PLAYING CINCY: K. Savage On Making The Most Out Of Quarantine As An Independent Artist

IN2ITIV3 / K. Savage
IN2ITIV3 / K. Savage
Photo Credit: Anna Silvius

2020 has been a tough year for independent artists. With no touring in sight – save for a few one-off virtual performances – underground bands and solo acts have had to be creative in finding new sources of revenue and staying relevant to their fans. For Cincinnati rapper/producer Kelby Savage, this has meant focusing instead on the business side of his artistry, like designing a brand new website, writing press releases and creating an electronic press kit (EPK). 

“Since we didn’t have any, like, traditional live shows lined up, it allowed me to take more time to do all the other back-end stuff,” Savage tells me on a quiet afternoon at Dive Bar. “I guess my goal at the end of the day is to kind of formulate a team, but until I can get that team, I’ve got to do everything myself.”

Since independent artists often have to juggle many of the music industry roles supporting their art – publicist included – Savage’s strides in bolstering his digital footprint (as well as that of his band, IN2ITIV3) is an effective way to push his career forward without touring. It’s also important, Savage says, in keeping his business self-sufficient.

Although the independent path is challenging, Savage says, “I’m not worried about somebody who’s got my masters.” Self-ownership was a big talking point of Nipsey Hussle’s and recently came back into the mainstream discussion during Kanye West’s latest tweet-storm

“I was surprised to hear about these bigger artists, that are legendary, that are mad about their masters,” Savage reflects on ‘Ye. “That kind of makes me glad that I ain’t blown up yet, ’cause a lot of these artists that are huge – like Trippie Redd and stuff – they all signed to labels that got their masters. I’m trying to figure out how I can get my shit going viral like them, but I ain’t signing to no labels.” 

“Russ is a prime example,” he continues. “I’ve been studying people like him on how to do that. I always wanted to be that artist to take the long road. I’ve taken this time to learn how to do all the other stuff, like the videos, designing my own album covers and being self-sufficient.”

Along with building an impressive press portfolio and getting serious about self-ownership, K. Savage is also using quarantine to strengthen his and IN2ITIV3’s video catalogue. The artist just recently unveiled his “Danny DeVITO” video and plans to continue releasing his vault of self-produced singles with accompanying visuals.  

“I have enough music to release [a project], but I don’t really wanna do that right now, with the way things are looking,” he explains. “Since I can’t perform these projects live, I think it’s just a singles climate for now.”

As for IN2ITIV3, Savage revealed that the genre-fluid band is gearing up to release their live EP, which will feature live recordings of new material and one track from their self-titled debut project. The EP, due this fall, was recorded at Urban Artifact. The “punkadelic” rock band recently premiered their music video for “Moon,” a loosie they dropped this summer.

Besides one live-streamed performance earlier this year, the band also performed at a Black Lives Matter rally in Milford, Ohio.

“I kinda grew up there and spent a lot of time in Milford, so I’ve experienced – just from being a minority out there – a lot of racial tension,” Savage says of the experience. “So, coming back and doing a whole rally and speaking my side of things out there, that made things come full circle for me.”

Savage also attended another protest organized by Patterns of Chaos alum Jay Hill in Cincinnati this June. 

“I shot a lot of video at that one, masked up. It was my first protest experience and I didn’t know what to expect,” he remembers. “I was already hearing about people getting pepper-sprayed and stuff.” 

“And I didn’t even have like a traditional mask; I had a t-shirt, Taliban-looking thing on,” he adds with a laugh.

Unfortunately, between the emotional weight of continued racial injustices and not being able to perform music with his friends, Savage says the past few months have taken a toll on his mental health – a sobering reality for many people this year. 

“Being locked-down, this shit has had a really big impact on everybody’s morale right now,” he confesses. “I went through like a depression episode. I was still making music, despite how bad I felt. It became a positive way to channel those feelings.”

Although Savage, and other independent artists like him, continue to grapple with the uncertain future of touring, he’s making the most out of this time by working on his web presence, expanding his already multi-faceted skillset and recording live sessions.

Keep up with Savage on his Instagram and follow IN2ITIV3 for more about their upcoming EP here.

