[INTERVIEW] KSHMR Sheds Light On His 10-Year Journey, Latest Anthems, And Ultra 2024 Performance

KSHMR, Interview, Ultra 2024, Happy, All Night
| March 20, 2024

Celebrating a decade of musical innovation and evolution, Niles Hollowell-Dhar, better known as KSHMR, has transcended genres from hip-hop to dance music, leaving an indelible mark on the global electronic music scene. With chart-topping hits like “Secrets” and “Wildcard,” and accolades including DJ Mag's "Best Live Act" award, KSHMR's influence and creativity continues to soar.

As he prepares for his highly anticipated mainstage performance at Ultra Miami 2024, we sat down with this visionary artist to reflect on his journey, his latest anthems “All Night” and “Happy”, and what fans can expect from his upcoming electrifying performance.

Check out our exclusive interview with KSHMR below. 


iEDM: Congratulations on reaching the remarkable milestone of 10 years of KSHMR! How specific memories come to mind when looking back on your journey with this project? What emotions and thoughts do you go through as you reflect on your music career thus far?

KSHMR: Some specific milestones that stick out to me is when Tiësto brought me on stage to show my face for the first time. It was Ultra 2015, up until then I remained anonymous. He brought me up there to perform “Secrets”; that was my first introduction publicly into the world of dance music. 

Before that, I had my first show at the Fonda Theater as KSHMR. I brought my grandpa up on stage with me in India for Sunburn 2016 or 2015. Having my grandpa on stage with me was a really special moment.


iEDM: With your upcoming performance on Ultra Music Festival's Main Stage, what surprises or new elements can fans expect from your set this year?

KSHMR: I am going to play a bunch of KSHMR music as usual, but this time around I have done a ton of remixes, mashups, and edits to keep it fresh. 

I have been heading in a faster tempo direction, so you are going to hear a lot of stuff that is 128, maybe more in the 135, 140, 150 range as well.


iEDM: Your single “All Night” has been generating quite a buzz since its release. Can you share the inspiration behind the track and what it means to you personally?

KSHMR: I am friends with Sarah [gritney] who sang on Eli Brown’s track, “Be The One,” and she was dealing with the fact that this song became very popular. But, it was a sample they used.

She was not credited on the song, so she was trying to figure out how to leverage it and make her name known to let people know that she was the singer on it. So I came up with a little idea that, production wise, was inspired by “Be The One.” 

I showed her, and pitched it to her as “hey, maybe this could be your single. You keep the same sound, you let people know that it was you behind ‘Be The One’, and you build on that.” If people went to that song because they liked that sound from you, potentially having another song in that same world could be used to create more awareness for yourself. 

As time went on, we both really liked the song, and ultimately decided to finish it together.

What does it mean to me personally? You know, it is a dance song. It gives you energy, it puts you in that mode of being in a club, It is hypnotic. It loops repeatedly. 

It is hard to put into the words what songs like that do for you emotionally, they just kind of resonate with that feeling of a late night and being on a bender. The idea of being in this non-stop, go go mindset and just having a crazy night.

iEDM: “All Night” and “Happy” have very major differences in regard to the vibe they give off. What led to this major transition in the level of energy between each track? 

KSHMR: I do not think that is how we listen to music, and that is not how I like making music either. I have been making music for 20 years, so I have done everything from an album for Enrique Iglesias to “Like A G6,” which was an electric-pop #1 hit around the world. Then I had the last 10 years doing KSHMR where I have had a bunch of success making dance songs that in some cases are for the clubs and festivals. 

In other cases, with my album Harmonic Andromeda, and my other album, The Lion Across The Field, those are slower and much more musical, filled with organic, acoustic instruments. Again, if you look at that stuff and compare it to “Secrets” and say “what happened there?,” it is more cleptic than making the same song over and over again. 

Now in terms of the song “Happy,” this was an interesting song for me because it is dark, but optimistic and hopeful at the same time. I was lucky enough to work with Tiina who is very open-minded about the concept and went with a nice rhythm writing it. 

The song was written fairly quickly. The production fits that same mood. It is on this key called fridgen and what is intriguing is you have got minor chords, but your root is a major chord. It is a very pretty, beautiful song.

iEDM: What was your favorite part about collaborating with talented singers such gritney and Tiina? Why do you think each of their voices and vocal delivery match the instrumental of their respective collaborations with you?

KSHMR: gritney is a great friend and she has great energy. We wrote “Tears On The Dancefloor” together. She has got a good intuition for songwriting, which is tough and very special. Her voice is distinct; she's got that British accent and a swagger that is entirely her own. 

Tiiina is amazing too. It has been more of a full song that we have written together, rather than just hooks. 

Lyrically, “Happy” and “Do Bad Well,” are two songs I am extremely proud of. If you go back and listen to “Do Bad Well,” the lyrics are truly great. There is an abundance of old-timey wisdom embedded in it.

iEDM: When listening back to “All Night” and “Happy,” which soundscapes or specific parts of each track stick out to you the most?

