Nick Bollinger steps to the dance-friendly debut of Canadian-Haitian DJ/producer Kaytranada.
Until recently, the name Kaytranada was one you were likely to come across only if you were paying close attention to the world of dance remixes. But the release of Kaytranada’s first full-length album proves he is an artist whose work is destined for the wider world.
Kaytranada is Louis Kevin Celestin, 23-year-old son of Haitian immigrants, living in Montreal. He’s been DJing, mixing and making his own recordings since his early teens. But it was a 2012 unofficial remix of Janet Jackson’s megahit ‘If’ – posted on SoundCloud - that really got people’s attention. Since that SoundCloud hit, he’s toured internationally, played opening sets for Madonna and - for this first album - recorded official collaborations with a variety of artists, from silk-voiced British star Craig David to underground hero Syd The Kid (of hip-hop collective Odd Future and soon-to-tour-here neo-soul band The Internet.) Her voice drifts through the dance-scape, like one of Celestin’s customised sounds.
Not all of the guests are vocalists. There’s also a collaboration with Canadian instrumental hip-hop combo BadBadNotGood, blending one of their organic rhythm tracks with another of Kaytranada’s patented synthscapes.
The album opens with high-hat and handclaps, a wobbly bass, and a synthesiser flapping around as though it’s trying to turn the sound system inside out. It immediately locates us on a dance floor; one where the contours seem to be shifting with almost every beat.
The overall mood of 99.9% is mellow, but not melancholy, and when it picks up it feels bright without being aggressive. While the guests all bring their individual personalities, it’s Celestin’s production that gives it coherence.
Songs featured: Track Uno, Together, Got It Good, You’re The One, Glowed Up, Weight Off, Breakdance Lesson.
Kaytranada's 99.9% world tour will be touching down 28th October at Studio, Auckland.
99.9% is available on XL Recordings.