Tropical house is a bright and nostalgic-sounding style of EDM associated with Scandinavian DJs Kygo and Bakermat. The accompanying YouTube videos usually include dreamlike sequences of waterfalls and beaches in exotic locations, millennials in vans, and beautiful women in bikinis. Basically, it's music with its own Instagram filter.
French DJ and producer Klingande says he's drawn inspiration from tropical-house artists, as well as Avicii and Swedish House Mafia. But he's developed his own style and subgenre.
"I would not say my music is tropical," he says. "They say it's melodic because I use a lot of live instruments, and I think 'melodic house' is the right name for it."
Indeed, Klingande (born Cédric Steinmyller) incorporates instruments that are relatively rare in EDM, most notably the saxophone, and he's been known to bust out a harmonica onstage. In fact, he and former bandmate Edgar Catry broke out in 2013 with "Jubel," a song driven by crisp, arpeggiated piano chords and a saxophone hook so dirty you'll need a shower. The single caught fire throughout Europe and became an international dance hit. It has garnered more than 160 million views on YouTube.
Catry left the duo in 2014, and Steinmyller moved forward as a solo act. He's since played major EDM festivals all over the world, including Tomorrowland in Belgium and Ultra Music Festival 2015. More recently, he hosted a pool party in South Beach last March.
You can catch him next at Rockwell Miami this Thursday, October 25. He's touring on the heels of dropping his new single with French indie musician Broken Back — "Wonders."
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Speaking with New Times from his studio in France, Steinmyller acknowledges the elephant in the room: Despite releasing seven solo singles since 2013, he doesn't have an album to his name. However, he
says he's made recent progress on his long-awaited debut record.
"About a month ago, I took a week off in Ibiza and I rented a studio," he says. "Now I'm thinking, Do I stop there? The plan is to make an album next year. It should happen. If everything goes fine, it's going to happen."
Though his tracks sound full and are robustly musical — as a college student, he was initially interested in teaching music theory — sometimes they're purely studio creations with little to no live instrumentation.
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"For 'Jubel,' I remember I was a student and I was broke," he says. "I didn't have money to record live music, so I used a lot of loops I found in sample packs and stuff like that. For example, the saxophone comes from a sample pack that I chopped up to turn into a different idea. The drums are plug-in; the guitars are plug-in. Also, the singer, she was the sister of one my friends, and she was recording on a really, really bad mike."
Now he has the resources to bring in professional singers and songwriters and choose what he wants to use as raw musical material. No matter how it comes together, his music can't help but sound like Klingande. He doesn't just occupy a niche space in tropical house; he's got the whole beach to himself.