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Who The Actual Fuck Is Kygo?

In the run up to Kygo's first album, we do some digging into the mysterious panpiper.
 

It’s 2016 and Kygo exists just as readily as the periodic table


The pan flute tooting commander of the good ship tropical house has become unavoidable; from raising the heart rates of housewives on American talk shows to infiltrating last year’s shit show of an X Factor, Kyrre Gørvell-Dahll is as likely to appear on drive time radio as he is on a comedown playlist.

Who the fuck even is he, though? 

The origins of the smooth faced Norse God of backwards cap are not littered all over the internet, sadly. A desperate google image search to find photos of him as a greasy teenage ‘bedroom producer’ throw up no results; his musical background exists no earlier than 2013.

It turns out that Kygo, the best selling artist who has set the minds of molly loving Americans alight, is truly a modern phenomenon. He’s near single handedly manage to shift a musical agenda by a sheer focus on ‘melody’, but yet there are merely scraps to piece together a most unlikely new world champion of popular dance music.

24 years old with a childhood spent in a hometown straight out of your bedtime story book, Kygo’s biography became public when he was plucked out of obscurity by equally young American music mogul, Myles Shear. Named by Rolling stone as one of “17 young innovators shaking up the music industry”, Shear also manages the supposed ‘father’ of Tropical House, Thomas Jack.

Kygo had been a student in Edinburgh when he fielded a call from Shear, desperate to manage him. He’d been introduced to Gørvell-Dahll’s music by Thomas Jack, and knew instantly that there was potential in Kygo’s star spangled pop remixes. Well versed in the ‘blogosphere’ (himself a founding member of EDM Sauce), Shear’s help brought in interest further than Soundcloud plays.

Up until 2013, Kygo had been a pure producer, teaching himself how to use Logic via YouTube tutorials to come up with the sound of ‘tropical house’. He maintains that he’s a pianist first and foremost, enthusing about playing live during his shows, though in order to keep up with the rapidly escalating interest in his music, Kygo had to learn to DJ. He debuted in Paris in January 2014.

International advances would continue to beckon when a competition entry remix of Syn Cole’s "Miami 82" earned Gørvell-Dahll’s a summons from the office of Avicii’s label, L7VELS. This saw him flown out to LA to meet with the team of a musician who he’d long hailed as a hero. Major music industry players continued to show interest, and Shear went on to negotiate a signing with Sony; their offers of a "global stage for a global sound” handing Kygo the keys to the world once and for all.



Eight months later Gorvell-Dahl was filling in for Avicii on the mainstage of Tomorrowland. In one year Kygo had gone from anonymous student to universally demanded artist, creating remixes endorsed by everyone from Chris Martin to Marvin Gaye. He’d taken the flashing lights and heavy drops of EDM on holiday and brought them back tanned a deep shade of whatever colour the ocean is whenever its plastered onto billboards. People were buying into it like a Ryanair flash sale.

Though he’s been described as “Jack Johnson in Avicii’s clothing” by musicians who think they know everything, whatever it is that Kygo’s doing for the masses, he’s doing it right. He’s testament to the patience of people satiated by Soundcloud, because those are the ones willing to fork out for a headline tour and make tickets sell out in minutes. They’re the ones willing to hit repeat so many times that Kygo beats The Beatles and Justin Bieber to become the first artist to hit a billion Spotify streams.

His impending album will sell at rabid fast pace, even though the music on it will probably be not a far cry from the music he’s been making for two years. It doesn’t matter though - because he cleverly signed a single record deal, there will be no pressure coming from his ‘employers’ to plough on with tropical house 2.0 once people have inevitably tired with it.

To this end, maybe we’ll be asking ‘Who the Fuck is Kygo?’ this time next year - after he’s had another two years to either reinvent or simply evolve. If he’s smart, he’ll slink back to Bergen, take a nap and wake up to find that there’s a whole new genre to be unearthed with him at the helm. Either way, he’s got a partner in management to help him steer. A product of succinct and compact marketing, working on his terms with close guidance; Kygo’s managed to woo a fanbase of conscientious followers bored by the flashiness of EDM. 

Which isn't the worst thing in the world, really.


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Written by Tamara Roper

05 Feb 2016