Behind the Beat

Interview with EDM DJ Ken Loi on how he gets inspired with Sony EXTRA BASS headphones

San Francisco-based EDM DJ Ken Loi has had a passion for music for as long as he can remember. His musical roots can be traced back to as early as eight years old when he began to play the piano. As his talents and interests evolved, Loi’s hunger for music led him to success in the electronic genre. After releasing his first vocal record, EDM DJ icon Tiësto named Loi “Breakthrough Artist of the Year” in DJ Mag. Today, Loi’s fan base only continues to grow as he plays shows in venues all over the U.S., including a recent gig at the official Super Bowl VIP pregame party at Levi’s Stadium.  

In his decade-long music career, EDM DJ Ken Loi has found that musical inspiration doesn’t come from simply listening to the latest EDM hits. In fact, Loi’s biggest inspiration comes from life experiences. Channeling his different emotions into sound has led Loi to produce all kinds of music, from high-energy electro house songs to trance style tunes that all reflect his own personal style. This variety of sound is what Loi says he loves most about EDM music.

Loi also looks for diversity when it comes to his headphones. He owns multiple pairs, all of which serve a distinct musical purpose. But Loi says he’s found a new favourite with the Sony MDR-XB650BT EXTRA BASS Bluetooth® Headphones. Equipped with powerful 3.98 cm neodymium drivers combined with Beat Response Control and an Electro Bass Booster, these industry-leading headphones gave Loi the perfect balance of sound needed to create and listen to music. 

Read this interview with EDM DJ Loi to learn about his journey to becoming a DJ and his experience using Sony’s MDR-XB650BT EXTRA BASS headphones. 

Q: How long have you been creating music, and how has your music evolved over time?

EDM DJ Loi: I’ve been making music since I was in college, so it’s been about 10 years all together and professionally it’s been about five years. My creative process is still similar in that I center my songs around chord progressions first and then the drums. I try to capture the right feeling and then decide if it’s something I want to invest more time into. The great thing is that I have a library of sketches in progress that I could go back to at a later time. Today, I focus a lot more on songwriting and arrangement and a bit less on records that are too chaotic. I used to throw every cool sound I could make all into one track. I’ve learned that less is more!

Q: What made you gravitate towards EDM music? Have you always wanted to be an EDM DJ?

EDM DJ Loi: There are so many genres in EDM, and that’s why I really fell in love with it. I like that dance music can range from high-energy, hands–in-the-air tracks to relaxing songs you can fall asleep to. I first listened to more instrumental records and they really take you on a journey. In many ways it’s similar to classical music, but with all the movements in one song. I always thought being a DJ would be fun, but my first priority was creating music. Becoming an EDM DJ came later after I started to release music and I could play some of my own records. Making music and DJing came hand-in-hand and I’ve loved doing both ever since.

Q: Who or what has influenced your music?

EDM DJ Loi: A big part of my influence came from playing piano since I was eight years old. It taught me about melodies and a lot about emotion. I use those skills every day when I sit down to create a song. Life itself is also a big influence. Every song I’ve ever made represents a different emotion I am feeling in that moment. There’s a general style I normally follow, but anything goes for each session. There are also several producers I draw inspiration from. My top one would probably be Kaskade because those records are focused heavily on unique vocalists and great melodies.

Q: What’s next for you in your career? 

EDM DJ Loi: I’m currently experimenting with different genres and trying to incorporate them into my productions. It’s quite difficult, but I think the result will pay off. Aside from that, I’m always learning and furthering my production techniques. There are tons of projects in the works and some on the back burner that I’d like to revisit. Also, there is a lot of new music that will be coming out at the end of the year and I am very excited for that!

Q: How do headphones play into the music production process?

EDM DJ Loi: I know my headphones I own well, so depending on what I am checking for in a mix down, I may use a certain pair to listen to the details. I like to use a variety of pairs for comparison because I always notice something new. It’s all about learning about the pair of headphones you own and finding the right purpose for them. I use different pairs to reference, produce and listen to music in my everyday life.

Q: What are some of the qualities you look for in audio equipment when producing or listening to music?

EDM DJ Loi: For producing, I’m looking for sound quality, which is always the top priority. Then I look for reliability, comfort and cost. When I’m producing, I look for the flattest response possible (sound that isn’t cut or boosted, which can make normal listening dull in comparison). And for daily music listening, I look for the same qualities, but I prefer headphones that makes the music sound alive!

Q: How did the EXTRA BASS headphones impact your production process or listening experience? 

EDM DJ Loi: Definitely a nice big warm sound for my listening experience! Some headphones either pack too much bass or are too flat on the low end, but I find that the EXTRA BASS headphones are the perfect balance. They have a good bass response that isn’t overwhelming, clear mids/highs and excellent stereo image. I also found them useful for producing when I’m quickly laying down an idea on my laptop. It just sounds great and gives you inspiration for how you want the track to sound. This is my first Bluetooth® pair and my favourite pair so far. 

Q: What did you think about the Bass Booster technology? 

EDM DJ Loi: I really like it. It’s very punchy and warm, especially when you crank it up a little, and makes you feel like you’re at the club. They sounded great on all genres of EDM and crazy good on tracks with those heavy 808 bass samples.

Q: What were some of your favourite features of the headphones? 

EDM DJ Loi: The bass, of course! The Bluetooth® connectivity is also really nice. I never realized how annoying chords are until you aren’t tripping and knocking things over anymore! The styling is very clean and I love the red colour these come in. The sound isolation is also really nice.

Q: How was your overall experience using the MDR-XB650BT headphones?

EDM DJ Loi: The cushioning is soft and the headband is the perfect tension. It feels very snug. I was able to wear these for a long period of time while listening to music and producing. It sounds good, looks good and makes you feel good. I’m happy with these headphones!

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