He may only be 16, but he’s got a hella lot to shout about. We talk originality formulas and making music he can dance to with producer of the moment, Kyogi
He might only be at the tender age of 16, but having been in a band since the age of 8, and started producing at the age of 12 – it would be unjust to say that Kyogi is lacking in experience. Also fronting an abundance of style, he credits his friends and family for his comprehensive music knowledge. Whilst his dad played him jazz and blues when he was growing up he played himself punk and grunge, but it was his uncle and his ‘disco-head’ who mum enlightened him to some subliminal grooves.
Having been brought to our attention by Locked On records, despite their profound back catalogue, Kyogi is propelling them forward with his forthcoming upbeat disco-fuelled single – ‘Not Good Enough’ – released June 16th. Ahead of the release Kyogi has put together the first in a new series of Locked On: In The Mix sessions premiered here on Wonderland. We catch up with the man himself to talk Kyogi-ness, making music he can dance to and cracking the formula for originality…
So tell us about your musical background…
I began having drum lessons when I was eight and I started teaching myself guitar shortly after, leading me to form a band with two friends in primary school. We even played the Year 6 leavers disco, it was intense. My Dad’s got an enormous jazz/blues collection and really lives for that music, so I’d hear him play his records all the time as a kid. That was probably the first popular music I ever heard. My whole family are massive music fans, but we don’t have many musicians other than my cousin who’s a singer. I’m not really sure where I get it from.
What did you grow up listening to?
In spite of my Dad’s tastes, I actually grew up listening to nothing but punk, grunge and shoegaze, which probably seems really weird given the sort of music I put out now as Kyogi. I still have a massive affinity for all that music and haven’t gone off it at all – I’ve just discovered new things since.
When did you first start producing music?
Roughly four years ago when I was 12, I was with my buddy Frank (King Dynamite/Endlines) at a skate competition at the skatepark five minutes down the road from me, where an older friend from my neighbourhood was DJing. In an hour he managed to blend dubstep, DnB, hip hop and techno pretty seamlessly, and Frank and I were totally bowled over because we’d never heard anything remotely like the music he was playing before. When he was done, I chatted to him and tried to glean as much of an insight into mixing and producing music as I possibly could. I think I downloaded the demo of FL Studio that same day, and started making my first tunes. Since then, I’ve just let my taste evolve, and I’ve ended up making music as Kyogi.
Your music shows elements of disco is this something close to your heart?
I was lucky enough to catch Nile Rodgers and Chic at a festival in 2012 at my Mum’s recommendation (she’s a disco head), and that was a bit of a turning point for me, I guess. I started to value subtlety much more in my music, and realised that it’s often the things you don’t put in that can really make a tune. I suppose this is why slower tunes of mine like Carousel, Higher and the DE$iGNATED and Arkon Fly remixes are super syncopated and have an almost ‘choppy’ sort of feel; even my faster, more dancefloor tracks like His Secret rely on silent parts to help give the other parts that much more impact. Long story short, I learnt all this from the sublime grooves of great disco that my Mum and my Uncle told me I should listen to after really enjoying Chic.
They’ve taught you well then! So how would you personably describe the music you now create?
My rule has always been ‘I make music I’d dance to’. So I definitely wouldn’t call myself strictly a ‘house producer’ or anything, though I’m not trying to blow any minds with originality either. I think it’s very difficult to calculate originality. I guess I just take elements from house, garage, hip hop and disco, mix them all up and just see what happens. I like to think I’ve found a balance that more or less works, and I try to keep things cohesive – I don’t want to confuse anyone, so I do my best to maintain a general Kyogi-ness about my music, regardless of what tempo I’m working at. But, to contradict myself completely, my upcoming single on Locked On, ‘Not Good Enough’ is a no-nonsense, steamy, deep(ish) house tune.
Tell us more about your Locked On mix…
Given that summer is officially upon us, the mix is a selection of the sort of tunes that I’d feel like dancing to in the sun. Hopefully people agree! It features more or less the sort of stuff you could expect to hear me play out at a club: soulful, emotive funk, house and disco-inspired tunes.
We could most definitely dance to it all summer. What else do you have lined up for 2014?
I’ve got ‘Not Good Enough’ coming out on Locked On pretty soon, which naturally I’m stupidly excited for. It’s backed with unbelievably great remixes from Jean Tonique and Adelaide. I’m especially stoked to have Jean Tonique on board, I’ve looked up to him for ages. Other than that, I’m gonna hopefully be playing as many shows as possible! Once school’s out the way, I can breathe out and have some fun. I’ve been locked up working on music since the beginning of this year so I haven’t played out anywhere in ages. That’s probably what I’m most looking forward to this year – just gigging.
We wish you the best of luck for 2014!