We caught up with rising EDM artist, Kai Phi, to discuss his latest release and upcoming tracks “Le Midi,” “Dream Drum,” and “In Dig A New.” The up-and-coming DJ and producer shares his creative process for “California Forever,” which he describes as a tribute song to the state of California and its rich and diverse nightlife scene.
Kai Phi also expresses his thoughts on the future of the EDM genre, particularly its integration with emerging technologies like AI, AR, and holography. He acknowledges the potential of AI as a tool to enhance and improve the human experience, but believes that human perspective and consciousness will always be necessary in art and science to determine its use and value.
Continue to read below.
First off, congratulations on releasing “California Forever.” Tell us more about the track and how it was put together.
“California Forever” is a tribute track to the state of California, our artists, patrons, and venues that have created and continue to enrich our culture and nightlife. Whether EDM, Hip Hop, Jazz, Rock, Punk, pop, or Latin music, it is all California soul. Marlena Shaw was correct in singing, “it’s like a sound you hear that lingers in your ear, but you can’t forget from sundown to sunset.”
I wanted to make something that evoked reverence, gratitude, and joy, even if for a brief moment. I wanted it to feel like a celebration of a culmination of the rituals people go through to prepare for a planned or unplanned night out in their respective nightlife scenes. The beat and bass needed the tempo and feel of a slowed heartbeat. The heartbeat creates a conscious awareness and mindfulness of life in all cultures; the melody had to seem rain-like and have a euphoric feeling while also sounding quintessentially unique to California’s nightlife. I hope I pulled it off, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have tried either way.
You have three more singles coming out; “Le Midi,” “Dream Drum,” and “In Dig A New.” Can you give a brief description of each song?
“Le Midi” is the affectionate term for the South of France. I wanted it to have a dance party on a “motor yacht feel” for fans on their way to Cannes or the Monaco Grand Prix.
“Dream Drum” is what I imagine drums in a fever dream while in outer space could sound like.
“In Dig a New” is titled after a Nigerian English class vocabulary parody YouTube course and is an interpretation of the word “indigenous.” Hearing this pronunciation was hilarious to my wife and me, so I made a track to remember how hard we were laughing together.
Why did you choose to share the tracks separately? Did you ever think about releasing them as an EP?
I chose to share them separately because, in my opinion, a well-thought-out theme should be considered or required for an EP. Making good music is like being a chef; you want to put thought and care into what you are making for people, so they enjoy the experience distinctly, hoping they will want to understand what they are consuming and form an appreciation for it. Releasing tracks one at a time will provide sampling for AB testing so I can thoughtfully make more of what people like and provide guidance in the direction of how I explore sound.
Do you have any upcoming projects you’re working on right now?
Not formally. However, I am always creating, so I am always working on something. If inspiration for a cohesive thematic work takes hold and scheduling and budget make sense, I could see releasing an EP and an album before June 2024.
Name a few artists who have inspired your sound.
Flying Lotus, Burial, Balam Acab, Dirty Art Club, Roc Marciano, Slum Village, Free the Robots, Deerhoof, Lorn, Onra, Flume, and Radiohead.
How do you think the EDM genre will evolve in the future?
Since EDM is closely associated with creating and innovating audio gear, improving audio engineering techniques, and tech, the growth trajectory will remain constant. Regarding popularity by sales volume, it makes up 3-5% of music sales currently. So, the growth potential for the genre still has explosive potential if the approach to the genre’s growth is executed correctly and collectively by artists and executives.
But the roots and soul of the genre will always be the live show experience, but its exception vs other genres is the opportunity for the genre to become more and completely synonymous with other emerging technologies like AR, VR, holography, and multidimensional imaging technologies. As much as the purest hate it, constant collaboration and commercialization are essential to the growth and maturity of every genre.
The foundations of every genre will always remain intact for artists and fans looking to explore them more deeply in its rawest form. I believe we are currently early in a genre deconstruction phase, where artists are setting the context for a revival and joint construction phase, coinciding with underground, lo-fi/ hip hop, and Illbients independent construction revival.
I think no other single genre by design integrates with the natural intention of modern digital enhancement like electronic music does with other genres. With AI and other technologies increasing in capability the future transformation of the landscape of popular music is bright, and electronic music in all of its forms will be the engine driving us there. A lot can happen in a decade, but know that one thing will be certain, there will be a lot of partying and a lot of dancing.
What do you feel about emerging technologies and AI-generated music? Are you pro or against the idea?
Coming from the tech industry and completing digital transformation and machine learning coursework at MIT, I am pro-AI.
Artificial intelligence should be viewed as a tool to enhance and improve the human experience. With technology, if you embrace it, you experience its benefits and its burdens. The burdens in creative cases for AI can be both intended and unintended by limiting the artist’s capacity to authentically explore creative processes. Knowledge and growth through these processes are personal and relative to an artist, but the authentic connection with people through a chosen medium will never be replaced. I do not believe an AI will ever make people feel what they do when listening to artists like John Lennon, Howling Wolf, Jimmy Hendrix, Jim Morrison or Billie Holiday, just to name a few icons known for the connection their music created with other humans.
Human perspective and consciousness will always be needed in art and science to determine the use and value of AI to our personal and shared experiences. Artists that fear AI will despise it, this will cause them to limit their growth potential because no one ever grows from fear, artist that respect it enough to acknowledge and or embrace it as a tool will learn how to use and or collaborate with artist that do use it and they will grow with the capabilities of the technology. Thank you for your consideration and questions. Benedicite mono sanctorum of the stereo ( translation : May god bless the saint of the stereo )
Listen to “California Forever” on Spotify: