K-rAd is currently Chris Grabowski, Chicago sound engineer and electronic musician. Known for using “outmoded” tech toys, computer gear, and instruments for samples and inspiration, K-rAd’s brand of minimal sound is well-crafted, dj-friendly, and fresh (yet somehow familiar).
Since conception in 1996, K-rAd has been a subtle, but respected presence in the Chicago music scene, garnering acclaim (three critic’s choice awards from the Chicago Reader), compilation features (Select, Tarpop, Lumptronica, The Salvo Beta Remix Project, and Illuminance Records), and commissions (Burton Snowboards, General Motors, Nike, and VH1).
K-rAd has long been known as a collaborative work, with creative partners (Mark Hardy, Joe Hahn, Dan Oliver, Chris Johnson, Mike Moog, Luke Kowalczyk, Paul Kowalczyk, TC Furlong, and “Elroy” David Arredondo) adding unique signatures; recent releases (T12CD, OuTLeT, K1203, BS01) have seen Grabowski flying solo.
From custom-making his own cables to mastering on rarefied Dunlavy speakers, Grabowski’s work as a sound engineer highly influences his work as an artist. His electronics enthusiasm has led to past build projects including a custom midi controller and self-playing instruments; current build projects include an analogue modular synthesizer and a, “16-track midi and voltage control hardware sequencer.”
As a producer, Grabowski’s work always holds the comfort and accommodation of the dj in mind, with plenty of time for smooth blends and an open quality for djs to take his tracks and make them their own. Because of his commitment to sound quality, he won’t jack everything to the limits and sacrifice the dynamic range, making him unique in a time where many consider louder to be better.
Admittedly, Grabowski’s mission in life is to, “just make the sound perfect every place I hear music”—so the party can last longer, so the listeners can keep dancing with less fatigue, so the music can exist in a more authentic and beautiful way.
No small task, but for a man whose sole purpose in life is sculpting air, Grabowski is indeed K-rAd.