meta-scriptYour Paradise Fiji: Öona Dahl, Luttrell, Mija, The Blaze & More Will Bring The Lush Vibes |
Your Paradise Fiji 2018

Your Paradise Fiji 2018

Photo: Joel Tinker


Your Paradise Fiji: Öona Dahl, Luttrell, Mija, The Blaze & More Will Bring The Lush Vibes

With curated parties from house music labels Anjunadeep, Night Bass and Desert Hearts alongside—and on—a crystal blue ocean, this music festival does things a little differently

GRAMMYs/Jun 6, 2019 - 05:06 am

The 2019 music festival lineups have been rolling out at steady pace since late last year, and honestly, we're okay with it, because most of them sound pretty darn fun. Your Paradise Fiji, an intimate electronic music festival with arguably the lushest backdrop of them all on Malolo Lailai island in Fiji, is no exception.

The event, now in its sixth year, recently announced the stellar roster of artists booked for their Dec. 6–12 fest, which includes U.K. funky house outfit Gorgon City, up-and-coming Parisian duo The Blaze, Australian bass music heavyweight What So Not, experimental house producer Mija, Aussie deep house trio Crooked Colours.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Our 2019 line up has landed!<br>See you in Fiji <a href="">@atrak</a> <a href="">@GorgonCity</a> <a href="">@terrorreid</a> <a href="">@TheBlaze_Prod</a> <a href="">@WhatSoNot</a> <a href="">@CosmosMidnight</a> <a href="">@FrankyRizardo</a> <a href="">@MackyGee</a> <a href="">@hi_mija</a> <a href="">@Noisia_nl</a> <a href="">@Weiss_UK</a> <a href="">@crooked_colours</a> <a href="">@bag_raiders</a> <a href="">@NyxenMusic</a> <a href="">@nightbass</a> <a href="">@Anjunadeep</a> <a href="">@DesertHearts</a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Your Paradise Fiji (@YourParadiseExp) <a href="">June 4, 2019</a></blockquote><script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

The beloved Anjunadeep label (part of Above & Beyond's Anjunabeats) is hosting one of three takeovers on the tropical island, bringing the finest selects from their roster, including trippy dream house queen Öona Dahl, San Francisco's resident lush vibe master Luttrell and Finnish deep house purveyor Yotto.

The San Diego-born underground house and good times masters known as Desert Hearts will also be bringing the party with another takeover experience, featuring co-founders Mikey Lion, Lee Reynolds and Marbs.

Your Paradise Fiji is limited to 600 attendees, with all of the various ticket options include a stay at the festival's resort home, which activities like paddle boarding, coral snorkeling and more available to help guests soak up the gorgeous ambience.  

Tickets are on sale now; visit the fest's website for more info on the different packages, as well as the complete lineup.

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Curtis Jones, aka Cajmere & Green Velvet, performing live. Jones is wearing dark sunglasses amid a dark background and green strobe lights.
Curtis Jones performs as Green Velvet

Photo: Matt Jelonek/WireImage


Dance Legend Curtis Jones On Cajmere, Green Velvet & 30 Years Of Cajual Records

As Green Velvet and Cajmere, DJ/producer Curtis Jones celebrates everything from Chicago to acid house. With a new party and revived record label, Jones says he wants to "shine a light on those who sacrificed so much to keep house music alive."

GRAMMYs/Apr 17, 2024 - 02:19 pm

Curtis Jones is a dance music legend, whose multiple monikers only begin to demonstrate his deep and varied influence in the genre.

Jones has been active as a producer and DJ for decades, and is among a cadre of dance music acts forging a connection between the genre's origins and its modern iterations. Crucially, he  joined Chicago house legends Honey Dijon and Terry Hunter on Beyoncé's house-infused RENAISSANCE, providing a sample for "Cozy." He’s also produced tracks with house favorites Chris Lake and Oliver Heldens, and DJed with Dom Dolla and John Summit.

Jones contributed to the aforementioned collaborations, young and old, as Green Velvet. He’s been releasing dance hits like "Flash" and "Answering Machine" under that name since the mid- '90s. He is also currently a staple of the live circuit, his signature green mohawk vibing in clubs and festivals around the globe — including at his own La La Land parties in Los Angeles, Denver, Orlando, and elsewhere.

Green Velvet is appropriately braggadocious, even releasing the popular "Bigger Than Prince" in 2013. But by the time Jones had released the heavy-grooving tech house track, his artistry had been percolating for decades as Cajmere.

Where Green Velvet releases lean into acid house and Detroit techno, Cajmere is all about the traditional house sound of Jones’ hometown of Chicago. When Jones first debuted Cajmere in 1991, Chicago’s now-historic reputation for house music was still developing. Decades after the original release, Cajmere tracks like "Percolator,” have sustained the Windy City sound via remixes by prominent house artists like Will Clarke, Jamie Jones, and Claude VonStroke.

