When tropical house pioneer Kygo took to Twitter to announce the release of “Stargazing” this Friday, the world thought it would be just another single. This turned out to be wholly inaccurate. Not only did Kygo release “Stargazing” a day early, but, as it turns out, Stargazing is a brand new EP pack.
Luckily, the most provocative tracks on the Stargazing EP are the two newest additions. Vocalist Justin Jesso joins on the EP’s eponymous first track for an energetic production that builds beautifully with piano chords and chopped vocals. “This Town,” featuring the calming vocals of Sasha Sloan, is a more chilled out ballad with Kygo’s euphoric key-infused style and tiny hints of his sunset allure.
Many moons ago in October 2013, as one may recall, Kygo added his signature tropical house Midas touch to Henry Green‘s sultry cover of “Electric Feel.” Despite the remix being posted to both YouTube and SoundCloud, Kygo never received official clearance by the record labels in order for the song to end up on streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal.
The time has finally arrived four years later where Kygo’s take on “Electric Feel” can be added to any playlist, delivering endless summer vibes for listeners who want to groove to an easy beat, gentle guitar riffs, and soothing vocals. Kygo’s latest addition to Spotify follows the premiere of his documentary, “Stole The Show,” which debuted a couple of weeks ago at NYC’s Metrograph. With the warm remix of Henry Green’s “Electric Feel” resurfacing from the earlier stages of his career, we are reminded once again why we fell in love with Kygo from the start.
Kyrre Gørvell-Dahll, better known as the multitalented tropical house pioneer Kygo, premiered his brand new documentary, “Stole The Show,” at NYC’s Metrograph earlier this week in a star studded red carpet roll out. The feature length film, which has now opened in wide release via Apple Music, traces Kygo’s journey from the early stages of making SoundCloud productions in his dorm room to his career-defining performance at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center last year.
Kygo has certainly traveled an accelerated path to stardom, where as Gørvell-Dahll has admitted to thinking that things are moving too fast from time to time.
“I’ve learned so much in the last 3 years,” Gørvell-Dahll told Dancing Astronaut at the premiere. “Everything’s been going so fast, I’ve been traveling around the world meeting so many people working with so many talented artists and I’ve been learning so much.”
After all, it was only three years ago that the now internationally-renowned Norwegian producer was catapulted to fame with his remix of Ed Sheeran’s “I See Fire.” Within months, the then-23-year-old was caught in the epicenter of a bidding war between some of the biggest labels in music.
Since the launch of his career, he’s been traveling the globe playing at sold-out, world class festivals like Coachella and Creamfields and even hosted his own Cloud Nine-themed music festival in a castle in Norway.
“I was dreaming about this for 6, 7 years in my bedroom before it happened so now being able to do it, its just kind of unreal,” he said.
While many in the dance music community are quick to criticize those who move swiftly through the creative ranks of music making, often calling them commercial “sell outs” or label hustlers, Kygo has remained uniquely unconcerned with changing trends in the industry, focused instead on doing exactly what he loves and keeping his mind trained “110% on music.”
The Sony Music/Ultra signed producer has used his platform as a pipeline for his unique blend of downtempo, tropical, and happy-chill electronic to reach the masses. With his debut album, Cloud Nine, going platinum in five countries, along with an accompanying 22-city World Tour, and a hallmark closing ceremony performance at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, it’s no wonder the producer has been moving a million miles an hour.
Surprisingly, though, the accoladed producer says, he still gets nervous before performances.
“It’s almost the same because in the beginning,” he says of his nerves. “I was so nervous… I’d play a show for 200 people and I was shitting my pants I was so nervous. I still get nervous every time, but I feel like I’m more comfortable now,”
“I’m actually enjoying it more when I’m on stage because I don’t think about all the things that can go wrong, I just think about ‘ok I’m up here now I have to enjoy the moment’ so I think I’m able to enjoy it more now than in the beginning.”
So how does an instant tastemaker slow down to reflect on his success? By making a movie, of course.
