Kyle Watson is one of South Africa’s top exports in the international house music scene. He has collaborated with prominent DJs such as Zhu, Oliver Heldens, Justin Martin, Malaa, and Rudimental. For over a decade, Watson’s music has been featured on record labels like Ultra, Dirtybird, and This Ain’t Bristol. He released his debut album last year titled Into The Morning and recently this year, released his latest EP Landmine. I caught up with Kyle Watson at Halcyon in San Francisco on August 2, 2019 before he performed his set.
Kenny Ngo: Is this your first time performing in San Francisco?
Kyle Watson: No, it’s not. I performed in this same venue in March 2018 actually and it was one of the coolest shows I’ve ever done. I’m really looking forward to playing here again. It’s long overdue!
What do you think about the atmosphere here inside Halcyon so far?
The atmosphere here is incredible! As I’m talking to you, I’m looking at the screen behind you and this is fantastic! It’s giving me a good vibe and I’m looking forward to it. The energy when I played here the last time was incredible and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever played. I’m looking forward to tonight and I bet it’s gonna be the same.
I know that after your show here at Halcyon ends, you will be flying to Los Angeles to perform at the HARD Summer music festival as one of the artists on day one. How do you feel about performing at HARD Summer tomorrow?
I’m really looking forward to that as I’ve already played in LA once so far. I know that HARD Summer has a lot of hype around the event tomorrow. The fact that I’m playing there, it’s my first time there. I’m really looking forward to it as I’ve got a cool spot to play as well and it’s gonna be an interesting time.
Some of the headliners at HARD Summer on day one include the likes of Dillon Francis, Alison Wonderland, and Excision. Who do you look forward to working and/or meeting with tomorrow at HARD Summer?
To be honest, I haven’t had the chance to meet them but it would be cool to see Tchami and Malaa. They’re doing a back-to-back (B2B) headlining set, that’ll be very cool to see. Otherwise, I’m just gonna hang around the festival and checking it out. I’ve heard of good things to see.
How is the South African EDM scene like today compared to what it was 10 years ago?
That’s a tricky one. I think it’s grown a ton and that extends to artists like Black Coffee, he’s like our most famous name who has broken out of the scene. There’s a lot more global consciousness being put on South Africa regarding the dance music scene which is really cool. So from 10 years to now, it has grown a hell of a lot.
Your debut album, Into The Morning, was released last year on August 24th. What were the things that you liked the most when you were still producing the tracks for Into The Morning?
The creative process of writing the album was a whole lot different for me. I just get a single idea in my head and I write a single track and that’s a whole process to itself and you do it over and over again. The cool thing about the album is you’re doing something that’s bigger than that. You’re thinking about one track and the other track before, how’s it gonna work, how’s it gonna flow. You’re thinking about opening up your mind and doing things that you normally wouldn’t do.
Also, what are the things that you disliked the most while you were working on Into The Morning that you do not miss anymore?
It’s probably when you get ten or whatever tracks, once they’re finished, you would look at the tracks over and over again and it’s just tweaking the little things. The problem is that if you’re tweaking the things so many times, you just end up losing a nice sounding track.
What are the most significant differences between the music you produced in your career over the past decade and the music you produced for Into The Morning and also your recent EPs such as Landmine, Vice Versa, Pop Up, and Road Trips?
I think, erm…I released myself into the limits of making a regular house-club track and I was able to release stuff that I really meant to make. That’s probably the main thing and following on from the album since then, it’s been giving me a sense of freedom that I’m able to make whatever I want. I’ve been incorporating a lot of different techniques that I want which can carry on to the rest of my music.
How does it feel knowing that your tracks have been featured by prominent electronic music record labels like Ultra, Dirtybird, Atlantic, and This Ain’t Bristol?
It’s really cool because I mean, as an artist, you put all your heart and soul into this craft. When a big label, even a label that you look up to, believes in the music that you will release and makes you feel like a part of the family, it’s really amazing. It’s a great feeling to know the big players out there are taking notice.
What is your favorite festival that you performed at and why?
It’s really hard since there are so many cool festivals. I think so far, it was probably Electric Forest. I played Electric Forest last year and it’s just the scale of it, the way it was set up and everything, as well as the artist selection. Just the scale of it blew my mind, I’d never seen anything like it before. It was such a unique experience!
*As of this writing, Kyle Watson released his newest single, “Safe”, featuring Stace Cadet on August 7th, 2019. Check it out!