- Words Cleo Webster
Following a musical path from as early as he can remember, American record producer and DJ King Henry has made his way to one of the biggest names in electronic pop dance music.
Packing his bags and moving from New Mexico to LA in search of his big musical break, Henry continued to hone his sound whilst floating around in LA which resulted in him being noticed by one of the biggest producers in the game, Diplo. After studying music religiously for as long as he can remember, interning in LA for Diplo and working endlessly on every single project (more or less) for him, really taught Henry a thing or two about the real-life struggles and glory of the industry.
Reluctant to work in the ‘pop’ scene, Diplo arranged multiple collaborations for Henry and himself to co-write and co-produce chart topper songs with some of the top charting artists of this generation like Justin Bieber, Charlie XCX, Beyonce, Mark Ronson, The Weeknd, Desiigner, Madison Beer, Kiesza and many more, which soon changed Henry’s mind on pop after reaching the charts with nearly every single hit. A man with an increasing musical talent that no-one can keep their hands off, Henry is one to definitely keep an eye out for. We sat down with the King himself to discuss all things from his career to where it all started…
After collaborating with many talents, what made you want to pick the microphone yourself?
It wasn’t really a conscious effort. It was just more of an accident? Haha. I think I’ve always used my own voice on things to help move ideas forward and slowly over the past couple of years, as I’ve learned more about songwriting by working with other artists and gotten more comfortable with myself it just sort of happened. It also helped that I stopped overthinking everything I was making and comparing my music to other artists.
What is the inspiration behind your latest track Let You Know?
The idea happened really quickly, maybe late at night when I was alone at home. I think maybe I’d had a fight with my girlfriend and she was out of town and I almost felt like I was writing it to her haha. It really was pretty much made that night and only tweaked a bit later when I was on the road at the end of last year.
You’ve collaborated as a producer with everyone from Beyoncé to Diplo. Have you taken anything from working with them and integrated it into your own projects?
I think the biggest thing I’ve learned working with bigger artists is just confidence. The music industry is a big scary place but the more you get to understand how it works and the more you can learn from people and artists who’ve navigated it before, the easier and less scary it becomes to navigate yourself. Wes (Diplo) has and continues to be like a big brother to me. I’ve been working with him for almost 5 years now and continue to learn something new every day. Not only production tricks but also just how to work with artists and get the best out of any situation.
What would you say is the main difference between Let You Know and your previous release What About Me?
They’re both actually very similar and came from a similar place sonically. ‘What About Me’ was a record written as a pitch song and I later flipped it into something for myself. Mainly though, I wrote Let You Know alone and What About Me was a group effort between myself, Sasha Sloan, and Nao.
What is your production process?
Depends on the track really. Sometimes a lot of the production will be done when the initial idea is started and sometimes it will take place months later. I tend to take a lot of time finishing things and typically spend no more than a couple of hours at a time on something just because I think my brain gets tired much quicker than some producers who can sit for days straight working on one song. I think every producer has a different process and mine is more on the slow approach where I take lots of small runs at a song until it feels right. Obviously, when I’m producing for other artists and there are tight turnarounds, I have to move a lot quicker.
What are your main inspirations and influences when going into the studio and working on your own music as opposed to working with a different talent?
I think no matter what I’m working on, influences always come from my life and anything musically that is inspiring me in the moment. It might sound cliché but life experiences really drive creativity and inspiration. I went through a big life change a few years back where I had an almost 10-year relationship end and I was the most inspired musically that I’d ever been. I think a lot of the music I’m currently making stems from those years of life experiences and I’ll probably continue to pull from it for a long time to come. Also, falling in love over the past year has now been just as inspiring and has given me loads of creative energy as a polar opposite emotion. All this being said, when I hear a new artist or a new song that I fall in love with, that can create a massive wave of inspiration for me to hop in the studio and try to create something that will hopefully make someone feel the same way as me when I discovered that song or artist.
What drives you?
I think I just want to inspire other people to make music and that kinda drives me to do better. I always want my parents and girlfriend to be proud of me, as silly as that sounds haha. I also just really want to make music that moves people in some way and affects their life in a positive way.
Tell us about a particular space that you find inspiring.
New Mexico. I spend a lot of time back home where I grew up in Corrales, New Mexico. My parents still live there and I go back often to visit them, eat my mom’s cooking, and write music. It’s the most peaceful, beautiful and the most inspiring place to be. I love the landscape, the culture, the food, literally everything. I think there’s also always a special connection to where we grow up as humans, we feel like part of us still exists in that place. I know when I step foot off the plane in New Mexico, I immediately feel a sense of peace and happiness that I don’t find anywhere else.
What is your purpose as an artist?
To push boundaries, explore new genres, and inspire others to push themselves creatively.
What else do you have in store for 2019?
A few new King Henry records, a lot of records for other artists. Also, I’ll be playing a couple US festivals this summer – Electric Forest and Firefly Festival – both in June.