Ultra/Sony Music announced today that it has signed a long-term deal with Kygo, the 23-year-old Norwegian producer who grabbed everyone's attention in an extremely modern (and increasingly common) way: a series of extremely successful bootleg remixes, uploaded for free to his SoundCloud.
Kygo (real name: Kyrre Gørvell-Dahll) has put his personal spin on everyone from Marvin Gaye to Ellie Goulding, deftly reworking their hits into house ditties characterized by languid pacing, pop melodies, and simple, stripped-down beats. It's the kind of easy-listening, crossover-guaranteed house music that has risen into prominence and popularity in recent years. Entire YouTube music channels like Majestic Casual have been built on tracks of the same ilk; you could call it Hype Machine bait, if you wanted to get a little snarky.
But Kygo has already proved that he is able to distinguish himself from the cookie cutter, easy-listening house mold that thousands of other producers languish in. His most popular remix, of "I See Fire" by Ed Sheeran, has been played over 13 million times (and counting) on SoundCloud, making it one of the platform's top ten most popular tracks. Diplo, ever the trend-spotter, has already gotten Kygo to do a guest mix on his BBC Radio 1 show. And even Coldplay's Chris Martin has jumped onboard, reaching out to ask for a remix of their latest single, "Midnight." (You can hear a clip of that on—where else?—Kygo's SoundCloud.)
Ultra's move to snap up the ascendant Norwegian star is in line with label founder and President Patrick Moxey declaration that "deep house" will be the next big wave of dance music in the United States—where audiences have grown tired of big-room EDM and its predictable build-ups and drops.
"The great thing about electronic music is every time… it becomes commercialized, new parts start to reinvent themselves. It's in a constant process of refreshment," Moxey said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal last month. In regards to deep house's slower tempos and distinct lack of a "drop," Moxey remarked, "It's a different type of appreciation."
Moxey's investment in future stars like Kygo is also in line with recently released statistics from Beatport, which showed that deep house has steadily grown in popularity over the last ten years to become today's most popular dance music genre. Dubstep, which enjoyed its time under the (main stage) sun in 2011, has since dropped to bottom of the barrel.
With his new long-term deal with Sony Music, Kygo will release solo material at the end of 2014. He will also get support for his first solo tour of North America and Europe this year from Ultra.
Michelle Lhooq is an associate editor at THUMP - @MichelleLhooq