Wonderland.

KAYTRANADA

The global superstar talks hometown glory, getting Barack Obama’s approval and the Tyler, The Creator collaboration that so nearly could’ve happened.

DJ and producer Kaytranda cover the SS20 issue of rollacoaster

All clothing by DIESEL

DJ and producer Kaytranda cover the SS20 issue of rollacoaster
All clothing by DIESEL

Taken from the Spring/Summer issue of Rollacoaster. Pre-order your copy now.

Kaytranada is the type of guy you can count on. Whether you’re at a festival scavenging for the perfect soundtrack to a sun-kissed afternoon, or in charge of the tunes at a Friday night pre-drinks – you can rely on the 27-year-old producer to keep your pals cheerful with a dazzling display of R&B twinged, house sing-alongs. “I really want people to play my songs at parties, that’s like the main thing,” he tells me as we chat over the phone one March afternoon.

With the world outside seemingly crumbling as fears surrounding the Covid-19 virus rapidly mutate into mass hysteria, Kaytranada has chosen to spend his Thursday in the comfort (and safety) of his own home; glued to the television, impatiently waiting for the latest updates on the pandemic flash across the screen. This is not a typical activity on his itinerary. He’s usually hunched at a desk in his recording studio, layering the ingredients that will make sure his newest instrumental is as deliciously smooth as it is effortlessly cool. Or there’s an equal chance that he’ll be jetted somewhere across the globe, playing to swarms of people at anywhere from Coachella in California to Lovebox festival in London.

Kaytranda in denim jacket
Kaytranda in denim jacket

All clothing by DIESEL

Kaytranda in denim jacket
All clothing by DIESEL
Kaytranda in denim jacket

We’re here to discuss all things BUBBA, his sophomore full-length release that was dropped with mere days’ notice at the tail end of last year. For the album’s artwork, the producer appears otherworldly, each of his pupils sliced into two and coated in a vivid aqua-blue. “We came up with the idea of doing the eye thing because it was like album number two, so two pupils or whatever,” he says. “And of course, it plays with the eyes on 99.9% which had three eyes on the album cover. I don’t know why, that’s like some subliminal thing that I did.” 17 tracks long, in a seamless 50-minute, DJ-set like blend, BUBBA detours between funky grooves and discoesque basslines; all held under one sleek R&B umbrella.

Collaborations come stellar and catchy as ever, with everyone from Pharrell and Mick Jenkins, to Tinashe and Teedra Moses laying down buttery smooth vocals for the record. “For me growing up listening to her, [Teedra Moses] was like my favourite singer ever, “I’ve been trying to reach out since the “Be Your Girl” remix,” he gushes. “And of course, having Tinashe on there was really dope, I always had that vision of her on the album and like maybe the song breaking big too on the pop scene, but maybe it was too left field for that.”

Kaytranda wearing white denim two piece leaning on wall
Kaytranda wearing white denim two piece leaning on wall

All clothing by DIESEL

Kaytranda wearing white denim two piece leaning on wall
All clothing by DIESEL
Kaytranda wearing white denim two piece leaning on wall

With collaboration being such an integral element to his practice, Kaytranada has to be selective when deciding who he wants to team up with: “I really wasn’t a collaborative guy at all growing up, in school and not being on teams and that. On the album I wasn’t going to like force myself to collaborate with people, it really depends if I vibe with the person or whatever,” he explains.

In his seemingly rapid rise to one of the world’s most in-demand producers, Kaytranada has laid down beats for the likes of Alicia Keys and Chance the Rapper, also recently revealing that he’s planning on working with Janet Jackson. The latter is a full-circle moment of sorts for the producer, who made a name for himself back in 2013 on Soundcloud with a selection of infectious remixes, including Missy Elliott’s “Sock It To Me” and Jackson’s “If”.

Kaytranda wearing silver bracelet
Kaytranda wearing denim black and blue shirt

All clothing by DIESEL

Kaytranda wearing silver bracelet
All clothing by DIESEL
Kaytranda wearing denim black and blue shirt

Born Louis Kevin Celestin, Kaytranada spent his adolescence in Montreal after his family moved from Haiti when he was one. Completely self-taught, his bed- room-beats are distinct in their glistening production and funky stylings routed in a taste for the dancefloors of yesterday. He transferred this “Kaytranada” sound to his debut full-length 99.9%, which was released in 2016. The record won him a Polaris Music Prize and features some of his ultimate crowd-pleasers, including collaborations with the likes of Craig David, Little Dragon, Anderson .Paak and Syd. “I was just trying to find myself and that’s why I called it 99.9%,” he says after I quiz him on whether he had fears of catching second album syndrome. “BUBBA compared to 99.9% was really that album that defines me.”

If his debut was Kaytranada finding his footing, BUBBA shows the producer now with a firm spring in his step. Tracks such as the Kali Uchis feature “10%” cement him as a master of his craft, proving even more so than 99.9% that he is able to extract all what made a great dance record in the past and shape it to a soundtrack fit for tomorrow. Another stand-out, “Go DJ” with TDE’s SiR on vocals, even made it as one of Obama’s favourite tracks of last year. “I was at home just chilling and so many people were like ‘congratulations, you made it!” he chuckles, sounding slightly bewildered at the whole situation. “It was just dope to see Obama re-bump- ing kind of the most, not left-field track, but a different track from the album. That to me was the surprise.”

Kaytranda wears white button up shirt
Kaytranda wears white button up shirt

All clothing by DIESEL

Kaytranda wears white button up shirt
All clothing by DIESEL
Kaytranda wears white button up shirt

Though it’s the more personal achievements that serve as career milestones for the producer, like celebrating the release of BUBBA with a show in his hometown of Montreal. “People being happy and proud of it really hit home,” he explains. “That’s like the realisation of finally drop- ping something that defines you.” Ending the turn of the century with a reason to dance, BUBBA still has much more to give. Kaytranada has plans to release a deluxe edition, or more a “side EP” of the gems left on the cutting room floor. There’s also a bucket list of people he is still yet to work with, one of which was waiting to be hit up all along.

“The funny thing is, Tyler, The Creator emailed me when I announced the album and he was like ‘I’m mad that I’m not on this album, I’m pissed that I’m not on this album’,” he stutters through a slight cackle. “All this time I had the idea of having him on the album. Of course, in the future I’m sure y’all will have it. For me not reaching out to anybody to work with, I’ve gotta work on that.”

Kaytranda wearing shades and black and white jacket

All clothing by DIESEL

Kaytranda wearing shades and black and white jacket
All clothing by DIESEL
Photography
Scott Pilgrim
Fashion
Tinashe Musara
Words
Paul Toner
Grooming
Maina Militza
Production and Cover Design
Olivia Woodgate
KAYTRANADA
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