In conversation with Kadebostany, an artist who is building a music world based on his vision

Photo: Sophie Brasey

(Raffaella Mezzanzanica)

More than 1 billion streams on YouTube
Over 500 hundred shows in more than 25 countries (London, Istanbul, Mexico City, Paris, Athens, Berlin)
Hit the top 10 in more than 30 countries
“50 Shades of Grey” soundtrack
Headlined FIFA’s closing ceremony
Performed for an audience of 25 million people
Performed for a crowd of 120.000

Quite impressive numbers, don’t you think? And, of course, numbers are important in the music world as much as they are in everything else.

But when we talk about music and art, numbers would be nothing without a vision, dedication, passion, strong beliefs and hard work.

For all these reasons, I am very happy to introduce an artist who has been defined as the “new colonist of the Pop Empire”, an artist who has such a strong vision to have even created a real world, a Republic, and entitled himself President to get all the necessary freedom to create his music without any limit.

Ladies & Gentlemen…this is Kadebostany.

Q.: Let’s start talking about yourself and how you got started into the music world.

K.:Yes, sure.The thing is that when I was thirteen or fourteen I was always obsessed by music and recording studios in general. I grew up in France and my dad was into “pirate radios”, a kind of underground radios. He was a technician. He was very much into the technical part of it. He used to take me there when I was seven, eight years old and I was surrounded by those people like radio hosts and DJs. There was a very special atmosphere and people were extremely passionate. This was the moment when I first thought that I really wanted to spend time in my life with passionate people. Music was something really interesting for me, therefore I decided to invest my life into it.

Q.: In your career, you have achieved quite impressive numbers: you have had more than 1 billion streams on YouTube up to now, you have been playing shows in more than 25 countries (from Siberia to Turkey, USA, Russia etc.) and you also played at the final ceremony of the FIFA World Championship. Everything you’ve done has been built with a precise vision: your vision! Tell me more about it.

K.: Yeah. When I started I was very much into the electronic music domain but my main goal was to create “worlds”, a real world based on my vision. I like to create music which is very immersive. This is the reason why I created the “Republic of Kadebostany”. I entitled myself as the President of the Republic and I thought this was interesting and also a very nice symbol because I was already creating “worlds” with my music. At that point I was going a step further by creating this Republic. Since then, I’ve just been building that. The Republic is actually very useful to me because it’s a kind of guide throughout my whole career so that I never get lost. It has also given me freedom artistically. I have created very different records and I think that I’m free to do whatever I want. I like this diversity.

Q.: In my previous question I didn’t mention that your cover of Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love” is included in the soundtrack of “50 Shades of Grey” and this is another amazing result in your career. But what happened with that cover?

K.: Two years before “50 Shades of Grey” came out, we did a cover of “Crazy in Love”. It was quite successful because it was very different from the original and we had the authorization to sell it from Beyoncé’s label and management. It was really nice. Then, we received an offer to do the music for a big blockbuster. They really wanted to use this version. After that, it became a little bit complicated because they actually wanted to use our version but with Beyoncé singing on top of it. For me, it was quite unfair because they redid our version. It’s really obvious because when you compare what I did two years before and what they did two years after it’s a clear copy. My version was really different from the original. That’s why I say it’s a copy because you cannot fake it. At the end of it, we had a lot of fame thanks to that and I’m not the kind of person who gets angry about things. For me, it was a really good sign. I’m living in Switzerland, in Lausanne, and from this little city in Switzerland, you can create stuff which can go worldwide. If I can do it once, then I can do it several times. That’s the reason why I’m not angry.

Q.: You have been defined as “the new colonist of the Pop Empire”. What is pop music today compared to what it used to be in the past (mainly in the 80s) and what are the main characteristics that make you different from any other artist?

K.: For me pop music is something general. Not only is it a style but I would say that it’s something which is appealing to a wide audience. My goal in this game is to do something that is very special, different and, at the same time, which can be appealing to a lot of people. I don’t make any concessions. I just do things that I would love to listen to. It makes me happy knowing that there are people in the US as well as from Armenia listening to my music. It’s a music which really comes from my heart. A lot of people do things out of passion and from their heart. I’m not so different from other people. The real difference is that I don’t really want to please people, I just really want to please myself first. Then, if people like it, I’m super happy. You can add a little bit of luck to that, as well as hard work and intuition. Sometimes, you create a song and you have the feeling to have created something very strong. It’s a bit of everything.

Q.: In the documentary “This is Kadebostany”, episode 1, you mention the fact that you easily get bored and therefore you often like to change. One of the main examples of these changes is moving from darker atmospheres in your album “Pop Collection” to showing a brighter side in “Monumental”. Considering all these many changes, if you had to look back is there anything you’ve done that you wouldn’t do again?

K.: I try not to think like that because one of the main purposes of creating is to take some decisions and I think it’s really important for me to stick to my decisions. Of course, if I could redo stuff, I would probably do something different but it’s not possible. But, the past is the past. I don’t regret anything. I’m just focused on the future and trying to do the best possible music.

Q.: “Take Me To The Moon” feat. Valeria Stoica is your latest single. It’s a very complex song. There are many instruments in it: drums, bass, guitar, different kind of keyboards, an organ and you even transformed Valeria’s voice into a Romanian choir. How was working with her and how long did it take to create this song from the moment you started until you thought you had reached the sound you really wanted for it?

K.: I met Valeria Stoica around one year ago. I discovered her on the internet. A friend of mine actually told me I should check her work. I liked it a lot. I decided to invite her to my place in Lausanne and she said she would come to see if we could create and record stuff together. “Take Me To The Moon” was created in that period, around one year ago. It was during the first lockdown here in Switzerland. It was really fast. The beginning was really fast and then it took me a very long time to finalize it. It’s always like that with my songs. The beginning is really fast and then I try a lot of versions just to find the best way to present that song and the best combination of sounds. From the beginning until the end, it took me around six/eight months.

Photo: Hasan Kuyucu

Q.: Talking about the video accompanying the song, you said you wanted to highlight some of the most beautiful places in Switzerland, the country where you live. The last scene was shot at “Glacier 3000”. It was risky because you were freezing at an altitude of 3.000 m., almost not even being able to breathe. Have you ever thought to leave everything and completely change the location?

K.: It was the first scene we shot. In general, shooting a video clip is always challenging. Once you start, you will not stop it. There’s no way to go back. You have to do it 100%. There’s a team behind it. And that’s what I like. What happens in a team is that you can do stuff you wouldn’t be able to do by yourself. That was quite epic. I would say we’re creative people: musicians, artists even technicians. I’ve been on tour with a lot of different people and all of them were passionate and dedicated. All of them would do anything to make it happen. For concerts, for example, it’s more complicated but then, once you go on stage, everyone acts like nothing happened before.

Q.: In shooting the video, you’ve been helped by a crew of people with different nationalities (Swiss, Moldovans, Turks) who had never worked together before. How important is to give a “global background” to your music, also in terms of production, post production etc. Do you think the result would have been different if you had collaborated with people with the same background/nationality?

K.: I like to work with people of different nationalities. Most importantly, I like to work with people with whom I have a special connection. If I had a special connection with people from Lausanne, of course I would work with them. So far, my life has brought me to different places in the world and I connected with people who live far away. It’s not really a choice. It is what it is. Over the years, I’ve been working with many, many people. This is also part of my personality. I’ve never been part of a “crew” or a “scene”. For examples, there are some cities which have a big indie scene and those bands are often working together. In my case, it’s the opposite and I don’t really understand why because I’m extremely open to collaboration. Most of the times I work with people I’ve met on tour.

Q.: You are also a DJ and therefore you are used to deal with remixes. But what is the importance that you give to the remixes of your songs done by other artists?

K.: I will be very honest with you. I really love some of them, while I find others not really interesting. Yes, I don’t personally like some of them but I think it’s also an option, a great chance to present my music to different people. And when those people listen to those remixes, then they research and find out it is Kadebostany. It’s a way to bring them to my music and when we are on tour, they come to my shows. On stage we always play the original songs. And people love them. Talking about “Take Me To The Moon”, I love the latest remixes by Laolu and Mahmut Orhan respectively. There are always “two sides”. It’s not negative to me. They bring a wider audience and as long as the audience likes the original work as well, I see only benefits.

Q.: I’ve also analyzed the lyrics of your songs and I’ve found that there are many references to themes like “space” or “universe”. For example: “Listen to the universe, you may find an answer” and again “I’m just a man lost in space/calling out, hoping to hear something back” (“Mind If I Stay”) or “Up in the sky I’m feeling high/ I see the moon, my heart is full” (“Save Me”) and, of course, “Take me to the Moon/Take me to the Moon/and leave me there” (“Take Me To The Moon”). In previous interviews you’ve also mentioned David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” as being an inspiration for you. When you write your songs, do you feel inspired by the essence of the universe or by the unknown?

K.: I don’t know. It’s not something really conscious but it’s something I do like a wish to meet something larger than life and maybe it’s the belief that we are all part of something bigger than what we think. I also think that those subjects are really interesting because they can express something “big” generally speaking but something “specific and intimistic” at the same time.

