A few weeks back, I was told about Krool Toys by a good friend of mine. When I checked out their Instagram a few days later, I wondered how they only had two thousand followers with a portfolio of work that was so impressive. I had to dive in.
The young company seemed to be relatively unknown then. From the time we first spoke to now, Krool has gained over ten thousand followers on Instagram and has continued to grow in the days following. Their growth makes sense, too. Their market is a broad, yet passionate niche centered around culture. From an Eternal Atake Gameboy game’s to a WLR Countdown Clock, the company seems to be capable of making anything that comes to mind. The team is comprised of founders Stefan and Tia, who both work at Cinematic Music Group, and are on a straight path to success.
Stefan: Yo, what’s good?
Daily Chiefers: Nothin much, man. Been looking forward to this for a minute.
Stefan: Yeah us too. Tia’s here with me also.
Tia: Hey, how are you?
DC: I’m good. I was going through what Krool has featured on the highlighted story, that was pretty dope. I noticed a bunch of work for Cinematic artists, you guys work there right?
Stefen: Yeah, we both work there. Tia does graphic design and I do marketing. This is totally kind of our side project.
DC: Is your process normally just like creating something for an artist you like and hoping that they notice it?
Stefen: We basically just make pieces for artists that we love or just albums that we know are gonna be a big cultural moment and hopefully they see it and like it. We’ve had a pretty decent track record so far.
DC: I mean it makes sense that you guys serve these other roles at Cinematic, too. This is too perfect to not be coming from people who understand the system. Every piece that you’re releasing is so unique so it stands out a lot. Every toy, I feel like they could blow up on Instagram just because of how dope they are and I think it really takes a refined taste to be able to create these things.
Stefen: I’m glad you think that, thank you!
DC: So how’d you guys start Krool?
Tia: It basically started off when we started working at Cinematic, which was a few months ago. We worked on this project to come up with alternate promo launch items and then we decided to do this mood ring and spent all these hours trying to figure out how to package it, doing all this research and then it kept getting brought up. So we did another one, which was Cam’Ron car and then after that we got really into it and started visiting toy stores and started doing it outside of work.
DC: That’s awesome. And has there been interest from Jonny (Shipes) as far as all the shit you’re making?
Stefen: Yeah, he’s a big supporter. We’re gonna do a lot of stuff with him.
DC: It seems right up his alley, he’s always looking for cutting edge type shit. I mean from a consumer standpoint.
Stefen: You’re completely right, he’s super open-minded.
Tia: He has really good taste. He really loves art and design and being creative and he really fucks with everything we do and is super supportive.
DC: That’s fire. I saw that Kill Che has been doing some stuff with Cinematic? He’s one of my favorite artists/painters on the scene right now. He just did something for Xanman.
Stefen: Ok, yes I see his stuff. He’s sick, damn!
DC: I’m pretty sure he’s tight with Kodone too. Seeing the synonymy in their taste early on, I was really interested since I know that he was at a similar level with the shit Kodone was making. It all goes back to the idea that Jonny is really on top of his shit, creatively.
Stefen: Oh yeah. He spends hours on Instagram looking for sick artists who will DM us to get in touch with for cover art. He doesn’t want to go back to the same people every time which is sick and keeps it interesting.
DC: It really seems like it. Everybody’s asking “how do you stay cutting edge?” And “how do you stay adapted to the times while still having a unique identity?” Jonny seems to have those answers.
Stefen: Yeah and he’s like 20 plus years in. You kind of have to be like that to last this long in the music industry.
DC: Yeah, exactly. That is a common theme I’ve been picking up on from a lot of people. With all this technology that is emerging, you’ve gotta stay hip to it.
Tia: Yeah you have to keep reinventing yourself.
Tia: It’s interesting though, with Krool Toys, what we do is try to like take people back almost.
Stefen: It’s reverse.
Tia: We want to make people feel nostalgic.
DC: That’s dope. Have you had any notably enthusiastic reactions to your stuff? From any artists in particular?
Tia: Aminé. When he saw our post, he texted us within like the hour and was like I’m in New York, I wanna meet you guys, it was pretty cool. It never worked out, but still. He was really genuine, he didn’t even want it and he was just like, “can I come to take a picture with it?”
Stefen: We were like, yeah we’ll give it to you, no problem.
DC: That’s crazy how fast that came together. So what’s been your favorite creation today out of everything you’ve made?
Stefen: I would say the Eternal Atake Game Boy game just because it was honestly a challenge for me to make it a reality. It wasn’t like any Photoshop or after effects went into that. I literally had to figure out how to get his promo movie onto a cartridge and like film this whole thing, which is sick, which is what I like doing.
DC: That’s ridiculous though. So is there a specific software you had to use for that? How do you go about doing that?
Stefen: A lot of hours and a lot of file conversions to convert this down to like a small enough file.
DC: Insane. What type of content do you normally feature on digital toys like that game?
Stefen: Most of them are just meant to get people’s imagination going. They’re just like movie files that I’ll figure out a way to play on the system. But like, the idea is to kind of spark interest. I want to go back to the days of like Def Jam Fight For New York and all of these music-themed games and this is my way of seeing if people are still interested in that.
DC: So what are your goals for Krool? Where do you see it going? Where do you want it to go?
Stefen: I think our goal is to keep making stuff and keep challenging ourselves and be able to get these items in the hands of people who want them and keep the same quality.
Tia: Just being innovative with merch, there’s so much potential for us to create really crazy things for artists that haven’t been done before and that’s definitely something we want to do. Just to be creative and different.
Stefen: Yeah, and work with artists and help them create another stream of revenue.
Tia: We love to work with up and coming artists, especially ones we fuck with and whose music we listen to all the time.
DC: I love that. I love everything that you guys are saying and showing through your work. Do you have any dream collaborations?
Stefen: Should I say mine? I’m a huge Odd Future fan, ever since I was in high school. So, I’d love to do something for Tyler. He’s a huge inspiration for me.
DC: It seems like it’s right up his alley. And then how about you Tia?
Tia: I would love to do a Bollywood inspired one, for like a really crazy movie or something. I want to expand our audience into India and Bollywood and Hip Hop that’s happening in India. By the way, I’m from India. It would be really cool and interesting to me.
DC: That’s dope. The global market for music is so fucking cool because you just see the roots of influence in polarizing acts across different countries and continents. A lot of potentially cool collaborations.
Stefen: We can just give them another thing to share with their fans. And luckily, we have almost everything we need to make these toys here. We just revealed our Runtz collaboration for 420 yesterday and that from design to production to like getting it up on their website was all in like 6 hours. Just because we have everything here we don’t need to rely on factories right now.
DC: That’s crazy. So like what you print their image onto a different type of paper and then cut it up? How do you go about making a puzzle?
Stefen: Yeah it’s all hand made, we have an electronic cutter.
Tia: So, like this one, I designed that graphic for them and then we basically have it printed on paper. We have a cutter, so we design the cutting file, which is the puzzle and then we cut it and we make the packaging too.
DC: That’s so cool. A perfect collab for 420. With the number of rap songs that say Runtz and just the amount of videos that Runtz makes an appearance in, it’s so woven into the culture now.
Tia: That was really cool because I just did the design to show them that we were interested and they were like “oh, we want this on our website now” so, it was cool how that played out.
DC: Crazy. Did you guys get any free bud from that?
Stefen: Not yet!
DC: Well, it’s only fair… Thank you so much for taking the time to talk about Krool. It was amazing learning more about you guys!
Stefen: Of course! Thank you.
Tia: We appreciate it!