"Don’t expect anything from me, don’t box me into anything because I have so much range to what I can do, and I want to do it all – and I will."
Kyle Dion is back, blessing the world’s ears with his latest brilliantly energetic album, ‘SASSY’. Shifting away from the soul-infused sounds poured through his last album, ‘SUGA’ - Kyle Dion is throwing away the rule book and adding a new sound to his artistry. Listening to SASSY, it felt nostalgic, like I was overhearing the television blasting the most iconic MTV music videos of the early 2000’s. SASSY is an electrifying roller-coaster ride of an album from start to finish, with plenty of surprises along the way.
Growing up in the golden era of 90’s and early 2000’s pop, Kyle admits he never actually remembers the moment he knew he wanted to pursue music, the feeling was always there. A lot of his growing up happened around his father, who was a local rapper. He would often take him to the studio with him, amazed by the intricacies of music making, Kyle's path to stardom was set in stone.
Kyle’s electrifying sound on this record came from him simply tossing the rulebooks over his shoulder, never even thinking about picking them up. “It was so fun, getting crazy in the studio and not really thinking about the ‘rules’ of music” Kyle tells me... “It was just what we felt and what we wanted to say” - leading to an ultimately ambitious and feel-good album. As a result of Kyle dancing his way into this exciting new direction, he allowed some dear friends into his boisterous world, creating standout collaborations throughout the album. SASSY brings the funk with Duckwrth, Channel Tres, Kari Faux and the infamous Ja Rule – adding new dynamics to Kyle’s musical landscape.
SASSY is concreting Kyle’s reinvention of himself as an artist, and offering listeners an escape, giving fans “a time to stop thinking so seriously about everything” he admits. So with that, turn up the volume - it is time to sit back and have a blast!
I read somewhere that your dad was a rapper? What was that like?
When I was born my mum and my dad split, they were quite young... my dad was rapping locally, and he was making a name for himself locally. He always had me in the studio with his boys, I was growing up around the studio which was very, very dope. I remember hearing auto-tune for the first time and being so intrigued!
Do you remember that moment you decided you wanted to pursue music?
I don’t actually remember that moment, I just always grew up around music so I always knew what I wanted to do from a very young age. It has always been there for as long as I can remember!
Tell me about your latest album ‘SASSY’.
After releasing my last album and after going on tour, my writing partner and I got in a few sessions to start getting this next project going... just figuring out what we wanted it to sound like. That’s when I met Chris Hartz, and we just clicked. He’s an Aries like me, so we are fucking crazy. We made a song together and put it out in 2019, and I just felt like the vibe in the studio with him was just a vibe that I had never felt working with anyone else, I felt like I was really able to be myself and stay true to who I am, and I felt like there was no better person to make this album with than him. He was super down, and we created magic. It was so fun, getting crazy in the studio and not really thinking about the ‘rules’ of music, it was just what we felt and what we wanted to say. It was all a very natural process. It was ambitious and fun, and that is what I think you’ll hear in the album. It is a real feel-good album; it is funny and exciting and you’ll have fun the whole way through.
"It was so fun, getting crazy in the studio and not really thinking about the ‘rules’ of music, it was just what we felt and what we wanted to say. It was all a very natural process. It was ambitious and fun, and that is what I think you’ll hear in the album."
Your album feels nostalgic, I think in the way it reminds me of 2000’s music all over MTV and things like that – did your early tastes in music reflect on the album?
I think so for sure, we went into it with the mindset of the early 2000’s... but there are so many layers to the album, there are so many hints to things from the early 2000’s like cadences or melodies, even just structurally and sonically there are multiple songs where subconsciously it is quite nostalgic, so you feel that way without even thinking about it.
What was the writing process like for the album?
The writing process was my favourite part of it all, the creating process is so much more fun than it ending and having to do the logistical shit. It started at the top of 2020, and ended this year around April, so almost a year and a half. It was a lot of fun working with everyone involved, they have a different perspective than me and that’s why I love having people in the room, to challenge the way I think or to bring a different light to the music in a way that I wouldn’t naturally do. It was crazy too, there was laughs and fights and crying, there was a lot of self-doubt towards the end of it all – it was almost like an ego death... my executive producer told me that’s what usually happens after putting yourself into it, and then having a crisis. Four months ago, I was in this crazy state of mind, thinking to myself “What’s going on? What am I doing? Did I do all this shit right?” but after I got out of that funk, it was perfect. It was everything that I was feeling and it was everything that I wanted to give off in that time, and I soon felt like there was no other way or time to put it out than right now. I’ve sat with it for so long, everyone is always changing and I’m changing as a person and I’m ready to tour this album, create new shit and I want to give the world this because I feel like it’s really special. It has a good balance of comedy and real artistry, which is hard to pull off, and I think we did. People need to laugh now and they need to smile and have fun, and that is exactly what this album gives off.
How did you know it was ready?
I feel like you just know... when we put the track list together, we just knew it was it. There is no way to really tell, it's more of a feeling and I definitely felt that in April. I felt like that was all I had to give for this album, I spent so much time on it, this is what it is so I’m going to seal it off.
Before, you mentioned that period of self-doubt – how do you combat that?
Honestly, just taking a step back from it all and taking it in like it was the first time I had heard it helped a lot. I had to remember the first time I heard it, because every time I make a song, I listen to it a thousand times until I love it, and that is the feeling a lot of people will get when they first hear these songs, you are basing your opinion by listening to it with no opinions or feedback from anyone, and that is the mindset I had to put myself in to get me out of that funk.
Do you think collaboration is important?
I think it is very important, but this is the first time I have properly collaborated with anyone on my own shit, apart from one song on the deluxe version of ‘SUGA’, where I had UMI and Duckwrth on ‘Play Too Much’, and I just always felt like I was creating worlds of my own, and I guess subconsciously I thought that I didn’t need any features on my songs, I was just doing my own thing... but for this album, I felt like I was pushing everything I usually think when I make music, and I was so open to collaboration. Let's bring people into this world! It happened very naturally, Duckwrth is a good friend of mine, we have been friends for years – and then Channel Tres and I have been friends for a couple of years too and we always wanted to make something together, so we finally did. I met Kari Faux through Chris. Ja Rule was a stretch! We thought about how cool it would to have him on a song because it would really give us this nostalgic feel, and he was super excited about it! I love how it was so unexpected, and that’s the tone I wanted to give off as well... don’t expect anything from me, don’t box me into anything because I have so much range to what I can do, and I want to do it all – and I will.
Listen to Kyle Dion's latest album, 'SASSY' on Spotify below:
Kyle Dion is the star of Tenner Magazine's September digital cover.
Words by Oli Spencer
Photography by Oli Spencer, shot over FaceTime