Q.: The female artists you’ve always collaborated with, including Valeria Stoica, are different but they have one thing in common for sure: an elegant, touching and emotional voice. How do you find them?

K.: We just connected very naturally. For example, now I receive a lot of e-mails or contacts from people telling me to check some artists with whom I might work with. However, everything happens so naturally for me. When I listen to someone and I have goosebumps, then I just send an e-mail and I try to connect with the person. It’s not about business. It’s the feeling that we can create something special together. For sure, nothing is granted. I’m always looking for new people to collaborate with. And sometimes you spend three months and you can’t find anyone to sing your songs. Then, suddenly, there are three, four, five people who want to collaborate with you. It’s really interesting. I like this feeling. It pushes me to always work on a song thinking that maybe it’s the last song I will do. It’s a kind of weird way to express that but that’s the way it is. I work on a song thinking: “If I die tomorrow and this is my last song, I want it to be amazing”. This is my goal.

Q: When you write a song, do you write it with a “voice” in your mind? I mean do you already know who’s going to sing the song when you start writing it?

K.: It’s very different depending on the collaboration I have. For example, with Valeria Stoica we started here in my studio. I had some instrumental compositions. I played them for her and she chose to try something on one of them. She started to sing on top of it, started with “top lines”, the voice melody on top of it. She started to improvise on top of that, searching for the vocal lines. We discussed about the subject of the song and then she wrote the lyrics. We can say we made this song together. Sometimes I work with a lyricist, meaning that this person will not be the person to sing the song but only the writer. In that case I start to figure out who could be the singer of those lyrics. It’s a very different process on each song.

Q.: There are many people out there who still underestimate the value of DJs as well as the value of music genres like electronic, dance, pop or new wave music. You are the perfect example of how they couldn’t be more wrong. You have played with a chamber orchestra and also you have played with musicians from Afghanistan. You have showed everyone that technology can help music but music and instruments are always the soul of a song. And, most of all, you have showed how music can really be “global”, more than anything else in the world. How would you explain the importance of technology applied to music and what is the good balance as for your experience?

K.: I think technology influences people and it has always had and influence on artists. Let’s take Beethoven for example. When he created his symphonies, he did it because someone invented violins. If violins hadn’t been invented there would have never been any symphony. At that time, violins were “technology”. Nowadays, we have violins, we have computers, synthesizers and we use that. If Beethoven were alive today, he would use synthesizers. It’s as simple as that. Technology influences everyone. It’s also very personal. Some people choose to work with a guitar, I choose to use the studio as an instrument. My mixing desk is like my guitar and I have a very broad palette of sounds. I’m not limited only to the guitar. And this is also part of my mentality. I like to have a lot of instruments around me. In my live shows there are no computers. There are synthesizers, guitars, drums and horns. I respect people who only use a computer as much as I respect people doing everything with the guitar. For me the most important thing is the result, good or bad music. At the end of the day, if you can create great music with whatever tool – because they are just tools – then it’s fine.

Q.: “Take Me To The Moon” is also the first single taken from your new EP “Drama – Act. 2” which will be published later this year and sequel of “Drama – Act. 1” published in 2020. Is there anything you can tell about this new EP?

K.:I like to work on albums and on EPs. I’m always thinking about the best way to present my music. To be honest, this is influenced by technology because in the past you would publish a CD and it was quite expensive. So you spent a lot of time listening to the CD, including the songs, B-sides. And you might not understand everything at first listen. You had to listen to it three/four times or even more before realizing what was your favorite song. This period is over. Having said this, I’m still trying to find the best way to present my music, to still be able to do more album songs. But maybe “Act 2” will not be an album but an EP. I will do several “acts” and, at the end, I will put all these acts into one big album for ultra fans.

Q.: You like going on tour. You have been playing almost everywhere in the world. How much do you miss live shows? Do you already have plans for a tour and maybe to come to Italy when it will be possible?

K.: We have some plans but it’s really complicated now because you might have an opportunity but then it’s gone because of this pandemic. I’m a creative person. To be honest, I think that lots of people are suffering from this crisis. I don’t wanna complain about not being able to tour. It’s a strange time for everyone. I hope we can come back very soon and do our shows. I know that there are people in worse conditions compared to  us (like restaurants for example). I’m lucky because I’m a composer and I spend a lot of time in the studio. My days are quite happy because I do what I like. Of course I love touring because there’s always something very direct and I miss that. For me, everything is “too virtual” at the moment. I’m very happy about “Take Me To The Moon” because people really like it. It’s nice but it’s still very virtual. And I miss the fact that you can go on tour, you can play in front of a lot of people and you can see their faces and their smiles. It’s something very unique and irreplaceable. I’m really looking forward to going back.

Photo: Sophie Brasey

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