The inside of Premier Studios, located eight floors above the saturated sidewalks of Times Square in New York City, feels like a vacant sauna turned into an intimate recording oasis designed for steamy vocal sessions intertwined with tantalizing beat production. On this unseasonably brisk June night, EDM’s reigning king Steve Aoki is deconstructing his forthcoming album, Kolony, due out on July 21 — inside the studio’s control room for a group of journalists.
In comparison to his prior work, (see: Wonderland, Neon Future I and Neon Future II) Kolony isn’t just made up of infectious electronic productions. It’s a mix of both the latter — and hip hop. It’s safe to say every track of the album features one of rap’s most current shining stars. There are Migos and Lil Yachty on “Night Call”; T-Pain and Gucci Mane on the braggadocious “Lit,” and a new comer from Trinidad named Jimmy October. In it’s entirety, the album’s Southern trap sound influence is more then just present — it’s in the project’s DNA.
Sonically, the 39 year-old’s new effort sounds like you’re on a all night bender through Atlanta’s club scene while poppin’ molly (say no to drugs, kids). For the most part, the project is filled with party-ready singles that are destined to infest radio waves and garner chart topping airplays. By infusing so much hip-hop into the records, Aoki learned a thing or two about production.
“In EDM we have to add everything. We just sprinkle in samples wherever it makes sense, and it’s all about that fire drop,” he explained of what it’s like to produce for an EDM record. “Where in this case I have to take away a lot to give room for the artist.”
Amid this new chapter, it came as organic evolution for Steve to experiment with artists who dominate in another arena of music because of his close personal relationships. He says working with all if his rap friends felt like a tribe of some sort; coming all together to build a colony, and that’s what inspired the name of the album.
“The general vibe of the studio when I was working with these artists felt like this room right here, so it’s not just me and the artist working on a song,” he revealed. “This is a colony; this is a vibe; this is something totally unique and different. The energy in the room allows us to work till six in the morning with out drinking five cups of coffee, or whatever I need to stay in the studio. So that’s where the name came from, it’s this over arching umbrella of the energy of the project.”
There were studio sessions in Atlanta that were prompted by prior meet-ups at music festivals with the likes of ILoveMakonnen, and also impromptu FaceTime calls with T-Pain at 3pm in the afternoon. Aoki recalls how he made T-Pain jump in his pool from a high surface of at his house in Vegas as a form of “initiation.” Soon after, they got to work on “Lit,” where the singer interpolated a line from the legendary British band, Queen. Aoki was over the moon about the line, but feared they couldn’t use it. They tried anyway, and Queen cleared it for them.
As much as the album sounds like a complete club record, there are glimpses of vulnerability mixed in. “If I Told You That I Love You” featuring Wale, brings a softer edge to the rest of the songs on it. Wale sounds like he is trying to profess his love for a close female friend on the song. Besides the complexities of love, another attribute, which differentiates the songs from one another is the vocal range from the LP’s co-stars. On “Been Ballin” featuring Lil Uzi Vert, his syrupy drawl sounds peculiar, but it sticks to you. The Philly artist sounds like he is drifting away into a haze as he reminds you of his returning triumphs. Both hip-hop and EDM continue to rule the pop world, so it’s a no brainer why Aoki has chosen to combine the two.
You can pre-order Kolony on here