Meet the Underground Talent of CRSSD Fest: Kyle Watson [Interview]Dup9G1GUcAAez B

Meet the Underground Talent of CRSSD Fest: Kyle Watson [Interview]

South African performance DJ Kyle Watson has been electrifying dance floors for the better part of a decade. Deemed “a magical record label that would serve as a home for the weirder offshoots of traditional house music,” Watson played a significant role in developing the Box of Cats imprint in 2016. Since its inception, he’s watched his digital streams skyrocket as his name and likeness concurrently rose to new heights. The seasoned producer dispatched a slew of singles in 2021 after striking gold with “Magic Carpet” last February; the Universal Music record has surpassed 6.5 million Spotify streams in the past 12 months. On January 21, Watson cemented his first work of 2022, “Mind Your Business,” via German house imprint This Ain’t Bristol. He told Dancing Astronaut,

“I released on This Ain’t Bristol [TAB] when they first launched the label. It must have been around 2015…TAB always felt like a place where I could break out of the mold and do something different. Around 2020, the label took a bit of a break and the ownership transferred over to a new company. I just happened to have ‘Mind Your Business’ lying around, so I sent it over to them. As soon as I finished it up, it felt like the right kind of record to come back to the label with…I sent it to the new team, they were really happy with it, and they picked it up for a release. For me, it [was] like a cool way to kick off the year.”

Over the years, Watson has joined forces with an array of renowned record labels. In late 2021, for example, he released “Dominoes” via Gorgon City‘s Realm Records. Shortly thereafter, he imparted “Conversations” on Sonny Fodera‘s Solotoko. Even avid listeners might not be fully aware of how a certain record ends up on a certain label. Watson elucidated this process, stating,

“It’s different for everyone. Some producers write a record with a label in mind, and that kind of guides their sound. [When I] finish a record, I try not to put up too many barriers. I just try to write the record and see what comes out. Then, I’ll look at the finished product and go ‘would this fit in x, or would this fit in y?’ Is it something a bit weirder like for Box of Cats? Is it something a little bit stranger and genre-pushing? And that’s kind of how I decide. I look at the end product, think of a handful of labels I’d want to release on, and [think] ‘would any of them be into this potentially?'”

In 2016, Watson co-founded Box of Cats alongside Jeff Doubleu, Jak Z, Tom EQ, and Marc Spence. He spoke on the brand’s origin, remarking, “[Box of Cats] started out as something really small, informal, and free. Eventually, it grew into a sort of culture where, you know, we have merch and stuff now. People really identify with the brand!” Regarding the imprint’s defining sound, he added,

“We really are looking for a wide variety of genres, but [our releases] have to have this thing in common where they push the envelope in one way or another. They don’t necessarily follow the formulas that the top 10 are following. They’re a bit different, but each of them has some sort of secret sauce that makes it work really nicely on a dance floor. It’s really hard to quantify it, but yes, we specialize in things that are a little bit different.”

As the pandemic’s industry-wide stronghold eventually waned, Watson made his return to the United States for a few performances at the end of 2021. “Coming from another country, it doesn’t feel like the industry took that much of a knock,” he explained. He did, however, express uncertainty regarding how his pandemic-born mixes would be received: “It was such a weird situation to be in ’cause I was writing this club music, building up this catalog, signing them, and I didn’t even know how they’d work in a club!” Lo and behold, his virgin IDs were warmly received by American audiences. Watson mused,

“It was really cool to come back at the end of 2021 and do some shows; I played some of this music for the first time and got incredible reactions.”

Kyle Watson is scheduled to perform on The Palms Stage at CRSSD Fest on March 5. He first played the beachside festival back in 2018, which signified his debut show in the United States. His upcoming appearance will mark his third time playing the San Diego mainstay, which he called his “favorite festival to play in the US, just based on the crowd’s reactions and the open-mindedness of the people that go to The Palms Stage and literally dance for the whole day there.” When asked about the array of talent billed on CRSSD’s 2022 lineup, Watson emphasized,

“Don’t miss Get Real. I think Claude VonStroke and Green Velvet together are just like a crazy combo. Regarding collabs, I think SOFI TUKKER would be a great artist to work with. Gorgon City would also be amazing to write with. I’ve known Kyle [‘Foamo’ Gibbon] for literally like 15 years; we got into the scene like way back, so it would be cool to write something with them for sure.”

Without revealing too much, The “I Got You” artist confirmed that he’d be debuting a number of unreleased IDs during his looming set in San Diego. In fact, February 18th marks the official release of Watson’s highlyanticipated single, “Late Night Phone Call,” streaming everywhere via hau5trap. Watson spoke passionately about the new record, saying “It’s been something that I’ve played on [live]streams during the pandemic, and it’s always gotten amazing reactions. I got to really test it out at the end of 2021 while doing shows and it was like the highlight of the set. It always gets asked about after.” He added,

“Looking further into the year, I’m collaborating with Mindchatter on some cool stuff, I’m working [on a new record] with Solotoko again, and I’ve also started working on sketches for a new album.”

He’s also presently piecing together his sophomore LP.

At 34-years-old, Watson had the following to say about what his 20-year-old self would say about where he is in his career today:

“If I imagined I was 20, I never would have thought I’d be playing in front of a crowd like [at CRSSD]. Not even to mention going around the entire country and playing great shows in all of these different cities, where people know the music…I’m just really lucky that I get to do all of this.”

Purchase last-minute tickets to CRSSD Fest 2022 here, and be sure not to miss Kyle Watson’s set at The Palms Stage on March 5. Oh, and stream his latest single, “Late Night Phone Call,” below.

Featured image: Fixation Photography

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,