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Words: Tom Lea

Last week, we profiled five dance artists to keep an eye on this year – Brenmar, Mele, Funkystepz, Dro Carey and Superisk. Each gave interviews and provided mini-mixes of their own material. This is part two of the feature, where five other artists do the same. To read part one, click here.

Producers to Watch #6: Krystal Klear

Krystal Klear makes boogie-house and funk with absolute bone-shuddering force behind it. We’ve been into him at FACT since we got to give out a track called ‘Anteater’ at the beginning of last year, and his ‘Tried for your Love’ 12″ on All City at the tail-end of 2010 seemed to win him a ton of new fans. He’s also a pretty incredible DJ, and resident at Manchester’s Hoya:Hoya clubnight.

Krystal Klear, introduce yourself.

“Hey, I’m Krystal Klear and I make music using styles and sounds from 1980-1994.”

What’s your musical background, and how did you get to making the sort of stuff you’re making now?

“It was a realisation within myself as to what I wanted to make. I had attempted making all other sorts of music, from metal to hip-hop throughout my teenage years and I came to the understanding that the one particular style or element to the music that I listened to alot of was boogie/funk. So I decided that I would attempt to create a sound similar to the music I love… and the difference I felt between the quality and the greater enjoyment I got from it made me realise that this is what I wanted to do.”

Where does that side of things come from? Any artists in particular?

“Through diggin’ for records to make beats from was my real education of the influences towards my sound, I was always that guy that while everyone was buying Lamont Dozier records I was digging out Freddie Jackson or Stephanie Millis joints. It became an on-going joke at one stage – I wasn’t considering what would be good to sample, more what I just wanted to listen to so from picking up a lot of what people thought were crap records or not necessarily valuable ones I gained this huge love for those sounds.

“Hundreds of producers from that era to now influence me but I feel more and more that its my own personal experiences that really fuel my motivation to make music, whether it be heartbreak or happiness. But to avoid being boring [laughs], people like Babyface, Teddy Riley, Patrick Adams, Mauro Malavasi/Jaques Fred Petrus, Keni Burke, Kashif, Hudson Mo, Daft Punk, etc. etc. etc. – the list could go on for days!”

You’re a resident at Hoya:Hoya now. How did that happen? There seems to be something special in the air at that clubnight.

“Me getting involved with Hoya happened after a stage of being friends with Ryan [Illum Sphere] and Johnny [Dub], they asked me would I like to play, and although they claim it’s because I played a good set (which I don’t think I did by any means), I think it just happened because of a natural bond between every member of the residents. It was a real case of everyone feeding off each other’s energy and it became a thing where we would all get together at every Hoya and just hang, so I guess it was the natural progression.

“I wanted to be involved in Hoya the minute I played, and I was super psyched and honoured to get the call up from the guys, and you’re right, there’s definitely something special about Hoya. I can’t quite put my finger on it but it seems to continue to make me excited about every second weekend of the month.”

What do you have pencilled in for 2011?

“A few releases, one in particular is a project for Eglo Recordings with Olivier Daysoul which I’m super excited about, gigging throughout the year and hopefully doing some touring throughout the summer. For the most part just making as much music as possible.”


1. Krystal Soul – The Only Way (Instrumental)
2. Krystal Klear – Greensilver (Dub Organizer)
3. Krystal Klear – Tried For Your Love (All City)
4. Krystal Klear – Chapp
5. Krystal Klear – Swandive
6. Krystal Klear – No Sweat
7. Jimmy Edgar – New Touch
8. Krystal Klear – Pistol Chauffeur
9. Kenny Vaughn – Feels Like Heaven

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Producers to Watch #7: Damu

Hands up – I’ll be putting out a record by Damu this year, so if that turns you off, then turn the page. Truth is, Damu would be listed here with or without that connection; his arpeggio-heavy tracks are some of the most vibrant around right now, painted with an aquatic eccentricity that makes them instantly recognizable as his work. His Soundcloud is basically a goldmine; his mini-mix below a compact summary of some of his forthcoming material.

Damu, introduce yourself.

“I’m 21, I live in Manchester, I’m currently making premasters in an empty house.”

When did you first start producing, and how did it happen?