"I love doing music under both of my aliases, so it’s great when fans discover the truth,” Jones tells over email. Often, Jones performs as Cajmere to open his La La Land parties, and closes as Green Velvet. 

But beyond a few scattered performances and new tracks, Cajmere has remained dormant while Green Velvet became a worldwide headliner, topping bills in Mexico City, Toronto, Bogotá and other international dance destinations. He’s only shared two original releases as Cajmere since 2016: "Baby Talk,” and "Love Foundation,” a co-production with fellow veteran Chicago producer/DJ Gene Farris.

This year, Jones is reviving Cajmere to headliner status with his new live event series, Legends. First held in March in Miami, Jones' Legends aims to highlight other dance music legends, from Detroit techno pioneers Stacey Pullen and Carl Craig, to Chicago house maven Marshall Jefferson. 

"My intention is to shine a light on those who sacrificed so much to keep house music alive," Jones writes. "The sad reality is that most of the legendary artists aren’t celebrated or compensated as well as they should be."

Given that dance music came into the popular music zeitgeist relatively recently, the originators of the genre — like the artists Jones booked for his Legends party — are still in their prime. Giving them space to perform allows them to apply the same innovation they had in the early '90s in 2024.

Jones says the Miami Legends launch was an amazing success."Seeing the passion everyone, young and old, displayed was so inspiring."

Curtis Jones Talks House, Cajmere & Green Velvet performs at Legends Miami

Curtis Jones, center, DJs at the Miami Legends party ┃Courtesy of the artist

The first Legends party also served as a celebration of Cajual Records, the label Jones launched in 1992 as a home for his Cajmere music. Over the past three decades, Cajual has also released tracks from dance music veterans such as Riva Starr, as well as contemporary tastemakers like Sonny Fodera and DJ E-Clyps. 

Furthermore, Jones’ partnership with revered singers such as Russoul and Dajae (the latter of whom still performs with him to this day) on Cajual releases like "Say U Will” and "Waterfall” helped to define the vocal-house style.

Like the Cajmere project, Cajual Records has been moving slower in recent years. The label has only shared four releases since 2018. True to form, though, Jones started another label; Relief Records, the home of Green Velvet's music, shared 10 releases in 2023 alone.

Jones says he's been particularly prolific as Green Velvet because "the genres of tech house and techno have allowed me the creative freedom I require as an artist."

Now Jones is making "loads of music” as Cajmere again and recently signed a new distribution deal for Cajual Records. The true sound of Chicago is resonating with audiences in 2024, Jones says, adding "it's nice that house is making a comeback."

Jones remembers when house music was especially unpopular. He used to call radio stations in the '80s to play tracks like Jamie Principle's underground classic "Waiting On My Angel,” only to be told they didn’t play house music whatsoever. In 2024, house music records like FISHER’s "Losing It” were certified gold, and received nominations for Best Dance Recording at the 66th GRAMMY Awards. Jones is embracing this popularity with open arms.

Read more: The Rise Of Underground House: How Artists Like Fisher & Acraze Have Taken Tech House, Other Electronic Genres From Indie To EDC

"The new audience it’s attracting is excited to hear unique underground-style house records now. This is perfect for my Cajmere sets,” Jones says. "I never saw Green Velvet being more popular than Cajmere, and both sounds being as popular as they are even today.” 

While Jones is finding success in his own artistic endeavors, he points to a general lack of appreciation for Black dance artists in festival bookings. Looking at the run-of-show for ARC Festival, a festival in Chicago dedicated to house and techno music, legendary artists play some of the earliest slots. 

For the 2023 edition, Carl Craig played at 3 p.m on Saturday while the young, white John Summit, closed the festival the same night. In 2021, the acid house inventor, Chicago’s DJ Pierre, played the opening set at 2 p.m. on Saturday, while FISHER, another younger white artist, was the headliner.

In 2020, Marshall Jefferson penned an op-ed in Mixmag about the losing battle he is fighting as a Black DJ from the '90s. He mentions that younger white artists often receive upwards of $250,000 for one gig, whereas he receives around $2,000, despite the fact that he still DJs to packed crowds 30 years after he started.

Jones is doing his part to even the playing field with Legends, and according to him, things are going well after the first edition. "Seeing how much respect the fans have for the Legends was so special,” Jones says. "Hopefully they become trendy again.” 

The story of Curtis Jones is already one of legend, but it is far from over. "I feel it’s my duty to continue to make creative and innovative tracks as well as musical events. I love shining the light on new upcoming and emerging artists as well as giving the originators their proper dues,” Jones says. 

