Following up an insane year, Kai Wachi looks at what lies ahead of him. 2018 could possibly be a game changer for the Kannibalen alumni. Hot off the tail of his ‘Die Young‘ EP and single ‘MUD‘, we were anxious to see what the producer has in store for us. Shortly before absolutely crushing his set at Wobbleland, we caught up with Kai Wachi to talk all things music.
Fresh off the release of ‘MUD’ with Macntaj, can you tell us how that track came to fruition?
“I heard a song by this guy named Levitate, and it had Macntaj rapping on it. His vocals sounded like actual hip-hop, not EDM hip-hop if that makes sense. It was super hard and I was like, “Oh, I really fuck with this,” so I reached out to him and I started a track and sent it to him, and he sent me back a verse pretty fast and it was super hard. From there we just built this crazy-ass track.” -Kai Wachi
The end of that song has probably one of the more interesting twists I’ve heard on a trap record, what inspired that?
“That’s a hard question. Lately in the past year or so I’ve been making these weird, slower, almost more feelsy outros, and I just think it’s a way for me to show the industry that I’m more than capable of making just one genre without completely releasing an EP with no bass music, because people would be like, “what the hell is this?” so I kind of just throw it in there to mix things up. Making hard bass music all the time isn’t fulfilling for me as an artist, because I know I really enjoy all sorts of music so me being able to put out all of my work is way more satisfying for me.” -Kai Wachi
The overall production really opened a lot of eyes and allowed you to showcase your versatility. It raises the question, would you ever want to do a full studio album?
“Yeah! When the time is right, for sure. The thing with the EDM scene is when you put out a song, two weeks later kids are like, “when are you putting out new stuff?” And I hear artists saying that they’ve been working on their album for two years, and then a month later kids are asking for new music.
But at the same time, it would be cool to do a whole album to showcase all my skills. I’ve said a couple times on social media that if I ever do an album, don’t expect 15 dubstep or trap bangers. Expect a handful of bangers and a handful of feelsy, weird stuff you know?
I want to do a couple songs where the focal point of the song is a vocalist. Like I get a female vocalist and she’s just super dope and I just make a beat for her. The song would be all about her like there wouldn’t be any drops because we’d just be making music together.” -Kai Wachi
With that said, who would you say are some artists that have influenced you musically?
“Noisia doesn’t really come out with that much music but every time they do they just shit all over the game, they’re crazy. But if I’m gonna be honest, I don’t really listen to a lot of electronic music outside of my job. It’s just too much, everything in my life is about bass music and I need a balance. But I guess I’ll say Noisia, and some of the underground kids, a lot of Never Say Die guys always impress me and are always really cool. I try to take that route but still have my own twist on it.” -Kai Wachi
Taking it way back to the beginning, you were one of the front men in pushing Hybrid Trap. Are you surprised at all to see how far that style has gone?
“Absolutely. When I started this “hybrid-trap” thing, trap was so fresh and I was like, how can I put my own twist on this because I figured out early on that if you want a stable name in the industry you gotta have your own sound and you need to sound unique. So I was thinking, what if I put dubstep sounds with 808 traps and snares and I was like, I’ll just call this “hybrid” and I remember typing in #hybrid on SoundCloud at the time and there was no genre like that and I was like, perfect I did it. Then it just became this whole new subgenre, almost an official one if you want to call it that. It’s crazy.” -Kai Wachi
Do you think the genre in itself still has room for innovation?
“Yes, I think it does., but I think the innovation lies more within how the producer creates and executes everything surrounding the drop. There’s just so many producers right now that put out hybrid-trap and it’s just dubstep with 808’s instead of a bassline under it. To me, I don’t think that defines hybrid trap. I think hybrid-trap is the full package, like hip-hop intro with gritty drums and the hip-hop snare, vibe, hi-hats. But I still think there’s room for innovation. I really tried to push that with the Macntaj collab. If you notice, the first two minutes are just like this hip-hop thing.
I was wondering about that song, it’s not an 808? Or maybe that’s just my ears?
It is! It is but it’s super low. I put the distortion in because in the hip-hop scene everyone is using these distorted drums, with like square-waves, and I was thinking I would try it out and it sounded really cool and it went really well with him.”
Let’s talk about Kannibalen. In your opinion, what do you think makes Kannibalen special as a label or family or whatever you want to call it?
“All of us grew together, and are still growing together, and when Kannibalen Records picked us all up they were nothing, so to speak. They were very small and didn’t have a huge fanbase We’ve all been working together to build Kannibalen. It wasn’t like Kannibalen Records was already there and huge when they picked up each artist. We are all building it together. You got me, Dabin, Snails, Black Tiger Sex Machine, LeKtriQue. We’re all very different musically and it really helped to build the base of Kannibalen to what it is now.
Kannibalen is starting to get steam and people know us now. I’ve stuck with them because … we’re just all family, man. We’ve known each other for six or seven years and they’ve always had my back through tough times. I’m not gonna trade out with a different label for loyalty like that. The industry can be full of snakes so when you find a good team and they push you and they work hard for you, you have to stay with that.” -Kai Wachi
Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with the other acts on the roster?
“Dabin and all them, haha. We’re all really close friends and we’ve all been on tour together. Dabin and I are super close especially, and we’re all super close honestly. We’ve known each other since I was 18. We travel together and hang out together, it’s a wild time.” -Kai Wachi
Any big plans for the year? Anything exciting you’d like to share?
“It’s gonna be a big year for me. Last year was my first year playing some big festivals, and I think this year I will be on some big festivals again. I got my tour with Black Tiger Sex Machine, Sullivan King, LeKtriQue, and Apashe coming up in a few weeks. I got a lot of crazy music coming out for sure. It’s going to be a very good year for me, musically.
The end of last year, I was kind of going through this rut with my sound. I felt like I wasn’t pushing any boundaries. In sets, you can only push so many boundaries but I’ve started reaching out and collaborating with other artists and it’s been really inspiring to see how I can push my sound even more. I’m not going to change it to copy someone else’s. I’ll still keep that Kai Wachi vibe but grow it even more.” -Kai Wachi
Yeah, I honestly thought ‘MUD’ … was like fuck, dude.
“Yeah! This song was so unique, it’s crazy. No ones gonna play it though, because it’s in the key B. Everyone that plays dubstep is in like E, F, D, because that’s what sounds good on the system. B is like … you have to be on a PK system for it to sound good. But I’m not making music for it to be played out, I just love making music”. -Kai Wachi