Kyam Interview

Hi Kyam, thanks for taking the time to chat to us! Let’s start with the new label, “Unbidden Audio” the first release was an awesome album by yourself (one of my fav releases this year), how’s things been since you launched? 

Cheers for speaking to me, and thanks for the kind words, very happy to hear you enjoyed the LP! Things have been good since – I was grateful for the feedback and support it received, and I’ve kept myself busy working on the follow up release (which has just been sent off for mastering) as well as more artwork, to further develop the visual side of the label. I’ve also been lucky enough to play at some amazing nights (Noise Test / AKO / Danger Chamber Sessions), where I’ve been able to test out forthcoming tunes.

You referenced a few gigs there, you’ve been busy and it must be nice to get out and play these new and existing tunes you have. When you play sets do you try and showcase your music as much as possible? 

I like the idea of playing new bits which I haven’t sent out to anyone yet, so that the crowd are hearing something they won’t have heard before… and I think playing a couple of your own tunes can help add an idiosyncratic feel to the set too. But I put selection before ego – I don’t want to be that guy at an open mic night who says “the next 10 are mine”… That said, Noise Test have a 100% unreleased / own productions set policy, so on that occasion, I was very happy to be that guy, guilt free!

And how about the name? How did you come about naming the label that? 

I wanted a name that matched the vision of what I’m aiming for with the label, so I chose “Unbidden Audio” to reflect the outsider position which is at the core of where I’m coming from with it… the plan was to release music which is hopefully a bit different from the norm, has an edge / rawness about it, and which presents a challenge in some way… I was also having a bit of fun with the name in the sense I appreciate that new (low-key) labels are liable to be viewed as unwanted, or surplus to requirements, considering the ultra-saturated state of electronic music at the moment. Plus, in terms of label style / aesthetic, I’m not concerned with appealing to everyone’s tastes.

So we discussed a while back that at the inception of the label that it will be an outlet for your own music mostly and also not necessarily be just dnb/jungle based either… Any plans in that case to release any other genres at some stage? 

Yeah, although the label is, and will continue to be principally focused around dnb/jungle (I love the fact that so much can be done under the 170 banner), I’m not hugely worried about genre / BPM as long as the overall vibe feels right… part of the pleasure of working on an LP / imprint, is that I could also enjoy doing stuff like “Trough” off the Underside LP, which is pretty much the polar opposite of how I’d approach making a drum & bass track.

With that being said… Can we expect to see you using the label to dabble with other genres with your own music? 

I seem to have politician-ed that question, snakily avoided answering – I’m not sure I’ll necessarily sit down and think, I’m going to write this or that particular genre for the label… (but never say never) but I’ll definitely be putting out some stuff which, to most people’s ears, isn’t drum & bass. That still sounds like a Question Time answer.

Let’s move on to you as a producer, 3 albums released in 3 years, that’s a HIGH work rate! You must have a healthy creative flow then judging by your output? 

Haha, yeah, music is my passion / obsession and I feel like I start getting withdrawal symptoms unless I’m ramming my time around the office job with making beats – around a year ago I compressed my office hours into 4 days, giving me an uninterrupted day each week to work purely on music, which has been a great help too. It has also involved a fair bit of prioritising… I’ve yet to see an episode of The Wire, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, or The Walking Dead etc… although I’ve rinsed Peep Show repeats so can’t complain. My wife has been very understanding with my studio time too. I don’t think “just another 30 minutes tweaking this loop playing loudly on repeat” was part of our wedding vows…

My actual technical workflow would probably be considered very slow by a lot of producer’s standards, but in terms of creative flow / perseverance, I usually feel pretty lucky. That said, I’ve written a lot of stuff which I haven’t released, either due to me going off an idea, or deciding the vibe wasn’t right to fit anywhere…

I’m starting to think you music producing types might wanna think about having your own set of vows… “Thou shall not be mad at man/woman when he/she looping and repetitively messing with the same beat pattern when dinner is ready etc” Ever thought of offering an advice service to new producers for this ? Ha ha .

Haha! The Kyam Center For Producers Who Can’t Spouse Good – my wife told me that I once sleep talked about “the brightness of the EQ”. I suspect I’m not in a fit state to advise others.

Carrying on with the albums, prior to putting them together did you approach them as an album project each time, writing material for that particular project? Or were they collections of our own material you just released in bulk? (Instead of multiple singles/eps etc) 

This is where Unbidden Audio marked a clear break for me – the first two self-release albums were pretty chaotic, in the sense that although on each occasion I was consciously working towards an album, the path was very convoluted. Certain tracks were written purely for the album, whilst others were written with an open mind, and sent to a small handful of labels, but didn’t get signed, so then found a home on the album if they fitted the mood. Other tracks were purely written for the album, sent out for airplay support, but then got signed, so ended up on other labels’ releases. So the tracklistings changed over time.