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Photo: Courtesy of Elyanna


Inside Elyanna's World: How Creating 'Woledto' Allowed The Singer/Songwriter To Find A New Layer Of Herself

Elyanna's distinctive new album, 'Woledto,' combines the sounds of her Palestinian and Chilean heritage with an appetite for powerful pop songstresses.

GRAMMYs/Apr 11, 2024 - 01:34 pm

Elyanna is every bit an artist of our specific moment. The 22-year-old Los Angeles-based singer weaves together global influences, merging sounds from her personal history with a wider pop sensibility. 

With hints of Rihanna’s sultriness and Astrud Gilberto's effortless cool, Elyanna's music is often accompanied by a pulsating beat and traditional Middle Eastern instruments. 

By uniting musical traditions from the Palestinian and Chilean sides of her family, she creates songs that are at once sweetly enticing and bracing. "Al Sham," for example, opens with ethereal, floating vocals before morphing to incorporate aggressive synths and drums. The result is a growing, idiosyncratic body of work made for both crying on the dancefloor and rump-shaking. 

Paradoxical? Sure, but there are no contradictions in Elyanna’s art, only unexpected connections that make sense as soon as she starts talking about how they fit together. Of her forthcoming album, Woledto (in English, I Am Born), Elyanna explains that she and her brother/co-composer/producer Feras wanted to create music with unusual depth. "I want people to find these clues, because that’s the kind of art I like, when it’s deep and not always on the surface," she tells

She knows Woledto is a big swing, and relishes the feeling of freedom and self-determination that comes with that kind of risk. "I really put my heart and all my emotions, everything I feel in it, and what I love about it is that I think that it's ahead of its time."  

In 2023, Elyanna notched a unique milestone as the first Arab artist to perform in Arabic at Coachella. Her subsequent debut tour sold out every date, and her next performance in the U.S. is set for April 27 at Los Angeles’ storied Wiltern Theater. The singer/songwriter takes it all in stride, with a natural self-possession; Elyanna is an energetic, curious young woman who’s as at ease on the road as she is in the living room studio she maintains at her parents’ home. 

With Woledto out April 12, Elyanna sat down with to chat about writing authentic bangers, repping every facet of her identities at Coachella and beyond, and her seamless approach to sound and vision. 

This conversation has been condensed and edited.

Woledto is out this week – congratulations! How are you feeling about it?

I'm excited – it feels so cool! I really took my time with this one, because I was able to figure out this new layer of myself and was able to connect with my roots more than ever. 

I know that not everyone's gonna get it right away, and I believe that when you want to create art that feels timeless, you have to make sure that you don't rush it. It's fine if it takes its time. I just wanted to create something that felt outside of the world, and had its own feeling and world. 

Can you expand a bit about pouring your whole self into this album? You mentioned your feelings, your identity, and you have such an interesting, multinational identity as a Palestinian-Chilean woman who now lives in Los Angeles. How did you incorporate all of that – and other aspects of yourself – into Woledto?

I come from two different backgrounds, and it's always very natural for me to put those together; I was born and raised in Nazareth, Palestine, and I am also part Chilean, so this is my world. I love to dig deeper into culture, and find more inspirations — there's so many hidden gems in my cultures, and I feel like it's time for the world to see it and to hear about it. 

I took inspiration from my grandfather — he’s the only featured performer on this album. I saw this video of him singing in a wedding; he was a singer and a poet, and he was doing a freestyle in Arabic. I sampled that video in a song called "Sad in Pali" — me and my brother were in Palestine for a visit after a few years away, and we felt very disconnected from everything there. This album has a lot of intentional inspirations that I want people to find.

Your music videos feed into that goal, too — they’re very arty, the imagery is so distinctive. The song that leaps to mind first is "Gheneni", which opens with a male vocal — I thought maybe it was a call to worship — and then channels Rihanna in your vocal, while the visuals are a hybrid of belly dance and you and your girls all hanging out in the desert. How do you weave all of those things together into a song that means "Drive Me Crazy"?

So my studio is at home in the living room, super humble, and it’s always full of friends and family sitting around while me and my brother [Feras] are working there. 

One day my dad was watching a very dramatic Arabic show, and my brother heard this music in the back that felt so powerful, so spiritual. So my brother took that and sampled it, and that’s the vocal that opens the song. Then he made a beat that feels like tribal fusion to follow. I always say "Gheneni" is spiritual, and also reminds me of "Gasolina" by Daddy Yankee, because it’s got so much swag. I’m rapping and just doing my thing on it, it’s a rollercoaster of emotions and very sassy. I love it. 

