Ultra Records had no idea who they were signing when they swooped up Kygo in 2014. The now 24-year-old Norwegian has stormed the world with his unique brand of tropical house, playing to sold out shows at the world’s most renowned venues. And with fans like Diplo and John Legend supporting his music, it’s no wonder Kygo is at the forefront of dance music.
“When I first started out, I was very inspired by Avicii, and I tried to copy Avicii. I tried to make everything he made. And I feel like it’s cool if I can have that same effect on people, if I can inspire people. – Kygo
However, the story behind Kygo, real name Kyrre Gørvell-Dahll, is not what you’d expect. Billboard recently had the opportunity to talk with the young star to better understand what he’s all about.
At 15, Kyrre wanted to be a professional footballer (the round one, not the leather one), then after high school, he spent a year fulfilling Norway’s mandatory military service requirement. During the time he spent as a fireman on a naval base, one of his friends introduced him to a MIDI keyboard and Logic. Then he heard “Seek Bromance,” a dance hit by another handsome Scandinavian, the superstar Avicii. After having taken a decade of piano lessons as a child, it all made sense.
“He’s such a sweet person. He [just] loves to be at home, making music.” – Dillon Francis
Kygo recently played the biggest show of his career at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. However, despite playing to a crowded stadium, he somehow manages to remain humble. “I’m not really the type of guy who actively enjoys looming godlike above his legions of loyal serfs,” he says. Kygo candidly talks about the first time he flew in a private jet, that first glass of champagne, his nervousness about the first time he uploaded a picture of himself for press. He opens up about these experiences that were once so strange, but now are commonplace and downright necessary. It all still seems surreal to Kyrre, but he’s under no illusion that this will last forever.
“I do have in the back of my head that you never know how long it lasts. I don’t know if my music will be popular three years from now. I have to enjoy it while it lasts.”
In regards to the heavy partying which EDM is usually associated with, Kygo says he witnesses no such thing, despite his immersion into the culture: “I actually haven’t even seen that much drugs.” And, while he doesn’t drink much, in the studio he does enjoy the odd glass of wine, “I feel like red wine gets you in that chill vibe.”