Released exclusively through Apple Music, the film grants viewers an intimate look into his creative process, from working with the likes of global pop stars from Selena Gomez to Ellie Goulding. Featuring testimonials from his manager, Myles Shear, and friends Steve Aoki, Martin Garrix, and Bono, the documentary fully details the not-so-visible backstage life of the Norwegian artist.
Still, fans are dying to know what’s next for Kygo. Indeed, rumors have abounded on a sophomore LP in the works, which the man himself says is imminent.
“My plans are just to make a lot of music, hopefully I’ll get that album out and go on a world tour,” he says. “That’s the goal.”
“There’s definitely a lot of people that I want to work with. I have this song with John Newman I’m very excited about. Other than that I’m not gonna spoil too much, but I have some cool stuff in the making.”
For long time fans of this enigmatic and prolific producer, that’s easy to believe.
It’s 2008, and the Deadmau5 remix of “The Longest Road” has just been nominated for a Grammy. Legends like Tiësto, Armin van Buuren, and Above & Beyond are leading the European fervor for Trance, but the dance scene in the United States is still very much a niche interest. Ultra isn’t a three day festival yet, and the US music tastes are at a crossroads.
Britney Spears is being awarded “Best Dance Track” nominations, and rap, pop, and punk rock are all at a stand still with no clear vector to the forefront of the millennial generation’s ever multiplying interests. Meanwhile, a 27 year old from Vermont named Morgan Page is navigating a hit single that will be the beginning of a long, career—hard won through persistence, talent, and the impending explosion of electronic music in the US.
If you ask Morgan Page when his career started, he would tell you that it was in the back room of the University of Vermont’s student run radio station, all the way back in ’96.
At 16, he’d discovered the channel thumbing through the jam bands, classic rock, and hip hop that cluttered the FM dial in his hometown, a suburb of Burlington, Vermont. Before long, Page was filling in as a host and DJ for students too hungover to make their shifts. After a stint managing a channel in Boston, Page scored a summer internship at a hot New York record label where his job duties included taking out executives’ garbage.
It wasn’t until Page released “The Longest Road” in 2008 that Page had his ‘breakthrough moment’ as an artist. After years of effort behind getting a club residency, he enlisted Deadmau5 to do a remix for his new single, hiring the superstar producer outright. This decision would earn Deadmau5’s first Grammy nomination, and produced the song that could be heard in every club and radio station nationwide.
“That was before [Deadmau5] had the mousehead and was at the earlier stages in his career arc. His stuff was just starting to blow up on Beatport, and Beatport was a real outlet and a real tastemaker then. I remember that remix being played when you went to any club in Miami. Every shop that you walked into, even the pizza store, was playing that song. But that was a different time where one song would really just plaster the continent.”
But the world in which Page first became a household name in the electronic community is so starkly different than the landscape of electronic music in the US now. Ultra has careened into a 3-day two weekend event, superstar DJs are filling arenas on the merit of their own productions, and the electronic music industry was valued at approximately $7.1 billion. It’s an evolution that hasn’t escaped Page’s scrutiny.
“My first reaction is what took so long? (For EDM to explode). There were three waves, and a lot of politics got in the way of that. There was this rave act that took all of these huge festivals that were happening and squashed them. No one could be a part of these for several years. That was like this false start for a lot of festivals, and I wasn’t DJing at that point, but I was starting to get into music then in the late 90s and early 2000s.
“It took several tries, and then major labels started putting in a lot of money and investment into Daft Punk,The Prodigy, Crystal Method, and all of these sort of electronica artists. It’s really humbling and great to see that it blew up. I think now it is all about maintaining that, and now it has matured and it is still doing great, but now we look into where does it evolve now? Does it just turn into hip hop? Where does it go next? That’s what it feels a little bit like now- that it is reverting to hip hop.”
Unlike other artists in the industry, Page has found a way to experiment with his sound as electronic has turned commercial without compromising the core of what makes him unique as a producer. He has not caved to the trends, pivoting to pop/rap collaborations that are sure fire radio hits. Instead, he’s has managed to stay not only relevant, but popular, despite a staunch disinterest in infusing hip hop into his music.
