“Firestone” begins quietly. The soulful and exuberant voice of Conrad Sewell drives the song to its end. It takes about two minutes for the song to even begin to feel a nice dance floor pace, and even then the main propulsion of the song is one well-timed and authoritative key- it’s the perfect series of boops.
Shockingly, the song never erupts. It floats along at this modest pace while reflecting upon the voice of Sewell as he questions his place in the world. It’s almost startling in how electrifyingly subdued it manages to be.
The talent of Kygo pulsates through the speakers. He does something that many DJ artists fail to do. He shows appropriate restraint, and that makes the death-defying rhythmic and scale of the build a hell of a lot more substantial.
“Stole the Show” is another prime example. The song spends a whole middle portion of the song with a small accent and a lot of percussion. He manages to acquire vocalist Parson James, who has a built-in restraint to his voice. The song is built alongside Parson James- not over it. That is a major flaw of many DJ tracks. The remixes are especially problematic in this regard because of their nature. You can’t have a remix without the mix.
Which is partly why Kygo’s strongest work comes from his original compositions. Kygo shows far more control over his own aesthetics and willingness to explode. He knows that it is about the build-up and the atmosphere that drives the impulses- something more men his tender age of 24 should take note of.
These two songs almost certainly led to Kygo’s success, particularly since epic-pop champion Chris Martin (Coldplay) contacted him for an official remix. Kygo became a breakthrough for the Ultra Music Festival in 2015. He even penned the theme song. He’s only step away from replacing Maroon 5 or Sam Smith for the theme song of the next Bond.
Nearly all of his major tunes, including “Here for You” or “Stay,” show a remarkable amount of restraint. That eventually builds atmosphere, tension, and discovery into every beat. It is during this evolution where the beautiful draw of Kygo is realized, and why so many DJ artists fall into obscurity after showing all their hands- and blowing all over them.
Ryan Merkel is a cool writer guy and contributor all over the internet, from blogs on music to magazines about music to sites about playing music. He is currently founder of SunState Investing and is head editor of the music entertainment magazine, CultureTease. He has written two novels, and is currently working on a third full-length novel, surprisingly, not about music. His novel “Splatter the Noise” earned accolades for independent publishing. Be sure to check out: www.sunstateinvesting.com
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