If you follow dance music podcasts or frequent nightclubs and bars, you’ve definitely heard the summer, deep house dance music anthem “Deep Down Low” — and Valentino Khan (actual name) is the guy behind it.
He plays at Livewire tonight in Scottsdale.
Valentino Khan is relatively new to the DJ game. He started as a hip-hop producer making tracks for the likes of TI, 2 Chainz and B.o.B.
He started making sample-based hip-hop beats in his early teens “I would look at who did a Wu-Tang sample or Kanye West sample and would be like: ‘Oh wow, Gladys Knight, I’m going to download a bunch of Gladys Knight shit,’ and it gave me an appreciation for older music.”
Eventually, he got to a point where he wasn’t finding the samples he wanted, so he learned the piano and started producing his own.
Justice was his gateway drug into dance music. It wasn’t until he overheard the French duo’s music coming from his brother’s room in passing that he became interested in EDM. Then, it was on to Boys Noize and Bloody Beetroots.
He started making the music, and decided that in order to make a living producing dance music, he needed to be a DJ. With the exception of playing a few random local shows in L.A. (where he’s from) he did most of his networking online.
“95 percent of the people I’ve met or made friends with — it all started through the Internet.”
Before producing solo as Valentino Khan, he produced dance music remixes and did collaborations with other big-name producers, most notably with Diplo on the 2014 banger “Bubble Butt.”
Khan is still producing hip-hop music, but has put a heavier emphasis on his DJ career. He released his EP In Khan We Trust last year with Skrillex’s label OWSLA, which he signed with last year.
The album is upbeat, fun, and versatile. Music is something that Khan just does, it’s pretty simple. He likes it, so he does it. There isn’t any deep artist angst, message or philosophy really behind how he approaches dance music.
“I don’t necessarily overthink what types of reactions I can elicit from an audience. I just want to make dope stuff.I can be inspired by one small sound, and I already know where the rest of the track is going to go from there. . .I just want to make stuff that pushes music forward.”
His banger “Deep Down Low” isn’t an exception to his non-formula. It was the result of an early morning home studio session.
“I made the instrumental version of that at four or five in the morning barely conscious or awake. Then I woke up the next day and listened back to what I made the night before and thought to myself, ‘this is really cool but it needs vocals.’ Then I laid down vocals for it and that was that.”
From Khan’s relaxed approach to producing music it’s not a surprise that Khan isn’t a fan of genre debates, or arguments about dance music controversies.
“I don’t understand people who get into huge debates over music. It’s about personal taste," he says. "Taking all of this super seriously sort of defeats the purpose of music.”
As for working under OWSLA, Khan thanks Skrillex for the creative freedom the label has provided him. “I think [Skrillex] really believes in me as a producer and an artist and it’s reflected in the fact that they’re very passionate about supporting what I’m doing and not setting any limits.”
We can expect new singles from Khan, along with remixes of “Deep Down Low” this fall.
Khan is also a sought after remixer, which is something he prides himself on. He’s been approached by DJs like Flosstradamus and Dillon Francis to remix their tracks.
“Respecting my peers means a lot, so if someone has reached out and asked for a remix from me personally, it means a lot.”
As far as making the switch from behind-the-scenes music guy to on stage performer, Khan sounds like he’s pretty into it. Specifically how you connect with the audience.
“The performer and the crowd are in it together and experiencing it together”
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Khan puts on what he calls an “athletic DJ set.” He actually stretches before each show. He explains that the stretching may be a little overboard, but he jumps around, bangs his head and is very active on stage.
“I make sure my knees are loose and that my thighs and calves are properly stretched before I go.”
Khan is currently on a North American tour with Meaux Green and Gents & Jaws and has plans to play HARD Summer Music Festival in LA in August, along with performing on the dance music cruise ship Holy Ship early next year.