Stadium Sessions, Vol. 1: Sango
by Ian Peterson·
Growing up, I listened to a range of different genres & sounds: soul for breakfast, 80’s pop for lunch, and bossa nova for dinner. Like most modern music lovers out there, I was/am constantly in search of the next untapped sound. There were numerous outlets in the music universe that allowed me to venture into new worlds, but none other quite like SoundCloud.
When it came to SoundCloud in the early 2010’s (dubstep aside), an entirely new generation of artists - specifically, producers - were beginning to flourish, beaming straight into the spotlight. From Flume and Odesza to Kaytrananda and Mura Masa, it was only the start of what was yet to come for these future stars…
However, one artist stood out to me in particular. Whether it was fate or just countless hours in search of the next best dance song to bump to, I came across Kai Wright, a.k.a. Sango. And if you don’t already know who he is, here’s just a taste.
Sango, like me, is from Seattle. Unlike me, he is an extremely talented producer & DJ. Best known for his remixes of Drake, Solange x Carti & The Weekend (to name a few), Sango has mastered the art of innovating sound through various cultures & genres. Remixes aside, he’s produced for some of the biggest names in hip-hop & R&B - including Tinashe, Smino, Xavier Omar, Denzel Curry, and Frank Ocean. His debut album ‘North’ helped him emerge as one of the best up-and-coming producers in the scene.
Since launching his career & joining the LA-based collective Soulection, Sango has continued to put out timeless gem after timeless gem for our pleasure, elevating his sound by tapping into other genres, which is on full display through his Baile Funk EP series 'Da Rocinha.' Simply put, he creates music for the vibers, utilizing his location, distinctive style and diverse background to captivate all types of audiences. Whether you enjoy Brazilian funk or R&B, there’s a Sango track for everyone.
We had the absolute pleasure of talking to the Seattle native about life as a creative, the evolution of his sound, and what the future has in store. Without further ado, we present to you, Sango. Welcome to Stadium Sessions, Volume 1.
How did you first get into producing music & who was your biggest inspiration growing up?
I got into production when I was about 9-years-old. My brother and I would try to create music on my mom’s desktop, which was gifted to her where we downloaded ACID Pro and FL Studio to try and practice daily. My biggest influence would have to be Timbaland growing up.
How did you come up with your stage name “Sango”?
I got the name Sango from watching anime growing up. It also comes from the Yoruba spirit, Shango.
How has growing up in Seattle influenced your beginnings as a DJ, producer, & creative in general?
Growing up in Seattle was the best. Many people don’t realize the rich culture, which lies in the city. The city exposed me to so much music at an early age and shaped my view on world music as well.
How has going to school & living in Michigan impacted your music?
In Michigan, we have our own way of seeing music, which is different from any other region in the world. We see music as reclaimed history. Some of the biggest and best musicians in the world come from the Midwest. Michael Jackson & Motown, Prince, Anita Baker, Madonna, etc. are all from the Midwest. That pride we have is in us and we carry it everywhere.
Location seems to play a big role in the creation of your music. What has been the biggest impact during your journey to find your sound, specifically with regards to proximity & the various places you’ve lived?
The places you live in can directly shape your view in literally everything. The biggest impact I’ve had is a sense of self. I find pride in knowing I’m not from the biggest city, never went to a rich school and never came from a rich family.
There’s a Sango SoundCloud remix for everyone. What is your personal favorite remix from the 2010s?
My favorite remix has to be my Nights Remix for Frank Ocean.
What/who have you been listening to lately?
Say it with me, “Amapiano.”
From hip-hop to baile funk, how have you seen (or heard) your sound evolve over time?
I have certainly witnessed an elevation of my sound through others. I’ve met many people who have said my music inspired them, which means so much to me. The music those people have made has definitely taken the whole sound a step further.
How has Soulection impacted your life & artistic career?
Soulecton will always be homebase. They’ve helped so much with not just my music career, but along with many others. They have always been supportive and innovative. You can count on them to really shine light on the unknown.
Aside from producing, you’re also a talented designer - known for designing each of your releases to date. How did you get into design & what is your process for creating album artwork?
Since youth, I have always been obsessed with album art. I used to play around with MS Paint at school and caught that design bug. I later went to Western Michigan University for graphic design and obtained my BFA. The process from music to album art is fully based on the story I’m telling and how art can tie the knot with sound.
Who are some of your favorite artists that you’ve worked with in the past & do you have a dream collab?
I have always enjoyed creating with Xavier Omär and Dave B. My dream collab would have to be working with Timbaland.
What’s the story behind your Da Rocinha series?
The Da Rocinha series is a series dedicated to the sound of Rio de Janeiro. I fell in love with that sound years ago and it felt right to pay full homage to the birthplace of Baile Funk/Funk Carioca, Favela Rocinha.
Your latest 8-track project “97” with Juniper is a colorful & dynamic R&B masterpiece with an experimental twist. With this EP - as well as countless collaborations in the past - how are you able to seamlessly craft an all-encompassing soundscape with your vocal counterparts?
I feel like one of my gifts is knowing how to convert stories into canvases for artists to express themselves.
What’s next for Kai Wright?
My next album and more investing into my communities within Grand Rapids and Seattle.
You can listen to Sango on all streaming services, including Spotify, Apple Music & SoundCloud (P.S., he just put out his MIX PACK 2016-2023). Also, be sure to follow him on IG & Twitter for all-things Sango.
We also put together a curated Sango Spotify playlist, including all of the Seattle-native's most recognizable productions & hidden gems. You can check it out here.