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Earlier this spring, somewhere in between celebrating the five-year anniversary of his debut American Teen and dropping an early contender for the Song of the Summer with Marshmello, you could find Khalid in Copenhagen. “I have been in the studio here with Lukas Graham which has been an incredible experience,” the Grammy-nominated superstar tells Rolling Stone over email. “I played shows in Iceland, Norway, and Lithuania. It’s my first time traveling out of the country since the pandemic, and it felt so good to explore and have new experiences.”
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On top of touring, the singer has released a string of new singles this year, including “Skyline” — the video for which already has over 6.4 million views on YouTube — and is featured in Khalid’s latest partnership with Sony for its new headphones campaign.
Khalid, who also tests out the new gear in the campaign video (seen below), calls the headphones’ noise-cancelling tech “out of this world.” Released this spring and available in two colorways, the sleek new over-ear WH-1000XM5 headphones are 360 Reality Audio-certified cans. In other words, the headphones are designed so that music released in 360 Reality Audio, like Khalid’s debut or his recent singles, should sound more immersive if you’re streaming on services like Amazon Music or Tidal.
“You really don’t hear anything else around you. It’s just your world, nothing else,” Khalid notes of the gear’s sound quality. Though they can be used with, say, Amazon Alexa for calls, the artist explains they “deliver an incredible experience for music listening, too.”
“There’s depth and detail of a song that comes through in a very significant way compared to other listening experiences,” Khalid expalins. “You just feel closer to the music. And this coming from my perspective as both an artist, as well as a music fan.”
Rolling Stone caught up with Khalid to talk more about the Sony collab, his upcoming album, and who he wants to work with next.
One of your latest singles “Skyline” was featured throughout the new Sony campaign. You’ve talked about how that song is a “perfect example of an endorphin-filled rollercoaster ride.” Can you talk a little bit about what the song means to you, and what it was like to record?
When me and [producer] Chrome Sparks were creating “Skyline” there was no agenda to make a specific type of song. My songwriting process is very personal and introspective. The melodies and lyrics are inspired by the music, and the chords in “Skyline” brought a feeling of flying high and living in the moment.
The music video was one of my favorites to film. We put in a lot of work with the choreography and the vibrant aesthetics to give the song a complimentary visual. The Nissan Skyline has always been one of my favorite cars and that’s how that came about.
What are you listening to right now? What’s playing on your headphones these days?
I’ve been listening to a lot of different artists these days. A lot of R&B, electronic, and pop feel-good music. I love discovering new artists so I’m always searching for cool vibes that inspire me.
I just went to Bree Runway’s concert and she’s an amazing performer. I’ve also been listening to my new music to make sure I give my fans a body of work that they will love.
What inspired the new songs on the upcoming album Everything Is Changing, and where did you record it?
There are so many inspirations for the songs on this upcoming album. Originally, I started working on this project during the pandemic, so there are some songs that speak to how I was feeling during that time.
As of late, Chrome and I have been crafting a cool sound that’s helped me to push myself creatively and have fun in the process.
You’ve worked with so many artists over the years, from Alicia Keys to Billie Eilish. Can we expect any new collabs on the upcoming album? Do you have a dream collaboration?
It has been awesome to work with so many talented artists over the years. I love collaborating with my peers. I have some cool collaborations coming up, but I have to keep them a secret.
Father John Misty and John Mayer were two of my dream collaborations that I’m grateful for. I would love to collaborate with Tracy Chapman. I think that our respective sounds and styles could complement one another to produce something really special.
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