You look so free in that video, and I noticed that in most of your videos, there’s at least a few big moments of you being surrounded by other women. It’s really memorable in "Mama Eh," too. Tell me a little bit about the aesthetic and approach you use when you’re making these videos?

I really love to collab with people — I try my best, always, to be open to ideas. Usually how it starts is with my brother, we make the music and take care of the visual creativity of it. He’s my creative director, so we always keep sharing ideas together, brainstorming, and we save it all in this little folder to use whenever the time’s right. I love to always come in ready for my videos, live performances, but I never want to forget to be natural, and I don't want to be too ready, sometimes I want to be free. Sometimes all you need is just to be you, singing on camera, and that's enough. 

I love having a lot of female empowerment around me, too. I was raised that way — my mom is a very strong woman, my grandma is a very strong woman, my sister is a very strong woman, and I find so much power, if I'm feeling down, to talk to my sister and to talk to my girlfriends. So especially as an Arab woman, I want to make sure that I lift this female energy up for all the girls out there, and all the girls in the Middle East to feel that they can dream big, and they don't have to be always so soft. 

That’s really who I am, sometimes aggressive, very passionate and on fire. I feel like every human, we have a little bit of both, and I don't want to hide any of them. I want to be real and honest.

It seems like another throughline in your music is its cinematic quality. Woledto’s title track is also the album opener, and it sounds like it could as easily have been something you wrote for a film. If you could pick any film scene for your music to play over, what would it be?

I'm such a movie nerd! Right now, the film that felt so much like the world that I create in my music is Dune, Part Two or The Black Swan. There's so many scenes that I love, but it makes so much sense from what we were just talking about the different, changing parts of our personalities that I feel like the last performance where Natalie Portman had to perform as both the white swan and the black swan would be perfect for the outros of "Kon Nafsak" or "Sad in Pali." 

I understand you had a really special experience meeting Lana del Rey on one of your music videos. It makes sense that you’d love her, her work is so cinematic and she has such a recognizable style. 

Yes! Lana’s sister Chuck is an amazing director, and she shot one of my videos, for "La Vie en Rose." It’s a cover of the Edith Piaf song, and Chuck has such a beautiful vision. 

So Lana was there for the whole shoot, and she picked my dresses, and gifted them to me! She was an angel, just the coolest, and she did not disappoint. I've been listening to Lana since I was 10, and was obsessed with her. She was literally on my phone case. Meeting her and working with her and fully trusting what she says — I cried at the end, it was amazing

How great to have an experience that disproves the advice never to meet your heroes. In your cover, do you sing in French, English, or Arabic? 

It’s in Arabic, the title for my version is "Al Kawn Janni Maak." I actually co-wrote that translation with my mom and my brother; I’d always wanted to hear it in Arabic. 

That's really cool. It sounds like your work is very rooted in your family, not just having them with you at home or on tour, but they’re a big part of your music itself, too. 

It was always this way, even when I was little — I was 7 years old, 10 years old, and just dreaming of being an artist. My brother is the one who discovered my talent — he’s a pianist, and he would sit next to me for hours while I'm singing with a big mic, saying "Yo, you can do this note better." 

My mom writes my music with me, and it’s very powerful and so interesting. My sister Tali is part of it, too; she’s always been very good with fashion and is my stylist. We’d always be doing fashion shoots in our backyard, where my sister would dress me and my brother would take the pictures. I don't think anything’s changed since then, it’s just on another level, a bigger scale. We complete each other. 

Let’s talk about your influences and how you find your way to them. You’ve got this great playlist on Spotify that includes such a diverse group of artists, including ones that were delightful surprises: Pink Floyd, Nancy Sinatra, Chris Isaac, and Sadé. How do you discover artists who have a long history but are new to you?

I grew up listening to and singing jazz, I used to be obsessed with it. And it was very rare in Nazareth, but I must have found videos on YouTube. Etta James’ songs feel so real and timeless. There’s a lot of live instruments, it’s very detailed and very raw. It’s so beautiful! The lyrics, the production, even the fashion —it’s a world that I just really, really love.

I am very open when it comes to music. The best thing is to have conversations with people and meet new people, they bring you so much knowledge that you can bring into your own world. 

Speaking of sharing worlds, you did that on a massive scale by playing at Coachella last year. You’re the first Arab artist to perform in Arabic at that festival, and it’s kind of shocking that it took so long for that milestone to happen. What does that experience mean to you?

I like to look at the bigger picture; you know, it was very exciting, and it's not only for me, it's for our culture, for our people. It was an honor singing at an iconic festival, and I do not want to be the last person that performs there in Arabic. 