“As you have heard, my music has been been pretty diverse. ‘Other Girl‘ was a little more tropical focused, and “Fight My Way” is a little more my usual style of Progressive House. I think this is the time to really try different BPM’s, so that is the biggest difference you will see with future releases. To me, it’s not so much about teaming up with 2 Chainz. I like to surprise people, and I’m talking to guys like Kaskade about teaming up for a song, but for me it’s more about changing the framework rather than just famous guest appearances. There won’t be any DJ Khaled on there, and making songs that have strong vocals that last is the backbone of songs that will stick around a little longer.”
Another dynamic of the evolving music industry that has affected Page’s decision making not stylistically, but strategically, is the evolution of how to successfully release music to fans. Page has shifted his focus from album releases to singles, with the acknowledgement that singles can be missed when stand alone. Contrastingly, releasing a full album all at once puts the songs at risk for having one hit single on the album overshadow other great releases that may have made more of an impact if not released alongside other songs.
Despite changing his release strategy, Page has remained consistent in his approach to making his music. He discusses at length how he has managed to diversify his production process through collaborations as well as what goes into making a hit in the world of modern day dance music.
“My main criteria when I make music in the studio is goosebumps. How do you get that serotonin rush and the endorphins from making the music? And when that wears off from hearing the song too many times, is it still a good song? That’s the challenge- still staying objective with a song after you have heard it a lot. A big thing about what I am doing now is teaming up with a lot of younger producers to have that extra ear in the studio. I would just be very stubborn and work by myself, but you can see like the remix with Deadmau5, the collaboration adds so much. It just pushes you because you can’t work in your own vacuum.
“I think the hardest part is that I think every song is going to be amazing and be a hit record. Sometimes that is not the case, and other times some songs have done better than I thought it would. When you release a song, you’re hoping that all of the variables line up because a hit record is a million things going right. The bar for a platinum record is so high now- it is 150 million streams, and that’s crazy. Success depends on things like the good placement on a playlist because not everyone has access to the music. That’s something that has been really nice with Armada. They are important and really come through in these situations in an oversaturated market through making you a priority when it needs to be and pulling back where it’s good to do that.”
Page was unique in that he remained on a smaller label for years before joining electronic giant Armada in November of 2016. Armada was not his first run in with big record labels, however. Page and his team had a slight mishap with Atlantic when the label created electronic imprint Big Beat Records and tried to get him on board as the first artist to join.
“I was going to be the first artist with [the] new electronic label. A lot of people don’t know that, but creatively it just didn’t pan out with what we wanted to do. But it was funny, Craig Kallman, one of the heads of Atlantic, was all excited and we actually flew to this hotel and had a big meeting. This was before ‘In the Air,’ and they didn’t even know ‘The Longest Road,’ which was funny. It was just one of those things where you were like, that doesn’t add up- that’s a red flag. They liked “Call My Name.” It’s strange if they don’t know your body of work.”
As Morgan has navigated record labels, an evolving production and release process, and staying popular amidst changing fan desires and genre popularity, he attributes his success to a variety of factors. He also has definitive opinions on his place in the electronic community. He wraps up our conversation by talking about the challenges that many artists don’t publicly confront, along with how he has been able to not only survive, but thrive in the ever-changing journey of being an electronic producer in this day and age.
“It is very easy to get lost. I see a lot of guys do a 2-year thing where they blow up and then disappear. It’s a lot of work. I’ve never been an artist who has done that hockey stick exponential growth thing and been like the hot current artist of the moment. It has always been a slow burn, and I feel as if my strength is in my consistency. I think it’s good for people to have perspective because there are some artists who have never worked a day job before. I hope they don’t take this life for granted. The hard part isn’t blowing up. The hard part is sustaining it, and keeping that fire going.”
Thomas Gold has shifted tropical with his remix of Toronto based electro pop band New City’s “Dirty Secrets.” While the original track was enigmatic enough to capture listeners, Gold’s remix is a groovy take on the vocally led pop song. The veteran producer’s efforts generate a more upbeat baseline and laces tropical house vibes into the track.
