Exclusive: Valentino Khan discusses his new single ‘Pump’ and working with Diplo
DJ and producer Valentino Khan is releasing a new bass-heavy, quirky single called ‘Pump‘ on Mad Decent. His previous single ‘Deep Down Low‘ not only amassed 16 million streams on Spotify, but has also became the most watched video of all time on VEVO: with its odd distorted scenes of Tokyo life, the single became a staple at clubs, after shows, and festivals the world over.
‘Pump‘ is just as infectious, odd, and bass-oriented as ‘Deep Down Low,’ but with a percussive beat that drives it forward. The bassline in Khan’s newest single is just as insistent, and invites everyone to the dance floor with the rhythmic, almost tribal beat. ‘Pump‘ has already been played in sets by major DJs, including Hardwell and Zedd.
Khan’s uniqueness is what sets him apart in the scene, ever focused on staying true to his own sound rather than following the trends. Valentino Khan previously has collaborated with Skrillex and Major Lazer from dance music, and rapper 2 Chainz; these represent the sonic diversity with which he approaches his music.
In our exclusive interview, Khan discusses his successes so far, collaborators, and his surprising pick for his favorite song:
Hi Valentino! Let’s start with the legendary “Deep Down Low” – Why was it you think this track became SO huge?
“I definitely thought it was a cool track that some of my peers would play, but then it really evolved outside of that world because guys like Axwell, Avicii, Calvin Harris, and Afrojack started playing it. So it definitely took on a completely new evolution once it fell into those guys’ hands and those DJs started supporting it, and I’m really grateful for that.”
Having played for various audiences all over the world, how do the crowds differ by country?
“I definitely think in Europe the crowds have these amazing chants that they do along to the songs. There’s a lot of sing along, call-and-response, and engagement I get with those crowds and I love it.”
You’ve worked extensively with Diplo. How did you initially link up with him?
“In 2012 I released a Moombahton record with my friend Will Bailey called Rukus on Mad Decent. Then Diplo called me on the phone the next day to talk about working together on some music, and the first thing we worked on was Bubble Butt for Major Lazer.”
You’ve been producing for quite some time now for other artists as well. Do you find it more enjoyable making music for yourself?
“No, I appreciate both equally. It’s equally as fun to have the challenge of working with another artist and maximizing their potential and making a great track around them; around their vocals. But at the same time it’s really refreshing to be able to do whatever I want on the artist side of things. So I enjoy both.”
You work very closely under the OWSLA imprint, tell us what it is that makes OWSLA such a special label!
“OWSLA is really versatile with the records that they release and that definitely falls in suit with what I am as an artist.”
What advice can you give to producers trying to catch their big break?
“Stay original, work hard, and put your own music out for free on the internet.”
You have a unique sound. How do you describe your own music?
“My music is really versatile, really flexible, and it’s kinda a little bit of everything. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Having originally started as a hip-hop producer, who influenced your sound and your genre change?
“Several years ago my brother played me the record “Waters Of Nazareth” by Justice. I walked by his room and said “What is that!” and from that point on I just fell in love with dance music, kept listening to it, and I eventually started to produce and got better and better at it, and here I am.”
Do you have a favourite track of all time? If so, what is it? And why?
“It’s so hard for me to pick but I usually think of “It was a Good Day” by Ice Cube just because I’m from Los Angeles and that song reminds me of where I grew up.”
Tell us about your new single ‘Pump’ and how that came together?
“I actually made the instrumental on a studio break and from there on out I just waited for the right vocal for it. I wanted to make a great follow up in the same sound that I had done “Deep Down Low” in, and I’m so pleased at the level of DJ and fan response that we’ve had from the record.”
What do you have planned for the rest of 2017?
“I will be touring Europe all Summer long on a big tour and then in Fall I’ll be doing American touring as well as releasing a bunch of really really fresh new music. But for now the new single ‘Pump’ is out now on Mad Decent so go get it!”
Listen to ‘Pump’ below and let us know your thoughts in the comments!