It was a moment that I feel like we needed for our culture, and I was surprised by how many people saw that performance — I didn’t expect it, so many people were there from completely different cultures, probably not knowing what I was saying, but they still loved it. 

That mirrors your interest in and embrace of always experiencing and looking for something new, giving that to the audience, too. 

Exactly. It was new to me, too, because Coachella was really my first real performance. I'm there thinking that's a lot of responsibility on me now, so I have to make it work, to make it the best I can. I was able to bring the belly dancing, the tribal fusion dancing, all these elements that we have in our culture, like the coins on my hips — it means a lot to me that people took it in like that. 

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Nia Archives On New Album 'Silence Is Loud'
Nia Archives

Photo: Lola Banet


On 'Silence Is Loud,' Nia Archives Creates A Jungle Of Emotion

On her debut record, British jungle artist Nia Archives plays with contrast. "Jungle is so chaotic and intense," she says, adding that her music is often emotional. "Bringing the two together always makes something quite interesting."

GRAMMYs/Apr 10, 2024 - 04:15 pm

Since Nia Archives came on the scene in 2020, she has been making noise.

The 24-year-old native of Northern England produces jungle — the dance subgenre known for its loud, raucous breakbeats — and her achievements in her short career (figuratively) match the volume of her chosen style.

Over four years, Nia Archives has released tracks with tens of millions of Spotify streams like "Headz Gone West" and "Sober Feelz," started her own event series, Up Ya Archives, and become friends with the jungle originator Goldie. Nia also closed a stage at Coachella 2023, and opened for Beyoncé during the London RENAISSANCE tour show.

Nia’s also made significant strides for equality in dance music. In 2022, she wrote a letter to Britain’s MOBO (Music Of Black Origin) Awards imploring them to include a dance and electronic music category. In response, not only did they add the category that same year, but Nia won it.

For as much noise as she’s made in recent years, Nia always makes room in her life for contrast. Out April 12, Nia Archives' debut album, Silence Is Loud, the singer, producer, and DJ shows that there is just as much power in the quiet.

"Silence can be weakness for some people: You didn't say what you wanted to say; you were too weak to make noise," Nia tells "But it can also be powerful. Keeping your silence. Holding your tongue and not saying what might not have been beneficial." 

This contrast is central to Nia’s music, and sees new heights on Silence. Her sweet, ringing voice counters the heaviness of jungle beats, while lighter genres are layered over fast-moving breaks. On tracks "Cards On The Table" and "Out of Options," the melodic foundation is built on Britpop-esque acoustic guitar chords. On the album's title track, Nia contrasts massive kick drums and high-pitched squeals, with softer, heartfelt lyrics detailing her dependence on her little brother. spoke to Nia Archives about finding balance in contrast, her writing process, and making noise in the near-silent U.S. jungle scene.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

The hallmark of jungle music is busy breakbeats. How do you incorporate the concept of silence into the genre?

Jungle is so chaotic and intense. That's one of the things I've always loved about the music — the hectic drum patterns. But in my music, the songwriting is always quite emotional with a lot of meaning in it. Bringing the two together always makes something quite interesting. 

With this project, I really wanted to focus on songwriting. I took the time to research the great songwriters from the Beatles to Amy Winehouse, Radiohead, Blur. Kings of Leon were a huge inspiration to me throughout this project as well. 

In the past, a lot of music I was writing was quite surface-level. I wasn't going as inward as I could; maybe out of fear. The process of this project was different. 

I'd write the songs in bed in the morning, and then make the drum patterns on my laptop. I’d take my little demo [to my friend and producer Ethan P. Flynn] and we’d make the song in like three hours. That process really worked for me because it meant I could really get deep. 

I'd write loads of sh-t lyrics before I got to the good lyrics. In studios, it’s hard to get all the rubbish thoughts in your head and say them in front of people. So I quite enjoyed the privacy of writing in bed and taking it to Ethan. We’d just have fun and bang out all the tunes. 

How did the work of the Beatles and Radiohead manifest when you were making the album?

I've got really eclectic taste in music. I love jungle, that's my bread and butter, but I’ve always found fun in fusing genres together to make something new. 

I really enjoy deep-diving into the Beatles, Blur or Radiohead, [and] listening to the structures and the instrument choices. There are certain things that make them what they are, especially Blur with Britpop. I was listening to the Ronettes and a lot of Motown. I went to Detroit last year, and I got to go to the Motown Museum. I found that really inspiring; those productions, it's crazy what they did with what they had.

I'll never be able to make music how the people that I listen to make it — especially when you bring in jungle beats and 170 BPM. It's always gonna be a slightly off-kilter version of the original inspiration. But I think that makes something quite fun and unique.

Blur's Damon Albarn also leads Gorillaz, opening him up to all manner of collaborations. What would you think about being on a Gorillaz track at some point?

