Kilgo Livingston is that nerdy kinda cool. He’s an IT guy by day and a hard-charging DJ, music producer and industry change-maker by night (or early morning). He founded Charleston-based StrawBerry Squad, a mashup of sound genres and musicians, all geeks and roommates in two properties on the town’s gentrifying Strawberry Lane.
Only one is a full-time musician. But that works for the group.
“We still all run our personal careers, but when it comes to StrawBerry Squad everyone brings something to the table. We do everything in-house, from website and content to production and booking,” says Kilgo, 28. “Personally, I enjoy doing both. Having a paycheck means I can be more picky about what I do with music.”
Part of Kilgo and crew’s battle is introducing the South to new beats they’ve never been exposed to and finding ways to get paid outside the town’s tourist-driven gigs like weddings and bachelorette bashes.
“Everyone here has kind of gotten pushed into the Top 40 cover scene,” Kilgo, a DC native, says. To break that mold, StrawBerry Squad musicians started mixing it up by infiltrating colleges and going back to more instruments and the roots of music.
“We’ve carved our own path and created our own brand and style,” he says. “We’re happy to not be worrying about having to pleasing the GM. This is more about opening people’s minds.”
StrawBerry Squad’s eclectic sounds span chill/future/house to trap/bass music. “I’m really excited that house music is making a comeback,” Kilgo says.
He listens to that genre when he wants to get in the groove, but chooses the chill sector for waking up before the sun, heading off for a morning jog and getting some stuff done.
“I also grew up going to metal shows, so I’ll default to some dubstep when I want to let out some rage late-night,” he says. “But I also like electronic funk and chillwave. What’s cool is that everything is coming together in the ‘produced’ genre, so we don’t have to stick to just one sound.”
While StrawBerry Squad’s artists have a bunch of new tunes rolling out, you can also catch them at live venues. “The performance aspect is a big deal these days,” says Kilgo, who has put in his own time at gigs spanning the globe from New York City to New Orleans and Croatia to Switzerland.
As for what sunnies he wears to gigs, in the studio and at work, it’s the one-and-only Kilgo, a super-funky Nectar style named after the producer.
“I have to be honest, when I first saw the design I thought ‘weird.’ And I’m usually all about weird,” he says. “But once I saw them in person they really grew on me. Now they’re one of Nectar’s most popular styles and keep selling out. Suddenly the Kilgo is a rare item to have.”