KOAN Sound delve into their bespoke connection to music, discuss new visual live show [Interview]

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KOAN Sound delve into their bespoke connection to music, discuss new visual live show [Interview]Sarah Koury2FKoLAB Studios Https 2F2Fkolabstudios.co .uk 2 Medium

Ever since dance music became a real contender in the pop music landscape—rivaling rock and hip-hop in terms of global influence, artists have been looking for new, unique ways to innovate; to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack. After all, once any genre breaks out of the underground, the number of artists that hitch their wagons to it nearly overnight increases dramatically.

As a result, so many of those artists calculate their craft for marketability on every level—from production to performance—searching for different aspects to which they can draw focus so as to affirm their originality. Sometimes it can come off as gimmicky, other times more genuine, though the line between is a tightrope walk.

There are some artists, though, who don’t have to manufacture a sense of originality. They show up already equipped with a sound and style that is inimitably and entirely their own. Chief among that elite crop of artists in the electronic space may be KOAN Sound. Consisting of Will Weeks and Jim Bastow, the venerated British duo has tackled an extended myriad of genres and subgenres, all while maintaining their unmistakable sonic identity.

This flair for uniqueness is driven by a concerted effort to imbue their strong instrumental background into every track they produce. From their breakout hit, “Meanwhile, In The Future,” to their latest EP, Intervals Above, their early days playing in a band together back in Bristol support their affinity for limitless exploration, both in the studio and on stage.

Dancing Astronaut caught up with Weeks and Bastow at their LA tour stop for a rare interview wherein the pair discussed their continuing instrumental influences, their brand new live show, and more.

KOAN Sound delve into their bespoke connection to music, discuss new visual live show [Interview]2019 In Parallel ©Sarah Koury 51
© Sarah Koury / KoLAB Studios

You’ve just released another rework of “Meanwhile In The Future,” one of your break out tracks. What does this track mean to you both? How did it feel to revisit this track once again as more seasoned, experienced musicians?

Weeks: Well, that was really fun to do because we’ve learned so much since writing the original. It was cool trying out similar things, but with all these new techniques.

Bastow: Out of all our tracks that one’s always been one of the biggest fan favorites.  That kind of era of our productions, the early OWSLA productions, are still really popular with a lot of fans so we wanted to keep playing it, but we thought it would be cool to update that along with some of the other tracks in the set. Kind of put a fresh spin on them, and I think the reception so far has been positive.

Which of the two versions would you say you enjoy listening to more?

Weeks: I think the old one, you can definitely hear the age. 

Bastow: Yeah it’s definitely partly a nostalgic thing.

Throughout your career you’ve adopted a plethora of styles and genres—everything from boom-bap beats to drum ‘n’ bass to dubstep to disco, and yet your music is unmistakably your own. How do you continue to insert your unique sound into all these different styles in fresh, new ways?

Weeks : We don’t think about it too much. We have a way of working so whatever genre it is things end up sounding the same in terms of sound design. 

Bastow : I think if you do anything for long enough and keep working away at it you will develop your own spin on it; your own perspective. I think it’s unavoidable and its definitely not something we’re really conscious of when we’re in the process of making music. It’s just something that is born out of that. But to me I think that’s one of the highest compliments that someone can give because music can be good and it can be bad but if something sounds like you then no one can take that away from you, and that’s a very high compliment.

So when you go to make a new track do you have a specific intent in terms of what genre you want to make or does it flow naturally through the process?

Weeks: Usually we start with an idea, but we work on tracks for so long that they often develop into something else entirely.

KOAN Sound delve into their bespoke connection to music, discuss new visual live show [Interview]2019 In Parallel ©Sarah Koury 71
© Sarah Koury / KoLAB Studios

Your releases have always been accompanied by very bespoke artwork to the point that you created an original piece of art for every track on Polychrome. What purpose does visual art serve in relation to your music? Do the visuals help define the music? Or are the visuals a reaction to the music?

Weeks: Well I think part of it started when I said I see a lot of shapes and colors when I hear music, but then that grew into trying to create visuals to go along with our sets, but we haven’t done anything on this scale before as we did with the new live show.

Bastow: I came from a visual art background, and that’s always been very important to me. For instance with the Polychrome project I thought it would be a cool way to try and tie all of the different elements and tracks together because, like you say, the album has a lot of different styles and covers a lot of different stylistic ground so I thought it would be a cool way to tie all of those together by telling a story in each of the pieces of artwork.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but you haven’t made an official music video for any of those tracks, right?

Bastow: Well that’s what the show is. Essentially each track has a bespoke music video for it, and we’re playing with stuff live and triggering things over the top of these space layers that are running in the background. But yeah, each track has its own full-length music video. 