It'd be a dream come true! If there's anybody that I'm trying to get to listen to my album. It's definitely Damon Albarn. I'm actually gonna send him an unsolicited vinyl just because I really love his music. He's an incredible musician, artist, everything. He's a big inspiration to me.

You’ve said in previous interviews that jungle is "anything over a breakbeat." Why do you think contrasting sounds can fit so well over a breakbeat?

I think jungle, especially in the '90s, was so futuristic. The breaks themselves, depending on how you construct them, are so versatile. The breaks have so much room to go in whatever direction you want. You can go really heavy, or you can go really light and atmospheric. 

All of the original junglists have their own style. They weren't all trying to be the same. They were very strong in their identity, which is one of the other things I love about it.

What kind of modern music are you excited about integrating into jungle?

I quite like a lot of happy hardcore stuff, which is not new. I really enjoy those melodies [and you don't really hear that sound as much. I really love disco; I'd like to do something like that. 

You’re one of the only artists, if not the only jungle artist of this generation who has built an audience in the U.S. You’ve played Coachella and headlined U.S. tours. How does it feel to be a driving force in introducing jungle to America?

Older generations know about jungle. But I feel like a lot of the young kids in the U.S. are definitely discovering it, which is super exciting. It's really cool to build community in America as well. Every time I've played in America I get the proper ravers down. 

A big part of jungle is the culture and the community that comes with it. We have such a rich culture in the UK; we're kind of spoiled. Whereas in America it feels like people who like that music, they're still building [community].

I love playing in New York cause they've got a lot of new-gen junglists. There's a few new producers who are like 20-21 [years old] who I always hang out with when I go to New York. It's really cool to see their take on jungle, 'cause the American producers that I know have a different view of it.

In the UK we have so many jungle nights and so many raves constantly. In America, those jungle nights feel quite special and one-off. I feel really excited to keep coming back and keep building that community in America. I'm excited to see all the new producers that come up in the next couple of years, as well.

Have you supported any new American junglists by inviting them to perform at an Up Ya Archives party or playing out their tracks live?

There's a kid called Dazegxd. I got him on my Lot Radio takeover for Up Ya Archives. Then he actually played at the Knockdown Center [in Queens, NY] for me which was amazing.

I've booked him to play his first London show at an Up Ya Archives party. That's a really meaningful connection to me 'cause he's quite young and he's so excited about the music; he's proper geeking out about jungle. I love people like that because I'm also a geek of this music.

I'm looking forward to meeting more people like that. I love creating friendships and relationships with people and getting them to play my parties. 

Where do you see your career, and jungle as a whole, going in the future?

I'd love to keep building on what I'm doing. My album, I'm hoping, is my flag in the sand moment for who I am as an album artist. There's a lot of fusions, and I'm hoping that people can hear it and understand where I'm trying to go.

I hope to make more albums and keep traveling the world. I've got a lot of exciting touring coming up this year. If I can do what I'm doing now, but a bit better in five years, I'll be a very happy person. 

My goal in life, similar to Goldie, is to do what I'm doing for the rest of my life. They've been doing it for 30 years. People come and go, but they've held it down for as long as they have, and they're still as relevant as they were 30 years ago.

That's what I want in my career. To still be able to play music and make music when I'm like 50. That is the real goal.

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Mount Kimbie
Andrea Balency-Béarn, Dom Maker, Kai Campos and Marc Pell

Photo: T-Bone Fletcher


On 'The Sunset Violent,' Mount Kimbie Explore Friction & Freedom

Mount Kimbie members Kai Campos and Dom Maker detail how endless Yucca Valley horizons, Roald Dahl and a culture clash led to their most self-realized work yet.

GRAMMYs/Apr 4, 2024 - 03:05 pm

The album cover photo for Mount Kimbie’s fourth LP, The Sunset Violent, captures a mundane yet curious slice of life: A car nearly tipped over and abandoned on the side of a road lined with towering cornfields. According to members Kai Campos and Dom Maker, it was taken by photographer T-Bone Fletcher as part of a project documenting his travels across the U.S. 

"There was something so peculiar about the whole scene," Maker tells, "and just kind of oddly unsettling whilst being quite peaceful at the same time." Adds Campos, "It's just such a great start to a story as well."

The making of The Sunset Violent could be its own arthouse film. In 2021, the two Brits drove to the California desert at the height of summer. Their AirBnB, with its cornhole board and ping-pong table, possessed the energy of an old frat house. The horizons were endless; entertainment options were less so, which provided the focus they needed to create. Six weeks of melting heat, arid landscapes, and wandering imaginations became sun-baked into the album’s nine tracks  — a collection of surrealist short stories, hazy guitars, and indie-rock textures that feel vast, almost exposing, and deeply rooted in its space.

