South African House Music Phenom Kyle Watson Shares His Story [Interview]

South African House Music Phenom Kyle Watson Shares His Story [Interview]

One of FEW house music artists from South Africa to succeed on an international level, Kyle Watson has cemented himself as one of the scene’s mainstay talents.

With over a decade of experience combined with his ability to craft a distinct sound, it’s no wonder why he is one of the most talked about artists. Not to mention the support he’s received from countless top names like Chris Lake, Oliver Heldens, Zhu and more.

Fresh off the heels of a highly anticipated album release on This Ain’t Bristol and a titillating performance at Dirtybird Campout West Coast, there is no limit to what is to come from this house music master. But lucky for us, River Beats was able to chat with Kyle to find out more about his story.

Read about his inspirations, what led him into the scene, his recent album, Into The Morning, and so much more below!

River Beats: You were classically trained in piano starting at 8 years old…was there a moment or person that inspired you to dive into the House music scene? 

Kyle: “My father really got me into house music. He bought me my first music making software and all you could make was house out of these pre-programmed loops. I think I made my connection with house at that point and the rest just moved from there.”

You said that your father introduced you to house music…how long have you been producing music professionally?

“I’ve been releasing music since 2007, so for just over a decade. It definitely doesn’t feel like it’s been that long though!”

Are there any artists in particular that inspired you during your career?

“So many! Switch, Herve, Trevor Loveys, Noisia, Chase & Status, Justin Martin. The list is endless!”

You are one of few South African artists in this scene to succeed on an international level. What do you think set you apart? 

“I’ve always tried my hardest to differentiate my music from others out there and I think that’s really important right now more than ever. I also stuck through the difficult times when things were slow and what I was making wasn’t really getting any traction, and managed to come out the end with a new sense of enthusiasm. I’ve also spent a ton of time working on my ‘sound’ and production quality. It sounds cheesy but I guess I just never gave up.”

What about the U.S. scene differs from that in South Africa? And do you think it played a part in your success?

“Touring the US has been a major eye-opener for me and really boosted my career this year. The crowds here really are fantastic, the energy at all the shows I play in the US is hard to find in South Africa.”

There are some artists that have a distinct sound…you being one of them. When you hear a Kyle Watson track, you know it’s Kyle Watson. What is one thing, in your opinion, that makes your sound unique?

“I get asked this a lot and I honestly can’t put my finger on it, even after releasing music for more than a decade! One thing I do know for sure is that I often use ‘call and response’ style basslines, using two or more bass sounds that play off against each other to tell a story.”

On the flip side, your new album is completely different than anything we’ve heard from you before. What made you want to take a different direction with an artist album?

Into The Morning gave me the chance to get out of my comfort zone and write a body of work that’s a little different. I don’t normally get the chance to write anything other than house, so this was great to do! I also wanted to prove to myself that I could actually write in other genres! I’m really happy with how it came out, and it’s been received really well.”

Stream Into The Morning on Soundcloud Below:

Purchase the album here.

Your set at Campout was unreal! It sounded like there was some unreleased/new music. Do you have any upcoming releases that fans can look forward to?

“Thank you! I played some unreleased Watson music in my set, but there were also a lot of new Box Of Cats promos in there as well as some sneaky bits coming soon from the producers I’ve been into lately. I’ve been spending some time making VIP versions of tracks off the album and I have some remixes still due for release, so look out for those.”

What is one or two things that you’d like your fans to know about you or your music?

“I guess an interesting thing about my career in music is that it happened organically. I never had big plans when I was young to make a career out of music, and I definitely didn’t ever have a goal of becoming a performing DJ. But it’s funny how things evolve!”

What is your favorite venue you’ve played?

“It’s too tough to pick just one, but a couple do stand out. Air Rooftop in Brazil was epic, the vibe at Shady Park in Arizona was pretty much unmatched, and how could I forget my home club Truth in Johannesburg where I’ve had countless amazing nights!”

If you could pick one venue/festival to play that you haven’t, where would it be? (in other words, your “dream” booking)

“I literally just ticked my dream festival off my bucket list – Dirtybird Campout!”

What is one artist you’d love to collaborate with?

“I think Flume or Disclosure would be pretty amazing to write music with.”

Last question just for fun….If your life had a soundtrack, what would be the title? 

“The Busiest Life of Kyle Watson”


Although his Into The Morning tour is coming to an end this week, Kyle could pop up on a festival lineup or a venue near you. Keep an eye out on his socials for any updates.

Connect with Kyle Watson:
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Soundcloud | Website

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