Don Diablo’s royal protégé – King Arthur opens up in exclusive interview
King Arthur. A royal name to suit the magnitude of the talent and charisma of a young American who has taken the world of electronic music on quite a journey so far. And this is just the beginning. King Arthur exploded onto the scene in 2015 and quickly became one of the hottest new acts in dance music catching the attention of some of the biggest names in music today. His first release, ‘Belong to the Rhythm’ was the debut original on Don Diablo‘s label ‘Hexagon’. It premiered on BBC1 with Danny Howard, and became a worldwide staple in the sets of The Chainsmokers, Martin Garrix, Oliver Heldens, Kaskade, Tiesto, David Guetta, Afrojack, and many others.
He followed up this release with originals and official remixes that have received radio play all over the world, amassed millions of plays on Spotify, and received critical and commercial praise. Determined to make music of substance and longevity, King Arthur blends house, soul, funk, and pop to produce records that are rooted in strong songwriting and melodies.
After catching the eye of one of his biggest idols – Tiësto, King Arthur has been on a steady and fast incline to super-stardom. His debut album is set to be released soon on ‘Hexagon’ and he is joining Don Diablo on the ‘Hexagon’ tour on multiple dates as he gets set for a massive 2017.
We Rave You sat down to a great chat with King Arthur at the spectacular Ushuaïa Ibiza where he joined the massive residency by Axwell and Ingrosso. The shining star has amassed not just support from his fans but also calls Don Diablo a friend and he went on to chat to us about his excitement to play the infamous sun-kissed island of Ibiza:
“Playing in Ibiza has been a dream of mine since I first started DJ-ing when I was 15. This has always been regarded as the pinnacle – when you’re playing in Ibiza you’re doing well. It’s a legendary place so I’ve always told myself that I will never go there unless I get booked to play there. This is my first time in Ibiza. It was awesome and on top of that to play Ushuaïa which is the place to play right now. It’s a big night with Ax and Seb who are superstars and then Don (Diablo) who is my mentor and I’m signed to his label. It was really special.”
Although he seems to have had a rapid incline to stardom, his producing and DJ-ing career spans back over a decade:
“I got my first turntables when I was 15. I was really into hip-hop and I wanted to learn how to scratch so I convinced my parents to get me turntables. That was the beginning of it all. I’ve been DJ-ing for 16 years now and producing for over 10. I’m now 31. People thought I was weird because I was the only kid that was into dance music and owned turntables. I wasn’t like this weird kid that kept to myself in high school – I was captain of the soccer team, did a lot of normal things but I had this huge passion for dance music and DJ-ing. Where I grew up in Indiana no-one was used to this at all. The internet thankfully exposed me to this music and haven’t turned back since.”
His roots and inspirations lie in quite a surprising electronic music genre. It was in fact the old sounds of trance back in the late 90’s:
“Back then it was Paul Oakenfold who was doing these amazing ‘Perfecto Presents’ series. He was legendary. There is this legendary set that I used to love – Tiësto at Energy 2000. ATB and Paul Van Dyk were huge. That’s what was really big in 1999. It’s funny because trance is kind of getting back to that sound again. It’s a bit fast for me now but I still love to listen to those legendary tracks like Paul Van Dyk’s ‘For An Angel.’ The song that got me hooked was Armin Van Buuren’s ‘Communication’. One of my favorite dance records of all time. That was the beginning which is when I was 14 or 15.”
After discovering the magical melodies of trance, the once king of trance discovered the talent of the young American producer whose road would then lead him to a collaboration and friendship with Don Diablo:
“Tiësto signed a ton of my records. I was writing under a different name at that time. I started writing music when I was a sophomore in college. Back then I did a remix of Snow Patrol’s ‘Chasing Cars’ that blew up and became a huge record. Tiësto played it at pretty much every show for a year, as did Armin Van Buuren. I was sitting backstage at a festival when Deep Dish’s manager and Tiësto’s manager were arguing over who was going to play the song which was crazy. That song made me realize that this could be more than a hobby. My name then was Topher Jones. Then Tiësto signed a ton of records and I got to do a few shows with him which was really neat. For a while I had this product in the background and I had a record deal at Ultra which was cool. I always felt like that sound at that moment and what I was doing – like it was missing something. It wasn’t a lot of soul and emotion – it was very in your face EDM-ey stuff, and some of that stuff is awesome and really fun but I just got really tired of it. So I was crafting some of this stuff in the background and then put one of the songs up on Soundcloud one day and somehow Don (Diablo) heard it and emailed me and said he has to sign that record. I didn’t send it to him. Some big blogs had covered it and it was getting a lot of re-posts on Soundcloud – 10 or 15,000 plays a day and that’s how it got to him. He said ‘I have to sign this record’ and I was happy about that. At that time, he had just put out ‘Make Me Feel Better’. That was the only release on his record label and he wanted this to be the second release. The first person since Don to release on ‘Hexagon’ and we’ve had a great relationship since and put out a couple of other records and then there’s an album coming up soon.”
King Arthur has a great deal of respect and admiration for his mentor Don Diablo and the two have a great relationship both personally and professionally:
“We get along as people. We’re both very passionate and hard working. We’re also normal people. Neither of us party, drink or do drugs – when we hang out it’s always really normal. We’ll talk on the phone for 2 hours once or twice a week and for someone as busy as he is – to give me that amount of time is really special. Putting out records with him really ramped things up. I signed up with an amazing agent.”
With a name like ‘King Arthur’ it is hard not to be curious about the origins of the name. The talented producer explains:
“My middle name is Arthur. Every person that has the name Arthur – for social media it’s King Arthur. It’s legendary. Something that is really special to me. The name Arthur is a family name that’s been passed on for generations. My ancestors are from England so thought this would work well.”
With such an infusion of electronic music sub-genres it’s difficult to know what to expect of the new album by the star. Even King Arthur finds it difficult to explain what we can expect:
“The album is going to make it more difficult. I just wanna write really good songs. That’s the starting point of everything. It’s writing songs. Sometimes I’ll sit at the piano with a friend and we’ll just write a song and I’ll produce everything after that. The album is a 100% song based. I think the sound is dancy dance music/house music. There is a lot of stuff on the album that’s not house music. I want a little bit of soul and a little bit of funk. It’s got some funk and swag in it and a little bit of attitude. It’s all about writing really great songs. As a dance music artist – you can’t do one thing over and over again. If you want to put out an album no-one wants to hear 12 versions of the same song. You have to be diverse and that’s what I tried to do. I think we nailed it with the album in October.”
With such a whirlwind of a career so far, the star is looking forward to big things ahead:
“I’ve grown a lot as a songwriter and the technical side of production. The song writing aspect I wasn’t that great at when I started and now it separates me from other producers. I co-write my music so I’m involved in all aspects of the vocal. I’m pretty ambitious. We’re at a really important stage where we’re building things to the next level. Having someone like Don behind it and doing this album and in the next 6 months we’re really going to take it to the next level. It’s going to be a pretty fun 2017.”
To King Arthur diversity is the key to success in the industry. His look back at his music evolution and look forward to the future reveals a lot about the young man who was handpicked by one of the biggest legends in electronic music as a shining star among the sea of DJ’s and producers on the electronic music scene. This is one producer that will undoubtedly continue to amaze us and amass an even greater following in the coming years.
Ushuaïa Ibiza Photographs: Roberto Castaño