"I think when you see the horizon just go on forever, it does something to your brain that creates space for ideas," Campos says. "It's definitely the most American record we've made."

Those Yucca Valley creations seem a world away from the London dubstep scene in which Maker and Campos launched Mount Kimbie. Their 2010 debut LP
Crooks & Lovers pushed genre boundaries through delicate and intricate electronic compositions more suited for headphones than subwoofer-rattling. Their next two albums incorporated live instruments, original vocals, and more traditional song structure, and with live shows a bigger focus, they recruited drummer Marc Pell and keyboardist Andrea Balency-Béarn for their touring band. 

Maker and Campos' paths even diverged for a time. Maker relocated to Los Angeles in 2016 and produced for James Blake, Jay-Z, Travis Scott, and others, while Campos turned to DJing. On their 2022 double album MK 3.5: Die Cuts | City Planning, each worked on his half independently of the other, building two worlds inhabited by separate sonic ecosystems.

Their desert reunion showed them the way forward, together, to a sound and style they "want to keep doing more of, which we haven't really had before," Maker says. That included Pell and Balency-Béarn officially joining Mount Kimbie, and Maker returning to London.

Ahead of the album’s April 5 release, Maker and Campos sat down with to chronicle their "inevitable" journey to
The Sunset Violent.

This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.

Dom, it’s funny that you made this album, one so rooted in California, right before moving back to London. Is it me or are California albums a rite of passage for bands these days?

Dom Maker: It’s quite strange because we didn't really attach that much to the trip to California when we were out there. But in retrospect, and in actually speaking about this record in interviews and with friends, we started to realize how much that experience really bled into it; sort of the end of an era there for me. So it felt good to come away with a document of that period of time in my life.

Kai Campos: Like Dom said, we hadn't really considered how American in aesthetic it was. I think when you grow up in the UK and other parts of the world, you kind of inherit a lot of American culture at the same time, so you're always having this slightly removed relationship with it. The guitar music that I listened to when I was thinking about this album was mostly American, and it was just an interesting place to think about writing from. Over the last 10 years or longer, [we have] been so associated with London, so it was interesting to remove ourselves from that familiar situation in some ways.

That area of California in particular, so close to L.A., is very accessible and you can be there in a couple of hours in the car. At the same time, it feels really remote and unique and special, the landscapes and stuff like that. 

Can you tell me more about the guitar music you were listening to while making this album?

Campos: Sometimes there's songs or bands that I’ll hear one time, years and years before, and it'll always be in my head that I'm going to try and take whatever experience I had from listening to that and try and make some work. So there's all these little bits and pieces that collect over the years until there's enough of a space where I feel like, okay, I feel like I have a voice in this. Sometimes it's just one song from a band. There’s a track called "Rena" by Sonic Youth that I heard more than a decade ago that’s always been in the back of my head: One day, I'm going to try and rip that off.

Then there's other things to do with the sound of the guitars. There's a band called Land of Talk that has this super flat, compressed guitar sound that just sparked something in my head. And then more jam band, almost comical American guitar music, like NRBQ. All of these things just sit around in the soup in your brain until you find a way to articulate them yourself. I think the record in general is the friction between being British and how you interact with American culture in general.

Can you expand on that?

Campos: When you're a kid in the UK — I'm thinking early to mid-'90s — America is a bit of a fairytale, and it seems so shiny and exciting. Obviously, because it's a real place, it's way more complicated than that. And so there's a little bit of the fairytale kind of crumbling. At the same time [there's] Dom's perspective as somebody who had been living there for a long time. So it wasn't a conscious thing, but when we reflected on the record, we realized that there may be a theme here.

Maker: For me it was skating. All the skate stuff that I watched was from the States and it was like, oh my god, it's sunny all the time there. And that alone was amazing. 

I thought that America would be way more similar to where I'm from, the way things worked and the people I would be around. And that's completely not the case. That kind of friction, I found, was quite juicy as inspiration — not necessarily friction in a negative sense, but just that abrasiveness between my understanding of the world and the world around me. Even more so when you go to the desert  — the deepest, darkest like Yucca Valley in California  — that really made a lot of this record flourish.

The Sunset Violent is a lyric from your song "Dumb Guitar." It’s a visceral phrase that stirs me even if I can't quite grasp what it means. How do you interpret it, and how does that inform the record?

Maker: Honestly, that's kind of exactly how I feel, the way you feel about it. We picked out a few lyrics that we liked; it’s really not really a well-thought-out sort of title or anything. It just felt fitting for the sound and for that slight friction: The peacefulness of a sunset, and then the violence doesn't seem to fit, but it kind of does in a weird way. 

