(Photo By: Eugene Skorobogatov)
Senior year of high school is a time where a lot of us have figured out whether we want to attend college or not. It is also a time where we try to figure out what exactly it is that we want to do with our lives. The pressure is high due to our parents’ expectations and/or comparing our accomplishments and goals to that of our friends. You might feel like you are living to please others rather than yourself. You try to fit in, but you realize it’s not working so you are fixed on becoming a unique individual instead. This is a time when you start to stress over big picture things, instead of just worrying about which jerk took your lunchbox or pencil (though clearly this does still happen at this age).
For those of us who have gone through high school, we remember this, right? For those still in high school, you might just now be learning this. Well, 17-year-old Kyle Girard, aka Killabyte, is not only dealing with these life stressors, but he is also in the midst of pursuing a musical dream. He will tell us what it’s been like to upstart his music career while being a high school student, discuss with us his current progress as a musician, and share his personal and professional vision for the future.
1. You hail from a small town in Northern California where dance music is not a prominent genre. How did you find this music and why did you begin to produce it, especially when it is probably difficult to build a fan base in such an unsaturated market?
“Trying to make a name for myself has been such a challenge. I first found this music when my brother showed me Datsik’s “Jenova Project” when I was 12 years old, and I was instantly hooked. I don’t know what it was about it, but I just felt the urge to figure out how it was made as soon as I heard it. I first began to produce electronic music just because it was such a creative outlet, and later on down the road when I began to discover who I was as an artist was when I realized I write this music to tell a story. Whether I’m angry or really upset about someone or something that has happened in my life, it all has a story and an emotional background to it. Nowadays I’m not too worried about building my fan base; the Internet has become such a useful tool, and it’s what has allowed me to connect with people that are outside of my hometown, which, by the way, has about half as many people in it as I do followers on Soundcloud. Pretty absurd to think about!”
2. You are just 17 years old and you started gaining recognition when you were 16. How has being so young both benefited and challenged your career as a music producer?
“I think being so young has helped big time in a lot of ways. I always have people that tell me that they wish they started when they were my age. I honestly consider myself lucky that I started this early because if I hadn’t, there is a chance I could be doing something else with my life. I have no idea what it would be, but I just can’t see myself doing anything other than creating music. The only downside I have found is not being able to go to shows because of age limits. It is seriously the worst thing ever when your favorite artist is playing really close to you but you can’t go because there is an age limit. Whenever I play shows I want to make sure that they are all ages; I want to expose the youngest generations I can to the music I make and love. I want them to start out as early as I did and get a head start on everyone else.”
3. Being in high school still what are some of the complications that a lot of high school students must face on a regular basis – drama, bullying, peer pressure, etc.? Which ones have affected you the most and why?
“High school is something that I have not had the greatest experience with. There is nothing I hate more than seeing people be dramatic over the littlest things, and being involved in it is even worse. I am currently a senior and will be graduating this coming year. I feel like I have changed a lot since I was a freshman, and recently I’ve been trying to make the change into the most positive person that I can possibly be. I think bullying is something that has had a huge effect on me, just because I’ve grown up surrounded by it. I feel like it’s part of the reason I started making music; I found it to be the best way to channel all of my emotions into one piece of work that I can be proud of.”
4.In your productions, specifically “Colliding Hearts” it is evident that you produce a lot of beautiful, melodic music. What message are you trying to convey through this music?
“Beautiful music is something that has always resonated with me; the message is always different. Sometimes I write music that represents life and how short it can be, and other times I am simply trying to make my fans feel the same way I do when I listen to a beautiful piece of music. When people listen to my songs, I want them to feel like everything around them has just stopped. Or even better, I want it to take them back to a time where they felt like time was stopped, such as when they had their first kiss or just simply when they took the time to appreciate something that was really meaningful to them.
For “Colliding Hearts”, I actually struggled for a long time to figure out what I wanted to convey with the track. Before I recorded with Jamie, I originally wanted the song to be called “The Moment” and just have the music speak for itself. Jamie had excellent ideas for the lyrics that she showed me over Skype, so I immediately knew I had to get her on the track. I’m really glad we got to work together, I think it came together really naturally and I am very happy with the final product. Along with vocals, I always try to find the balance between melodies and the heavier, grittier side of electronic music. In my opinion, the melodies are the most essential parts in telling a story, right next to the vocals; I don’t think I could ever write something that doesn’t have a melody that captivates you completely. Recently I have found myself spending a lot more time experimenting with heavier sounding basslines though, so I think my next few tracks will be a bit darker. Still melodic, but heavier than my usual stuff.”
5. You have had several big remixes that have gained a lot of support thus far. What is your release plan between remixes and originals and why?
“I absolutely love writing remixes, and I plan on doing a lot more in the future. For now though, I want to focus on releasing more originals. Once I have a substantial amount of originals under my belt, I’ll most likely come back to doing remixes for fun. I don’t want to be known as an artist who only does remixes and no originals; however, I feel as though I am a lot better at remixes than originals. The next few months of releases are going to be all originals, and I think the production quality of every track I release will get better and better.”
6. You are signed to Phase Management. They have a lot of big up-and-coming bass acts signed to their roster. What is it like being a part of this team and how has their support contributed to your success?
“I’ve actually been with Phase since the company first started, and quite honestly I’m still shocked and stoked to be part of such an amazing roster of artists. Both Lee and Ashley are great at putting me in contact with different people in the industry, as well as giving me advice on marketing and helping me grow as an artist. I strongly believe that Phase Management and I will be working together for a very long time, and I am excited to see what the future holds for both of us.”
7. As an artist, your job is to simply do what you love (produce the music that you want) and in return, hope that people fall in love with your music and support it. How do you find a balance between producing what you want and making sure you stay relevant as an artist/making your fans happy?
“I feel that my fans have been very receptive to everything that I put out. Each time I go to put out a song, I get a feeling of anxiety because I begin to overthink the smallest details of each song I make; I want to make sure that people enjoy my work. Because I am my own worst critic when I produce, anything that I like tends to be what other people will like as well. There are so many unheard projects of mine that will never see the light of day simply because I am not 100% happy with the way that they sound. Most people seem to be truly supportive of everything I make, so I don’t hesitate to put out the kinds of music I love even if I do fear that people will not be receptive to it.”
8. Paint a picture of a time where you encountered a music-related challenge. What was this struggle and how did you overcome it?
“One of the biggest struggles I have encountered thus far was when I made the realization that I would never progress or get better as an artist. Obviously I was completely wrong about this, but it is a very difficult and stressful thing to overcome, especially when you are the type of person to analyze every small detail of your own songs. It took me a long time to realize that the skills needed to become successful were not going to come to me overnight; I have been producing for over 4 years, and I still think I have a long ways to go before I am confident in my own work. However, I do believe I have been making an incredible amount of progress, especially over the past year or so. One thing I learned from this endeavor is that you don’t really realize how far you’ve come until you look at where you started.”
9. What has inspired you throughout life and how do you hope to leave an impact on the music industry and even just the world in general?
“One of the things that has inspired me the most throughout my entire life is just the desire to create something that people will enjoy. I have always had this passion for making people happy, and it is so gratifying for me when I know that I have succeeded. I’ve had people tell me that my music has made them cry, and I know it is not because they are sad but because they find my work so beautiful. That is the exact impact I want to have on people. Each one of us is just temporary on this planet, but music will live on forever, and I want to leave behind something that will let people know that they are never alone, and that music is something that they can turn to when they have nobody else.”
Despite the pressures of high school, Kyle has focused his time and energy on music. He is very mature for his age and has shown this through each one of his productions. Rather than getting involved with drama, he uses his teenage angst and emotions and puts them into a song instead. It sure has paid off. In addition to being represented by the same company who manages acts like Downlink, Said the Sky, Trollphace, and Twine, Kyle has gained support from the likes of Adventure Club, Protohype, Virtual Riot, and Rekoil. Remember, all of this has been accomplished at the mere age of 17.
Keep this kid on your radar because not only is he going to be a successful artist, but he will be a game-changer as well.