A string of European live dates brought DJ and producer Valentino Khan to London. We were lucky enough to catch his set at XOYO last month and catch up with him after the show.
The creator of infectious, genre-blending EDM Valentino Khan is an insurgent force on the scene. Eschewing the atmosphere of exclusivity which can often envelope this area of the music industry, he makes music to get the crowd moving, without any pretentious hang-ups. Highly skilled across production, remixing and DJ-ing, he’s a multifaceted musician renowned for energetic, eclectic live sets. With experience of working with heavyweights like Diplo, Steve Aoki and Skrillex, Khan’s influence is widespread. As a producer, he’s created music for the likes of Bruno Mars, 2 Chainz and Tyga. In recent years, solo hits like ‘Deep Down Low’ and ‘Pump’ have established him as a party track master.
Tucked away in the heart of Shoreditch, XOYO has long been a gem of the London dance scene. With bookings based solely on quality the two-storey club attracts a solid crowd of discerning dance music lovers, as well as pleasure seekers looking for the best parties in the city. This sort of venue suits Khan’s musical output. Big, brassy and not afraid to get down and dirty. It was there, on a rainy Thursday night where Khan, and opener Hucci, stormed the capital’s electronic music scene.
As one of the few UK artists to crack the US trap scene, Hucci is an important figure for the small but enthusiastic community of London trap-lovers. He serves as a fitting opener for Khan’s London slot, reminding the audience of the increasingly international scope of the genre, one which is quickly gaining prominence. A slick, professional set shows off his instinctive talent for DJ-ing, getting the crowd amped up and keeping those energy levels on high with a carefully curated selection of tracks.
When Khan takes over, you can barely hear the crowd over the frenetic whoops and cheers. The man of the night quickly gets to work, capitalising on the moment and laying down high-energy R&B, trap and house tunes. Throughout his set he gets the crowd dancing uncontrollably, so much so that it is hard to move through the teeming wave of sweaty, feverish bodies. Accompanying the pulsating music is a red light display, strobing and flashing with the beat, adding an extra layer of drama. The audience is left exhausted and exhilarated, knowing that this is how a live music experience should be.
Still coming down from the show a few days later, we spoke to Khan about his distinctive music style, trap’s growing popularity and future plans…
IF YOU HAD THREE WORDS TO DESCRIBE YOUR SOUND, WHAT WOULD THEY BE?
Versatile, energetic and fire.
WHAT MUSIC HAS BOTH INFLUENCED AND INSPIRED YOU?
I’m influenced as a whole by the music community and inspired by the energy of music. I try to draw inspiration from many places, which is why my music is so wide-ranging.
DO YOU THINK YOUR LA BACKGROUND HAS IMPACTED YOUR SOUND AND CAREER?
Definitely, yes. I was very influenced by the old-school hip hop put out in the early nineties. It had a great sense of musicality because these guys sampled musicians like George Clinton and this taught me to look for amazing melodies.
FOR YOU, WHY IS TRAP MUSIC BECOMING SO POPULAR?
The electronic version of trap takes trap from the South of America and puts it into an electronic format, creating an interesting sound and bringing audiences together.
WHERE ARE THE BEST PLACES TO PARTY IN THE WORLD?
Ibiza and Las Vegas are up there. You’ve probably got to throw London and New York in there as well because you can stay out later. Tokyo as well, because it’s really interesting at any time of night.
WHAT IS YOUR MUSICAL PROCESS LIKE?
I don’t really need a specific starting point of vocals or drums. I go with a first point of inspiration and work around it, imaging the song around it and going from there.
IS THERE ANYONE YOU WOULD REALLY LIKE TO WORK WITH?
On the hip-hop side of things, Kendrick Lamar and on the dance side of things Boys Noize. People who created a different type of noise which pushed their genre forward.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM YOU IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
This whole summer I’ve been on a European tour, literally going everywhere; UK, Ibiza, Tomorrowland. It’s been amazing so I’m coming back again. The level of excitement here is really ramped up, it’s great to see. Musically, I’m working on some new stuff which you should be hearing soon.