I think that’s interesting because if someone hasn’t come to the show and sees the art that is paired with the music, it’s still very open to interpretation. Whereas a traditional music video further defines a song most of the time. Explain the opposite approach a little more?

Bastow: I think also we play a really big role in the development of the visuals which just means we have more personal investment in them and just more attachment to them and hopefully that comes across.

KOAN Sound delve into their bespoke connection to music, discuss new visual live show [Interview]2019 In Parallel ©Sarah Koury 66
© Sarah Koury / KoLAB Studios

You both grew up playing instruments and use them frequently in your productions. What inspired you to go the electronic route as opposed to staying the course in your live band?

Weeks: Well we were doing them both at the same time. They were both fun things, but I guess it’s hard to keep people together in a band.

Bastow: Yeah they definitely both ran in tandem and I think over time our interests and musical tastes just developed. We began to listen to more and more electronic stuff and just become more immersed in that world, but I think we went through a period while we were writing Polychrome where we were jamming quite often with some other musicians. Our friend Chalky who plays guitar being one of them. That definitely informed some of the album writing to a certain extent, and we play drums and keys on stage so there’s still a bit of that in there.

Both Polychrome and Intervals Above display a return to your more instrumental style of music. You even put together a playlist of guitar music that inspired Intervals Above. How do you translate instrumental influence into electronic music? How does a jam session inspire an electronic production?

Weeks: I think when we record anything, whether it’s other people or ourselves, we just record a lot of audio. Then usually we’ll play around with that within Ableton find cool ways to use it.

Bastow: It’s really just that. There’s not really a science behind it. It’s just recording everything that we do when we’re experimenting or just playing something and then going through it after and picking bits out and the bits that catch our ear just pursuing those and processing them and experimenting with them.

Are there times in the middle of these jams when you’ll stop and instantly know that you’ve found the idea that leads to a track? 

Bastow: The recording process is very separate from the actual production process. We’re not normally doing both at the same time; recording while we’re making a track. Normally we’ll be out with a field recorder or recording someone else playing an instrument or I’ll be recording some keyboards or what not. Then after we have those we’ll go back to the studio and listen through those and choose bits from them.

Do you think having that separation between recording and producing helps formulate the ideas for your tracks?

Weeks: I’d say if anything it leads to more happy accidents because you come away from the recording process and then you come into it fresh again and you can stumble on really interesting progressions.

Bastow: It’s kind of a work flow thing as well. Just having that separation means that the two processes are distinct.

KOAN Sound delve into their bespoke connection to music, discuss new visual live show [Interview]2019 In Parallel ©Sarah Koury 62
© Sarah Koury / KoLAB Studios

What were the intentions behind Intervals Above? Was it simply leftover tracks from the Polychrome sessions? Or were you trying to do something new?

Weeks: I think it was a love letter to the guitar music we like. Metal, Latin American music…

Bastow: We listen to a lot of instrumental metal stuff, with Animals As Leaders being one of the biggest names. So, part of it was that and part of it was becoming really close friends with a guy named Chalky who played a lot on the EP. We had these initial ideas and did some short recordings with him. Those recordings formed the direction of the EP in terms of sound, and we just tried to use those recordings as much as possible because it’s not an instrument we’ve used a lot in the past.

When you first emerged bass music was much more narrowly defined than it is today, and your music always existed outside those definitions. Now you have a long list of huge crossover artists. How do you think this trend has impacted your music and your audience? Do you find more people are down for the stuff you’re making now?

Bastow: Well I think when we initially started we were pretty closely tied to dubstep. We sort of rode the wave of that association and, like you say, everything was more in the box at that time. So, I think we were pigeon-holed a little bit into that, but I think it’s been a gradual evolution. From that point we’ve continued to experiment and try new things until we were at a point where people were digging us because we were doing that; because we weren’t sticking to that one thing. We became known for always doing a different thing.

Photo Credit: Sarah Koury / KoLAB Studios

NMF Roundup: ZHU and The Bloody Beetroots link for ‘Zoning,’ RÜFÜS DU SOL release new set of ‘Solace’ remixes + more

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NMF Roundup: ZHU and The Bloody Beetroots link for ‘Zoning,’ RÜFÜS DU SOL release new set of ‘Solace’ remixes + moreRUFUS PressShot LeFawnhawk 1

It’s most important day of the week: New Music Friday. With the overwhelming amount of tunes hitting the airwaves today, Dancing Astronaut has you covered with the latest edition of The Hot 25.

