As a little boy, Kevin Figs wasn’t planning on being a music creator, in spite of the fact that everything seemed to be pointing that way. Born in Toronto and raised in downtown Montréal, in a musical family, all the stars seemed to be lined up. His father taught him to play guitar, bass and drums soon after he took his first steps and, at the ripe old age of six(!) he became the drummer of a church in Toronto’s High Park area – where he still occasionally performs today when his schedule allows.
Now in his mid-20s – and the veteran of an impressive eight-year career that took him from Toronto to Los Angeles through his hometown of Montreal – Figs is one of the most in-demand songwriters and producers of his generation. But while he’s shared the limelight for a time in the past as part of the401, he has no desire at this time to come out of the shadows: “Creating music was not something I was planning on doing when I was a kid,” he says, “so everything I create now is necessarily for someone else. I have no ambition as a performer, but this has definitely become my all-consuming passion, so I do it for myself and for others. My greatest ambition right now probably is to develop and apply a rock-solid work ethic for myself.”
Having co-created a number of global hit songs for the likes of Jeremih, Shawn Desman, Virginia to Vegas and Alyssa Reid, to name but a few – besides re-visiting major hits here and there on an ad hoc basis – the young creator has followed a more than enviable career path so far, and picked up kudos from Henry “Cirkut” Walter and a few other big industry names along the way.
Along with his great friend and collaborator O C, with whom he works most of the time and of whom he thinks the world – “he’s one of my greatest inspirations” – Figs co-wrote “We Are Stars,” performed by the aforementioned Virginia to Vegas feat. Alyssa Reid, winner of a 2015 SOCAN Pop/Rock Music Award. “The song’s instrumental part was first created in one night with O C, but we couldn’t even finish it because we locked ourselves out of my own studio!” he says. “We were already quite excited by that song before it landed in the hands of Alyssa Reid’s people. Our manager at the time essentially told them ‘This one’s the one,’ and everything just fell into place.”
It all happened so fast that Figs could hardly believe it. “Writing songs is what I do practically every day,” he says, “so I was also working on a handful of other songs at the same time, but seeing one of our creations get such massive airplay was an incredible feeling!”
Figs’s achievements as a songwriter have provided him with an industry profile that makes it possible for him to anticipate new collaborations. “Of course, there are times when I think of a specific voice when I’m writing,” he says. “Jeremih was definitely one. The first time I heard “Birthday Sex,” I fell captive to the charm of his voice.” Figs and O C went on to work on Late Nights, the artist’s most recent studio album.
Reiterating that he has no use for the more glamorous aspects of pop stardom, Figs insists that his main concern is to keep up the hard work. “I’m extremely grateful for being able to make music each day of my life, but it’s not all fun and games either,” he says. “It can come at the expense of other aspects of my life such as my social network, my family… Over time, I’ve learned to become much more versatile, to be able to write in places where there is sometimes not even a table or a chair that I can use, and with 10 pairs of eyes eagerly watching me and waiting for a song.”
Clearly, Kevin Figs’ gamble is paying off.