Kygo Played In Mumbai Last Sunday And Everybody Agreed That It Was Epic!
“I always dug the idea of showing up at the last leg of a tour — when you can catch even the most cocksure of the lot getting a bit emotional and vulnerable,” I was divulging sagely to a 20-something who had queued up for a Red Bull behind me, when we heard the crowd erupting into hoots. A remix of Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You floated into our ears over all the screaming. The timing was apt. It was a remix of Sheeran’s, which had propelled the artist on the podium in front of me straight into stardom back in 2014, and so the thought that he might have just been reminiscing isn’t totally outlandish. But who knows? What I do know is that he did seem charged, if not quite tearing up. Having had to cancel his show in Delhi — due to smog — to the bitter disappointment of the fans in the capital, Kygo was raring to go, determinedly spinning his magic at the MMRDA Grounds in Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) in Mumbai, as if happy to be able to satisfy at least a part of his huge fanbase here in India.
It was life as usual for him, just another 23-year-old bedroom producer, when his aforementioned remix of Sheeran’s I See Fire went viral three years ago. Then Firestone happened. It was a pivotal moment. The smash hit slayed international charts and garnered over 472 million hits just on YouTube (then there’s Soundcloud, Spotify, Vimeo…you do the math). The phenomenal success of his first original track led to an official Coldplay remix. The crazy views and sellout tours meant that his world had changed almost overnight. But little did the then-student at Heriot-Watt in Edinburgh figure that within a short span of six months, he would be headlining — and this is big — even covering for his idol Avicii at the second edition of electronic music fest TomorrowWorld (the US spin-off of Belgium’s Tomorrowland). It was divine and almost harmonised: as the Swedish bigwig, older by just a couple of years, slowly edged away from live performances, along came this young fan and a cracker of a live performer, practically out of nowhere. Meet Kygo, aka Kyrre Gorvell-Dahll, who has cracked the code in terms of striking just the right amount of balance between his own music — an infectious feel-good chilled-out dancey vibe categorised as tropical house by fans and media — and remixed, recharged classics with big beats that are bound to get the party started.
The magnitude of his success is not something he has had time to reflect on, he has rued, for the last three years seem to have whizzed by in a blink of a second – and in a sort of a haze. The reaction to his unofficial remix of Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing in late 2013 should have been an indicator. In a rare course of events, the rights holders had actually reached out to clear the remix, which went on to get over 1 billion hits on Spotify. And all this happened in the same year that the youngster touted as the next EDM superstar had touched a DJ controller for the first time. In other words, he is the DJ you’d want to be around, whether at a festival in Berlin or a beach party in Australia, or indeed a sprawling venue like the MMRDA Grounds, which is where I caught him on that hot humid Sunday evening in India, an evening that progressively got better and better – almost in sync with the shrinking sun eager to call it a day.
Today, the wunderkind has a ginormous record deal, has collaborated with the likes of Pete Tong, John Legend, U2, Diplo, Selena Gomez and Ellie Goulding, dropped his second album Kids In Love [the title sounds like Dion and the Belmonts’ 1959 hit Teenager In Love that was covered by RHCP – incidentally cited as one of his inspirations – as a B-side to the single By The Way. Coincidence?], and played at some of the biggest music festivals in the world. And going by the reaction to his second whirlwind trip to the country (he performed at Goa’s Sunburn Festival in 2015) — the full houses, the spontaneous singalongs — his reputation as a top-class live performer has just been cemented, if there ever were a doubt. The fastest musician to clock in 1 billion hits on Spotify (and also the most Shazamed artist of 2015), this Norwegian artiste who learnt the piano for roughly 10 years till about a decade ago is no stranger to his work going viral. By the time his much-anticipated debut album Cloud Nine surfaced in 2016, he had already won much commercial as well critical acclaim – thanks to cuts like the early 2015 hit Stole The Show, featuring James Parson, and Raging featuring Kodaline. The album ended up at number one on iTunes in 18 countries. It’d be an understatement to say that the year was a win for him. Especially when you consider how he wrapped it up — by performing at the closing ceremony of Rio Olympics, the first music producer in the history of the mega sporting event to ever do so.
A nineties kid, Kygo’s social media game is spot on. Confirming this is his 2.4-million-strong army of followers on Instagram (including the 1.3 mill who waited patiently for an explanation when he scrubbed the slate clean just before his collab with Gomez earlier this year). Not only did the two millennials confirm the lead single from his first EP, Stargazing, titled It Ain’t Me via their social media accounts, but he also announced his recently-released sophomore studio album through Facebook, instead of doing it the old-fashioned way: through an interview, a press conference or a statement.
Kygo has had both his albums debuting at number 1 (and the EP at number 3) on the Billboards Dance/Electronica charts (with all three still sitting tight in the Top 16; Cloud Nine, at number 16 currently, is on its 76th week), played at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert (the first ever electronic dance musician to do so), appeared on late-night TV, and launched lifestyle brands. And when he is not making music or touring, he is busy doing residencies in Vegas, watching football and starring on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Europe lists – he’s already been on two: Social Stars and Entertainment. Impressive, huh?
Who Kygo. He headlined the first-ever #OlaSunburnArena tour, brought to us by Percept Live in the run-up to the Sunburn festival that will happen from 28-31 December in Pune.
Self-proclaimed Fan Of Avicii, RHCP, Bon Iver, MJ, Coldplay.
Indian Influence There was that ‘What the…?’ moment (which thankfully didn’t last too long) when Kygo attempted to play to the gallery by going all Mundian To Bach Ke on us. Elicited huge cheers from the audience, of course.
Star Moments Firestone. Ain’t Me. Nostalgia-inducing remixes like Guns N Roses’ Sweet Child o’ Mine and Eric Prydz’ Call On Me. The Chainsmokers’ Don’t Let Me Down (feat. Daya) and Gotye’s Somebody That I Used To Know.
Takeaway The dance-floor-ready tunes were lapped up by the crowd — ranging between teenagers and those in their early 30s. The venue is huge, and the best bet was to find a spot to park myself at, preferably on one of the raised stands from where I could catch the crowd below as well as Kygo mixing it up on the main stage. Which is exactly what I did. When the crowd called for an encore — Firestone, of course — the artiste who had just said his goodbyes obliged, finishing punctually just before the clock struck 10. The screens glowing over a multitude of heads, like candles at a vigil, as fans whipped out their smartphones to take one last shot or video is a sight that will stay with me. As will the serpentine queues at the drinks counter.
In Love With the amazing graphics on the huge LED screen behind Kygo, world-class production, great sound and lighting, and even the dash of drama at the very end: confetti and ribbons in deep red that fell over the audience (think golden buzzer on America’s Got Talent).
Trivia Kygo is managed by Myles Shear, a 21-year-old former blogger from Miami, who ensured that his client got a deal of a lifetime with Ultra Music and Sony International — a feat for which Forbes has called Shear ‘one of the most successful new faces to enter the music industry in a long time’. Both star and manager are self-made; Kygo taught himself to produce and subsequently DJ by watching YouTube tutorials, as he has often admitted in interviews.
The Next Few Catch Kygo at Burj Park Downtown, Dubai, United Arab Emirates today and at BIEL, Beirut, Lebanon on Friday. And the big one — Fontainebleau Hotel & Resort, Miami Beach, Florida on 31st December.