When developing a respected brand, consistency is key. Critical Music is an imprint widely known for its meticulous artist selection as well as the quality of its releases. So when an addition is made to the roster, you know they’ve got some tricks up their sleeve.
Enter Shyun, aka Andy Khavand. No stranger to the label, having introduced himself last year through his Systems, 15 Years Of Underground Sonics and Modified Sonics LP inclusions, Shyun now steps up with his first solo release; The Beast EP.
Four painstakingly technical productions, each with a unique flavour that sets it apart from its counterpart, all seamlessly creating a coherent & fine tuned sound. The release is impeccable. From the glitched out, techy vibes of Pinball & Twisted, the bouncing melodies of Watch Your Step ft SOLAH to the steppy, gritty stabs & disgustingly good drop in the title track The Beast; I could talk all day about why you should grab this EP.
Instead, I had a chat with the man himself about the inception of ‘The Beast’, his plans for 2018 and why he enjoys nerding out over bitwig.
First and foremost congratulations on the release; how does it feel to have your first solo EP out in the world? Talk us through the journey, how long did it take? What were your influences?
Thanks so much! In all honesty, it is a bit of a milestone for me… feels like a weight is off my shoulders! This EP was particularly demanding – overall, it took about 4 months to write and 2 months of the usual faffing about, thinking about how I could make it better. I would say I’ve been less influenced and more inspired by a lot of my peers and producers in the DnB scene who are currently pushing to try new things and create new sound palettes. This, in turn, encouraged me to think a little deeper and helped me make some changes in my approach to producing DNB and trying some new things.
Did you have a solid idea in mind when making the record or did you take it track by track and let it progress?
There wasn’t a solid idea behind the EP, but it developed after I wrote the title track, ‘The Beast’. The idea behind this EP (which was in fact represented mostly by this title track) was that music has always been a representation of the creator’s style, and never representative of the actual character of the person behind the music. Even though you have these absolutely gnarly DnB tracks coming out every week, at the heart of it all is just a producer who loves nerding out at their computer for endless hours! Interestingly, they almost assume this ‘alternate’ personality through the music that they create.
Do you have any plans to tour/do an EP launch?
I don’t have any plans for a tour or EP launch at the moment.
What’s your favourite track on the EP and why?
I’d have to say my favourite track has got to be ‘The Beast’. Apart from it being my favourite-sounding track, it’s the musical embodiment of me taking a new approach to writing drum and bass. It was the first solo DnB track I wrote in bitwig, using a hardware synth (that, by the way, was a real pain getting it to behave!)
It must be difficult starting a project from scratch, do you have any tips to help inspire creativity?
It definitely is hard. I’d say the best tip I can give is do all your sound design outside of the actual writing, as there’s nothing that kills the writing ‘wave’ more than starting a track and then getting caught up in the middle with the sound design, only to forget the idea you wanted to get down in the first place! Also, try and find a healthy balance between putting pressure on yourself to deliver your next best piece of work, and actually enjoying writing the music; keep reminding yourself why you’re putting all this effort into writing music in the first place!
Do you draw inspiration from other genres outside of drum & bass? Or produce any music other than d&b?
I love producing all types of DnB from the gnarly-in-your-face stuff to the halftime, liquid, and everything in between. A small part of my job currently involves producing for artists from a whole breadth of different genres ranging from neo-soul through to grime, afrobeats and general pop music. I think creating the space between producing DnB by writing other genres of music definitely helps to cleanse the creative pallet, which ultimately leads to making better music!
What’s your favourite track at the moment and are there an labels/producers we should be keeping an eye on?
I couldn’t even tell you that if I wanted to, literally don’t have a favourite track, as there are so many guys out there making incredible music that I can’t really narrow it down to one track. As for labels, I have a lot of love for The Dreamers Recording: although a relatively small label, their output has been incredible.
If you could start again with the knowledge you have now, would you do anything differently? If so what and why?
If I had the chance to go back, I possibly would have avoided using Logic Pro and skipped to using Bitwig instead. I was so stubborn and stuck in my ways until a good friend of mine, Droptek, gave me a little nudge in the right direction, and now I think, why the hell didn’t I make a move sooner!
What can we expect in terms of festivals and further releases this year?
I’m lucky enough to be playing Let It Roll this year on the factory stage with the Critical Music gang which I’m very excited about. As for the releases, I’m always working on something new – the next EP is in fact already in the works, and I have a few collabs on the way which I can say more about nearer to the time!
When you look at your career, do you see an ‘end goal’?
There is no end goal, I am just going to keep doing what I’m doing, enjoy making the music, and doing the shows.
Finally, working in the music industry can be as rewarding as it is demanding. Do you have any tips for maintaining good mental health & a sustainable career as a DJ/producer?
I think being mentally prepared is extremely important and have a special kind of admiration for the guys that gig week-in, week-out and do week-long tours. When you see a DJ up there in the booth doing his thing to a room full of people, it’s easy to think that they have the most glamorous and amazing career. I’ve done a quite few gigs at this point and can admit that it isn’t an easy or glamorous life, as you have to have a special kind of love for it.
As incredible as it feels when you’re up on stage doing a set, the rest of it can be very tough. Even having done it on and off for a little bit, I can fully understand the toll it can take on your mental health and wellbeing, and I definitely think it should be something everyone is more aware of, even the DJ’s themselves.
‘The Beast’ is out now on Critical Music and you can grab your copy here.