Johannesburg, February 2024 | Renowned for his electrifying and innovative sound, Kyle Watson is set to elevate the energy at ULTRA South Africa to unparalleled heights this year. As one of South Africa’s most prominent music exports and producers, Kyle has built an impressive international reputation. In anticipation of his appearance at ULTRA South Africa, we chat to the producer about the festival and his remarkable journey in the music industry so far.

You’re performing on the Ultra South Africa main stage this year. What does this mean for you to play on such a major stage in your home country.

I’ve played a few Ultra Festivals in SA and have always had a great time no matter what stage I was on. I’ve never had my chance on the main stage though and, to be honest, it feels pretty great to know that the work I’ve been putting in is being recognised on this scale in the country that I grew up in.

How did you fall in love with electronic dance music?

My entry point into music production was through house and I just connected with it immediately. I used to listen to mixed albums of dance stuff like the Deeper Sounds Of series and House Anthems way back, and what really appealed to me was the ability to make unique sounds and create pieces of art that people connected with.

As a producer, what’s your creative process like when producing new tracks or remixes?

It’s always different really. I’ve got a soft spot for drums and basslines so I usually start there, but sometimes I’ll get inspiration from a new plugin or a melody I hear somewhere. Even sound effects inspire me – sometimes I’ll start a track based off something I record out in the world like a train or the sound of hitting a biscuit tin.

How do you keep your sets fresh and engaging for your audience, especially at major festivals like Ultra Music Festival?

For festivals it’s really important to keep the energy up and mix up your set with a balance of music that the crowd will recognise as well as taking the opportunity to introduce them to things they might not know they’d like. That might be dropping a few classics, or special edits that feature a recognisable sample. Festivals are different to club shows – for the most part people go out to a club show to see a specific act, but at a festival not everyone’s there to see you so it’s a chance to convert people that haven’t heard of you into fans.

Which collaborator challenged you the most during the production phase and why?

I don’t think I could say anyone has challenged me in that sense, but collaborations are definitely unpredictable. Sometimes nothing happens and you both go home at the end of the day with nothing, but other times something magic happens. I can relate to both of those!

Are there any artists you are dying to work with in the future?

There are tons of artists I’d like to work with. Disclosure, Chris Lake, Gorgon City, Walker & Royce, Maverick Sabre, Elderbrook to name a few

Why do you think festivals like Ultra Music Festival are so important for the global dance scene?

Festivals, I think, are one of the best ways to expose people to a range of genres in an environment where they’re surrounded by friends and others that are there for the same reason. Multiple stages and artist slots also allows more artists a chance to showcase themselves and grow their fanbase, so it’s good for both the fans and the artists.

You’ve performed on some massive stages around the world like Coachella and Lollapalooza. How different is it performing to a home crowd for you?

No matter which stage I’m on and which country I’m in I always enjoy it, but I think it’s going to be pretty special coming back for this show. I played countless clubs and small festivals in SA over the years and the vibes were great but I haven’t played something of this scale there yet, so I’m really looking forward to it.

Why should your fans attend this year’s Ultra Music Festival?

Why skip on the chance of going to one of the few world class music festivals in SA? The production is always top class, the sound is good, the vibes are good. Why not?

What advice would you give to aspiring DJs who are looking to break into the electronic music scene?

Differentiate yourself. The barrier to entry for DJs is lower than ever and that means there are a lot of people out there in the exact same position as you trying to level up. Do whatever you can to cut through the chaos, whether that’s through your music, your brand, your social presence, etc.

Ultra South Africa 2024 will take place on Friday 1 March in Cape Town at HollywoodBets Kenilworth Racecourse, and on Saturday 2 March in Johannesburg at the Expo Centre at Nasrec.

Tickets are now on sale at Tier 3 tickets in Johannesburg start from just R1,095 for General Access, VIP tickets are priced from R2,500 and VVIP tickets are on sale from R4,500. Tier 3 tickets are still available for Cape Town Ultranauts with General Access on sale from just R995 and Tier 2 VIP tickets from R2,000. Ticket prices are all-inclusive, with no additional or hidden fees.

Stay connected with ULTRA South Africa on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter for additional updates and line-up announcements.

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