The immensely creative duo Kyral x Banko have just released their brand new Focus project via Quality Goods Records, and we wanted to hear more about what kick-started it. Read on for yourself in this exclusive interview.
Hey guys, really good to have you! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself as artists… what are your main values?
K: Thanks it’s an honor to have this opportunity! My real name is Collin Burdick, I’m a 27 year old DJ/producer with a chemistry degree. I would say a clear value of mine is pursuing passions. I wasn’t exposed to electronic music or DJ culture until 2011, and after I graduated I decided I was going to see how far I could take it, and have worked towards it ever since. When it comes to music, one of my main values is being true to yourself. Write music that you like to make. Push yourself to do different things with your music, but use your ear and let your instincts guide you.
B: Well, I suppose I’ll follow Collin’s format on this one. Real name: Bennett Kohler. I’m 25 and have been producing hip hop music for around 7 years now and electronic music for about half that time. I grew up playing drums, and have always been pretty enthralled by the simple rhythms that drive songs throughout. So I guess my main values are keeping the elements as basic and simple as possible and building the rest around that. Stick to your roots, and don’t get too caught up in the complexities at first. That stuff will come later in the process. Let it all come together naturally.
What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned along the way? If you could give your younger selves starting out any advice, what would it be?
K: Self-sufficiency is your best friend. Some people will turn you down 15 times in a row before they say yes. Stay humble and don’t burn bridges. Learn to do all of the things necessary to be a professional looking brand. If I could give my younger self any advice it would have been to stay in more often to pursue passions in college instead of going out to party. Going out was a great way to meet friends and network, but balance and moderation is key.
B: Talking with other artists that are your superior like they’re superstars can definitely be a hinderance. We’ve gotten a lot of opportunities from being in the right place at the right time and interacting with artists that were some of our heroes at the time like they were old friends. We’re all just people at the end of the day, dealing with all of the same problems and obstacles. Definitely would give the same advice as Collin gave to his younger self. Don’t lose valuable work hours on pointless parties.
Do you remember what first got you into wanting to create music?
K: I’ve been creating music since I was little starting in school choirs, to symphonic, jazz, garage and marching band (saxophone), to jazz and show choir (never tap danced once, though). Past high school, I didn’t think I could make a career in music so I went to get a degree in Chemistry. In the bars at University of Illinois, DJs were playing dubstep and other electronic everywhere by 2011. After hearing some Skrillex (‘Scary Monsters’…) and all the other blooming electronic artists of that year, I started imagining myself doing what they were. I had decided to start messing around in Ableton in my last year, and upon graduating, after some time with the program, and some blind ignorance, I had decided that I was going to pursue a dream in making a living producing beats.
B: I played drums in bands all throughout high school and early college, but there was one group in particular that pushed me to want to be extra different and weird in terms of creating music. We would practice in the study hall of our Freshman year dorm. Two guitars, a keyboard, and a midi drum pad. I would be on the percussion drum pads and sample cueing. We didn’t really know what we were doing honestly… But shortly after we parted ways, Collin and I met and the rest is sort of history. It all happened at the perfect time.
Which of your tracks have meant the most to you and why?
K: So many tracks have different amounts and types of meaning to me, depending on that point in my life. With that being said, this new EP probably means the most to me because it’s representing a huge milestone in our own production. The support we’ve seen has been so humbling and that makes it mean a whole lot more. If you made me pick one track ever though, it would be ‘Counterstrike’. One night early on in the production journey, I reinstalled my old Counterstrike game, went into the program files to take all of the sounds out, and made this track that from start to finish represents a full round of the game. It was a huge nerdy accomplishment.
B: Yeah, this new EP definitely represents a whole new chapter for us. The whole Quality Goods team has continued to raise the bar in terms of the gold standard of experimental trap/hip hop stuff. This has honestly motivated us to want to take that jump and work our hardest to bring our production to new levels. Outside of these latest ones, we have a super old track called ‘Zeus’ that was one of the first tracks that we made together that still goes off. It was our first tune to hit 100k plays on Soundcloud. Honestly we should probably revisit that file and make a VIP or something.
We love the originality and diversity on the Focus EP. How would you sum it up to someone who hadn’t heard it yet?
K: Oh man describing our sound, or any sound for that matter is my least favorite thing to do. To try and sum it up, I would say it’s a high energy, bass forward, hip-hop influenced journey filled with twists, turns, and relentless bass at every drop.
B: Honestly, this is one of the first projects that we’ve created that I haven’t gotten entirely sick of hearing over and over again during the production process. We tried to pack every track full of as many surprises and twists as possible. Sounds cliché, but the first word that comes to mind is ‘fresh’ mostly because it doesn’t really let up or get stale throughout.
Did you have fun making ‘Matrix’ with Matty Did That? Can we expect any future collaborations?
K: Loved it. Matt absolutely KILLED the session. I’ve never seen someone go 0-100 so fast. Every time we pressed record, his energy would explode. It was super impressive and he made it so easy. I would love to have him on another track.
B: I actually had already moved out to Colorado, so I wasn’t at the session where it was recorded in Chicago. But when Collin sent me the file with the audio stems, I knew we had something special going. It was exactly what the track needed. It’s a super eclectic track (my personal favorite), and I’m definitely pretty ecstatic about how it came out after the mixing and mastering process.
Which tune has had the best reactions so far?
K: To be honest it’s been all over the board. I was expecting there to be one crowd favorite, but it really seems like different crowds of people are digging different tracks. That’s probably the best thing we could have asked for. We really tried to make every track and every drop within it something completely different.
B: It has definitely been hard to tell which is a general favorite, but I’ve noticed ‘Break’ getting an audible reaction from the crowd every time so far mostly because of the Quix-type simplistic vibes on both drops. Tried to keep that one as dry as possible but having the lows be just guttural and loud.
If you could name three artists/groups who have influenced you the most throughout your career so far, who would they be?
K: Skrillex will always be at the top of my list no questions asked. That guy is the definition of inspiration. Mayhem & Antiserum were a really big influence into the beginnings of the KxB project. I’ve always been into the really intricate cinematic sounds, and the diverse elements all coming together like a huge electronic orchestra to make a big cohesive energetic dance track. Jantsen is another one of my top influencers. I’ve gotten to know him well over the past few years and his inspiration has come from watching him be an awesome father to a really dope family while also being able to live out the music career dream. That life balance is something I admire and strive to attain.
B: Gonna sound a little corny but the big dog UZ has always been an intense source of inspiration for me. All the way since his first EP with Mad Decent, I’ve loved the paradox of simple yet complex that his beats carry throughout. It’s beyond my comprehension that he’s taken us under his wing with the QGR team. I’d also have to say Baauer in the way that he’s pushed to seek and create all of his own sounds as organically as possible. Stuff like that is unbelievably inspirational as a producer in an era where 99% of people use other people’s sounds. Lastly it’d have to be Carmack. I’ve always been blown away by how careless and loose his productions are. Definitely been a huge role model on that end.
What do you have coming up for the rest of the year that you can share with us?
K: We’ve got some awesome collabs in the works, and some cool shows that we have yet to announce. Keep on the lookout though for new music! We’re working harder than we ever have and there’s no end in sight.
B: Yeah be on the lookout for some pretty major collabs. We’ve made some pretty unexpected friends out here in Colorado and elsewhere with the help of QGR, so I’m pretty thrilled with the releases that are to come after this EP.
Get your hands on Focus here.