I Feel So Bad, Don’t You Know and This Girl are just three of French DJ and producer Kung’s biggest tracks from his debut album Layers. We caught up with Kungs following his iconic set at Hï Ibiza to talk about his beyond impressive rise to the top.
There’s something about Kungs. He’s not flash, arrogant nor is he too ‘in-your-face’. Instead, Kungs is a hard-worker, a grafter who shares his humble beginnings and his ‘dream big’ ethos on his social pages of which he’s obtained over 190K committed fans. We first see him backstage at Hï Ibiza in Nervo’s dressing room. It’s about 30 minutes before Nervo headline Creams Ibiza and Kungs walks in to have his photo taken with the girls. Later on, we caught up with him to chat about his introduction into the music world and how exactly he’s dealing with this new found fame.
It’s hardly alien when artists tell us they first got into music from a young age, but nonetheless, we were somewhat surprised when Valentin (Kungs) told us that he was playing his first instrument at the age of 5. “I obviously wasn’t reading music professionally” he laughed. “I was always playing around on drums until my mother bought us a djembe, an instrument of African origin. From then on, we were playing together all the time – I remember it so clearly!” He went on to tell us how he grew up listening to a lot of the music his parents did, mainly being old reggae and rock ‘n roll. “I guess their music taste was passed onto me and became my inspiration.” It might be obvious, but those specific music genres weren’t the ones that stuck. Soon enough, his love for indie music kicked it, boosted by bands like The Kooks and Ephemerals who still inspires a lot of his sound today. “I also enjoy a lot of different style pop tracks like Bruno Mars and Dua Lipa, as well as more electronic artists like Throttle who, I think, has a super cool sound.”
When it comes to stage names, some are more obvious than others. ‘Kungs‘ is certainly not one of the obvious ones. “My brother and I were playing around on Google Translate one night and stumbled across it – Kungs means ‘Mister’ in Latvian but some people have been told it’s gentleman, too!” It must seem so surreal for an artist like Valentin who, at only 21-years of age, is reminiscing on the days he was google searching a stage name but whose career has now seen him catch around 200 flights this year alone. He gets through these long, frequent flights by sleeping whenever and wherever he can – a luxury that I’m sure most of us wish we had – but he admits that missing his friends and family is a downside to the mass travelling.
Assuming that seeing so much of the world has to be one of the highest points of Valentin’s career, he confirms that he’s seen places he’d never imagined he would. “I never thought one track would have led me to play in Dubai, the USA, Asia and all over the world!” but as well know, no life can be fulfilled with so many highs to the point when there are no lows, either. For Valentin, this is the unavoidable circumstance of fame: the negative remarks and onslaught on unwanted attention. “It’s always bad seeing people say negative things about you. Sometimes it’s that someone doesn’t like a track and feels the need to voice that, other times its magazines following me and my friends around when we’re trying to have dinner. It’s both sides of the coin, and that’s something I have to deal with. Saying that, I get to do something I love which is totally worth it.”
Opportunity is one of those incredible things that, always when least expected, can come along and change somebodies life. We’ve all heard of the artists who have had a song blow up overnight to wake up and realise their life has changed for good. What about those emerging artists who sing on the internet when suddenly their video goes viral and, right there, everything changes?
We wondered whether Valentin had an opportunity experience or whether his big break arose from pure hard work and a genuine grind. He humbly confesses that there may have been an aspect of luck involved, especially considering that his break as a producer came so young when he was still a teenage — a rarity, he assures us. “I was experimenting with remixing tracks I liked online. I learnt a lot of skills that way and then applied what I could to create my own sound. When I uploaded ‘This Girl’ which was originally a Cookin’ On 3 Burners track (they’re an Australian band who make more funk and soul music), my plays went shooting up and then I had label interest.” And what would you say to other aspiring musicians who may find that luck or opportunity doesn’t find them so easy, we asked. “There is no easy way to learn how to get into an industry, everyone has a different path and I stay as grounded as I can with my family playing a big part in what I do, as well as having a great team around me. Just go with the flow!”
Most loved venue to play?
Pacha Ibiza or Amnesia Cap d’agde in Agde, France – those two just have the perfect party vibe.
Tea or coffee?
What’s your MacDonald’s order?
A big mac, classic!
Do you believe in aliens? If so, what would they look like?
Yes, I think they’re green and look like they do in the movies – or do they? 😉
Morning or evening?
Favourite song ever?
Al Kent – Come Back Home
You’re French. What’s your favourite cheese?
Brie, it suits almost everyone’s taste!
Give us a pickup line
“Hey, I come from Paris!” (said with à very strong French accent)
Good bod or dad bod?
Good bod! Just to eat healthy food and look after your body, you are what you eat!
Skydive or deep sea dive?
Working hard or hardly working?
Working hard, hard work gets results