A big part of the record in general for us, especially for me with the lyric writing, was trying to set a scene that was a little bit unorthodox and maybe even slightly comical. So yeah, "the sunset violent" just felt like the one line that really stuck out. I love it more and more every time I think about it.

Is there a lyrical thread throughout the album, or is each song its own chapter?

Maker: I think each song is definitely its own short story. Some of my favorite writing that I've ever read is by Roald Dahl. A lot of his adult writing is brilliant because each story just casts a spell on you and takes you to a completely different place. With this album, I wanted to really tap into my love of short stories and writing that's very much fiction. It has some grounding in reality, but there's that fictional feel to it. 

I suppose it’s a new thing for me because I've really never written lyrics for this project. There's never been any sort of lead vocal from the band internally. So it was quite difficult for me initially to try and figure out what I wanted to say. Then I was like, well, actually I don't really want to say anything, and that was quite freeing in itself. 

I read about how the Pixies wrote "Where is My Mind?" — I was like, where are these f—ing insane lyrics from? — and he's like, "Oh, I was snorkeling in the Bahamas and I was just writing about a fish that I saw." The idea of just letting go of trying to write about something was really, really good for me. Absorbing surroundings and trying to feed some of the visuals that I was seeing into the writing was the main thing I wanted to do.

What specific visuals stand out?

Maker: I think the world of "Dumb Guitar": The idea of this slowly degrading, failing relationship and it all kind of coming to a head in this weird resort in China on a beach. I've never been to a beach in China, but I imagine everything's a bit artificial. 

What song would you say became the core of the album? The track where you realized, yes, this is the direction that we should go?

Campos: Yeah, there's a few different moments. You need that initial thing to happen where you get really excited and have enough of a vision to move in a certain direction, and that probably was "Dumb Guitar." 

There were maybe a couple of false starts before that. But ["Dumb Guitar"] was the first one that in terms of the songwriting made me a bit uncomfortable. You try to take that as a good sign [that] you're doing something new to you. To me that was more conventional songwriting, which I would never have done in the past. Even something as simple as a chord that leads into the chorus: It makes the human monkey brain feel good.

That was one of the first ones that Dom had written, and that was such an exciting moment to hear the lyrics and song really come to life. Writing [instrumentation] with vocals in mind is so much more freeing. The vocals are doing so much that you don't have to; you can work in a more subtle way and not try and demand everyone's attention all the time with the music. 

I think "Fish Brain" was another one that really came together. That was probably the one that we worked with Andrea very closely in finishing the song and it really helped us push it to another level. 

How would you say The Sunset Violent evolves Mount Kimbie’s sound from your 2017 album Love What Survives?

Campos: [Our goal was to] write in a way that was more direct. Obviously that can mean lots of different things, but whatever the shortest route for an idea to get executed was what I thought would be interesting to do. I guess that really means [being] more accessible. 

But obviously it wasn't a shot at commercial success. It just so happened that the idea of writing songs that were catchy— just really as simple as they could be, while still being interesting and having quality. That was the major difference from the work that we've done in the past… You can kind of see the evolution of the band through the records. To me, this one feels quite fundamentally different in the way that the songs are written.

In what way?

Campos: I think just the simplicity, or the feeling of simplicity. What I realized over the years was that the pop music that I really enjoyed, or the songwriting that I really enjoyed, sounded simple. And then when you dig into it and try to deconstruct it, you realize there's actually these very important nuances to it that make it work, but from the listener's perspective, it just feels right. 

So it was just trying to do that: have these songs that make you feel something in your gut, but you don't necessarily need to understand why. 

Your music has evolved so much since Crooks & Lovers. Looking back, are you surprised where you've ended up? Or do you feel it was inevitable?

Maker: Oddly, I was thinking about this today. I think it was actually inevitable because we were just really interested in and excited by a certain style and scene in music when we first moved to London when we were younger; 2009, 2010, that era. It was a fascination that really is in just a place and time. 

A lot of that reminds me of growing up, us figuring out London, moving from small towns to the big city, and everything about it being exciting. But I think the fact that we immediately were like, we need to play this live said a lot. Through the years that's been a huge thing, the live show, and trying to approach these songs live has always been something we've really enjoyed doing, and we've got so many amazing memories doing it.It sort of naturally has landed us in this scenario where the sound that we have at the moment feels like something that we want to keep doing more of, which we haven't really had before. We've made records and it's been a long process making them, then when you get to the end, it's sort of like, we should find something new. But, this time, we finished the record and immediately there's still this burning energy to keep going with this sound and writing style. It feels really good and exciting, and I'm glad that the road led us to where we're at now. 

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