Medieval times weren't the only times where a king was considered to be of a higher power- and there's one king in particular that's taking the dance music world by storm.
Following the astounding success of his "Believe In The Kingdom" album, which was released on Don Diablo's widely-respected Hexagon label and racked up over 20+ million streams, King Arthur is building a kingdom and loyal fanbase. A kingdom off of positive energy and soulful music; off of love and those everlasting memories of dancing like no one is watching with your absolute best pals by your side on warm summer nights.
The latest Casablanca Records signee is known for his colorful, upbeat productions wrapped in wholesome vocals and funky, nu-disco frequencies. His latest single "Places" is the record that defines him as an artist, what his brand is all about and is bound to be the most frequently played track on your summer playlists.
What was the creative process behind the making of "Places"?
The beginning of the song started last summer. I played on the main stage of Tommorrowland and I was trying to make some records that I could debut that would be fresh and young because it;s the biggest stage in dance music. I spent weeks leading up to it trying to come up with new ideas and I felt like a lot of dance music at the time was really stale.
So I started listening to some stuff from the 90's with DAFT PUNK, FATBOY SLIM, MOBY and I was like, "how can I incorporate some of this into my music for Tomorrowland?". I wrote the music for "Places" with the topline of the single that's going to follow "Places" called "Whatcha Thinkin'". After talks with Republic about going forward with the single and saying they want to stick with the original version of "Whatcha Thinkin'", I flew to LA for a writing session to write the topline for it with a girl named Felly and another writer named Ben and the three of us wrote the topline for it. Then my friend in Canada is the one that sings the vocal and that's how it all came together.
You mentioned artists like Daft Punk, Moby and Fatboy- when I was listening to your previous single "Laidback" I was getting that same Daft Punk vibe so I definitely see elements of that inspiration in your music even prior to "Places". Are you trying to experiment with any new genres?
It's just a lot of that stuff I mentioned before mixed with house music. I want the pop and song-writing sensibility of someone like CALVIN HARRIS mixed with the funk and soul and danceability of the Daft Punk era and to use that in a way that works for 2018 and dance music beyond. That's very much where my head is at.
How was playing Tomorrowland? I feel like that must have been insane.
It was the most bittersweet, heartbreaking experience ever.
There was a horrible monsoon and I wasn't supposed to play at all because the stage production stopped working. You almost can't even see me on stage at some points because it was raining so hard. I go on stage and I was like "this is gonna be the greatest show of my life". You're in front of 60,000 people on the mainstage and it's just mayhem and you see flags from countries all over the world. Then they tell me "yo, you might not be able to play" so I was like "no, please just let me know even if it's miserable with the weather." Thankfully the sound worked but it was raining into the DJ booth.
Despite the rain, there was at least 30,000 people there at the mainstage so people were hiding underneath the arches and hiding underneath the bars and no one was on the dance floor. But then the sun came out for 10 minutes and everyone rushed on to the dance floor, but then the rain got worse and they went back to hiding. The expectation with this festival is so high, since it's the dream festival, so this was definitely heartbreaking but my agent was like we'll get you back on the mainstage again, don't worry. It's motivation because I got to go back and do it work.
That blows but at least you made the best of it!
Yeah! And everyone that was there was absolutely incredible- everyone was up for it despite the rain and everyone knew the songs. It was really epic and feel-good.
Despite the complications, would you say that was your most memorable or favorite set?
*laughs* Not for the best reasons! But I think that there are 2 sets that stuck out to me the most in general. There's this club in Hamburg, Germany called Halo and it has like a 300-400 person capacity. Really low ceilings, really dark room and no LED walls. The crowd is about 2 feet from you and it's hot and sweaty and its just like THIS is where house music comes from. The crowd was crazy and it was so fun. That and I played World Club Dome in Germany, that set was amazing. They had to close the stage down because so many people were trying to get in. So those were my most memorable for good.
Are there any places or festivals in particular that you're keen on playing?
Yeah, I'm looking forward to playing Summerburst, Sziget in Hungary- which is like the Glastonbury of Europe. But you know, I also purposely held off on touring North America and there's a lot of places to catch up playing at here. We're going to be doing a lot more the second half of the year in North America. We played two shows last month in April in LA and Orlando.
I remember earlier you mentioned that "Places" was gonna be your first real "King Arthur" kick off song- I'm curious to hear where this King Arthur brand came from.
I was writing music and touring under my name Topher Jones. I was on this huge tour with TRITONAL and MORGAN PAGE so it was 6 months of being on the road all the time. That's when EDM was just gigantic, and it's fun music to play but I love songs and soulful music and dancing is really fun. Not trying to bash that type of music but it doesn't say much and acts more as an instant gratification which is why it works so great live. But I feel like as an artist, I had so much more I wanted to say and do and get more into the songwriting side of things. So that's why I stopped doing Topher Jones stuff and started the King Arthur project
Arthur is my middle name and I was swimming at the gym one day and I was like, "damn, what can I do with Arthur? How can I make it cool?". So I was like, "oh, King Arthur". And I thought of so many ideas and just ran with it.
It's also interesting because it really works well with the brand- with the "Believe In The Kingdom" album and this whole Kingdom aesthetic, you really are building an empire. So off the top of my head, if you could have any 5 artists in your "royal cabinet" or team on this journey and brand, who would you bring on?
Oooo, definitely Daft Punk. Hmm, I'm thinking of people not just now. Ryan Tedder definitely would fit better with the songwriting, the lead singer from Sigur Ros even though he's completely opposite from me in terms of music. Then from a producer standpoint, I'd bring in someone like Dr. Dre. I think he was always super innovative and he changed hip-hop. Late 90's hip-hop was my first love- with Jurasstic Five, Wu-Tang Clan, KRS-One. Those were the first records that I bought when I was learning how to DJ. Hip-hop is at a very different place right now so if I did it, I would try to bring in some of that. Funky and soulful stuff is timeless.
Going forward, are you gonna keep focusing on this summery, upbeat stuff or are you gonna go for a different vibe? I remember when I was listening to "Believe In The Kingdom", the first and last track were so different from the rest of the album but it was a good way to round out the album.
The intro song was a beautiful piece of music to open the album and funny enough, it actually killed it on streaming for a 2-minute instrumental piece. I think when you do an album or EP, it gives you more room to be artistic. So hopefully going forward, I'll just keep putting out more stuff like "Places" and "Whatcha Thinkin'".