What You Don’t Know About Kaytranada
This Sunday, the decade-long musical career of Haitian-Canadian DJ and record producer Louis Kevin Celestin will be honored with several nominations at the 2021 Grammys Awards Show for Best New Artist, Best Dance/Electronic Album, and Best Dance Recording. In recent years, Kaytranada, as he is known in the music industry, has released two albums, 99.9% and BUBBA, to quite a bit of fanfare. As Elle Canada points out, his eclectic blend of “hip-hop, funk, and house production styles” have made his music nearly instantly recognizable to millions of fans all over the world. In fact, his production style and beats have become so recognizable that dozens of industry wannabes have created how-to videos that show viewers how to recreate a “Kaytranada-type beat.”
It also doesn’t hurt that Kaytranada has made music with other industry greats like Anderson .Paak, Syd, Estelle, Pharrell Williams and Dua Lipa. His remixes for Solange, Shawn Mendes, TLC, and Missy Elliot have also received praise. And, just as is the case with other DJs, Kaytranada has also been a silent star in the music industry, producing tracks for superstars like Alicia Keys, Kali Uchis, Goldlink, and Chance the Rapper (per Elle Canada).
Ahead of his appearance at the Grammys, we are endeavoring to uncover the man behind the latest industry legend.
Tyler the Creator was upset that he didn't appear on Kaytranada's latest album
Though Kaytranada has certainly collaborated with impressive artists, he admits that collaboration didn’t always come naturally to him. “I really wasn’t a collaborative guy at all growing up, in school and not being on teams and that,” Kaytranada told Wonderland Magazine. “On the album [BUBBA] I wasn’t going to like force myself to collaborate with people, it really depends if I vibe with the person or whatever.”
After making BUBBA, Kaytranada received an email from Tyler, The Creator, who said that he was upset that he had not been featured on the album. “He told me he was mad that he was not on the “BUBBA” album,” Kaytranada said in an interview with Variety earlier this month. “Now I have to collab with him because he said that to me.” In the interview with Variety, Kaytranada also mentioned that he would love to collaborate with Erykah Badu and Jay-Z. “I think I would have a good beat selection for him, but those are dreams,” he admitted to Variety.
Despite recent criticism of the awards show, Kaytranada still believes in the importance of the Grammys
Recently, after months of stewing in his Grammys snub, The Weeknd told The New York Times that he would be boycotting the awards show. “Because of the secret committees, I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys,” he said. The Weeknd is following in the footsteps of other musicians like Drake and Frank Ocean who believe that the system is rigged (via Pitchfork).
Unlike his fellow musicians, though, Kaytranada will not be boycotting the Grammys. Ahead of his first appearance at the Grammys Awards Show, the DJ told Billboard that he still considered the award to be a prestigious honor. “We love it and we hate it, but it’s still a prestigious award,” he told Billboard. “We can’t really just ignore the Grammys like that. A lot of legends want Grammys. A lot of legends never got nominated, too. I’m sure that back in the day, people were talking as well, it’s just that there was no social media. Marvin Gaye won his first Grammy with ‘Sexual Healing,’ which was not [from] his best album, of course, and it was late in his career. I’m sure Twitter would’ve been crazy then.”
He blames his astrological sign on his perfectionist tendencies
Though many artists of his caliber can attribute some of their success to perfectionist tendencies, Kaytranada is so linked to his own perfectionism that he titled one of his albums 99.9% as an ode to this trait. While he has learned to tone down his level of perfectionism, Kaytranada admits that his true Virgo nature still finds a way to peak through in his work routine. “Subconsciously, if I put out something, I’m always going to be checking if it’s perfect,” he told Billboard. “I’m a Virgo — that’s just me.”
Apart from being a perfectionist, Kaytranada also admitted to Variety that he attributes another of his personality traits — his shyness — to being less of a talker and more of an observer or listener. Many of his fans have also picked up on this shyness he seems to possess while on stage. But, according to Kaytranada, this shyness is actually just him practicing a special form of meditation while on stage. “I love performing,” he told Variety. “It’s kind of spiritual to me. I don’t feel like I’m present sometimes on stage. You know when you zone out at times and you’re just not mentally there? Your mind is elsewhere, but you still manage to do your thing. It’s sort of like a meditation.”
He struggled to tell his family and the public about his sexuality
Back in April of 2016, Kaytranada came out to the world during an interview with The Fader. “I don’t call myself straight, I don’t call myself gay, it’s just me,” he told The Fader. “But, I guess, I am gay.” Prior to that point, he had told a few members of his family. In fact, during the interview, he recounted how he came out to his sister and mom — and the inner turmoil he experienced in the years leading up to the difficult conversation. “I just snapped,” he told The Fader. “I felt like there were two people inside me. I was trying to be somebody I was not, and I was frustrated that people didn’t know who I was.”
Now that he is an openly gay musician, Kaytranada realizes the importance of representation in music. “A lot of young kids who aspire to be musicians probably have the same inner struggles as me, being Black and gay just [trying to] fit in,” the DJ told Billboard. “It could be inspiring to them.” Kaytranada also said that, if he wins a Grammy (or three), he will be dedicating his win to other black and queer musicians.
The musician went through a rough breakup just before the lockdown
What’s worse than the isolation of quarantining during a pandemic? Quarantining immediately following a rough breakup. “I’m surprised I made it through,” he told Elle Canada. “It has been so difficult. [It is] a moment [in which] you wish you had someone with you.”
Though the identity of his ex is unknown, he spoke of the struggles of having a white boyfriend as a Black man. During an interview with GQ in 2020, Kaytranada says that the comments about their relationship got so ugly that he had to step away from social media. “People were talking s*** about all the time,” he said. “A lot of gay men were not happy, calling me ‘white man slave’ and stuff like that. That’s what it is, man. I had to learn a lot.”
Despite this romantic setback, we’re sure that the list of men vying for his heart is long, to say the least.
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