October 8th, 2016 at Paradise Rock Club
By: Ross Masloski
Electronic music has always been a little too entrenched in “bro” culture for me to fully enjoy – I’ve listened to one too many guys from Berklee who are sure that their beats will change the world. Kaytranada dispels that stereotype, creating complex, fresh rhythms with a lighthearted nonchalance that still make you want to dance. The Montreal based producer’s unique soul/club fusion is starting to gain momentum, which was apparent when I saw how tightly packed the sold out show at Paradise Rock Club was.
Kaytranada kept things in the family with his brother, Lou Phelps, opening up the show. This only makes Kaytranada an even more endearing paradox in the DJ scene – you can tell his mother raised him right, but you certainly wouldn’t bring your mother to the show. His brother was shy but could still work a crowd; he let his DJ-ing do most of the talking. He began with the ultimate crowd pleaser, “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar, a song basically guaranteed to get anyone hyped. The previously still crowd all dropped their beers and began to jump in unison, screaming at each other, “WE GON’ BE ALRIGHT”. He kept his set balanced, showing off his varied tastes by playing disco music, Kanye’s “Father Stretch My Hands pt. 1”, Thundercat, and even a little Young Thug. I was impressed with his ability to cater to the young audience with current bangers, but still keep them dancing with lesser known songs.
I wasn’t the only one anxious for Kaytranada to take the stage — the whole crowd stood staring at the small box and laptop, waiting for him to appear. He stoically walked on, the crowd roaring, while he remained completely unaffected. His only introduction was the goofy grin he flashed before dropping “TRACK UNO”, causing us all to lose our inhibitions in time with the synth. Little 8-bit palm trees, sunshines, and zodiac signs danced on the screen above him, solidifying the quirky, fun mood. Soon “TRACK UNO” melted into “At All”, off of his early EP. His music video for the song, which feature the DJ being carried by female bodybuilders, flashed on the screen to the lush, funk-inspired beat. Kaytranada manages to inject his signature playfulness into the video with shots of him struggling to lift 20 lbs while the Amazonian beauties roll their eyes at him. Although he only has one full length project, 99.9 %, he played plenty of his vibrant remixes. His remix of old school classic “If” by Janet Jackson made even the 45-year-old man next to me shake his hips. KAYTRA hardly talked during the set, stopping only once to respond to the audience chanting his name, shaking his head and grinning, “I don’t know what to say, damn”. The humble producer ended with his sauciest track, “LITE SPOTS”, full of groovy Portuguese jazz samples and distorted drum beats.
Before we could recover from the astounding set, Kaytranada said a quick goodbye by high fiving the front row, making Paradise Rock Club the most intimate I’ve ever seen it. Kaytranada demonstrated that electronic music doesn’t have to be serious and sexual all the time, keeping things lighthearted and interesting with his low key stage presence and eclectic sampling.
Listen to Kaytranada’s remix of Janet Jackson’s song, “If” here: