Valentino Khan is a man that needs no introduction. He’s a producer that transcends genres and trends with a style that’s all his own. He’s the guy behind “Deep Down Low,” the most played track of 2015. He’s a person with a mustache so iconic, it deserves its own merch line. But most of all, he’s an artist dedicated to the music — and that’s why we jumped at the chance to interview him.
With every move, the LA-based producer is making an impact on the industry, with a sound unmistakably original, ridiculously cool, and constantly evolving. Not to mention, Valentino’s latest track featuring the legendary Sean Paul is pure “Gold.”
Valentino’s work instinctively find releases on leading imprints such as Mad Decent and OWSLA, and he’s worked with a plethora of artists including Diplo, Skrillex, GTA and Flosstradamus. Plus, remixing everyone from Katy Perry to Dog Blood, Axwell Λ Ingrosso, Dillon Francis, and Zeds Dead (we could go on) goes to show his wide spectrum of musical taste.
Even with all that under his belt, there is even more on the horizon for Valentino Khan. “I’m working on finishing a bunch of new singles and new music,” he reveals. “I can’t wait to get them out to the world!”
Watch out for the “Gold” music video coming soon, catch Valentino live on tour (dates below), and check out our full interview with Valentino Khan right here!
“Gold” is simply amazing… What was the inspiration behind the track?
I wanted to make something that was really like, a good vibe record — danceable and kind of revisit a little bit of the moombahton sound that I started out with. It was cool to be able to do that and work with a legendary artist like Sean Paul, who is incredibly talented in studio both as a vocalist and a writer.
What was it like working with the Sean Paul?
It was really dope working with Sean Paul. He’s really talented in the studio. He didn’t really write anything down when we got in the studio, which was awesome. That really spoke to him being a true artist — just the fact that he’s able to deliver everything on the record off the top of his dome. I thought that was something that really set him apart from a lot of people. He’s a quick worker and overall just a really good dude. We just shot the music video for “Gold” in Jamacia and we hung out a little bit.
Awesome! So you guys were physically in the studio together!
Yeah, exactly. I’m the kind of guy — I really like being in studio and actually producing the records with the artist whenever its possible. I love being in the studio and being able to navigate and work with the artists, and contribute to it myself in terms of the actual songwriting process. It’s definitely something I take pride in.
For fans catching you on tour, what can they expect?
I always try to be forward-thinking. I try to play records that the crowd maybe not be familiar with, but I know they’re going to gravitate towards. I’m not going to play anything that’s obscure for the sake of being obscure, but I think it’s cool to play records that they didn’t know they wanted to hear. Once you’re able to do that I think you make a connection with a lot of fanbases out there.
What’s your favorite part about touring?
It might be a very simple answer, but being able to see all these different cities and get a sense of the vibes in all these different cities. It’s cool to be in different places and find what sets them apart from the rest of the world, whether it’s the food, the people, or even the weather. It’s amazing to be able to transport between all these different settings and be able to take in all these different kinds of environments.
Which places do you hope to visit and/or already know you love to visit?
The place I would love to play that I haven’t played yet is Brazil. It’s really interesting — the culture — it’s always been a place I would like to travel to eventually. It’s on top of my list.
Overall, one of the most interesting places to travel, or play, or just being in general, is Tokyo. I think it’s probably the least boring city in the world. You could go there at any time of day — morning, night, afternoon, it doesn’t matter — and find something to do. The people are amazing, respectful. It’s an awesome culture they have going over there.
The “Pump” music video is one of my all time favorites… How did you think up that outlandish concept?
The original concept of having the censor blur move around at this naked party was basically just an idea. But then we worked a lot together and talked over the phone to really refine it. I enjoyed being involved in the whole creative process — the creative world beyond just making the music. I think that’s really important, to be giving that creative input Yeah, it was a really awesome concept and I’m glad we were able to bring it to life for an interesting and memorable music video.
What effect did “Deep Down Low” have on your career? Did you think it would get as big as it did?
I completely think it had a tremendous effect, in a positive way, on my career. And to answer your other question — no, I didn’t think it would be as successful as it was. I thought maybe my peers like Skrillex and Diplo, or someone like that in the bass music world would play it. But then Calvin Harris and Afrojack and Axwell Λ Ingrosso were all huge in playing the record — taking it to a completely different realm and a completely different height. I feel like I owe a lot all those DJs in terms of helping the record blow up. I’m still astonished and thankful and grateful that people are still playing the record out. Hopefully it just becomes one of those house records that lives on and on for years.
Some of your favorite labels for up-and-coming artists?
Obviously, Mad Decent and OWSLA. I really like listening to Boys Noize’s label, actually. It’s probably different from what I would typically play in my sets, but once in a while I do these weird hard techno sets.
You seem to have a lot of DJs friends… Have any of those friendships led to collaborations?
I think hanging out with GTA probably helped facilitate us making music together — those guys are just really great dudes. They’re really a great example for how you should conduct yourself as a young producer getting into the game. I’ve known them just getting into the game and they’ve always been humble and have let their music do the talking for them. That’s why I think everybody in our world really respects those guys. They’re just about the art form.
Being able to hang out with people that you get along with definitely adds to it. A lot of these friendships spark because it’s like, “Hey, I like your music.” And the other person is like, “Hey, I like your music, too!” If you connect with human beings on top of that it’s a really cool combination.
If you had to start a superstar duo with one of the following, who would you choose: Skrillex, Diplo or Dillon Francis?
[Laughs] I would maybe choose Diplo just because musically I think we align with each other. All of our sounds and releases are really versatile, and we don’t stick to making one sound over and over. Not that Dillon and Skrillex are like that, because I think both of those guys are incredibly versatile too. Diplo has always been forward thinking and trendsetting in everything he’s done. He’s kind of been all over the place in a good way, in terms of the versatility of his sound.
What is Valentino Khan’s mantra?
My mantra is kind of what I tell any young producer or DJ that asks me for advice. The two things I say… Be original and work your ass off. I think if you have those two things in place in your life, then eventually the cream will rise to the top and people will take notice of you.
It’s just like any other job — it might be a weird job but it’s just like any other. You have to work hard and you have to put in the hours. And you have to be devoted to it. If you’re able to do that, you’ll have a strong level of success.
Valentino Khan Live
October 27—Sacramento, CA—Fright Night*
October 28—San Francisco, CA—Temple Nightclub
November 18—Chicago, IL—Aragon Ballroom†
November 22—Royal Oak, MI—Royal Oak Music Theatre†
November 24—Minneapolis, MN—Skyway Theatre†
November 25—San Diego, CA—Bassmnt
December 15—Boulder, Co—Boulder Theater†
December 21—Baltimore, MD—Rams Head Live!†
December 22—Boston, MA—House of Blues†
December 23—New York, NY—Terminal 5†
*with Diplo and Excision
Photo Credit: Pete Don