Kyren Thomas, who now goes by Saint Kylo talks to Augustman Malaysia about his newly released debut single, BAD BAD.
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It’s impossible to not know who Kyren Thomas is by now, having founded local funk band Ryot Jones and was our very own A-Lister back in 2017. The former frontman of the nine piece band has since taken the step to branch out on his own solo journey.
The multifaceted musician, who now goes by Saint Kylo, is venturing further into soul, funk, hip-hop and R&B, having seen his musical spectrum and portfolio grow within Malaysia over the last few years. He credits his personal development to various projects, most recently for Netflix’s #SicReview, which saw him not only compose, but also record a song and feature in a music video reviewing its popular series, Daybreak.
With a reputation for putting on high octane and energetic live shows, he has also opened for Grammy nominated singer, Joss Stone and British band, Toploader. With such a long list of achievements, it comes to no surprise that the KL-based artist has finally exploded out of the gate with his debut single.
His latest single is a tune reminiscent of velvet interiors, lit cigars and popped collars which holds true to the ethos of its maker whilst drawing from classic funk bands of the 70s.
In this interview, Saint Kylo shares about his debut single, BAD BAD and his most memorable experiences he has had in his career as an artist in Malaysia.
First of all, congratulations Kyren on releasing your debut single! BAD BAD was amazing to say the least. Loved the song, the beats, the visuals and everything about it. Can you tell us the idea behind the track, what inspired you to make it and what are some of the challenges you’ve faced making it?
Well, the main idea behind the track is based on loose conversations or the vibes of some of the super kickass people that I’ve dated over the years. For some reason, I’ve always been blessed enough to have dated some really dope people and I guess the songs are just an anthem about embracing your inner badass and rocking with it.
BAD BAD is a rather risqué track that will undoubtedly shake Malaysia’s music scene but it also shows people that you’re an artist who isn’t afraid to push boundaries and stand out amongst the crowd. Can you break down your songwriting process from the first seed of an idea to the final product?
It is a risqué track. But I don’t make music specifically for Malaysia. I make music for anyone that would listen and enjoy them from anywhere in the world. So worrying too much about what someone’s going to say here doesn’t matter much to me at all.
Music like any other creative pursuit involves taking risks and I think with me, taking risks and having fun is the goal. I want to have fun with my art. I want to let my art speak and not be tied down by weird arbitrary rules of what I can and can’t say.
It’s hilarious how saying a bad word is controversial but showing someone, for example, getting shot is allowed. In terms of the birth of the song, I usually just want to make music that people can have fun with.
I wanted a track where people could just get funky and dance to in a club or a live show and just get loose with. I wanted the song to give out badass vibes so, whilst making it, I tried to inject as many badass elements as I could into it—grimy 80s synth key progressions, dirty thick bass lines, a catchy chorus, and top that off with a bunch of soul.
What are some of your musical inspirations and how do they go into creating your music?
Funk, disco and soul has so much of a hold in terms of my musical influences. Artists like James Brown, Jamiroquai, Stevie Wonder, and Prince have always been a massive inspiration and influence growing up. I think that reflects a lot in my sound selection.
I also take from the newer artists like Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, Shakka and many more in terms of bringing in that fresher current sound and lingo into my songs. I like the idea of putting today’s fresh spin on the sounds and influences of yesteryear.
What are some of the most memorable experiences you’ve had in your career as an artist in Malaysia?
I think nothing beats playing in front of twenty thousand people right before Sabrina Claudio at Good Vibes Festival 2019. That was incredible. Being able to work with Netflix on the #SicReview for their series DayBreak, was also incredible.
Besides that, being able to strut the runways on Mercedes Benz fashion weeks with the models whilst performing was another unique mind blowing experience. Or opening for Joss stone—a Grammy nominated artist. Ain’t nothing quite like it.
I’ve been blessed in my career to do these things. For a little boy from Taman Melawati, I’m grateful for the cool opportunities my music has given me.
You’ve previously mentioned that your mentor Altimet, often shares his knowledge and wisdom with you and your label mates. What did he think of your newest single?
Yes, Altimet definitely is a great mentor. The man is probably one of the wisest humans I’ve ever met. Watching him handle everything whether it’s the artistry of music or the business of it all, it truly is awe inspiring.
He saw what I was trying to do with the track from the get go. He knew that I was trying to inject something fresh with what I was doing, coming out as a solo artist.
He also knows the order of songs I’m releasing and sees the bigger picture of what I’m trying to achieve with this music thing. He has guided me with his words but most importantly his actions. I’m a lucky guy to have an icon like him backing me and guiding me through this.
You’ve worked closely with a number of producers in making BAD BAD. What are some of the things you’ve learned from working so closely with them and what’s it like writing this closely with MØNK?
Working with MØNK has been incredible. For a young guy, his sound selection is absolutely impeccable. The dude finesses his way through these beats like butter.
He just has such a fresh perspective of sound and really knows what he’s doing. I couldn’t have asked for someone sweeter to work with and I truly appreciate the bond we built, working on this track throughout the pandemic.
Saint Kylo’s debut single BAD BAD is now available on all music streaming platforms while the accompanying music video is premiering tomorrow, 18 August at 3PM on his YouTube channel. Check it out!