By Kieran Webber
Some say the best things come in pairs, in the case of Kah-Lo and Riton this is almost certainly true. Over a short period of time they have amassed over 50 million streams on previous releases, gained support from Annie Mac, BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 1 Xtra as well as plays on Beats 1 and BBC 6 Music. Not counting the fact mega star Selena Gomez instagrammed her self driving whilst bopping to their tune ‘Fake ID’. They also have had a Grammy nomination for Best Dance Record on ‘Rinse & Repeat’. Put simply the dynamic duo are a force to be reckoned with and are showing no signs of slowing down, especially with their forthcoming album ‘Foreign Ororo’ which will be released September 28th.
Prior to their set at Boardmasters 2018 we were fortunate enough to catch up with them backstage. We were eager to find out more about how they met, their influences and what people can expect from their performances.
CLUNK: You both met on social media but what was it that drew you towards each other?
Kah-Lo: I mean, his beats are fire!
Riton: She liked what I did and she sent me her demos and I really liked it. We were both living in New York at the time so we met up and went for a drink. Actually I was Djing I think.
Kah-Lo: It was my 21st birthday so it was my first legal drink in the States.
Riton: So yeah, she came down and we hung out all night and then a few days later we were in the studio and made our first track ‘Rinse and Repeat’.
Listen to ‘Rinse and Repeat’ here:
CLUNK: So things have been pretty mad since then, you have been nominated for a grammy, have an album coming out this September too. How can you explain that? Did you ever think this would happen? Was it something you predicted?
Kah-Lo: It was just vibes, we were just vibing off each other and eventually we had a lot of tracks so we thought why not put it all into one album.
Riton: We were just making lots of singles and thinking what should we put out next, we have about 14 tracks for the album but 6 of them have been released as singles already.
CLUNK: Is there any particular influence for the new record?
Riton: Some of it is a bit different than to what you’ve heard before, there is more Kah-lo singing and more live instruments on a couple of tracks. There are some afrobeat influences on some of the tracks too.
CLUNK: How do you come up with your music when you are writing and making it?
Kah-Lo: He (Riton) can make like ten beats a day and I will just sit there and write to what he is doing.
CLUNK: So you make the beat first then go from that?
Riton & Kah-Lo: Yeah!
CLUNK: What can we expect from your set at Boardmasters, what do you like to bring when you pay live?
Riton: It’s a very stripped down set up for tonight, it’s just me and her. We did this whilst we toured Australia recently and I really liked it. It felt a bit more raw. It was mad in Australia actually as people were singing to almost every song. Hopefully we will have a bit of that here, I think we’re bigger in Australia though. It’s just good fun! The first 45 minutes will be our own music and then towards the end it will just turn into a DJ set and Kah-Lo will carry on drinking (laughs).
CLUNK: So how did you first get into making music?
Kah-Lo: I always liked music, I grew up watching MTV and was influenced by that. I used to watch the people on there and be like this looks cool, I want to do that! I started as a rapper, then I became a singer but now I do both.
CLUNK: Where there any artists in particular that took your eye?
Kah-Lo: Michael Jackson! I saw this documentary and it was the first time I saw the behind the scenes of his act and that was really cool. I also love Kanye West, MIA and people like that.
CLUNK: What is it about Kanye that you like and why do you think other people respond to him? And how does his influence blend into your music?
Kah-Lo: Well, because I am from Nigeria people are always like you should be a lawyer or an accountant or something like that. So, like anything else beyond that people think you’re crazy or dreaming too big. So, like there he is on TV and his lyrics are telling you people have told him the same thing. I find that really amazing because no ones really addressed that in music, at least that I have heard.
CLUNK: So, when you first started making music people were negative towards what you were doing?
Kah-Lo: Yeah, because they’re like you can’t do this, you can’t do that, you can’t sing this way, you can’t rap monotone it doesn’t make sense. Then I realised that these things make me who I am, there is only one me.
“Well, because I am from Nigeria people are always like you should be a lawyer or an accountant or something like that. So, like anything else beyond that people think you’re crazy or dreaming too big”
Riton: I think that is a really cool thing to relise when you’re doing music, when you start making your own stuff and start believing in yourself.
CLUNK: Now that you have had some success do people view your music and your passion differently now?
Kah-Lo: Yeah, because my vocals are my vocals and you can’t replicate it.
CLUNK: As you say there is only one you!
Kah-Lo: See, that is a very Kanye thing to say.
CLUNK: What artists are taking your interest at the moment, is there anyone you are listening too?
Riton: Kah-Lo introduced me to this Afrobeat singer Minola who is really great, super into that at the moment. I have lots of old school influences through rave and house, people like Todd Terry.
CLUNK: Are there any artists you would like to collab with, if so who and why?
CLUNK: Would you say that is possible? Is it on the horizon?
Kah-Lo: I hope so! Anything’s possible!
CLUNK: What sort of thing would you like to do with him?
Kah-Lo: His wish is my command! (laughs). For real though I think he is a musical genius so anything.
Riton: Me and my friends who I produce with have just finished working on the new Diplo record with Dua Lipa. Also me and her (kah-Lo) have just remixed a track by Selena Gomez.
CLUNK: Actually, didn’t Selena Gomez share one of your tracks on Instagram?
Kah-Lo: Yeah, she was singing along to ‘Fake ID’.
Riton: So, we reached out to her management after that and asked to do a remix of ‘Back To You’ and they were super keen.
CLUNK: So outside of music do you have any other creative outputs? Or any hobbies or any interests?
Kah-Lo: I like to watch Netflix (laughs). I like touching up my website and other peoples websites. Im quite into web design actually!
Riton: I collect synths and stuff and outside of that maybe gardening. I need to find time for things like that, we are constantly traveling and moving a but so when we get a free moment all I want is my bed. I do a lot of pottering around and gardening too of certain plants..
Kah-Lo: I am also into fashion as well, sometimes I will look through latest trends etc.
Riton: I’m also really into fashion too although you may not be able to tell right now. My girlfriend is a really good photographer and works in the industry, she actually did all of the styling for Miley Cyrus’ ‘Bangers’ album. I really enjoy photography and that industry. I like to going art galleries, my favorite place in London is Barbican as it is just amazing. We went to see the BBC proms there to check it out and it was amazing, everything at the Barbican has been so interesting.
CLUNK: Lastly, we like to finish on a story, so if you could tell us a tale of something weird/funny that has happened to you?
Riton: We can tell him about last weekend?
Kah-Lo: We can tell him about the Australia radio actually?
Riton: Ahh yeah that is probably more print friendly!
Kah-Lo: Okay, so we were in Byron Bay and we were eating breakfast outside, enjoying the sunshine. Then a car drives by and it is blasting ‘Fake ID’ and we’re like oh that is cool!
Riton: Bare mind this is a very small town in Australia.
Kah-Lo: Yeah and then 5 minutes later the next car is blasting out ‘Ginger’. It was super weird as what is the chances of that and they were both going different directions.
Thanks to Riton and Kah-Lo for taking the time to answer our questions and being so inviting and thanks to Boardmasters for such a killer weekend!