In the 1950s, music like the smooth swing tunes of Frank Sinatra defined what it sounded like to fall in love — a sophisticated, subdued sound, reminiscent of film noir imagery like slow dances and glasses of whiskey.
In the modern age, however, I’d imagine falling in love sounds more like the tunes that Dallas-based electronic artist kevtor puts out: bright electronic tones and layered synthesizer chords that capture the excitement associated with modern romantic milestones like sending a Snapchat to your crush.
If the sounds that are so representative of love have shifted, so have the faces of the artists behind them — from the mysterious and far-removed Frank Sinatra, for example, to people like twenty-three-year-old kevtor, a recent college graduate busy checking off life milestones just like the rest of us. Maybe that’s why his songs feel so personal and transparent, reaching close into the listener and drawing them in with such an earnest, honest charm.
Kevtor recently played his first live show — a forty-minute set in the driveway of an Airbnb that he rented out with his friends — and finds time to record new music in between a full-time job as a music teacher. Not so mysterious and far removed, after all.
See what kevtor had to say in his phone interview with The Bottom Line below:
How would you describe your sound and music?
“It’s really hard to put myself into a genre, but if I had to, I would say electropop. I try to take a lot of inspiration from all sorts of places. To name a few people: Toro y Moi, Mark Redito, y’know, people like that. But I have a lot of roots in emo music from the mid-2000s, so I don’t know — it’s kind of a mess. [laughs] But I guess my sound is dreamy electronic pop.”
One thing I’ve noticed is that all of your songs feel very personal and wholesome, for lack of a better word. They elicit a lot of happy emotions for me. Is that something you aim for in your music?
“It’s not exactly something that I actively try to do, but I did notice that a lot of my music is kind of happier. I try to be very real and make it an accurate reflection of myself. But it’s weird because I kind of — I think I’m depressed.”
“I guess I’m going to have to throw out a single song. ‘Without You’ has a very positive tone, but if you look at the lyrics, they’re not happy at all. So you’re right in that I do tend to gravitate towards a positive sound, but I’m not sure if that’s because I’m trying to be that. I kind of just really let my creativity flow and if it goes that way, that’s the way it goes. And however people interpret that, that’s fine with me as long as I make someone feel something.”
So “i like you too” is one of your most-listened to songs on SoundCloud. Could you tell us more about your inspiration behind it?
“‘i like you too’ is just kind of that pure feeling of joy when you find out that someone likes you back. It’s kind of like that honeymoon phase when you’re just starting to date someone, you know, ‘Nothing could go wrong! Everything’s good!’ It’s kind of that feeling.”
“Extrapolation” was your first venture into electronic music. Before that, was there a specific genre that you focused on?
“Before that, I wanted to make it as an indie musician. But that wasn’t really a serious thing, and I never actually went beyond making covers of songs that I liked. Before ‘Extrapolation,’ I guess I was an emo indie kid, and now I’m an emo electronic kid. [laughs] I don’t know. It’s hard to paint myself. I’m kind of reverting back into indie emo kid.”
Do you have any plans to experiment more with different sounds and genres? Or get more “emo?”
“Yeah, actually! I think ‘Apricot’ is a pretty big departure from some of my other stuff in that I use more guitar and get a little more creative with the beats. With ‘galaxy girl’ and anything before that, I was looking for more of hip-hop and R&B-inspired drum sounds and beats.”
“But with ‘Apricot,’ I really wanted to kind of mix it up. I don’t have an actual drum kit set, so I just had to use the default acoustic drum set on my program. But there’s a little bit of guitar in there too that I put in, so it’s kind of like a merger between the two. Right now, I’m trying to find the midway between analog and digital.”
Besides the music of other artists, what are some other sources of inspiration for you?
“Memories. Feelings. I’m a very nostalgic person. When I make my songs, I’m always thinking of something, but I don’t always know exactly what.”
“But inspiration is really hard to come by. I kind of just let the music come to me, instead of actively reaching out for it, which could be a blessing and a curse, because that means you have a lot of droughts. As far as inspiration goes, it just has to come to me for now.”
When you’re not making music, do you have any hobbies that help you recharge your creativity?
“I don’t know if you could call this a hobby, but I like to go outside in my backyard at night and just look at the stars. And just kind of relax for a moment. You know, work, life, and all that stuff happens, and it’s just nice for me to just go outside. I do that probably every night. As far as other hobbies, I like anime, movies, and your typical nerdy shit.”
Could you tell us some goals that you have musically or personally for 2018?
“For 2018, I definitely want to change my sound to something more like ‘Apricot.’ I think that’s a big step in the direction that I want to go towards. So as far as my music goes, I definitely want to make more music like that. For me, I want to keep learning. I really love jazz as a genre, so I want to learn more about that, kind of implement that into my music. You know, just keep learning and keep creating. That’s all.”
For people who might be new to your music, do you have any specific songs that you want to recommend?
“‘Apricot!’ [laughs] People seem to like ‘i like you too‘ a lot. And for the last one, maybe ‘Without you?’ That’s a really intimate one, but yeah. That’s my top three.”
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