Producer, songwriter and DJ, 220 KID, chats about his musical journey, mental health and the most famous person in his DMs (it's not who you'd think!)
His debut single, a collaboration with GRACEY released in December 2019, smashed through the charts and is still played on the radio months later. Titled “Don’t Need Love”, the earworm is almost impossible not to bop to (go on, try it). With over 35.4 million streams on Spotify alone, the song has spawned an acoustic version and remixes by Majestic and TCTS.
Since then, 220 KID has released a string of banging remixes of some of the biggest pop, R&B and dance numbers out today. Tracks treated to the 220 touch include Becky Hill and Shift K3y’s “Better Off Without You”, Mabel’s “Boyfriend” and many more. Now, he’s turned his hand to Anne-Marie and Doja Cat’s tune “To Be Young”.
It’s this ability to transform songs and launch them into a whole new dimension that’s making 220 KID of the UK’s most exciting up-and-coming names in dance music.
As well as this innate ability for creating dancefloor fillers, 220 KID also makes for an entertaining follow on social media. On Instagram, he shares everything from hungover selfies to TikTok dance videos and sweaty challenges for charity (but more on that later). Each is wrapped up with a tongue-in-cheek caption.
We caught up with the artist on the rise about the meaning behind his moniker, the importance of speaking up about mental health, and dance music as an escape. Dive in!
Your moniker came from running 220 miles in bright pink pants for charity. I saw from Instagram that you regularly partake in charitable challenges, like cycling 22 hours for Fareshare. Is there any challenge you won’t take on?
Haha! I’m not sure, I hate heights so probably something to do with that. But for me, I decided a long time ago that I always want to push myself to see what my body is capable of and also that it’s very important to use a growing platform to try and do something good! Id love to raise a million in my lifetime so until then I have to keep doing random mad things! I also tried to swim the channel and that was a disaster getting pulled out in a storm sea sick covered in jellyfish stings!
What was your moniker before 220 KID was adopted?
I was in a pop duo actually, and then when I moved to London I was Willie the Kid (like the cowboy) but then someone else had that name. 220 is important to me as it shows you can achieve anything, no matter how crazy it may seem! Similar to starting a music career at 25 and going in the charts at 31!
You recently remixed JC Stewart’s song “I Need You To Hate Me”. What drew you to remix that track?
I love JC! He’s an incredible artist, his lyricism and the tone of his voice is very emotive. We may be working on something special together so when the chance to remix came up I couldn’t say no!
What’s the story of how you became a musician/producer?
I’d always wanted to make music but seemed to have this mental block about doing it, like what if I fail? So I went to uni somehow got a biology degree and masters then left and worked so many jobs from Tesco night shifts to building computer desks on a conference tour around Europe, then one of my most talented mates passed away and it made me realise that it was selfish to have a dream and never chase it, so decided then to try and make it as a quote said, “every day trying to realise a dream is a closer to it and further from your starting point” so here we are!
Why does dance music, in particular, hold such an appeal to you?
It provides an escape, especially from a stressful world you can disappear for a few hours or even one song, dance music is emotional too, the stories are relatable but even if it’s sad you still want to dance and enjoy it quite magic! Its also a community, everyone on a dance floor for a good time.
What’s your creative process like when writing a song?
I’m always writing song concepts down as I think of them, I may see someone doing something or someone saying something and it sparks a story. Or even just personal experiences. Then I will try and make a sound that compliments that vibe. I love collaborating on vocals, stories and productions to get other points of view so it will go from there. And trying not to overproduce it, you need to keep the soul and emotion in a song!
As a musician, how has artistic expression helped you through tough times?
It’s a release that’s for sure, it helps you comprehend whats happened. I went through a very rough mental health patch and the only thing that really helped me get through was digesting those emotions via music. I think it’s also important to say as a male in music that getting help is a great thing, I think too many people (men especially) are embarrassed about getting some therapy etc but I’d like to be part of the movement to normalise it, like a song can help you process a feeling or emotions you don’t understand therapy is even better at it!
Although I must say writing through a break up is a great release until all your releases are on that subject and you have to keep reliving those moments! Ask JC Stewart when we did a live session I cried in 3/4 takes!
Who’s the most famous person in your DMs?
David Hasselhoff? Or the water guy from the Fyre Festival documentary… Yeah that guy haha.
What’s next for you?
I have some exciting remixes coming out with some artists I’ve loved for a long time. [Some] singles and then also a couple of collabs with some absolutely legendary artists! It’s a very overwhelming but exciting part of my life! And also I have been working on a charity project and scholarship to my old uni so will be launching those!