Keep KALM and Party On: Why this UK-based DJ Should Top Your Summer Playlists
KALM is the next name in pop dance music that you should know. His remix of Sia’s “The Greatest” went viral on YouTube, his flip of Cardi B’s “I Like It” gained him radio play in the United States, but you should know him for more than his remixes. This electrifying DJ/producer from the United Kingdom is quickly making a name for himself.
From working full shifts in McDonald’s less than three years ago and producing in his free time, KALM is now working with top writers around the world and releasing his own material. His music has been featured on the likes of BBC Radio 1, Kiss FM, Love Island, The Voice, and many more. Standout singles include the infectious electro-pop bop “Learning How to Love” featuring London-based singer-songwriter, River, and “More Money” featuring Brazilian pop artist, Nonô.
In April, he released his latest single “Bad Habits,” which features strong female vocals placed over an upbeat track with sharp synths that’s sure to make you want to dance. The track, released through The Other Songs label, is an indication of KALM’s rising success in the electro-pop/dance scene.
KALM, who was on tour with Sigma prior to the global health crisis, took the time to chat with me via email about “Bad Habits,” his writing process, and dream collaborations. Check out our conversation below.
YMM: Your remix of Sia’s “The Greatest” went viral and really jump-started your music career, aside from the obvious, what’s changed for you since releasing that track? How have you grown in your career since then?
K: This is definitely the reason I am where I am now! It took me from working in McDonald’s and being a bedroom producer to working in London studios such as Universal Publishing and Warner Chappell. It also allowed me to work with some of the most talented writers in the UK and other countries.
YMM: You recently released a new single, “Bad Habits,” what process behind creating that track?
K: It started like any other studio session, we sat down with a basic chord progression and began writing the lyrics to it. Within 15 minutes of being in the room together, we already knew this could be something magic. It flowed so easily that we wrapped the full topline up within an hour. It was one of those cliche dream sessions. After that, the final production came a couple of weeks later, playing around with the vocal chops and creating width.
YMM: What’s your production process like? Do you usually work off a topline and build a track around it or do you create the track and develop lyrics from there?
K: Initially, I was a “work off a topline and build a track around it” producer having never been in a studio but now a lot of the time it’s the other way around. It was a huge learning curve for me at the beginning. It was daunting being in a room with writers who were waiting on me to start the initial idea, from collaborating lyric ideas to recording the vocals. It was something I had never done before. So as a producer, you have to adapt and learn to do everything.
YMM: When creating a new track, do you think about it how it would perform live?
K: It’s not the first thing I think about, but when I get to the point of the track where I can feel if it’s good or not, I definitely picture what it would be like to play live.
YMM: Who are your biggest influences in the industry, both from a producer/songwriter and artist perspective?
K: I definitely have a few, but Calvin Harris is one of the biggest for me. I’ve always respected the way he has evolved through trends whilst setting his own trends in writing and production! Also, Steve Mac and Max Martin - these guys have the ability to write hits all the time. I’m working as hard as I can to be on the same level.
YMM: If you had to pick one of your songs that you feel truly embodies you as an artist, which would it be and why?
K: My latest single, “Bad Habits,” for sure! I feel that every track I do I hear myself getting better with production. For me, I was so happy with the production on this one. Usually, when I’m finishing a track I don’t know when to stop messing around with it but on this one, I didn't have that problem. Less is more.
YMM: If you could collaborate with any band/artist/songwriter/producer who would it be and why?
K: It would be my ultimate favourite, Skrillex. He’s the main reason I got into producing music. I have no idea what the collaboration would sound like but I know it would sound awesome!
YMM: Prior to COVID-19, you were on tour with Sigma, how have you found the live shows? Has it changed the way you think about any of your tracks?
K: It was the most intense, overwhelming exciting experience of my life! I was so so nervous before the show. I felt so lucky to have such an amazing crowd, it was awesome! It’s made me want to make even more music than ever and I can’t wait to get back out on tour.
YMM: A lot of performers have rituals before they take the stage. Do you have any, if so, what are they?
K: I’m not too sure about other people but I like to be as relaxed and chilled as possible. I’ll already be a little anxious before I go on but after the first few tracks I feel at home and it is the best feeling.
YMM: Do you have any guilty pleasure songs or bands that give you a bit of shuffle shame?
K: Yeah, I love old school hip hop - the legends like Dr. Dre and 2Pac. I love all the history that comes with it. The music industry was so different and fascinating back then.
YMM: What’s next for you? Do you have anything in the pipeline that you can tell us about?
K: I have lots in the pipeline, it's just deciding what's next release wise. I have so many tracks that I love and want to share with everyone. I can’t wait for the future!
KALM is sure to be the next big thing in electro-pop and is a name you should know. If you’re looking to add upbeat dance tracks to your summer playlists, I’d definitely recommend “Learning How to Love”, “Bad Habits” and “More Money” - all tracks sure to have you dancing.
Check out “Bad Habits” below; keep KALM and party on!