“I just feel like I'm so scatterbrained all the time,” Los Angeles artist Kyle Walker says of his creative direction in the studio.
“For ‘All You Need,’ for example, I was listening to Jaden Thompson and the UK sound, and getting inspired through that,” he explains. “And then for ‘Strut’ I was super into the Solid Grooves style right then, so I decided to like try and work on something like that.”
Kyle’s distinctive sound signature still manages to shine through in both of these singles. His percussion is methodical. His arrangements are inventive. It is this tightrope walk between paying homage and reinventing the wheel that has landed him on key tech house labels like Toolroom and Glasgow Underground.
Once upon a time, though, house music fell far outside Kyle Walker’s creative musings. He first started dabbling in music production at age 13, eventually learning his way around FL Studio (which remains his DAW of choice to this day).
Skrillex was one of the first artists who inspired him to pursue electronic music; some of Kyle’s earliest productions remain uploaded to SoundCloud under a dubstep moniker he refuses to disclose. Then, he heard Disclosure’s Settle. Still his favorite house album to this day, the 2013 effort rerouted his creative course and destined him for a career in the time-tested genre.
Three years later, Kyle Walker’s tech house single “Claude VonDeeper”—a reference to Dirtybird boss Claude VonStroke—was selected as one of one of the winners of Insomniac’s 2016 Discovery Project. This landed him on stages at some of the West Coast promotional juggernaut’s landmark events, where he honed his craft as a DJ.
Another significant step up came with his first release on Jauz’s Bite This! label: a collaboration with LondonBridge titled “Infection.” "I forget where I first met Sam, but I just started emailing him music," Kyle says. "I emailed a lot of people, actually; I think I emailed damn near 50 to 100 people my music that was coming out. Sam was generous and nice enough to actually check it out. He had an ear for it, I guess, and really liked it. He helped put me onto one of my first festival plays and was always really awesome with feedback. Then, he was starting his Bite This! label, and he wanted me to be one of the first dudes on it—which I was happy to do."
He followed it up with “Panic” via Insomniac’s In / Rotation imprint. “That helped put me on the lineup of events like Nocturnal Wonderland,” he says, “which got me in front of a lot of people.”
The COVID pandemic could have derailed Kyle’s momentum—it signaled an abrupt halt for nightlife at large, after all. It was during this time off that he instead doubled down on music production. In the end, he came out better for it.
“I was working at the time in the pharmacy at CVS and at Starbucks as well as doing Postmates,” he says. “Then I'd come home and work on music all night, and then I’d go back and repeat the cycle.”
Kyle describes this as a time in which he was able to “reset my production brain” and deliver music that wasn’t totally dancefloor centric. "I sat down to write songs that weren't totally club driven, because clubs weren't around," he says. "So I worked on the melodic side of production and really figured out how to write a song as a whole—not just a club track or a DJ tool—like, actual songs." In August 2021, shortly after nightlife resumed, he released the three-track EP Zilla on Lee Foss’ Repopulate Mars record label. This cosign put him on the radar of underground house music tastemakers.
Kyle Walker’s early releases on Bite This! and Dim Mak Records don’t appear to have pigeonholed him as an EDM artist in the eyes of labels like Toolroom and Glasgow Underground. “I feel like there should have been [a stigma], but there never was, I don't know why,” he says. I don't know what I did to pivot around the EDM label—which there's nothing wrong with; there's a bunch of great EDM—but for some reason, I never was. I was always kind of like, underground.”
"It's definitely something I didn't see ever happening," he says. It's so weird that I started way, way back making dubstep and then switching then to bass house and now I'm into the more techy style of house. Even when I was working on music like that, I always saw these labels releasing such cool like house music, but I never really thought getting on these labels would ever be something that I would do. But now here we are. So I guess if you just keep working at it, it’s eventually gonna happen."
As far as house music itself is concerned, Kyle suspects that the genre is “definitely headed to the top 40 charts.” If he’s right, it’s as good a time as any for a producer such as himself to emerge as a fixture of the worldwide house community.
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