In Conversation With : Kyrist

2019 has been an incredible year for drum and bass so far. A new wave of producers are stepping in and switching up the pace, an influx of multi skilled collectives are taking the scene by force – proving that sometimes three heads are better than one. Meanwhile the veterans are still consistently providing cuts that continue to inspire and shape the sound of the next generation. Sitting among those who have grafted for over a decade is Kyrist.

DJ, multi genre producer, label manager and all round tech queen. 2019 has also been one for the books for d&b’s leading lady Kyrist. With a debut performance at Ibiza’s Amnesia, her fourth EP on Dispatch and her debut appearance at the renowned Boomtown Fair Festival; Kyrist aka Kirsty Clarke has a lot to shout about. I caught up with her ahead of her summer adventures to talk all things drum & bass…

In interview with Kyrist

Firstly, congratulations on getting booked for Boomtown! You must have been pretty pleased the day that call came…

Thank you!! Yeah I’m stoked that I get to play at Boomtown this year. Since I started going to the festival a few years ago I had always wondered what it would be like to look out over a main stage to all those people, and this year my wish has been granted.

You’re playing on The Relic stage, how will you approach this set in comparison to your others? Do you feel more pressure?

I think I will probably dig deeper into my music collection to find some classic tunes and plan the set meticulously when it gets closer to the date.

How do you prep for huge gigs like this, do you still get nervous?

I don’t really get that nervous anymore, it’s more like adrenaline as I know it’s going to be sick and I’ll have loads of fun. I know how to use all the equipment pretty well so I’m not too worried on the technical side of things. I have to consider who’s playing before and after me, making sure I don’t play any of their tracks. But most importantly, stay true to myself and my style.

What is it to you that separates Boomtown from other festivals?

Probably the sheer effort that goes into the production of the festival site, the way they make every year into a story which has opening and closing shows. Actors in every district making you feel like you’ve left your regular life behind for three days and stepped into some alternate universe!

How many years have you been & what’s your favourite stage / act that you’re looking forward to seeing?

I went in 2015 and 2016. My favourite stage will probably be the one I’m playing on. And I’m not sure on the line up, there’s too many good people to just choose one I’m looking forward to checking the most.

Are you playing any other festivals this year?

Yes, Let it Roll – 3rd August, Sequences – 17th August, SW4 – 25th August, Outlook Festival – 6th/7th September, Hospitality In The Park – 21st September

So when you’re not busy gigging and producing, you’re working as label manager for Dispatch – how do you juggle the two?

I usually do all the Dispatch work during the day and when that’s done, get to work on some beats! It’s pretty easy to manage the two simultaneously now.

You’ve got a new EP coming out on Dispatch – tell us about it Kyrist…

There wasn’t really a heavy concept behind the project as a whole, I mean the title track doesn’t really link up with the others but I liked the idea of writing a tune inspired by artwork. I found this really cool picture online of this dark stairwell made of old bricks and a dark ominous sky with the moon shining bright, just made me think that if you saw that in a movie, something bad would definitely happen if you went up those stairs. So I guess the title track was based around that.

The collabs with Philth and Monnroe came together quite naturally with minimal effort, and I wanted to explore the liquid side which I rarely delve into (cos I feel writing liquid dnb isn’t one of my strengths). As for the remixes, I just wanted some artists who I’ve looked up to for years to give my tunes their own spin, and they all nailed it!

The gender debate has been exhausted and I don’t want to dwell on it but it’s good to see more women not just behind the decks but in the back line roles – label positions, tour managers, sound engineers… How do you think we can encourage more women into these kinds of positions?

Well there has to be interest in the field first. If there are girls that are interested in the behind the scenes stuff, it’s important for the guys already involved to make them feel welcome and like they are just as good at the job. If you’ve got passion for it then that will shine through.

You inspire many young women to get behind the decks and make beats & DJ – was that ever your intention when you started out?

Haha, it’s pretty mad to think about you know! I never had the intention of being someone who people look up to and aspire to be like. As someone who struggled with my own identity for years, it’s a weird feeling for girls to come up to me saying they want to be like me.

Kyrist portraitWhat advice would you give to someone who’s trying to make it in this industry and what are you reasoning’s behind these words of wisdom?

My advice would be: write as much music as you can, send it out to people who you respect and who’s opinions matter to you. Ask for critical feedback, watch YouTube tutorials. Don’t be afraid to do something different and push boundaries. There’s no right or wrong way to make music. It’s all about vibes at the end of the day.

Here here! Finally, if you could have any super power, what would it be and why?

My superpower would be to time travel so I could go back and witness different genres of music in their prime.

Great choice. Thanks so much for the chat! You can grab your copy of Kyrist’s ‘Bad Omen’ EP here.