EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Kato

Kato is a platinum-selling Danish DJ and producer, who made waves back in 2010 with his hit single ‘Turn the Lights Off’. With currently over 15 million Spotify streams, the track helped launch his career and led to his debut album Discolized and the follow-up Discolized 2.0. 

Kato continued to be a leading force in the Danish dance scene and has since garnered a loyal following across Scandinavia. With over 40 platinum and gold certifications to his name, he is well on his way to becoming internationally recognized as an artist to watch.

Kato’s latest venture is a fresh, upbeat track called ‘Show You Love’. The song is in collaboration with British DJ and producer Sigala, and the talented actress and pop singer Hailee Steinfeld.

The song is a unique and catchy blend of Hailee’s strong vocals and the track’s bold and vibrant production. It has been met with an overwhelmingly positive response and is climbing the charts worldwide.

We caught up with Kato to discuss the making of ‘Show You Love’, what he loves about working with other artists, and his plans for future music. Read our full interview below.

Hello Kato! Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. How has 2017 been for you so far?

My 2017 has been focused on my music so far. I’ve taken a short break from touring to prepare for upcoming releases and remixes. There’s a lot of new music on the way, and I’m really excited to see the feedback.

How did you first get into DJ-ing and producing? What made you want to pursue it as a career?

I have been playing drums, guitar, and piano throughout my childhood, but I never had the feeling that I had found my instrument. Then I saw my first DJ performance when I was 12, and at that moment I knew that this is what I wanted to do. And I was named the best Danish DJ when I turned 25, which was my goal since I was 12.

Photo: Lasse Lagoni

I had done a lot of remixing and producing in my teens, but I never thought about pursuing a career as a producer and songwriter. I did it just because I enjoyed it. Not until my father passed away and I built my first studio with what I inherited from him did I decide to become a professional musician. My dad was a drummer, but he gave up his own dreams to take care of our family. When he died I promised myself to pursue my dream of being able to make a living out of music in order to honour my father.

Your newest single ‘Show You Love’ is out now! What can you tell us about the song and the process behind it?

Normally I’d rather work together with musicians in the studio, but ‘Show You Love’ actually came together by sending files back and forth. It’s actually a bit of an eye-opener for me because the result turned out great. The song is written with Sigala and the songwriter Grace Tither who I’ve been working with over the past 3 years. The song’s meaning is if you want to win in love, you have to give 100% of yourself to someone else. You can’t expect another person to surrender him or herself to you if you aren’t willing to do the same. It is also a challenge for me personally, so you could say that it’s a reminder to myself.

What did you enjoy most about working with both Sigala and Hailee Steinfeld on this track?

At the time we did ‘Show You Love’, Sigala hadn’t broken through yet so I didn’t know much of him. I was very impressed by his style and sound which was fresh, uplifting and energetic. He’s very musical and incredibly easy to work with. Hailee got into the picture later on and I was very excited to hear if her voice even fit the track.

It was also quite challenging for me because I’m used to doing the recording for the featured artists on my own. However, I found this way of collaboration is actually possible. When I got the vocal record back from Hailee I was ecstatic about how well her voice fit the track! Her voice has a youthful coolness, which enriched the track in a way I hadn’t imagined. I was very pleased with the result!

Your music is mostly in the house genre, but ‘Show You Love’ seems to veer towards pop, especially with the addition of Hailee’s vocals. Is this a direction you’d like to take with your future music?

I actually come from a minimal/tech/electro house scene, but I started mixing elements from other genres in my tracks quite early. It happens without me being really aware of it. I love the process of song-writing so this automatically makes my releases more pop than if I did instrumental tracks.

Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations?

I grew up listening to funk and disco so the groovy music has had a big influence on my musical upbringing. It might not be recognizable when first listening to my releases, but if you explore the different layers of the music you’ll discover rolls and melodic figures inspired by the old funk and disco heroes. Actually, I’m a big fan of Jamiroquai. They’re the grooviest band for the last 20 years, who still manage to create hits which work in this millennium. JayKay, give me a call if you need a remix, alright?

You’ve collaborated with many DJs and vocals artists in the past. Why do you like working with others, and how is making music with others different to working alone?

What I love most is creating music. In the beginning, I mostly worked alone. And I found that it was easy to fall into the same patterns and habits over and over again when making music. Now I still work alone when creating beats, sketches, and ideas. But I know I shouldn’t be alone in the studio for too long because then I’ll lose the creativity. Having a singer in the studio changes the whole process. It is not just about getting the track to work, but also creating something where the vocals and the music mix/blend perfectly together.

All musicians are different in styles and tastes. This is why I see working with artists or songwriters as an inspiration buffet. No two days are similar, and I love the feeling of going into the studio without having a plan or idea and getting out of the studio again a couple of hours later with a new song. It’s the best feeling in the world, even though you don’t always come out with a top-40 hit.

Who would you love to collaborate with in the future?

That’s a long list, haha! There are really a lot of great artists and producers out there. I have always dreamt of hearing Bono singing on a house track. So if you have his number, please send it in my direction! As for producers, I listen to a lot of Mura Masa and Keytranada right now. Other than that I love MNEK’s own releases. He sings great and his productions are unique because he mixes urban, UK house and soul in completely his own way.

You’ve built up quite a following across Scandinavia, particularly in your native land of Denmark. Tell us more about the support you get from your home country!

I’ve had a crazy run home in Denmark and it would have never happened without the massive support I received from the people who have followed my career. I don’t really like calling them fans because I don’t see myself as a star. I’m just a boy who does the only thing he’s really good at. I’m really grateful for the support, and nothing has been possible without people being interested in my music. Of course, I hope that ‘Show You Love’ can help make people outside of Scandinavia curious of my music because I have a lot of great music on the way for you!

In your career so far, what would you say has been your proudest moment?

There have been so many great experiences over the past 6 years. To be closing for the largest stage at “Smukfest”, one of Denmark’s largest festivals, was huge for me as I was the first DJ to have the opportunity to do so. All the different awards, of course, mean a lot to me too, but it’s the experiences I’ve had on the stages that still give me the chills.

Kato onstage at Smukfest in Denmark. Photo: Lasse Lagoni

Do you have any other plans for music in the near future?

The remix package for ‘Show You Love’ will be released soon and I’m excited to see how people will react to it. It’s definitely a remix package of which I’m very proud. It’s all very overwhelming at the moment. People have welcomed ‘Show You Love’ so well all around the world. I hope that I’m able to go out and play soon and share all of my new music.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about ‘Show Your Love’, or to your supporters in general?

I would like to say thanks to all of you who listen to my music. I’m still very humble about people who listen to my music, and I really look forward to sharing a lot of new music with all of you during 2017.

Thank you, Kato, for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on the success of ‘Show You Love’, and we wish you the best of luck with your music in the future!

‘Show You Love’ is available to buy and stream now. To stay up to date, be sure to follow Kato on Facebook and Twitter.

Share your thoughts on Kato’s latest single, ‘Show You Love’, by tweeting us @CelebMix.

Written by Annemarie Cutruzzola

Canadian arts & culture writer and journalism student.