Kungs Talks Playing Fests Underage, What to Expect on Debut Album 'Layers'

Romain Staros


French DJ/producer Kungs, born Valentin Brunel, gained international recognition following his remix of “This Girl,” a track by Australian funk trio Cookin’ On 3 Burners. The 19 year old, who is often the youngest DJ on festival lineups across the globe, has witnessed the track climb the Billboard Hot 100 since its release back in February. Following its success, he talks with Billboard about travelling the world, meeting David Guetta, and his upcoming debut album Layers out Nov. 4.

“This Girl” continues to climb the charts. How does that feel?
It feels amazing because it’s a track I produced in my bedroom one year ago. I just heard this track on YouTube and I fell in love with it. I told myself that I really had to remix it and to add my personal touch to it; I didn’t expect such success. It was a strange blend and I thought that people wouldn’t understand the track, so I was really happy when I saw that the radio was playing it. At the beginning it blew up in France, in Europe, in Australia, and now it’s coming in the U.S. so it’s just crazy. Today my manager told me it went Gold in the U.S.

You’re only 19 -- what’s it like having your first international hit at that age?
It’s like being a little bird in front of 2,000 crocodiles, because there are so many talented people out there. At the same time, I’m the youngest person in every festival lineup, which I’m proud of. It’s a track I produced in my bedroom one year ago that I thought people wouldn’t understand -- I still get goose bumps when I see their reactions.

You’ve visited over 10 countries this summer. What’s it like to travel the world at such a young age?
It’s something that a lot of artists dream about, I think. I’m touring every day and this summer I had 40-50 gigs, so it was really intense and really tiring because sometimes I finish my set at 4 a.m. and I have a plane at 7 or 8 a.m., so I don’t sleep a lot. But it’s really cool, it’s like living a dream and I’m really thankful; I’m playing in big venues and really cool clubs all around the world. 

Since you’re French, has there been a funny miscommunication that you’ve had?
My tour manager is not the best English speaker, so sometimes we have some problems, and one day we were waiting for the driver who was taking us to the airport and [my manager] just said, “Ok, we are leaving,” but he meant we were arriving, so the driver thought that the flight was just leaving the airport we were at before and so we arrived and our driver was not there all because my tour manager can’t really speak English.

Is it strange coming into countries where you’re technically underage?
Yeah! It’s so weird because I can’t do anything [in America]. I was in Las Vegas for a few days, and I couldn’t even go to bars just to have a Coke. It’s strange -- in Europe you can drink at 18.

Who has been the coolest person you have met so far?
I had the chance to open for David Guetta -- I was nobody. When you say “David Guetta,” you think he’s a legend who won’t talk to you, but he’s a humble and normal guy. His manager told me that your entourage is the most important thing for staying healthy — they’ll calm you down when you’re not down to earth anymore.

What’s unexpected on your debut album?
There are a lot of unexpected things in my album because people know me for my -- I like to call it 'happy house tracks' that I produce, like “This Girl” and “Don’t You Know,” which was my last single. Both are really soul and bluesy vibes and happy house and [on the album] I try to show something else to my fans. I put some really melancholy stuff into my album and I tried something else for some tracks and I think people will like it. It’s always something different, but with my signature and my style. That’s why it’s called Layers.

Looking ahead, what’s your biggest goal?
My biggest goal right now is to continue touring, to continue to have fans and people who will listen to my music; because you can blow up really fast but you can get down really fast, too.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Oct. 29 issue of Billboard.