A master of consistency, Tchami has been very active in 2017, releasing two fantastic new “Confession” mixes and a single titled “Adieu,” which has since gone viral — not a first for the talented Frenchman. The pioneering producer has just released a brand new single, “World To Me,” which will likely be included on his upcoming second EP.
Interestingly, the Tchami has deserted his finely-honed, proven future house sounds in favor of the trending tropical house genre, receiving a lukewarm reception from fans in the process. While the track still features fabulously produced bass and percussion, ethereal organ-sample synths, and dreamy vocals by two-time Grammy nominee Luke James, it is still a style most fans don’t associate Tchami with and would definitely take some getting used to. As a stand alone single however, “World To Me” is perfectly solid and seems destined to gain significant traction as the weeks progress.
Dutch duo Deepend are known for the upbeat progressive house tracks which pervade their catalogue. For their latest release, “Waiting for the Summer,” the producers got particularly resourceful and formed the melody by using beer bottles as instruments.
Deepend posted a video to their Facebook page showing how they utilized the bottles and transformed the sounds into the track. “Waiting for the Summer,” which features vocalist Graham Candy, has more of a tropical tone than most of the duo’s recent productions, and has been released via the [PIAS] imprint.
Watch how “Waiting for the Summer” came to be above and listen to the final product below:
Sam Feldt has been at the forefront of the tropical house movement since the genre’s inception back in 2013. With a knack for glowing melodies and beats-of-paradise, the Dutch producer has stuck to his mantra of creating mellow, poolside offerings instead of the main stage-ready sounds many of his fellow countrymen have embraced in the past.
Ahead of Palm Springs’ Splash House festival, Sam Feldt takes Dancing Astronaut‘s listeners through a short but sweet trove of tropical treasures he will be spinning at the event and throughout the summer. Opening with his new collaboration “Fade Away” with Lush & Simon, Feldt taps Spinnin‘ colleagues LVNDSCAPE and Redondo for two of the nine cuts in the mix along with sunny favorites from Autograf and Tom Budin. Listen to the full minimix below exclusively on Dancing Astronaut’s Mixes page.
Tracklist 1 Sam Feldt X Lush & Simon feat. INNA – Fade Away [Spinnin] 2 Loose Change – Straight From The Heart (Joey Negro Straight To The Groove Mix) 3 Redondo, UnoMas & Teo Mandrelli – I Want U 4 LVNDSCAPE ft. Kaptan – Walk Away (Club Mix) 5 BERA – Untouchable (Jyye Remix) 6 Autograf – Simple feat. Victoria Zaro 7 Odd Mob – Feel So Good 8 Tom Budin Feat. Miles Graham – Reckless 9 Redondo & Junior J – Exhale Read more:
The Launchpad is a biweekly series showcasing hot new music hand selected by our staff. The tracks in these curated playlists come from both underground and mainstream artists that we love. If you’d like to see your music featured in the Launchpad, you can submit it for consideration here.
Despite being uncharacteristically mild so far, it is, indeed, quite deep into autumn. With winter looming right around the corner, this edition of The Launchpad is a chance to relive the summer by playing some of the finest tropical house tracks out right now.
While it would be easy to offer tracks from the likes of Kygo, Viceroy, and Thomas Jack, instead this edition of Launchpad features some lesser known names. Without further ado, dive into this playlist and get down one last time to the breezy vibes of the tropics before winter hits in full force.
Highlights: Kicking things off is “Clementine” courtesy of Manatee Commune. A collaboration with vocalist Marina Price, this track features future-tinged wavy synths undulating over the sunny disposition of a tropical beat.
Be sure to check out “Sunny Day” from Indiia, a track that is in no rush to get going but then manages to sneakily up the energy. Saccharine vocals do most of the heavy lifting before being chopped and transformed into a sliding melody to propels the track along.
Rounding out this edition of Launchpad is Viga’s remix of Adele’s “Send My Love.” A thoroughly gentle reproduction, featuring acoustic guitar lines and smoothed out chord patches. It manages to be big but not overly full, allowing for optimal mellow grooves with the eminently catchy vocals.