Kai Stevens is a high school junior from New York City and he is already an expert multi-instrumentalist. The 17-year-old producer‘s musical style is a unique brand of dance pop that also contains influences from pop punk and mainstream EDM. Some of Kai Stevens’ musical inspirations include Blink-182, The Chainsmokers, and Illenium. Aside from producing, Kai Stevens can play the piano, guitar, and mix his own tracks. He just released his latest single “Lonely With Me Tonight” on June 5, 2020 and it is currently available for download and stream. Here is One EDM’s exclusive interview with Kai Stevens, a young artist who will have a successful music career in the near future.
Kenny Ngo: How have you and your family been doing for these past few months?
Kai Stevens: The family and I have been hanging in there! Fortunately, we really like each other which has helped.
Before many things have been turned upside down globally in 2020, what were your initial plans?
The initial plans for 2020 included finishing my junior year of high school strongly (in real school), crushing the ACT, and having some fun making music. Although not ideal, quarantine has fortunately given me the time to work on music every day, which was inconceivable prior to isolation.
How was it like producing your latest dance-pop single “Lonely With Me Tonight”?
“Lonely With Me Tonight” was especially fun to produce because of all the unique moments in it. Something I learned from a buddy of mine [Adam Turley] was to create small and memorable moments in a production. This tip was a game-changer in “Lonely With Me Tonight.” I tried to make the drop hit hard and feel different with all the foley and synths and hopefully that came across in the track.
In regards to the single, what was your most favorite and least favorite thing during the production of the single?
My favorite part when producing “Lonely With Me Tonight” was easily the drop. I had a blast trying to make it as unexpected and clean as possible. My least favorite thing was the arrangement and figuring out where to go after the first drop and into Verse Two.
The main theme of “Lonely With Me Tonight” is loneliness. If you are comfortable answering this question, what was the loneliest moment that you ever had in your life?
This is a great question and I’m totally comfortable answering. Although I am only 17 and have had limited life experiences, I’ve for sure experienced developmentally significant moments in my life. Right off the top of my head, I remember feeling pretty lonely when I first began high school. I had switched schools and didn’t know anyone. The first few weeks were rough but eventually everything worked out in the end (like it always does) and I ultimately found my best friends.
One of your recent tracks, “The Fire”, had you singing for the first time in your career. How did it feel providing your vocals for the tracks?
I always loved the idea of having the ability to sing on my tracks – I personally think a true artist can do everything (write, sing, produce, mix, master, promote, etc) and about a year and a half ago, I decided to finally try it out. Singing was (and still very much is) a challenge for me. I needed a lot of ear training and overall practice. A few months ago I wrote this song called “The Fire” which I felt the need to sing it myself as it was very personal to me. After weeks of practice, I finally got it to a place I liked and recorded it. I’m planning on singing more of my songs in the future, however, I am a massive believer in doing whatever the song itself needs – and that may very well be getting someone else to sing it.
You have been producing music for seven years. What are the differences between your musical style back then compared to your musical style now?
That is pretty crazy to hear but I guess you are right! When I was first getting into music, I was very into progressive house and tried to make music like what was popular within that genre at the time – I failed miserably but I didn’t let it stop me. Now, I try to make music that I would want to listen to myself, whether that is pop, dance, rock, trap, classic, etc – I’m open to anything. Recently I’ve been trying to get a little edgier in my productions and topline choices which I think you’ll hear in the next few releases.
Your main music inspirations are Blink-182, The Chainsmokers, and Illenium. When did you start listening to each artist and what are your most favorite songs from them?
I remember distinctly when I was 13 or so, driving down the highway with my family and my sister playing Roses by The Chainsmokers. I had never heard such a sound before and I fell in love with it. Roses made me look at pop music in a new light. Later on, when they released their song Closer, Blink-182 was mentioned. I was 14 then and had never heard of the band. I figured I’d give them a quick listen but quickly became hooked. They soon after became (and still are) my favorite band. I discovered Illenium by watching Sam Kolder’s “My Year 2016” video. His song “Reverie (feat. King Deco) was featured in it and I loved it.
Since you’re a junior from high school, how do your friends, classmates, and teachers react to your current music career and success?
Haha I never thought of this as a career but maybe it is? My friends are incredibly supportive of all my music endeavors and so are my classmates. My teachers are as well but at the end of the day they are more interested in my schoolwork than my music. I did have a really funny experience with a teacher of mine when I released my song “Sometimes (feat. Kimmie Devereux).”
I walked into school that morning and some friends and I were sitting around a table playing the song (apparently too loud). A teacher walked over and asked “who’s music is that, turn it off” and I responded with “mine, I made it” and she sarcastically replied, “Sure ya did Kai, sure ya did” and walked away. I laughed super hard and took it as a compliment that she didn’t think I was capable of making a song like that.
If the pandemic officially ends today, what is the first thing that you want to do?
If the pandemic ends today, the first thing I’m doing is seeing my friends. 3 months (and counting) is officially too long.