Rolling Stone

PinkPanthe­ress & Kaytranada

Two of dance music’s best young artists on avoiding sunlight, weird collaborat­ions, and having the confidence to work with your heroes


PINKPANTHE­RESS IS TALKING about the time she produced a beat for a friend and tried to make it “as Kaytranada-inspired as possible.” It’s a sweet story, especially since the person she’s telling it to is Kaytranada himself.

“I want to hear it, I want to see how it turned out,” he responds. PinkPanthe­ress quickly shuts down the idea: “It’s fucking terrible.” Then they both break into laughter.

The two teamed up for the first time recently for an as-yetunrelea­sed track. This collaborat­ion is fitting, given they are both known for spinning a panoply of influences into forward-thinking dance music. Kaytranada, 30, has already earned two Grammys and spent the summer opening on the Weeknd’s stadium tour, while PinkPanthe­ress, 21, just last year released her excellent debut mixtape, To Hell With It, which piled up house and drum-and-bass samples while charting an emerging generation­al sensibilit­y.

Right now, the two artists are spending a July evening sipping drinks out of tiny disco balls in a funky watering hole in Montreal. Kaytranada arrived in his hometown fresh off a Weeknd tour date in Detroit, while London-born PinkPanthe­ress joins us ahead of a Montreal festival gig that same weekend. Their conversati­on reveals a mutual-admiration society — “I was a fan before finding out that you liked my music,” Kaytranada tells PinkPanthe­ress — and offers a glimpse inside the brains of two of dance music’s leading lights.

KAYTRANADA: When we were in L.A. working on that song, was it your first time over there?

PINKPANTHE­RESS: That was my first time in L.A, for sure. When I’m in London, I write in my bed at 3 a.m. It’s raining outside, and it’s gray, and it’s perfect for what I write. It was a completely different environmen­t in L.A., and I was struggling. When we did our session, that was the first song I wrote where I was like, “OK, this actually came out quite freely.”

KAYTRANADA: Do you think the nighttime has something to do with your creative process?

PINKPANTHE­RESS: I think the absence of sun genuinely does help. I made my first few songs in the nighttime, when either my parents or my housemates in university accommodat­ion would be asleep. I just didn’t want anyone to hear me singing. But also, sometimes when you write, you just need the visual accompanim­ent of darkness and dreariness.

Who would you say was your top, top, top favorite artists of all time? Dead or alive.

KAYTRANADA: Oh, my God. I think it’s Madlib.

PINKPANTHE­RESS: Oh, for real?

KAYTRANADA: Even me being friends with him is still surreal. I grew up studying his music. I wanted to get samples, chop them, loop them, and try to find the rarest, most obscure. I was obsessed with that even as a teenager, like I was crate digging, digitally. It expanded my taste in music when I would listen to New Wave and rock, progressiv­e rock and disco. Boogie came along the way.

PINKPANTHE­RESS: Do you sample as much now? KAYTRANADA: It’s 50-50. There’s a bunch of my songs that don’t have samples and those are the main hits, but then I would sample a drum-and-bass loop. You know, they use the “Amen, Brother” [break] on every drum loop. Let’s say I would use one of those drum loops, and I would play keys around it. It kind of still has that original compositio­n melody.

PINKPANTHE­RESS: OK, I can hear it. I get it.

KAYTRANADA: What about you? I know you be sampling a lot as well.

PINKPANTHE­RESS: Yes. I still can’t produce from scratch. My interest in music has never been production anyways. It’s been top-line melody writing. So when I did the Michael Jackson thing [sampling “Off the Wall” on “Just a Waste”], I just wanted to see if I can write a top line. And then I did it.

KAYTRANADA: And killed it.

PINKPANTHE­RESS: Oh, thank you!

KAYTRANADA: I feel like you produce. When we made that song, you were like, “You should change that chord into that chord.” I was like, “Word?”

PINKPANTHE­RESS: I feel like I can arrange, for sure. There are some songs I’ve finished in the studio, and then I’ve been like, “Can I take this home and play around with it?” Then that’s the version that we ended up putting up. So I guess to an extent, maybe I am producing. I mean, I play piano. Maybe that’s why I can pick up on certain sounds.

KAYTRANADA: Producing is not necessaril­y making a beat; it’s also more on a Quincy Jones level, visualizin­g how a song can turn out. You slowing down the Michael Jackson instrument­al — that’s producing.

PINKPANTHE­RESS: You’re in a great position, as a musician, because you have so many features at your disposal. Has there been one feature that you’ve always wanted? That you haven’t got yet?

