In his own life, Cédric Steinmyller plays two roles. There’s the quiet, observant young man, whose crystal blue eyes peer downward as he speaks. And then there is Klingande, the sensational commercial house icon who dominates the decks with the same confident ferocity that’s made him one to watch since 2012. When we connect with him during Miami Music Week, we meet both personas. Though seemingly shy upon introduction, Steinmyller possesses a friendly and relaxed demeanor. “It’s very easy to connect with people here,” he tells DJ Mag. “It’s one of the best times of the year.” He feels at home in South Beach, and for good reason. The day is both a homecoming and a reunion; in a few hours he will appear on a line-up alongside collaborators and longtime friends like Chicago-based trio, Autograf, and South African live house duo, Goldfish. Our casual meeting at The
Sagamore Hotel precedes the fifth annual installment of Klingande’s Playground, a high-energy pool party that has become a destination for live music lovers during this ‘holy week’ for all things EDM. Steinmyller excuses himself early from lunch, his plate littered with leftover pizza crusts. “I have to go to my room to work on my set now,” he says through his thick French accent. He is on a mission. When he reappears at dusk, it will be in the form of the dauntless DJ we’ve only ever witnessed from deep within the crowd. Klingande found fame fast. The 27-year-old producer and DJ emerged a phenomenon after his hit track ‘Jubel’ defined the sound of the summer in 2014. To date, the smooth-as-silk, sax-heavy single has accumulated over 200 million views on YouTube, with a combined 250 million streams on Spotify and SoundCloud to boot. The uplifting groove continues to garner tens of thousands of streams on Spotify each month, with those numbers darting even higher during warmer seasons.
But Steinmyller will be the first to admit that a lot has changed since ‘Jubel’ became Europe’s most Shazamed track, landing in the number one spot in 30 different countries. Formerly a production duo, Klingande is now a solo endeavor. Between this transition and the playing of more than 500 shows since 2014, Steinmyller’s artistic process inevitably evolved. Singles alone can no longer tell this artist’s tale. Five years later, he has a more complete story to share, and it’s called ‘The Album’. He cracks a modest smile when we ask him about his boldly-titled passion project. “This is the album I’ve talked about so much, ever since I began making music years ago,” Steinmyller shares. “By listening, fans are really going to get to know me better and understand everything I’ve done so far.”
When ‘The Album’ drops in September, it will come as a two-disc concept. On the first disc (called ‘A’), listeners will discover a collection of completely new works from Klingande — songs bearing acoustic samples and pop-leaning sensibilities. ‘A’ is void of his signature saxophone wails — it is a new anthology created specifically for ‘The Album’. The other, known as ‘B’, is where longtime fans will find dreamy productions like ‘Punga’, ‘RIVA (Restart the Game)’ and ‘Losing U’ — the very tracks that made them fall in love with Klingande’s ambitious, instrumental melodies in the first place. Like the audio equivalent of a before-and-after picture, ‘The Album’ includes every single Klingande has released up until now, paired with a body of brave new sounds.
Ahead of his MMW appearance, Klingande released the LP’s first single, ‘By The River’, a driving, folk-rock ballad featuring soulful vocals by British singer-songwriter, Jamie N Commons. Cyclical guitar strums make this song stand out from Klingande’s former productions, and its corresponding music video (which now has more than half a million views on YouTube) turns heads a step further still. Featuring influencer and social media personality, Jay Alvarrez, the cinematic adventure begins with a mysterious phone call from Cédric. The pair then embark on a skydiving outing, ride dirt bikes through the desert and scuba dive through an underwater sculpture museum.
When we inquire as to why there aren’t any shots of Klingande in freefall, he bursts out laughing. “It was my first jump so I had to wear a red suit, and I was strapped to another guy,” he explains. “So here’s Jay doing all of these tricks and crazy shit, and here I am like ‘Uhhh?’” He makes a sinking motion with his hand. “I want to do it again one day so I can actually fly.” He’s clearly not afraid to let his guard down or explore the unknown, a trait that is so critical when it comes time to compose. Steinmyller does not come from a musical family, nor did he play instruments as a child, and yet he bears the ear and perfectionist spirit of a classically-trained musician.
“I always want to showcase the organic side of music, because that is what I love — some sax, some harmonica, some violin — those kinds of sounds,” he remarks. “I want my musicians to be able to play my songs. I want each one to be something special.” This offers some insight into his kinship with his two touring ‘bandmates,’ a professional saxophone player and an electric violinist, who perform live at every show. While the chemistry the three share on stage is noticeable, it seems their relationship brings a sense of grounding to Klingande’s offstage life as well. Whether perusing jazz clubs together on an off weekend in New Orleans or sampling exotic foods like crocodile after a good set, Klingande says these friendships, as well as that of his tour manager, are essential to the maintenance of his mental health while on the road.
“They are older than me so if I do stupid shit, they keep me in line,” he admits through a smirk. “I would not have this life if I had to do it alone. It would not be for me. It’s important I have someone to experience it with — people to celebrate with after the set. At the end of the night, we can all say it’s good, and share that [success] together.”
There’s no doubt that Klingande and his musicians elevate one another’s talents. During their MMW performance they dance and drive the crowd’s energy to a feverish high. They seamlessly slam through Klingande originals and fresh bangers like ‘Hands Off’, a bouncy selection by Me & My Toothbrush, with admirable finesse. It wouldn’t be a Klingande set without a smattering of instrumental remixes of house classics too, like a twinkling version of Daft Punk’s ‘One More Time’ that keeps the dancefloor hot well after the sun has set.
Any sheepishness we may have sensed at the beginning of our interview is long gone by the time Cédric hits the pool deck in his all-black ensemble and matching bandana. Like a flipside personified, Klingande has arrived. We immediately notice the knack he has for balancing time between the mic and the decks. He coaxes the crowd only when the time is right, and otherwise lets his infectiously fun beats speak for themselves. It may be the very last day of MMW but the fans are giving every last drop of enthusiasm to the man of the hour. And he accepts that love as the gracious performer he is, happy to meet fans and connect one-on-one after the show. Klingande and his tight knit team had a lot tocelebrate over these last few months. The wildly successful MMW pool party is a worthy precursor to The Intimate Tour, a 14-date romp to small venues in select cities across North America and Europe. These stops are tailored to introduce listeners to the new album in a personal setting. “The Intimate Tour is a great way to connect with the huge fans and share a real moment with them,” Klingande explains. “At these small clubs I can explain to them a little about each song, and with whom I made it. I think it’s the right start. It will allow me to really play out this music.”
The tour lines up with the release of his second single, ‘Ready For Love’, out just before summer festival season sweeps the States. Featuring singersongwriter, Joe Killington, and French harmonica player, Greg Zlap, chances are by the time this article hits stands, this catchy track will have already racked up thousands of daily listens across major streaming platforms. It will still be another three months before the world is introduced to ‘The Album’, but with every additional release and tour stop, fans will get to know the real Steinmyller a little bit better; the bashful but bold, profound but playful person who exists behind a bevy of radio-ready hits. If there’s any question left as to who the man Cédric Steinmyller is, he says fans will have the answer soon: “Listen to ‘The Album’, and you will know me.”