Looking at your back catalogue you have had a lot of releases with various different labels in the industry. How easy do you find it getting your music signed and what was your first thing you had signed? 

I feel extremely blessed to have had tunes released on the labels I’ve worked with and I massively appreciate the support. It gives you huge inspiration to keep moving forwards when someone you respect gives you a chance. I would say my stats suggest it now seems slightly easier, in the sense that I spent many years sending out tunes without much joy before I adopted the Kyam alias in 2014 and got my first signings with Vampire (“Wave Goodbye”) and Foundation X (“Ixnay”).

I’ve gotten lucky with signings in recent times that I couldn’t have imagined back when I started producing in 2005, and I feel like I’m just getting started really, on all levels. But nah it’s never easy haha! There’s so much great music around and signing to a label you respect is still a huge buzz. Each new tune is taken on its own merit, and sometimes it might take numerous tracks before a label hears the right track for them, so you never take things for granted. The path to certain tunes getting a release is often much longer and more complicated than some people might guess. You also have to remind yourself that you might have spent 25 odd hours working on a tune, but to a label, a few seconds of listening might be enough for them to know that it’s not right for them. So I think patience, thick skin, focus, and an ability to take advice on board, whilst also sticking to your principles, is essential.

So with your experience of trying to have tunes signed and understanding the effort that is required, how is it that you now as a label owner would approach signing music and working the process of relations with a potential artist? 

I think the main thing will just be liaising with people who inspire me, and who are on the same general page as me in terms of style / aesthetics, whilst keeping things relaxed and fun, as this isn’t big business.  I’ve already had a few people whose work I really respect expressing an interest in getting involved, so I’m looking forward to seeing how things pan out.

As far as equipment goes, can you talk us through your studio set up? 

I’ve got a box-room studio at home with a PC / laptop set up running Cubase with mainly SSL / Waves plug-ins. I vary on specific approach from tune to tune, but make a lot of use of Juno 6, Korg Monotron, Novation V-Station, a multitude of guitar amps, 1980s guitar FX pedals, Ibanez bass, Short Circuit sampler, Novation Bass Station, Epiphone guitar, a bunch of percussion and microphones, Audient ID22, and a pair of Adam P11a (on loan from my brother). And Tesco value energy drinks. One day, I’ll get a comfy chair… and maybe a pillow. Nah, a bean bag… YOLO etc.

Following your Facebook updates, we can see you are actively attending gigs etc, can you give us an insight into what other music you are passionate about? 

There’s so much incredible music in the world, new and old, and I love going to shows as often as I can – I’m a big fan of metal, indie, stoner, jazz, folk, post-rock, experimental, electronic stuff etc… I think you can find amazing stuff in all corners if you explore enough.

Can you give me some idea of some of your musical influences and favourite tunes in dnb? 

Spirit has always been one of my favourite producers, and a huge source of inspiration (RIP). Ed Rush & Optical, Digital, Tech Itch, Dillinja, Loxy and Total Science were big early inspirations too. And then over the years, I’d also cite people like Dubmonger, Homemade Weapons, The Untouchables, LXC, Ruffhouse, Blocks & Escher, Skitty etc… Favourite tunes – too many to mention, but the list would include “Chinese Whispers” by Spirit, “Crazy VIP” by A Sides, “Flightpath” by Ed Rush & Optical, “So Vain” by Breakage, “Innacorner” by Sonic & Silver, “Morning Light” by Concorde Dawn, Alpha Omega’s “Jah Step”, LXC’s “I Know U”, Phuture T’s “Fugitive Drummer”, Nomine’s “The End Is Our Beginning”…

AND Can you give me the sort of artists/tunes you are enjoying away from dnb currently? 

Again, way too many to list, but I’m a lifelong fan of Queen, Manic Street Preachers, Radiohead, Therapy?, Muse, Nirvana, Pulp, Honeycrack, Pantera etc. Artists I’ve massively gotten into in more recent times are Yami Warashari, Olympians, Haxan Cloak, La Luz, Lantlôs, Godsticks, Father John Misty, Beach House and The Gentle Good. There’s just so much great music around, good times indeed.

So, looking forward, can you give me some idea what we can expect from Kyam and Unbidden Audio moving forward? 

The next Unbidden Audio EP will / should be out in February 2019, and I’ve also started working on tunes for UBA-003. I’m also really excited about forthcoming releases on Ronin Ordinance, Alphacut, Monochrome, Holotype and a few more which should get confirmed soon hopefully.

Anything you would like to add before we wrap this up mate? 

Big thanks for taking the time to speak to me. And respect / big thanks to everyone keeping the scene alive and extremely healthy, and to those who’ve been supporting what I do.

Thanks for talking with us Kyam! 

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