Sep 16, 2016

KSHMR: Progressing Into New Worlds

We went in depth with KSHMR to discuss his live set, working with Tigerlilly on "Invisible Children," performing at Avicii's last show and much more!
Can you tell us about your live show?
When I started performing, I wanted to do something distinct, not just analogous to every other DJ who gets up and plays their big songs and some of the songs that they’re feeling at the moment. To accomplish that for me meant to introduce a narrative and tell a story through the show. In the end, the product was a reason why I think you’d want to stay from the beginning to the end of the show. The songs don’t just exist in isolation, but rather as part of a bigger story. It is almost a theatrical experience with a lot of thought given in advance to give people a cohesive journey. Because it’s been constructed to such an extent to tell the story, often times my tracklists will look similar. Hopefully when people come to the show and see the story they’ll understand. 

You specifically have one of the highest support lists on the site. Your recent track with Tigerlilly is no different in that sense. Can you tell us about “Invisible Children” and what it was like working with Tigerlilly?
Tiësto mediated the process, sending me a track from Tigerlilly that had sort of an Indian vibe. Hesitant to be typecast, I almost wanted to not like it. But I did like it and I asked Tigerlilly to send me over the stems and we worked from there. For some reason or another, maybe its a sexist thing, people never seem to believe that a girl really produced anything. The project Tigerlilly sent me was quite developed. She really did contribute a lot, not just the vocal sample, but also some sitar work and a lot of the drums and nuances that made it to the final cut. 

It’s been very exciting to delve deeper into more worldly music. As a dance music producer, there’s just only so many synths that you can tweak in so many different ways. Some people are better than others. Showtek are among my favorites; to me, they’re among the top of the top tier. But when you open up to Eastern and world instruments, you’re suddenly much more empowered with all of the different skills and instruments that you can invoke. It’s also harder to make them fit in a dance production as there isn’t a path that’s been beaten for you, and no YouTube tutorials explaining how to make a drop using a Bouzouki for a pluck for instance.

On the other hand, there are also songs like “Secrets” and “Memories” that I love to make. At the core of them, those songs were really about great songwriting, which is the most important thing for me. In my future, it’ll be a matter of finding a middle ground between all of these things that I like. As an artist, you discover something new and have fun with it — it’s sort of the “acceleration” phase between creative plateaus. But you need to make sure you don’t do it too much or it becomes the easy route and you feed into the categorization that’s being done to you externally. 

Backtracking a little to the sample pack that you put out recently, what does it mean to you to be able to put it out there for people to learn from and discover?
Originally the first sample pack was made for myself so that I could clean up my library and have readily accessible sounds that I like the most. With Volume 2, I had the same idea, but I wanted to open people up to instruments that I didn’t think they would normally use. I didn’t do a Sylenth, Spire, or Serum soundset to go along with it because I felt that a lot of other developers had already done those very well. With this pack, I wanted to offer people some more interesting instruments, like real whistles and voices, things that people might not otherwise incorporate into their music. The goal was to give people a sound pack that covered all the bases. but could maybe push them into territory that was previously uncharted.

Do you think that it will lead them into new inspiration?
Yeah, I think so. The coolest thing about making these sound packs is that you have some idea when you make a loop or an instrument, but then people tweak them. They could hear the same sound, but their interpretation is completely different. It’s like a chess game how you see the next five or six steps. As a producer, the more you produce, the more steps ahead you see. You hear one sound that doesn’t sound like much, but you see how it could be worked five steps ahead. My steps might be completely different from yours, and for me, that’s the most rewarding part of making these packs, seeing how people turn them into their own.

What was it like for you playing Avicii’s last show at Ushuaïa in Ibiza?
It was an honor to share the stage with him. Avicii was an artist very close to my heart because since the inception of my interest in dance music, he had the best melodies and was just in a league of his own. I followed him closely in the steps that he took evolving from “Levels.” He really shocked everyone with his Ultra performance when he introduced his more “country” style. I didn’t know what to make of it either, but ultimately like everyone else, I was so profoundly impressed by his decision to defy his own stereotype and to do it in flying colors and succeed so phenomenally with it. You can try any sort of style - so long as you really nail it - and he did. That’s the mark of a great artist, when they can twist and turn you like that, but they’re so good that they take you along for the ride.

Can you tell us about any tracks that you’re working on currently and are in progress?
There have been a few things that I played out live which are IDs that are just about done and will be coming out. I’ve started working on the next Sunburn anthem as well. There’s new songs, ones that I’m really excited about because I think that they enter into new territory for me. The focus is still heavily on incorporating real instruments, but not just Eastern, oriental instruments.
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