Kygo Helicoptered a Piano Up a Mountain for His Virtual Concert
On Thursday (or Friday, depending on your time zone), Kygo will release his virtual concert, performed from atop a snowy mountain in Norway’s Sunnmore Alps. To make it happen, the Norwegian DJ and pop hitmaker spent more than $100,000 of his own money, according to manager Myles Shear.
“Since I started touring, this is the longest time I’ve gone without playing a show so I wanted to do something really special in Norway,” Kygo tells Rolling Stone. “To me, the Sunnmore Alps are a perfect setting that displays the beauty of Norway. Growing up, I’ve spent a lot of time skiing and hiking in the mountains across Norway and wanted to show everyone who hasn’t been to Norway a bit of what it’s really like.”
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For the show’s presentation, Kygo partnered with the Scooter Braun-backed company Moment House, a video-streaming platform used by the likes of Billie Eilish and Clive Davis. He and Shear are both investors in the company through their Palm Tree Crew Holdings, alongside Braun, fellow music executive Troy Carter, and Jared Leto. “Moment House is an incredible platform that I really believe is going to be a major player in this space for years to come,” says Kygo. “This is the first time I’m bringing a real Kygo experience to my fans through their platform.”
Shear describes the logistics of setting everything up as “insane.” For one, a few of Kygo’s usual touring crew members flew in and had to follow strict quarantine rules for 14 days. “We have a special piano that we use, so we had a helicopter literally carry that in. It wasn’t easy,” Shear says. Kygo, who says the cold wind numbed his fingers, confirms that it’s the same glass piano he played during the entire Kids in Love tour.
“Also, people started hearing that this was going to happen,” he adds. “The last thing we wanted was people gathering. I was dealing with the local city to make sure nobody showed up. We were denying that there were any events.”
As for the high costs, Shear explains that he’s obsessed with fireworks and production. “When we saw Avicii, probably around six years ago, for the first time, I had Kygo play the same event. Kygo literally had no production, nothing at all. We saw Avicii and it was the best show we’d ever seen in our lives. I realized, from that point on in my life, that every show needed to look like that. Everything needs to be big. Everything matters. Every graphic, every firework is what brings the music to life… It elevates everything, and it’s part of the brand that we built around a Kygo show: vocalists, fireworks, pianos, and helicopters. I think there’s no show without that.”
The hour-long show will start at 6 p.m. P.T. on Thursday for those in North or South America. Moment House will delay the start time elsewhere for the convenience of fans in other regions. Access costs $15, but fans also have the option to buy a ticket bundled with a limited-edition t-shirt for $45. The entrepreneurial Kygo, who runs a lifestyle brand called X by Kygo when he’s not working on music, also makes headphones and earphones, so fans can get a ticket with either of those for $214.90 or $254, respectively. (Through Palm Tree Crew, Kygo and Shear are also investors in GoPuff, a delivery service for food, alcohol, and home essentials that promises to get costumers their goods within 30 minutes. Fans can get $10 off any GoPuff orders leading up to and during the performance.)
“This will be one of the most high-volume performances on Moment House to date,” Moment House founder and CEO Arjun Mehta tells Rolling Stone. “Fans from 105 countries have already purchased tickets [as of Tuesday afternoon.] The experience captures the essence of a Moment — a new creative unit that was never meant to compete with the concert experience but is different and compelling in its own way.”
This isn’t Kygo’s first foray into virtual concerts: He created an online festival around the release of his album, Golden Hour, last spring. Golden Hour Festival, which was powered by LiveXLive, featured performances from Alan Walker, Jimmy Buffett, One Republic, and Zac Brown, as well as Kygo.
When Kygo was preparing to put Golden Hour out, he was looking forward to a variety of ways promote the record like headlining music festival Ultra. “I had to cancel many shows,” Kygo says, adding that he found silver linings in being able to spend ample time “at home being creative, enjoying [his] new house, and breaking in the studio.”
Kygo’s team thought an online festival designed for a variety of music fans was the ideal choice at the start of the pandemic. Along with the multiple performances, Golden Hour Festival also had a magic show and guided meditation, as well as merch designed by celebrity tattoo artist Dr. Woo. Shear says they focused on creating a multi-pronged event partially because they wanted to raise as much money as possible for charities BABY2BABY and Live Nation’s Crew Nation. He adds that they ended up raising “a couple million dollars.”
This time around, though, it’s just Kygo and guest vocalists, so the focus was on making an intimate and cinematic experience. And Kygo decided to prerecord the Sunnmore Alps show due to challenges that can come with shooting on a mountaintop. The high-quality Moment House is one of the few platforms that offers plans for such events. Shear says it will still feel like a live show, pointing out that Kygo and his crew didn’t take any stoppage breaks during the filming. Pre-recording also lessened the impact of weather-related issues. “There was a day we were supposed to film, and we couldn’t,” says Shear. “It was too cloudy… It’s not like every day is magical there and you can go film.”
Before deciding on this mountain range — which also served as a filming location for the upcoming Mission: Impossible movie — Shear says they looked at “everywhere possible to create an amazing show,” including the pyramids in Egypt. In thinking of the fans, he says they wanted to bring to life something fantastical — in a year when life has felt far from fantastic. The pyrotechnics will likely help with that, while doing it in Kygo’s home country will make the experience feel more personal.
Shear says the investment will be worth it in the long-run: “We always do this. We played two nights at the Hollywood Bowl and we spent our entire fee on production. Even as the manager, I didn’t get a commission; I put all my money in as well. With any big staple show, we are investing our capital in it and building the brand out. It’s what’s made us who we are.”
This week’s set will include “classic hits from Cloud Nine, Kids in Love, and his latest record Golden Hour,” according to Moment House’s website. To find out if any new music is involved, fans will just have to tune in. However, Kygo did reveal that he’s been working on “a ton of new music that [he’s] really excited about.”
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