IN2ITIV3 Invent Punkadelic Sound on Debut EP



IN2ITIV3 is making waves as a musical embodiment of the growing punk/hip hop crossover in Cincinnati’s local music scene with their debut self-titled EP. Featuring bandmates that listen to everything from B2K to Patti Smith, IN2ITIV3 settles on lyrical rap infused with punk rock instrumentation – but they are not Rage Against The Machine.

“I’m not even a quarter as good of a guitar player as Tom Morello, so it’s not that,” jokes the band’s vocalist and guitarist Kelby Savage. Violinist Frankie Strings, drummer Ezra Plymesser, and bassist Max Vignola complete the quartet. They’ve coined their unique sound “punkadelic rock,” and even more than creating warm waves of party-ready tunes, IN2ITIV3 is the natural next step for a city with both thriving and experimental hip hop and punk scenes.

“Hip hop and punk music have always kind of been in the same scenes, like in New York, in a lot of the early scenes,” says Savage, who is also behind the local Punk Hip Hop Show series. “A lot of the punks go to the hip hop parties, a lot of the hip hop kids go to the punk parties. It’s starting to make that change here now.”

That change comes with curious and open-minded artists. Thankfully, hip hop as a genre, as Savage points out, has never been one to box itself in.

IN2ITIV3 photo by Bobby Tewksbury

“We have psychedelic influences, punk influences, and hip hop, but what makes it hip hop is that hip hop is a conglomerate of genres, so it’s hip hop by default,” he explains. “I love trap, but that’s the most overdone style. So, just take a little bit of this cadence and then put it with a punk rock beat and make something completely new, to where people are like – this is something different.”

A non-formulaic sound, however, isn’t easily earned. Savage explained over the year-long IN2ITIV3 recording process, the band used hour-long jam sessions to experiment with riffs and potential melodies. It’s also IN2ITIV3’s debut effort, so rather than collaborate with other artists, the project aims to cement the band’s own distinct sound.

“We had to tighten up our sound and just really get that solid unit working… If we do [work with features] I wanna do something unique,” he said, pointing to the likes of BADBADNOTGOOD and Free Nationals.

Moving forward, IN2ITIV3 plans to release a single called “The Moon” in April.


Savage has been making music for over a decade, crediting Jimmy Hendrix as his guitarist icon and also boasting a dexterous rapping flow. During the course of our interview, he reminisced about opening up for Twenty One Pilots back in 2009 in front of 60 people at a local coffee shop.

“I saw them kind of become the band that they are today,” he said of the Columbus-bred duo.

With IN2ITIV3 now rounding their two-year mark, Savage is glad their debut project has finally come to fruition and that fans are starting to come around to their uniquely engaging style.

“Where you say loss, I say learning experience,” he said of his career philosophy.  “They’re both L’s.”

Stream IN2ITIV3 below.

PLAYING CINCY: Hip Hop Showcase Brings Out Cincinnati Talents

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Dayo Flow at Urban Artifact in Cincinnati rounded up some of the city’s top-rated hip hop acts. The evening showcased headliners Dayo Gold and Eb&Flow, singer Joness, Kelby Savage, Devin Burgess and more.

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Freestyling underway at Dayo Flow. Photos by Victoria Moorwood.

The show started out with some playful freestyling, where rappers and artists in the crowd were welcomed on stage. Kelby Savage started off the individual performances. His most recent production appeared on Big18foot’s Hogwash, which came out earlier this year.

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Kelby Savage at Dayo Flow.

R&B singer Joness opened up her acoustic set talking and joking with the crowd. Her debut EP, Rule Number 9, came out in 2017 and will be followed up Thursday by her forthcoming album, Sheep: An Extended Play, produced by Joey Thomas.

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Joness performing at Urban Artifact.

Emcees Dayo Gold and Eb&Flow and producer/ rapper Devin Burgess ended the night on a high. Eb&Flow’s 6-song EP, Sympathetic.Audience.Control, came out last month. He and Dayo Gold collaborated on “Dayo Flow” in 2017.

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Dayo Gold, Eb&Flow.

Dayo Gold released two singles, “Twang” and “Came Up” late last year, while Devin Burgess, clearly out of retirement, bopped some singles off his 2018 album, Trash.