KSHMR: “All Night” is a pretty narrow soundscape, borrows from classic dance records, and has got this new rolling base that you see and hear quite a bit these days. It is restricted in terms of scope of instruments I am using, but it is just the right amount for that style for that sound, attitude, and mood. 

With “Happy,” that is a more textured and layered song, with a lot of lyrical depth. Also, the soundscapes have a lot of depth, so just in simple terms, there is a ton that is in front. 

You have the drums and her voice in front, but we have got many elements in the back creating atmosphere. There are things with reverb on them with a pushback, which creates a sense of depth. They make the song feel heavy and allow you to sink into it. It is not just punching you in the face; there is much to listen to and to reach out for in the background.


iEDM: Your recent double Los Angeles show weekend must have been exhilarating. Can you share some memorable highlights or moments from those performances?

KSHMR: The two shows were both excellent! They were different in that for one I just did a pure DJ show and the other one I did my animated story, which is what I have traditionally done with KSHMR. I have an animated story that plays out in four acts, divided evenly throughout the set. You get some in the beginning, middle, and end. 

It is nice because it adds this gravity to the songs. When you see the animation showing something dramatic happen and then it lands into a song, that impact with the audience is really special. I did this with the show at The Vermont (Hollywood). 

For the other show, at Academy, I performed a strictly DJ set, which has its advantages too. I keep the energy super high and I am not so worried about the structure of the show. They were both amazing shows and both were sold out!

iEDM: How do you approach the dynamic atmosphere of club venues during your North American Club Tour? Looking ahead to your sets at Brooklyn's The Great Hall and The Church in Denver, how do you tailor your performance style or song selection based on the venue and audience?

KSHMR: I am a DJ that does a large amount of work ahead of time. By the time I get on stage, I am improvising just a little and I have crafted a bunch of edits and mashups in an order that I think would work well in for this club tour.

Since the first show, I have been taking that set and tweaking it, editing it based on what I think works and what can be better. Then, based on the venue or type of crowd, I may go harder or pull back. 

Honestly, I am not a big improviser. The sets are all iterations of the same set, just improvements that I am making every time.


iEDM: Do you have any pre or post-set rituals or strategies that you find particularly effective in preparing for performances at different festivals and in front of diverse audiences, like Ultra for example?

KSHMR: My pre-set ritual is just to be around my friends and not to have too many random people around. I take a little shot of tequila to take the nerves off. Most of the work happens in the preparation.


iEDM: From your early successes with The Cataracs to now, how has your musical journey evolved, and what lessons have you learned along the way?

KSHMR: Initially, I used to say yes to everything, I just wanted everyone to hear my music, to have a shot, to have some success, to have a song on the radio, anything to prove that I was legit. 

As The Cataracs disbanded and I started KSHMR, it was more of a question of what I did not like about how things evolved and became out of my control with The Cataracs journey and how would I keep those things out of the KSHMR journey. I wanted to make sure the KSHMR project reflected what I am interested in and what I think is cool, that takes confidence. 

Having a bit of success helps to prove to yourself that you do not need to jump at every opportunity, and there will be more down the line. It is easier after you have done it once. Going into it a second time, I was able to apply a lot of that wisdom to the KSHMR journey.

iEDM: With your extensive experience producing for various artists, what unique components do you encounter when working on your solo projects as KSHMR?

KSHMR: When you are working on music for other people, you can bottle them up, compartmentalize them, and have a vision for what you see their next step could be and what song would work for them. It is easier to give advice to other people than to give and take advice for yourself. 

Doing this for other people gave me an idea of not only what works for them, but how I would do those strategies and techniques musically when it came to my own project. A lot of people getting started can get caught in this loop of wanting to make a certain song that perfectly reflects who they are and can get stuck. When working with other people, you can simplify and just find the right move for them. You are not so caught up on how complex they are and all the different aspects of them. 

Then, when you learn from that process and get to your own project, you just need to find one interesting thing about yourself and drive that home. That is what I did in the beginning of the KSHMR project. As time went on, it opened up and blossomed into many different things that I have done as KSHMR.


iEDM: As you gear up for future releases in April, can you offer any hints or teasers about the direction your music will take?

KSHMR: I have been focused on making music that I want to play live as well, so they have energy, song, and powerful production. Then, the goal is fitting in musically where I can make it interesting to me, and trying to do things with genres I haven't done before. There are some collaborations in the works, but I won't give any of that away just yet.

KSHMR, Interview, Ultra 2024, Happy, All Night


Photos courtesy of Eliot Lee Hazel and KSHMR.


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Fueled by his passion for EDM, Connor’s life revolves around dance music and its ability to bring people together. Raised in upstate New York, Connor was deprived of festivals and raves until he attended Florida State University, where he was instantly hooked. Fast-forward to today and Connor has become a house and melodic techno DJ, an avid EDM-based interviewer and writer, and has worked PR for the likes of Matroda, Bleu Clair, and other new-wave house icons.

Outside of music, Connor loves pretty much any sport (huge Knicks, Yankees, and NY Giants fan), going on hikes, traveling, and food. Based in Florida, there’s a good chance you will eventually run into Connor at one of the popular festivals and clubs throughout the state.

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