The effect that Kygo has had on dance music these past two years is difficult to understate. His journey as a musician, brand, and personality has flowed so smoothly from inception to now that it’s hard to think it wasn’t guided by some kind of intelligent design. (Shout out his manager, Myles.)
But now that his debut album is out, things are going to change a lot. There’s a different feeling in an artist’s career, especially at the level that Kygo finds himself, after they release their first large body of work. It’s not quite that the hype has died down, but it will definitely change. A tour is no longer a time to showcase new music, but to play out your album. There’s less expectations and waiting for the next song, so an artist has to find other ways to maintain hype while touring.
All of these factors play into how an artist creates longevity in his or her career, and Kygo’s is riding on this.
Before he embarks on a massive worldwide tour to promote Cloud Nine, we were able to get in touch with him and ask him some questions we had burning in the back of our minds. Check out his answers below.
Your debut album is finally out. Describe the journey to this point. How long have you been working on Cloud Nine?
It’s been a long but rewarding process. Ever since I signed to Sony, I wanted to prove myself as an artist capable of making original material and with the release of the album, I think I’ve done that. I’ve been working on it for about two years now. I’ve gotten to work with some incredible people throughout it all. I’m just grateful for everything and enjoying the ride.
What was the biggest hurdle in putting together and releasing this LP? How did you overcome it?
The hardest thing was definitely finding the right artists to collaborate with. There are so many artists out there and we wanted to find the right balance of vocalists across genres. That’s why you can go from hearing Tom Odell, who has a British rock background to someone like Foxes who is more classic pop. The ‘Stay’ collaboration was always one that sticks out to me. I’d created the melody and really loved it but we couldn’t find a version I liked for ages. Then we found Maty, who ended up singing on The Weeknd’s ‘Angel’ and it went from there.
How have you navigated the transition from “tropical house DJ” to just a pure “musician”?
I have never considered myself a tropical house DJ so it’s never been a huge issue for me. I’ve been playing the piano since the age of six and everything I do with my music starts off from what I learned there. The DJing part of my career is something I really enjoy but first and foremost, I’d definitely look at myself and think ‘musician’.
Every track on the LP has a vocalist. How important was it to tell a story in this album?
Very. I’ve had fans tell me all sorts of things around how my music has helped them overcome situations, inspired them to try things out and more so that’s always in the back of my mind. I want my music to be uplifting so most of the lyrics written mirror those themes. Positive music!
Despite only being out a few days it has already seen tremendous success, do you have tour plans? What markets do you plan to hit?
As many territories as possible. I obviously did those two gigs in America at the Greek Theater and Barclays Centre which were massive but I’m planning to do a bigger tour throughout the United States for sure. I recently toured Europe and played some incredible arenas but love to go back whenever I can. I’d also love to explore more of Asia. I was born in Singapore and it’s a place I love.
Do you ever look at comments on your social media or Soundcloud? How do you react when someone says that your music is bad, or that you shouldn’t be doing what you’re doing?
I guess I don’t seek it out but of course I’ll always see some things. I don’t really get disheartened by the negative stuff that comes my way though as I prefer looking at the positives. Those small bits I see about how my music has inspired people, changed their lives etc. is the most important thing. You’re always going to encounter hate on the internet whatever you do.
Anything special planned for the tour? Will any vocalists be joining you for the whole thing, like maybe Conrad or Parson James?
They’ll have to wait and see. I always try and bring a few surprises along whenever I can. LA got John Legend when I played the Greek Theater, New York got Shaggy when I played the Barclays Center. I like collaborating with so many different artists so it could really be anybody. London did get lucky at the end of my European tour recently though. I pretty much had half the collaborators from the album all there in one place which was special.
If you had to pick one song that best defines Cloud Nine, which would you choose?
‘Not Alone’. It’s almost ballad-like in how its put together and think it shows my versatility as a producer. It’s uplifting, emotional and honest.
Any plans for a remix album?
An album of remixes might be a step too far at the moment. I’m tending to focus on my original music right now but I won’t rule out any remixes before the end of the year.
A debut album is an important milestone for an artist. How long do you think it will be before you release another track? A year? Two?
I don’t want to set any dates in stone after what I did with my album haha! I’m always working on new music though and I’m sure you’ll hear some new stuff from me soon. It will definitely be less than two years, I can promise that.
What’s next, tell us about your very own festival and everything else!
Continuing my Cloud Nine arena tour and preparing for the debut of my festival in Bergen. I want the festival, like my album, to be a real representation of who I am and fingers crossed it will be. We’re all working crazy hard on it to make it the best it can be. I’m also looking at ways to further develop my live show plus I’m always on the lookout for more people to work with.
I hope to turn up in some places you don’t expect me to be as well!
All images found via Kygo’s Facebook