Interview: Meet Rising Producer & Songwriter KINGDM

KINGDM interview

Photo by Elizabeth Miranda

KINGDM recently returned with his new song ‘Your Love,’ featuring Soran and Reo Cragun. We wanted to learn more about the producer and songwriter, who was raised in a small northern Italian city and began playing piano at the age of five. We spoke to KINGDM about inspiration, plans for new music, and more. Listen to ‘Your Love’ here and read our KINDGM interview below:

Dan Redding: When did you start making music as KINGDM?

KINGDM: It’s about three years ago, with my friend Rueben James. It was pretty random, we were just sitting in Italy writing music for a week. We had all these songs that came out pretty spontaneously. It was our first time writing together. We were both fans of chess, so we were constantly playing chess in the breaks. I was like, ‘Why don’t we just put out a song?’ We put out ‘Can’t Get Over You.’ The name KINGDM comes from playing chess. That’s how we started.

What can you tell me about your career before that? Were you in bands, or working as a producer?

I did a little bit of everything. I started with the piano when I was very young. My grandfather introduced me to it. I come from a classical background – I studied classical for my entire life. I switched to jazz, picked up the drums, I was in bands. I started DJing, producing, writing, composing. Then, I went back to what I originally wanted to do – which was being an artist, performing, producing.

You were inspired by a Chopin composition as a child. What can you tell me about that Chopin piece?

Yeah, there’s a little story about that. I was really young, maybe like five. I was sitting in the back of my mom’s car. I found this cassette tape in the car. I picked it up and I was like, mom, can you play it? It was Chopin’s ‘Fantasie Impromptu.’ A classical piece. I was so drawn to it – it just sparked something inside of me.

At that time, my grandfather was teaching me piano; he played the accordion, I had a little keyboard. There was something about that day that just clicked. I went to my parents and said, ‘I want a piano.’ They looked at me like I was crazy. I was like, ‘No, I really mean it, I want a piano.’ I insisted so much until they bought me a piano. That was pretty much the beginning of my career.

When you approach contemporary music or pop music now, how does your classical background influence your approach?

It affects my chord progressions, my melodies – I love minor melodies. I’m always drawn to minor pieces. It’s been really recent that I started writing in major keys. The effect of classical on my style is more about the melodies … There is also an aspect of discipline. When you grow up and study classical, you have to have a lot of discipline. If you don’t really study the pieces, you won’t be able to perform it. That aspect taught me a lot. When I’m sitting and producing, it taught me a lot about the discipline of just sticking through it and finishing things. I don’t give up on pieces very easily.kingdm interview

What can you tell me about the songwriting process of the song ‘Your Love’?

We started it with Reuben – again, that week in Italy. He had this verse idea – he started singing the verse, and I was like, ‘That’s sick, we should make a song.’ We started with the verse and the bassline. When we moved to the chorus – the chorus was completely different. Those days, we were listening to ‘80s classics. The chorus sounded really cheesy. Big, synthy, big drums, ‘80s vibes. The day after, we listened back, and we were like, ‘These are two completely different songs.’ The chorus was kinda shitty. We scrapped the chorus. The line just came out – “your love” – and that was pretty much it.

Do you have plans to make a full-length album?

Yeah, I’m working on it. I’ve been working on it for a year now. It’s definitely on its way.

Is there anything you can tell me about your vision for it?

It’s gonna be kind of evident throughout the next few releases. It’s gonna be an open album: it’s not gonna be genre-based or style-based. I took a year, a year and a half to just work on music. During that period, since the first body of work that I released, my sound has evolved a lot. There are a lot of different sonic vibes that I’m exploring. It’s gonna be interesting.

What do you think makes a good chorus?

Well, definitely one that is stuck in your mind. One that moves you – that’s when you know you have a good chorus. It’s really about the gut feeling about it. When it moves you, you remember it, you sing along – that’s how you know you have a good chorus.

Is there another element of a song that you don’t feel satisfied until you get this one element just right?

Yeah, definitely. That can be a little bit of a tedious process. Usually my workflow is really fast. I tend to finish songs quite easily. But then I spend an enormous amount of time on little sounds. That goes on and on. It has no time limit. When you start getting obsessed with one sound, you want to explore all the possibilities, and tweaking it until – again – you have that gut feeling of, ‘Oh that’s it.’

So would you say that you are detail-oriented?

Not really. [laughter] Not as a person. But when it comes to production or editing sounds, I can be very detail-oriented in those areas.

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