This month we had the privilege of dropping in for an interview with everyone’s favorite musclebound DJ and PNW native, Kai Wachi. Born and raised in Boise, Idaho, Kai Wachi has been stunning fans with his unique sound and style for the past decade.
We met up with him at 45 East in Portland just a few minutes before his set to ask him a few questions about the Skins album, his tour, and much more.
First off, how’s the tour going?
KW: It’s been amazing. We’ve sold out every single show so far. We’re having such a good time. Very grateful for everything happening here.
What was the creative process behind the Skins album?
Well, I started diving into the more melodic side of myself in 2020 with Run, which is my biggest song. It’s always been a side of me that’s been very genuine in my music. OG Kai Wachi fans will know that in my old music I used a lot of pianos and big emotional outros, but I never used that as the focal point of songs.
In 2020, I felt like I hit a stale point in my creative process. I felt like the dubstep rat race really started between producers. Everyone was trying to make the hardest music possible, and I get all of the excitement around it, but everyone wanted a piece of that. So I tried and tried and I felt like I was just selling myself short creatively by trying to emulate someone else’s sound instead of just trying to be a better version of myself.
I really had to sit back and think about what part of me was I holding back from my fans. I never knew about the whole “Cry Wachi” thing or that it would go this far. It was just a genuine expression of a part of me, and it obviously resonated well with the fans and the vocalists have a lot to do with that.
Speaking of the vocalists, you gave title credit to every vocalist you worked with on the album and have a history of working with some amazing singers. Do you have anything to say about that?
I’m just so lucky that they are willing to work with me. They don’t get enough credit. Some people don’t understand that when someone says “I love Run by Kai Wachi,” I’m like, “No that’s Run by Dylan Matthew, I just produced it.”
I owe so much to the artists that are willing to work with me because the vocalists are always underplayed in terms of importance. People think it’s the artist who created everything but like I can’t write lyrics, I can’t sing.
What were some of the things that led you to make a full-length melodic album?
I really wanted to create a melodic project but have it still sound like me. I’ve always just wanted to express myself and sound as much like Kai Wachi as possible. Before the album, I was going through a really rough patch with myself emotionally. I was not living up to some of my own moral values. Nothing super crazy, but just stuff I shouldn’t be doing. The pain of those mistakes really brought out a raw side of me with the entire project.
I just really fell in love with writing that kind of music. It brought a satisfaction to me in the creative process that hard music doesn’t. Now writing hard music brings a satisfaction that melodic music doesn’t also. I’ve always been very confident in my fluidity so I bounce back and forth.
How did you feel about your fans’ reaction to the album?
The overall album did super well! But I didn’t realize how much of an impact the album had until I went on this tour. We started selling out shows and I started noticing everyone was singing the words to all of my songs. That’s when I realized that I was connecting with fans in a way that I never had before.
Do you have any personal favorites from the album?
As for my favorite song, it’s hard to say. I think there was one moment when I made Skins, and this sounds dramatic, but I literally shed a tear because I was emotionally resonating with it so well. I loved All Your Lies. When I made that song I was like “this is the best song I ever made.” Then when I made Voice with Sounder I was like, “THIS is the best song I ever made.” Same as when I made Ghost. But as far as a favorite one, I couldn’t pick, I really like them all equally.
Being born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, what does it feel like to return to some of these local venues as a headliner on tour?
I mean it’s just love man. It’s just gratitude. The scene is so good to me. I owe the fans everything and they’ve given me everything. I was just a local opening up for guys like Adventure Club back in the day. Going from that to selling out two nights here, selling out the Rockwell, and selling out all these other shows. It’s just one of those things that really is a reminder that all those corny sayings like “never give up” and “always keep trying” are clichés for a reason.
To take a step back from the tour and the album, you have a house duo with Sullivan King called Meal Prep. How did that come to be and can we expect any big things coming from you two?
So Meal Prep started just as a joke at first. Sullivan King and I came up with the idea and thought it’d be fun to play a house set at one of the small stages at Lost Lands. The name Meal Prep is obviously a spinoff of like the gym and fitness. This was something that was just for fun and we thought no one would show up, but people loved it! Now we’re performing at Paradise Blue and Thunderdome.
But Meal Prep is purely about us just having fun and playing music that we are still passionate about but doesn’t mix well with our main projects. Some people love it. Some people think it’s stupid, but it’s not supposed to be taken insanely seriously at all.
You are known by many as the buffest DJ in dubstep. With that being said, what is your preferred pre-workout?
I’m sponsored by a company called Gorillamind and I’ve been using their pre-workout for years. The formulator Derek Moore is so smart with all of the stuff he knows. He literally has like an hour-and-a-half-long review of his pre-workout, breaking down every single ingredient and why it’s dosed that way. So, I trust his knowledge a lot. I mean, that’s not to say. I’ve used a ton of other amazing, stuff, but that’s just my favorite.
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What can we expect for the future of Kai Wachi?
I have a collab with Dabin coming out pretty soon that’s like one of the prettiest songs I’ve been a part of but it has a heavy drop in there. I’m thinking of releasing another heavy EP in a few months, just because I’ve been doing a lot of this emotional stuff. I always do this where I swing one way for a while. Time to make something for the meatheads.
You can listen to the Skins album and all of Kai Wachi’s music here or see Kai Wachi live at any of his remaining tour stops across the country including Boise, Spokane, and Seattle.
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