Aha and Kygo are the only two acts from Norway ever achieve international commercial success. That statistic speaks to the odds that 24-year-old electronic dance music sensation, Kygo (née Kyrre Gørvell-Dahll) has beat in becoming the artist with the most streams in SoundCloud history. Kygo has experienced a meteoric rise, remixing everything from Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing, to Ed Sheeran’s I See Fire, to Rihanna’s Stay in a new genre he has popularized called “Tropical House.”
That means happy, melodic beats that resonate perfectly on a beach in Ibiza, broadcast at a balmy music festival like Ultra, or in a steamy nightclub in Rome. Interesting that an artist from a Scandinavian country just south of the Artic Circle would pioneer a sound that is most at home in the islands. “I didn’t set out to come up with a tropical sound,” explains Kygo. “I just like playing songs with happy vibes and good feelings. I guess summer is the “happy time” of year and so that’s what people associate with happy music.” Happy or not, the sound is immediately recognizable—no doubt part of its allure.
When Haute Living catches up with Kygo in New York, it’s definitely not summer. “It’s a bit cold up here,” says the affable musician. Cold is an understatement as the temperature is subzero and the wind is wreaking havoc with his naturally flaxen hair. But Kygo is, unlike the expected image of the superstar DJ, mild-mannered, low-maintenance and unendingly professional. He’s just come off a successful stop for his Cloud 9 world tour, which opens with him descending 30 feet from above while playing a grand piano. Cloud 9 is also the name of his new album, which despite releasing 24 singles, it is his first full-length endeavor. That’s not the only thing that is different. Gone are the remixes for which he has become so famous. This one is all original music, much of which he’s been previewing on the tour.