The Sky’s The Limit for DJ/Producer Valentino Khan [Q&A]

Screenshot 2022 11 02 at 4.37.58 PMAre you a fan of Valentino Khan? The Los Angeles-based DJ and producer has graced a musical career that has yet to reach its limits. His versatility has granted him production credits for the likes of French Montana, 2 Chainz, Yung Gravy, Lil Pump, and Dizzee Rascal. His collaborations as a producer further include working with Major Lazer, Skrillex, Diplo, Bruno Mars, and Tyga. A heavyweight in his own right, Valentino Khan aims to break barriers and to continue pushing the envelope forward in dance music, a trait similar to those that inspired him in the first place.

Born and raised in LA, specifically the Van Nuys neighborhood, the producer has encapsulated the culture of his hometown in not only his personality but artist brand as well. Valentino’s journey whilst growing up in LA has made him who he is today, and he’s taken that with him from performances at The Palladium on Sunset Boulevard, Lollapalooza, Ultra Music Festival, or even becoming the very first to DJ at WWE’s marquee event Wrestlemania. In light of his illustrious career, we managed to catch up with the beatmaker to chat about all things music and more.

Who are you and how would you describe your project? 

“I’m Valentino Khan, a music producer & DJ born and raised in Los Angeles.  My sound is inspired by everything and nothing at the same time.”

What has been your goal for your music, and how would you want listeners to perceive it?

“My goal has always been to push things forward with my sound.  If you’ve inspired the next generation, you’ve done your part at the end of the day.  Hopefully, I’m beginning to do that while keeping the sound versatile throughout it all.  I don’t particularly have a certain way I’d like for it to be perceived, but I just hope it resonates with people and is a catalyst for others to want to create something groundbreaking.”

Born and raised in LA, what was it like growing up in your neighborhood?

“I grew up mostly in Van Nuys and I loved being around such a diverse neighborhood.  I love that LA is such a melting pot and you get the best of every culture.  The more we are able to share all of that with each other, the more we grow as humans.  In a way, it gave me a very worldly experience at a local level and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

 How much has changed around you over the years and what are your impressions of it?

“I think if you love anything in this world it has its ups & downs but the most important thing is you stay firm & strong with that love no matter what.  You want the best for it.  I still think there are so many positives to living here and it just encourages you to evolve as a person every day.  In my heart I just want LA to be the best at everything, I take a lot of pride in all of that.”

Any go-to hangout spots, what parts of LA do you admire the most?

“I love that Los Angeles is this massive city composed of all these mini neighborhoods, each with its own personality. The great part about this town is that there’s always something new popping up. That falls in line with me loving the cocktail bar and restaurant scene out here. It never gets boring. I can’t say there’s a particular area of LA that I’m most fond of, it just depends on the mood.  If you want a relaxing day to clear your mind, roll down to Santa Monica or Malibu.  If you want a gritty night full of surprises go downtown. We’re pretty fortunate to have all of these options available to us. All that being said, sometimes you’ll find me hitting up Jack In The Box or a taco truck at the end of the night.”

What was your local music scene like as you grew up? What did you like and what didn’t you like?

“There wasn’t much I didn’t like. One of the best parts of growing up in LA is the diversity here.  No matter what genre of music you’re trying to dive into, it’s all here. As far as breaking into the scene itself, the opportunities are all out here.  I think the most important part that goes overlooked is that you’re around a lot of driven, like-minded people.  For any artists that are at their launching point, it’s a great thing to be surrounded by peers that have the same mindset at the very least.  I think the mentality in LA is very much “sky’s the limit” and that can be such a powerful motivator especially when you’re just starting out.”

What were your early approaches to music and what has changed now?

“I was making music before dance music even hit America so I always approached things from a producer’s perspective.  Early on I was making beats for rappers prior to having a sustainable career as a DJ so I always tried to have the mindset of making great songs with vocals.  It’s great to be able to actually test these records out at clubs and festivals and see what really engages people.  You don’t really have that barometer available to you when you’re just sitting in the studio.  I always view it as this transference of energy between me and the audience.  I’ve always felt I have the versatility to create any sound with my music so I’ve always tried to keep that spirit alive with everything I play or create.”

Why the rave? What parts about it, of electronic music, inspired you to pursue a career in music?

“I think it’s that sense of freedom to make & play whatever you want.  I like the fact that I can start with a blank canvas and have complete control over what comes out of those speakers & what I deliver to my listeners.  I never thought I’d be a touring act or traveling the world playing music in my lifetime.  My main goal when I began was just to produce great music for other artists.  So I never really thought I’d also be an artist myself.  People will always try to place you within a box but I think it’s pretty refreshing that I can go on stage and for the most part do whatever I want.”

You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that your family, especially your brother, influenced your music tastes, can you elaborate on that?

“I was mostly consuming rap music at the time but one day I passed by my brother’s room and he was playing “Waters of Nazareth” by Justice.  The sounds were so distortedly mind-blowing that I had to ask him about it.  That’s what broke that barrier for me and fueled me to start listening to dance music.   It’s one of those memories that I can vividly remember because it was an important moment for me.  When I was younger, my parents were always playing a dope variety of music around the house too.  James Brown, Prince, Parliament, and a whole bunch of hip hop.  I’m really thankful that I was exposed to such great musicality from everything they played while I was growing up.”

You’ve had early roots in dance music since before it rose to popularity in North America, how would you describe how quickly the industry emerged and what’s your take on where it all stands today?

“I think it’s in a great place today.  I know an increase in popularity tends to lead to the commercialization of music, but I think you can choose your adventure these days with dance music.  Whatever you’re craving to listen to at the moment, you can find it.  Especially here in LA, most weekends there’s a bass music act playing at the same time as say, a deep house artist.  There still is a thriving underground here where you’re able to watch the coming acts grow and make their mark.  Through all this, the thing that I hope we keep alive within dance music is that element of pushing boundaries.  That’s really what appealed to me when I first began this journey.  The exciting part was hearing something innovative and being so compelled to ask “what is that?”  So I hope the coming generations continue to move things forward in terms of the sound.”

You’ve collaborated with and have spent time in the studio with a decorative list of artists from Skrillex and Dillon Francis, to Sean Paul, and Yung Gravy; what keeps you going, and what do you hope lies ahead for you?

“I think the fact that I can pull up to the studio with just about any artist and create something special is what continues to motivate me.  I just want to create great moments that stand the test of time and at the end of the day be able to look back at a catalog that I’m proud of.  That process of working with an artist and creating a bed of music that perfectly compliments their vocals is a challenge that never gets old.  It’s all similar to putting together a puzzle.  I’ve never stopped wanting to learn more about the actual theory behind what makes a song truly great.  I still think I’ve only scratched the surface of what I’m capable of.”

Is there a message you’d like to share with the world, more specifically, residents of Los Angeles?

“To everyone in LA — in many ways, there wouldn’t be me without you.  I’m fortunate to have grown up in a city that encourages you to elevate yourself and achieve your dreams.  I can’t think of a better place to grow and thrive, especially as a creative person.  I’m blessed to feel the love from all of you on a daily basis.  Go Lakers.  Go Dodgers.  That’s it.”

It’s clear that the LA-based beatmaker has a knack for writing hits and there’s no denying the influence he’s had in the music industry. Without a template or blueprint in sight, Valentino Khan is getting it done his way. Follow Valentino on social media and listen to his latest hits below.

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