The special connection between famous DJ Kygo and S'pore

3 September 2016 / 8 months 3 weeks ago

Anjali Raguraman
The Straits Times
3 September 2016

Call it a homecoming of sorts.

On Sept 11, his 25th birthday, Norwegian DJ and producer Kygo, electronic dance music's (EDM) biggest name at the moment, will be playing his maiden show in Singapore, where he was born.

"Singapore was where I was born, so it's a very special place for me and I'm excited to go back," he tells The Straits Times in a telephone interview from Bergen, Norway, where he lives.

His parents spent three years here when his father worked in the maritime business, selling technical equipment for big ships. Since his family moved back to Norway when he was 11/2 years old, he has been back thrice for personal visits.

He is coming here to helm the early evening set on the Main stage of Ultra Singapore, fresh off a massive performance at the Rio Olympic Games closing ceremony on Aug 21.

In what he describes as "the biggest performance of my life", he played the song Carry Me to a crowd of almost 80,000 at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro and millions more via television broadcast.

He admits it was a lot of pressure. "It's something I never thought I'd get the opportunity to do... to be there was very unreal," he says, still sounding overwhelmed by the experience.

Kygo, whose real name is Kyrre Gorvell-Dahll, made a breakthrough in the EDM scene with his 2014 release of the track Firestone, which catapulted him to international fame. With the tune, he was also the fastest artist to hit one billion streams on Spotify for a song.

The popularity of the sub-genre tropical house, with its pan pipes, steel drums and beach vibes, is often credited to him. Its sound has permeated much of pop music in the past year, in everything from Justin Bieber's What Do You Mean? to Sia's Cheap Thrills.

As the poster boy for the tropical house movement, he understands its merits.

"It's a very good genre because it fits in so many different settings and has a very wide appeal - a lot of people listen to it, whether they are 10- or 50-year-olds," he says.

At the same time, he wants to stretch himself artistically. "I don't just wanna make tropical house. Some of the new stuff I'm working on definitely has the tropical house feel, but is going in a new direction."

In fact, he eschews the concept of genres, saying: "I never like to put a name on my music because it's just music and genres are just everything blending into one another.

"Some of the stuff I have coming out is kind of new, so I don't even have a name for it."

The Ultra Singapore audience might get to hear some of his new material.

While he says he does not have his entire set planned, he adds: "You can definitely expect a lot of my own music and maybe a new track... I definitely have some new stuff I'm excited to show people."

He has released a minimalistic clothing line called Kygo Life, comprising mostly athletic wear and basic items such as T-shirts and sweatpants.

But he is adamant that fashion is not his second career.

"If I wanted to make money by just selling clothes, I would sell more fan merchandise... The clothing thing is just something I'm having fun with on the side. My main focus is definitely music and it's always going to be music."


WHERE: Ultra Park, 1 Bayfront Avenue (next to Marina Bay Sands Hotel Tower 1)

WHEN: Sept 10 and 11

ADMISSION: US$115 or S$157 (one-day general admission), US$130 (one-day premium general admission), US$190 (two-day general admission), US$225 (two-day premium general admission).

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