Get To Know Denis Kosiak [Interview]

Ben Wego

Denis Kosiak is an American producer, engineer, and mixer based in Los Angeles, CA. He has worked with many artists including Majid Jordan, Khalid, and more. Kosiak׳s most recent work with Khalid appears on the soundtrack of the upcoming Barbie film.

Tell us about how you got into producing music and your journey working in the music industry? 

I do a few things: I’m a producer, engineer, and mixer. When I first got to LA I did a lot of interning for producers and working as an assistant while also going to audio school and working at a studio full time. More specifically, I spent a lot of time at Record Plant, which is a large format recording studio in Hollywood and I went through the ranks there of starting as a runner and then an assistant engineer to doing more freelance work. Throughout those years I was able to meet a variety of producers and artists to collaborate and work with. That’s how I got started. 

Sounds like that experience definitely opened a lot of doors for you, putting in that work as an intern.

Yes! I would say more than anything, just being a sponge to how things are actually done and not just trying to figure it out on my own. Being around other people [of] a higher caliber all the time, I realized there’s levels to this and there’s people that have a lot more knowledge than I do.

Yeah it definitely takes a lot of patience and absorbing any knowledge you can from more experienced people. I can see this has definitely benefited you a ton as a successful producer who is now working with big names like Khalid. Was music always something you were passionate about and wanted to pursue as a career?

Yes. I would say when you’re coming of age- like 14 or 15- and you’re kinda starting to think “what am I gonna do with my life?” or “I don’t know what I’m gonna do with my life,” when I was younger I realized I really wasn’t good at anything else except music. I took guitar and piano lessons, I was in a band, and I did a lot of musical extracurriculars at school so I figured I should probably continue on the music path.

Yeah for sure, you were honing in on your craft from an early age. What kind of sounds would you say you are most drawn to sonically and genre wise?

I would say most of my work is in the pop and R&B area. There was definitely a big wave of it at the end of the 2010s which I definitely rode with Khalid working as his engineer and working with other artists as well. I was meeting a lot of new writers, artists, and producers, and was able to collaborate through that wave of pop and R&B. Now, whoever I collaborate with, the sonics certainly come back to those roots. Some of my influences include Majid Jordan who I’ve had the pleasure of working with and Bill Withers. While I was assistant engineering at Record Plant, I had the amazing experience of assisting Frank Ocean which was super formidable in my mind.

That’s amazing! Not many people can say they’ve worked alongside Frank Ocean. You have a new song with Khalid that you produced on the upcoming Barbie the movie album, how did you and Khalid meet and what’s it like getting to work with him?

I met Khalid back in 2018 through my friend/acquaintance Marshmello, who I had done some engineering work in the past with. Marshmello at the time needed me to record an artist that was stopping by as a favor and that artist happened to be Khalid. He came by and we recorded “Silence” which ended up being a huge international hit. Since then, Khalid and I [have] kept in touch and I’ve done almost all of his vocals on all of his songs and a ton of mixes and production as well. On this song in particular, which will be featured on the upcoming Barbie soundtrack, we were reached out to by Atlantic Records regarding the Barbie Soundtrack and if we would be interested to be a part of it. The meeting included executive producers of the soundtrack, Mark Ronson, Khalid, Levi (Khalid’s creative director), and myself. We discussed the movie’s premise and what they were still looking for in terms of music/needed for the soundtrack. Mark knew everything about the movie’s plot and he mentioned a particular scene where Ken says to Barbie “it’s always about you, I wanted to stay at the Barbie dream house but I can’t because it’s not what Ken does, it's Barbie’s dream house.” The idea was that no matter what Ken does it will never be enough to be “Barbie and Ken” it will always just be Barbie. Mark gave us creative liberty to explore this idea within the song and sent us some infant phase music pieces with synths. My friend Jason Kelner, a co-producer on the song, sent us a folder of musical ideas which helped immensely. I took this piano idea that Jason sent me, Khalid came up with a hook and we worked on it that day. We went through a big process of mixing, cutting, sorting through ideas and at the end of the day we walked out with a great song called “Silver Platter.” The whole concept is focused on Ken’s story, (“if I give you the world on a silver platter would it even matter?”). It encapsulates Ken's feelings towards Barbie, that he could do everything for her but it still wouldn’t be enough. We then sent the rough [to Ronson] and he loved it. Jason and I finished the track and they loved it as it was. They were able to incorporate it into a scene with Ken and Barbie communicating with each other. We were all stoked and it felt like a huge accomplishment for us.

Wow that must have been such a highlight for you and Khalid. I love when ideas come together working as a team and it all feels very natural, the way everything comes together just from the inspirations. The song’s title sounds like a track Khalid would make because he’s just excellent at expressing heartbreak and that feeling of longing in a relationship.

Yeah and Mark said it’s important to note that it’s not a male driven soundtrack because it is focused on Barbie but that there were going to be moments where Ken’s perspective needed to be conveyed. I think Mark really nailed choosing Khalid as the artist to convey Ken’s side of the story.

That’s awesome! I can’t wait to hear the song and see the film! It sounds amazing!

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