“I first started using Reason when 17 to help record bits of synth and drums for songs I was making. Then as I got into more electronic music as I got older I just started playing around more with laptops than instruments so much.”

What do you build on?

“Live and Reason.”

Your music’s probably more vivid than anyone else in this feature – full of wild arpeggios and bursts of colour. It’s so optimistic and overwhelming sometimes. Where do you think it stems from?

“I really like the rich sound of a sweeping arpeggio, I’ve played piano since I was a kid and putting those long melodies into tunes just sounds good to me. I like my music to be positive, I eat a lot of sugar when I make music and it tends to end up being pretty upbeat.”

You talked in the Blackdown interview about lifestyle influencing music – can you expand on that a bit?

“Well if you look back over urban music, the styles of music reflect the mood of the generations making them. Like the dark underground feel of early dubstep nights, everyone loved that. There’s a lot more frenetic music being made now. Maybe we’re just bombarded with technology more now than 10 years ago. People are getting better at using the technology we have.”

What do you have in the pipeline for this year?

“I’ve got EPs coming out through the first half of this year on Local Action, Keysound and Silverback, and a 12″ on Swing & Skip Audio. The Silverback release should be out by the start of next month and the Local Action release around March/April. Got some interesting remixers and big plans for the rest of the year so it should be a good one.”


1. Ridin’
2. Mermaid
3. Skinnydipper
4. After Indigo

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Producers to Watch #8: Canblaster

I know it’s annoying when people say things like this, but Canblaster’s music is just shitloads of fun. He thinks nothing about filling his breakdowns with pan-pipes, or having huge enveloping drops that sound like you’re dreaming in anime. He’s part of Paris’s Club Cheval crew, and seems to be doing remixes for everyone imaginable, so he’ll be pretty ubiquitous soon. Maybe he can start a residency in a church.

Canblaster, introduce yourself.

“Sure, I’m Cedric a.k.a. Canblaster, and I made my way from Douai to Paris with the help of the Club Cheval guys.”

Yeah, you’re part of the Club Cheval crew – tell us about that.

“Club Cheval is a Polytheist crew we founded with Myd, Sam Tiba and Panteros666 in Lille, north of France. My God goes by the name of Melodius, which means I’m the synth and chords part of the crew.

“We’re also working on a new project all together, there will be more to come in the next few months.”

How did you start making music, and what sort of thing were you making?

“I used to do tracks for arcade video games when I was in college, like 6 years ago, using loads of fake names to make all kinds of weird music, from ethno-hardcore to electro-jazz… Then I met Myd and we started DJing together, and I really got into club music soon after this.”

What do you make tunes on now, and how would you describe what you make?

“Overproduced, ’90s referencing electro music. Wooden and bleepy at the same time, like a robotic palmtree. Sounds a bit like emeralds vibes too sometimes.”

Any artists that are particularly strong influences/inspirations on you?

“Basement Jaxx, Detroit and Underground Resistance, juke and Baltimore, James Blake and Night Slugs, J-Pop and video game OST, 90’s R’n’B and New Jack Swing, tribal and ballroom… But other medias are the best inspirations sometimes, like films or animated series.”

What do you have in the pipeline for 2011?

“My second EP, Master of Complication, is getting released this month on Nightshifters, with remix from Para One & Teki Latex. Right now I’m working on remixes for French Fries, Pelican Fly and The Count & Sinden. Also working on a third EP, and some tracks with the other Club Cheval people.”


Imperial Tiger Orchestra – Djemeregne (Canblaster remix) (CD-R)
Canblaster – Jetpack (Sound of Sumo)
Monsieur Monsieur – Dirtyminded (Canblaster remix) (Forthcoming Forma T)
Style of Eye & Slagsmalsklubben – Homeless (Canblaster remix) (Fools Gold)
Drop the Lime – Hot as Hell (Canblaster remix) (Trouble & Bass)
Lorenzo Vektor – Turn it up (Canblaster remix) (Silverback)
Spoek Mathambo – Mshini Wam (Canblaster remix) (BBE)
Canblaster – Clockworks (Forthcoming Nightshifters)

Canblaster photo © Ro

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Producers to Watch #9: XI

XI hails from Toronto, and was an early one to catch on to dubstep, putting on some of the genre’s first Canadian parties. He’s been producing as both XI and Ultragamma for a while now, operating in an increasingly coherent Venn diagram of moody dubstep, sawn-off hip-hop and fizzing synth jams. His next single, ‘Gamma Rain’ for Orca is some of the most realised music he’s made yet, and judging by the new material in this mini-mix, just the start.