In perhaps one of the biggest collaborations to hit the airwaves on Sept. 6, The Bloody Beetroots and ZHU have teamed up for “Zoning.” RÜFÜS DU SOL have dropped off a new set of remixes for Solace, including an irresistibly groovy one by Hot Since 82. Grimes and i_o unexpectedly deliver “Violence,” and M83 returns with the dreamy “Temple of Sorrow.” Audien and Nevve bring blissful energy to “Buzzing,” and Cashmere Cat reveals “FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.” Arty is on a journey to “Find You” in his latest, and Walker & Royce team up with VNSSA for “Rave Grave.” KOAN Sound’s new EP lands pm Sept. 6, featuring sounds like “Vibrant,” and Claude VonStroke unleashes a new original, “Slink.” Sullivan King has released a two-track EP, and Armin van Buuren and David Hodges link for “Waking Up With You.” Fox Stevenson finally uncovers “Dreamland,” and 3LAU remixes San Holo’s “Lost Lately.”

As each week brings a succession of new music from some of electronic music’s biggest artists, here’s a selection of tracks that shouldn’t be missed this NMF.

Photo credit: LeFawnhawk

Premiere: KOAN Sound preview forthcoming ‘Intervals Above’ EP with soothing ‘Vibrant’

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Premiere: KOAN Sound preview forthcoming ‘Intervals Above’ EP with soothing ‘Vibrant’Koan Sound © Sarah Koury KoLAB Studios 1

Leading up to the release of their new EP, KOAN Sound have been steadily trickling hints of its contents to the music world. The six-track Intervals Above has seen its first three tracks—”Strident,” “Boundless,” and “Radiant,” respectively—make their way to listeners ears over the course of the past month, no doubt met with celebration to those who were eagerly anticipating follow-ups to December’s Polychrome LP.

The second-to-last track to make its way before the EP is released in full on Sept. 6 is “Vibrant,” a refreshingly soothing piece that sparkles with all its title suggests. A twinkling introduction crescendoes gradually to incorporate blissful yet minimalist percussion, steadily building more complex layers. The dreamy tone carries throughout the majority of the song, though the final two minutes usher in a slow-pulsing bassline that gives the tune a more foreboding outro. From start to finish, though, “Vibrant” fills listeners’ ears with the mystical, journey-like atmosphere they know they’ll only find in a KOAN Sound song.

The duo are kicking off the US leg of their In Parallel tour in Portland with Haywyre on Sept. 12. Find tickets to shows in Los Angeles, Austin, Denver, and more here.

Photo credit: Sarah Koury / KoLAB Studios

KOAN Sound announce ‘Intervals Above’ EP along with North American live tour

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KOAN Sound announce ‘Intervals Above’ EP along with North American live tourSarah Koury2FKoLAB Studios Https 2F2Fkolabstudios.co .uk 2 Medium

KOAN Sound is an electronic act that is simply irreplaceable. Their brand of electro-funk is in a class of its own, borrowing from numerous genres including drum ‘n’ bass, dubstep, and even disco sometimes. There is no other act on the market who compares, sonically.

Such was the case for their debut album, Polychrome, which came out last year. They also recently revealed a VIP of their breakout hit “Meanwhile In The Future.” Now, the British pair have announced their next EP, Intervals Above, due out Sept. 6, which will kick off their upcoming In Parallel Tour with Haywyre.

The tour will take them all over the U.S. and Canada, and this will be a completely live tour. Considering the instrumental feel of their music, “live” in this case can mean anything from the duo ripping guitars to them bringing along guest musicians. The only way to find out is to show up.

View the full details for the In Parallel Tour below, and get tickets here

KOAN Sound announce ‘Intervals Above’ EP along with North American live tourKoan Sound Haywyre In Parallel Tour Dates

Photo credit: Sarah Koury

Lunar Lunes: KOAN Sound revamp 2011 ‘Meanwhile, In The Future,’ Matt Lange delivers new slow-burning single + more

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Lunar Lunes: KOAN Sound revamp 2011 ‘Meanwhile, In The Future,’ Matt Lange delivers new slow-burning single + moreKoan Sound © Sarah Koury KoLAB Studios 1

Each week, New Music Friday sweeps through with torrential force, showering streaming platforms with immeasurable amounts of new tunes. Just like Dancing Astronaut rounds up 25 of the biggest songs of the week for the Hot 25 Spotify playlist each New Music Friday, Lunar Lunes serves as a landing pad for SoundCloud users who want a whole new dose of tunes to kick off the work week.

The selection is updated every Lunes (Monday).

Photo credit: Sarah Koury / KoLAB Studios

Dexter’s Beat Laboratory Vol. 102

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Dexter’s Beat Laboratory Vol. 102Deters Beat Lab@0.