KAYTRANADA: Oh, I don’t know. I work with whoever, like who’s new and poppin’. There’s not many legends I want to work with because there’s something about me working with my favorite artists and my mentors . . . it’s a confidence thing when I work with the people I look up to. It’s kind of like, it doesn’t turn out to be the best work.

PINKPANTHE­RESS: I’m sure that’s your inner self. KAYTRANADA: It’s me being very hard on myself.

PINKPANTHE­RESS: I’m the same, so I get it.

KAYTRANADA: Who do you want to work with?

PINKPANTHE­RESS: I listen to a lot of genres, but if you look at my playlists, there’s probably about 10 artists I have on consistent­ly. I’ve got a very small circle of musicians I actually love, check their discograph­y, and you are very much one of them. But I’ve always wanted to do something really random. Someone like Lil Wayne would be just so random, or someone from a rock background, like Linkin Park.

KAYTRANADA: Yeah, you sample Linkin Park.

PINKPANTHE­RESS: I do. I love them.

KAYTRANADA: I grew up with Linkin Park, too.

PINKPANTHE­RESS: It’s such a hard sound to replicate. There’s also Imogen Heap. She’s one of my favorite British singers. And Lily Allen . . . you and Lily Allen would make, weirdly, a lot of sense.

KAYTRANADA: Yo, I love Lily Allen. There were a lot of things that were supposed to happen between me and her. [

PINKPANTHE­RESS: Oh, for real? KAYTRANADA: It’s funny. I end up collaborat­ing with a lot of U.K. artists

PINKPANTHE­RESS: Would you ever live in the U.K.? KAYTRANADA: Of course. I would definitely love to spend time there.

PINKPANTHE­RESS: You give me London vibes. KAYTRANADA: Hey, you know! I was really thinking about doing sessions with U.K. artists.

PINKPANTHE­RESS: So you’re on tour with the Weeknd, which is insane, but also makes a lot of sense. Both of you are from Canada, and I feel like sonically, it weirdly adds up. Like a lot. How have you found touring?

KAYTRANADA: There are a lot of things that just happen and get thrown at my face. I have to deal with a stadium — it’s not crazy, but it’s definitely weird. It’s a lot of people to please. And a lot of people are just sitting. Usually, when I would play the first chords of “Be Your Girl,” I would hear, like, “Oh, my God!”


KAYTRANADA: Then, like, I just hear nothing, but it’s like, I’m opening. And then, you know, I just say, “Are you ready for the Weeknd?!” “Ahhhh!” It’s funny. I really love opening stadiums. It’s interestin­g.

PINKPANTHE­RESS: I still have bad performanc­e


KAYTRANADA: Yeah, how do you deal with that?

PINKPANTHE­RESS: I actually don’t know. There are so many times I’m onstage and feel like I’m gonna get dizzy and have to walk off or something, but I don’t know what it is. Luckily my set is only half an hour. You dance! The way you dance!

KAYTRANADA: I feel like the dance expresses just shaking my nerves away.

PINKPANTHE­RESS: I’ve never seen someone move like that in my life [ laughs]. I love it so much.

KAYTRANADA: For you, for instance, your set being 30 minutes, how do you feel about that? You think you want more songs being done?

PINKPANTHE­RESS: No, God no. If I could make it shorter, I would make it shorter, but I know people are paying money and you have to provide. Obviously, I’m not gonna do this, but I’ve always said that when I have a bigger catalog, I’m just gonna cut out a few songs and keep it 30 minutes because I just . . . People that do one-hour, two-hour sets . . . I’m genuinely like, “Yeah, no.” What about you? What’s your favorite song by yourself?

KAYTRANADA: My favorite song ever? Oh, my God. I don’t know. I think it has to be on the Bubba album.

PINKPANTHE­RESS: Mine is “Dysfunctio­nal.”

KAYTRANADA: I love “Dysfunctio­nal.” It was one of those beats I made in maybe 15 minutes.


KAYTRANADA: It just hit crazy because it only has this bass line and this drum loop and a couple hits of synths. What’s your favorite song by yourself?

PINKPANTHE­RESS: Myself? “I Must Apologize.” KAYTRANADA: I love that one.

PINKPANTHE­RESS: [ Bashfully] Thank you.

KAYTRANADA: Yo, you be killing it.

PINKPANTHE­RESS: Thank you so much. I’m really excited for people to hear what we have.

KAYTRANADA: This is gonna be insane. They’re not ready for that [ laughs].

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