XI, introduce yourself.

“My name is Christian, I am a beats producer from Toronto with projects currently out and forthcoming on Orca Recordings.”

You’ve been kicking about for a little while now, but ‘Gamma Rain’, to me, seems like the most striking material yet. It’s a precursor to a bigger project on Orca, right?

“Thanks for that, I’m excited with the direction things are going at the moment. Gamma Rain is certainly the harbinger of a style you can expect to hear a lot more of from me. Very raw and combative sampling techniques piled under layers of atmospherics and other assorted rhythmic weirdness, there’s mostly new material in the mix.”

You also do music as Ultragamma – what’s the relationship between XI and Ultragamma?

“A few years ago, out of boredom, I created this alter-alias, basically making anything not rooted in DJ friendly, or dance-floor formats, mostly hip-hop and house oriented. Some of the music got some nice attention from heavies like GLK and DJ Nobody down California way, and a few others around the globe which was dope. These days I find the two aesthetics I had been separately cultivating in myself are blurring together more and more all the time.”

How would you describe the direction you’re going in, and what you’re trying to make right now?

“Some kinda east coast hip-hop, UK garage hybrid with healthy doses of awkward silence, I like to sample a lot of vinyl so there’s usually a pretty organic element to things. I grew up on a good bit of metal, jungle, and video games, so there are sure to be some semblances of that in there. Mostly right now I’m just vibing off the skippy beats and brain candy.”

You’re from Toronto, is there a kind of scene there to contextualize your music?

“The scene here is pretty diverse, with a very big jungle and drum ‘n’ bass history. The sound here is generally pretty gritty and metropolitan in the clubs, so thats definitely had a big influence on all the producers here I would say. You can see it in the work of producers like Bombaman, Egyptrixx and Kevin McPhee, a very wide range of sounds but definitely with a similar thread bred from this city. Things are really good here right now, plenty of variety and great amounts of support.”


XI – Medicate
XI – Nitelite
XI – Gunnery V
XI – ArmourHP
XI – Virtualayz

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Producers to Watch #10: Jay Weed

Jay Weed kills me. I once described his music as sounding like a DMZ record melted into a lake, which is obviously me talking nonsense as per, but there’s something in it – he takes the tempo and intuitive percussion of modern UK house (you can see that Hessle’s a big reference point), but makes all the emphasis on the space and atmosphere, resulting in a desolate but moving evolution of dubstep.

Jay Weed, introduce yourself.

“Hello I’m Jeremie, DJ and producer of tunes.”

How long have you been making music for, and how did you get started?

“I started producing around 2003. I was 18 when a friend gave me a copy of Reason. I tried various styles, producing while discovering different genres of music. The DJing thing came later.”

What do you produce on?

“Ableton live and a bunch of VST.”

Your tracks have a ton of space to them – they kind of remind me of Digital Mystikz and Loefah but in a modern house context. What sort of thing do you aim for when you’re making tunes?

“It’s hard to say, I never exactly know what the tune will be before I make it. I try to create a certain aesthetic, putting together different influences and textures/sound palettes I make into something that I feel and that sounds like my own sound. Your description is good though, dubstep and house are my principal influences, and I’m somewhere into the collision between these two elements and others.”

What do you have in the pipeline for this year?

“A few remixes coming soon, an EP on Grizzly in march. Hopefully more releases, we’ll see.”


Pelican Fly – Bendin’ (Jay Weed remix) (forthcoming Pelican Fly Network)
Jay Weed – The Naos (502 Recordings)
Jay Weed – Dazzled (dub)
Jay Weed vs Joe – Splace / Grimelight
Crystal Fighters – Follow (Jay weed remix) (Different)
Jay Weed – On the Nile (Becoming Real remix) (forthcoming Grizzly)

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