[INTERVIEW] Hardstyle Trio KAMI Discusses Dance Music Globalization, Project Z, + More
Following their appearances at EDC Las Vegas and Project Z in 2022, KAMI has established themselves as a force within the hard dance music scene for the foreseeable future. Although the trio has made huge career strides recently, they have been pushing toward success for five years, leaving them in a prime position to foster longevity in the industry. As hardstyle continues to take North America by storm, KAMI is a notable American forerunner for the movement. Alongside the experiences of rapid success, KAMI gives insight into the trials and tribulations of finding their place as creators of the most niche genre in dance music.
Read iEDM’s exclusive interview with KAMI below.
iEDM: In the wake of Project Z, have you noticed any differences between hardstyle and dubstep crowds? Do you enjoy exploring or allowing influence from other genres within the dance music sphere?
KAMI: All three of us have been ravers for years and are fans of both the bass crowd as well as the hard dance crowd. I’d have to say one of the key differences between the two is that while the dubstep crowd is dedicated to their scene, the hard dance fans are some of the most die hard fans we’ve ever encountered.
We love trying to incorporate other genre elements into our music. We’re big fans of D&B and techno as well and we’ve incorporated D&B breaks into some of our tracks as well as using techno elements in our kick structures as a unique base.
iEDM: As a trio, do you share any pre-show rituals? If so, do you see it as a lucky charm, or a purposeful act to get in the zone before walking on stage?
KAMI: Before any show we always like to take about 30 minutes before we head out to stage to do our pre-show huddle. We all gas each other up about how this set is going to be the best one we’ve played yet to get into that right mindset.
iEDM: European subgenres such as D&B have recently gained traction within the USA, and hardstyle seems to be on this same path. What do you think it takes for a regional taste in music to become globalized? Do you have a theory as to why regions tend to have varying affinities towards different genres of dance music?
KAMI: I believe it takes artists at home helping push the evolution of those genres. Right now, we’re seeing a lot of really great up and coming US hard dance producers more so than ever before. I think that’s what will help grow the genre here and continue it on that path of growth.
iEDM: Hardstyle has been much more prominent in Europe than the United States throughout its history. As a group of American hardstyle artists, have you felt pressured to transform your sound from hardstyle to house or bass because it was difficult to facilitate collaborations early in your journey?
KAMI: Hard dance is the hardest genre to work in inside the United States. Even though it is growing bigger than it ever has before as of late, we have found it extremely challenging to work in that space. But, we love it. It’s our favorite genre. We met because of it and it holds a lot of great memories for us. We also like the challenge of working in one of the harder fields of the dance music world. It keeps us hungry and innovative and constantly wanting to push boundaries.
iEDM: You have deservingly exploded in the dance music scene, especially with your stage presence. What has been your most exciting opportunity thus far?
KAMI: This year has been a big one for us with a lot of great moments. The one that stands out among the rest though is definitely EDC Las Vegas. That’s been a career goal since day one and just being able to be on that stage and play to a crowd of dedicated hard dance fans? Incredible feeling.
iEDM: Seeing three DJs behind the decks simultaneously is relatively rare. Can you tell me about the trio’s intricate creative process? How do you find your rhythm when performing? Does the group function similarly to a B2B2B, or do you employ a different strategy?
KAMI: So, we actually all live very far apart from each other. Two of us are currently on opposite ends of California while the third lives in Florida, so we’re constantly sending each other files to work on when we have ideas, hopping on zoom calls to work together, or flying out to have studio sessions when we can. I don't think a day has gone by in five years that we haven’t talked to each other every day.
Performing for us is easy. We love it. Granted those first couple minutes up on stage get us every time and we get pre-show jitters but once the groove hits and we catch our stride, we have the best time.
iEDM: On that same note, how does working as a trio differ from solo artists? How do you handle creative or strategic conflicts between members? Does working as a team feel more efficient and expansive than producing solo?
KAMI: I think for us, being a trio is so fun because there's three minds at work. It brings a unique structure of how things get done and we’re just constantly bouncing ideas off one another. If we all agree that the idea is great and we should pursue it, we do.
Working as a team definitely feels more efficient. We can divide and conquer. It helps lighten the workload and keep schedules.
iEDM: Have any of you experimented with solo careers? If so, how was the experience?
KAMI: Lucas had a previous alias that he took on shortly after he had graduated from his production school in Europe and came back to the US but once we all came together and joined forces about five years ago, KAMI was born and we never looked back.
iEDM: Hardstyle can be a niche genre to commit to. What made you fall in love with this particular flavor of dance music? Do any of you find similar excitement in other subgenres?
KAMI: Hard dance is such a cool genre. It’s rich in history, it has the most dedicated fan base and it is just so diverse in what it has to offer. There’s euphoric hard dance, raw, uptempo, experimental, hardcore, gabber etc etc it goes on.
We fell in love with the whole of it. You feel like you’re a part of this massive family and everyone who loves hard dance really loves hard dance so when you find others who are fans it’s an instant connection.
We find excitement in all of dance music. Whenever artists are getting creative in any subgenre we love to listen. But we’re big fans of Techno, Hard Techno, Drum and Bass, Progressive house.
iEDM: You recently released a collaborative single, “LEVEL UP” featuring Colin Hennerz. Who would you like to collaborate with in the future? Would you release an EP, single, or schedule a tour with this particular collaborator?
KAMI: Shoutout Collin Hennerz. We love that Aussie.
There’s currently a lot of producers that we look up to that we would love to collaborate with. We can say that we’re currently collaborating with a few of those artists.
iEDM: Social media is an increasingly effective method for music marketing, but can quickly become a double-edged sword. How do you approach your relationship with your fans on social platforms? Do you ever feel trapped by expectations regarding your “marketability”?
KAMI: We try to just view our socials as an outlet to connect with fans and inform them of changes within KAMI itself. As fun as using social media is, it gets taxing in regards to creating content. Sometimes, we don’t want to post things and the rinse and repeat of it all gets very tedious. It’s necessary for us to get our message out though.
iEDM: You recently performed at EDC Las Vegas. How does it feel to be surrounded by so many world-renowned artists?
KAMI: Feels like a dream to be honest. We always believed that we’d make it happen but we never really understood just how it would feel until we arrived in vegas. We knew for quite some time that we were going to perform but every minute until we actually arrived it just felt like a dream.
iEDM: To continue on the previous question, many young people in all facets of the dance music industry find themselves struggling with imposter syndrome. Do you have any advice for the upcoming generation of people looking to develop a career in this industry?
KAMI: Just be honest. Put out music you love making and do it for you, no one else. There will be people who resonate with that and will become true fans of not only your music but of you as well.
iEDM: The second half of 2022 is just beginning. Is there anything you are looking forward to in the coming months? What is next for KAMI?
KAMI: Currently we’re working on a lot of new music. Lots of originals, collabs and even a couple official remixes are in the works. Some of that you’ll see in 2022 but a lot of it is already being scoped out for 2023.
Other than that just more show dates to connect with fans as well as a new live show concept that we’re working on that we’ll be talking about more in the near future.
Photos Courtesy of KAMI
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