Fresh from taking over our VERO account, the producer and DJ talks musical beginnings, mental health and allyship.
Not afraid to tackle tricky subjects, whether it be toxic masculinity or mental health, 220 Kid is making dancefloor hits that will get you in your feels. Maybe because we’ve all been feeling a bit emotional this year, to say the least, the producer and DJ has blown up in 2020 after storming the charts with breakout single “Don’t Need Love”.
To round off his best year yet, he took over our VERO account with music recommendations, feel-good films and his top tips for emerging producers. Below, he digs deep into his formative years as a musician and what he has planned for 2021.
What was your entry into making music?
I grew up around music as my father was in management. But as a music creator, I’d always had this ball of anxiety in my stomach that I wasn’t fulfilling my potential. Then, after I completed my studies, my godfather and mate passed away in the same month. I decided then that it was time to chase my dreams as life was too short and it was selfish to live safely when my friend didn’t have the chance to chase his dreams. I just began writing with the knowledge that one day I’ll eventually be closer to where I want to be than where I currently am.
Tell us three songs that had a bit impact on you growing up and why?
Firstly, “To Love Somebody” by the Bee Gees, which is just a truly wonderful piece of song-writing. The story is brilliant, it hits all the emotional feels and takes you to another place in your soul. Second, “All Night Long” by Machine Gun Kelly. During a really bad mental health period of my life I used to listen to on repeat to where it tells the story of him overcoming a car accident and then signing with Diddy in America, it helped me through this time and reminded me to stay focussed on my goals. Lastly, “What Goes Around” by Justin Timberlake, I just love the feeling, the production and the story. It really gave me an insight into story-telling and the impact that production can have on conveying emotion.
Who are your biggest musical inspirations?
The Bee Gees, soul, Timbaland, Ryan Tedder, Camelphat, Linkin Park, Jack Patterson and Motown artists like Otis Redding. Basically just a wide variety of songwriters and artists who all tell stories and capture moments perfectly.
As well as working in the music industry, you’ve worked as a model. Has this changed your approach to making music at all?
I definitely learnt a lot about art and expression. When I’m writing, I always try to picture it visually, whether that’s in a video or on stage with visuals as part of a show. Fashion is brilliant in that you can tell a story with one photo. A song needs to be able to tell a story too but the visuals that come with it can really reinforce that message. Modelling also taught me to appreciate everything and everyone that goes into making the visual aspect of music.
The video to your song “Too Many Nights” pays homage to iconic cinema – what’s your favourite film?
The Peanut Butter Falcon – it’s cinematically wonderful and the storyline is brilliant. It has everything you could want from a film, to be moved and taken away from the world for a while. Also, Moulin Rouge is fucking fabulous.
You’ve previously mentioned in interviews that music has helped you with your own mental health struggles, why do you think this is?
It’s an expression, I think for people in this day and age, especially men, it’s frowned upon to express yourselves or open up to problems. Like a “boys don’t cry” or stiff-upper-lip mentality. Realising the therapeutic effect of opening up in songs led me into starting therapy itself and working on my inner mental health. It’s been really life-changing to be able to understand and speak openly about how I’m feeling or why I’m feeling a certain way. That’s why it’s a mission for me to be open as possible about receiving help and to encourage others to realise that it’s ok to not be okay, to help them find help and break that stigma.
As a dance music act, what are some of your favourite clubs?
Printworks is amazing, with its atmosphere and light show! To be honest, I’m more a festival person and love a huge field filled with people all loving life, especially as the sun is setting. It’s wonderful! Or in a sweaty tent at a festival where the atmosphere just flows over you.
What is your advice to anyone that wants to get started in production?
Just start and, by trial and error, learn your own style. Something may work for someone else but that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to do it. I think as long as you can capture the emotion of the story the songs are trying to tell then you’ve completed the job, even if it’s not technically perfect. More often than not, overproducing can take away from amazing moments. Also, if it doesn’t sound like anything else, don’t panic. That may be because it’s fresh and exciting, so stick with it if you love it.
What’s next for you?
Music, music, music. I have forthcoming solo singles, collab singles and projects I’ve worked on for other people. I’m always writing and coming up with new song concepts and luckily people are now taking them and making them their own. I’m also going to keep working on making an impact with my growing position, whether that’s through mental health work or charity projects. And outside of work I’m just trying to become a healthier and better person inside and out, I’ve heard that’s the new rock and roll.
VERO is an authentic social network — no ads, no algorithms, just great content. Go to vero.co to sign up and follow @hungermagazine for more exclusive content and to catch 220 Kid’s music takeover, which runs until 23 December.
23 December 2020