subjects that we barley hear today. My creative process comes from the visions I have on my head so I find a way of trying to paint that picture to a song. 

Who would you most like to collaborate with?

I’d like a collab with J. cole or Nas one day that’ll be dope.

If you could go open a show for any artist who would it be?

That would be J. Cole or Nas. 

Where have you performed? What is your favorite?

I performed at a few places mainly in Rhode Island. I really don’t have a favorite lol·     

Do you have any upcoming shows?

Yeah, I’m actually performing in Providence at the Khmer New Year with Jay Chan. Big shout to my Jay!

How do you feel the Internet has impacted your music

Man, I don’t even follow the internet music so I really don’t know what’s hot or not. I think music now and days are for the younger audience. I prefer to listen to old hip-hop jams or Khmer songs lol

What is your favorite song to perform?

I like to perform “Chasing for my dreams” I think a lot of folks can relate.·         

Which famous musicians do you admire?

I like Jay- Z and the work he does for the community.

What is the best advice you’ve been given?

Integrity. Always doing the right thing even when nobody is looking. I feel like that helped me a lot over the years. Although, we all battle our inner demons lol.

What’s next for you?

Pushing out more dope tracks for the people..community work..

What is the best Khmer restaurant in your city

Rhode Island is small but we have a bunch of great places..I go to 4 Seasons got my Me Kathang or Apsara..Yummies is great too..it’s a little small spot on Cranston street. 

What is one message you would give to your fans?

Stay true to yourself and don’t follow others. Create your own path and don’t worry about the next man or what people might think. At the end of the day, this is your life and we only have one so make it count. 

How can fans get in touch with you?

You can find me on Facebook and IG or shoot me an email I’d love to hear back: illerestsk@gmail.com

SK Youtube channel

Thanks for the opportunity! 

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