Dexter’s Beat Laboratory is a weekly collection of songs from DA managing editor Robyn Dexter. With a taste that can only be described as eclectic — to say nothing of a name that lends itself to punnery — DA is happy to present a selection of tracks personally curated by Dexter for your listening pleasure.

Listen in playlist format here


Leave it to Laszlo to always make fun songs even more fun. On his latest, the Dutch producer tackles Julian Jordan‘s “To The Wire,” revamping it with his own upbeat energy. While preserving the easygoing groove of the original, Laszlo picks up the pace and packs more punch with his rendition. Laszlo’s remix is out via Martin Garrix‘s Stmpd Rcrds, as part of a set of remixes that also includes a rework by Siks.

Flite continues to trailblaze the drum ‘n’ bass movement in the United States, and he’s been busy this year. Just weeks after releasing a well-received EP on Liquicity Records, the Texas-based producer has teamed up with Spanish producers Dub Elements for “Abandoned.” The tune leads the listener through the jungle with mysterious vocals and anticipatory melodies, building gradually to a formidable, rapid-paced drop.

Australian producer Blaine Stranger has been making waves in the international drum ‘n’ bass scene for the past few years, making his way to Futurebound’s Viper Recordings to unveil his latest, “Losing Myself.” Incorporating sultry female vocals atop a furiously racing beat, this newest tune sees the producer further assert himself as a force to be reckoned with.

Shortly after announcing a European and U.S. tour with Haywyre, KOAN Sound have revived a 2011 OWSLA classic: “Meanwhile, In The Future.” This “What Year Is It Remix” strays from its glitch hop origins to march smartly into 2019, bringing with it its iconic wobbles and interlude melodies. This rework is more laid-back than its predecessor eight years prior, but it’s sure to thrill all who loved and embraced the original.

I’m so grateful I stumbled across this EP. Parisian artist LÜNE has created a meticulous and delicate six-track collection of “chillsynth” songs that are visibly personal and heart-touching. “When you are close to death, your survival instinct makes you see happy memories (souvenirs), of people and things you love, that could bring you the courage to get back to life,” the producer says of the new collection. “That’s what this EP is about, these are my souvenirs.”

Stream KOAN Sound’s long-awaited ‘Polychrome’ LP

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Stream KOAN Sound’s long-awaited ‘Polychrome’ LPKoan Sound © Sarah Koury KoLAB Studios 1

Lovers of underground bass music have a long, rich relationship with KOAN Sound. After a few well-received releases in 2010, the duo from Bristol gained support from the burgeoning OWSLA imprint and went on to be a beloved member of the left-field bass scene. Now, three years since their last release, KOAN Sound have dropped their long-awaited Polychrome LP.

Spanning 11 tracks and nearly an hour of music, KOAN Sound have returned with quite a selection of jazzy, bass-heavy tracks. The lead single, “Chilli Daddy,” is as much slap-bass as it is hard-hitting dub, as the duo seamlessly fuses together sounds from all over the musical spectrum. On their first project since 2015, KOAN Sound prove that they can still be atmospheric and moody while engaging with a variety of electronic sub-genres and tempos.

Photo credit: Sarah Koury / KoLAB Studios

NMF Roundup: KOAN Sound return with debut LP, Dillon Francis unleashes ‘LFGD,’ SNBRN remixes Hotel Garuda + more

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NMF Roundup: KOAN Sound return with debut LP, Dillon Francis unleashes ‘LFGD,’ SNBRN remixes Hotel Garuda + moreKoan Sound

It’s most important day of the week: New Music Friday. With the overwhelming amount of tunes hitting the airwaves today, Dancing Astronaut has you covered with the latest edition of The Hot 25.

The release of the NINJAWERKS Vol. 1 compilation album this week brings new tunes from some of dance music’s biggest names, including Dillon Francis and Kaskade. Andrew Bayer has joined forces with Ane Brun for the gorgeous “Love You More,” out on Anjunabeats. RL Grime has revealed a colossal set of remixes for NOVA, including a formidable rework of “Rainer” by k?d. KOAN Sound burst back onto the scene with the release their debut full-length, Polychrome. HEYZ works wonders in his new single with darkDARK, “Darkest Little Friend.” Hardwell delivers some sunshine in the form of “How You Love Me” with Conor Maynard and Snoop Dogg. Nicky Romero flips Jess Glynne‘s “Thursday” in his newest, and NGHTMRE and Big Gigantic make magic with “Like That.” Cloonee keeps the beat rocking with a feel-good take on Matoma‘s “Sunday Morning,” and Ekali strips “Leaving” down for a serene, acoustic rendition.

As each week brings a succession of new music from some of electronic music’s biggest artists, here’s a selection of tracks that shouldn’t be missed this NMF.

KOAN Sound reveal new music from forthcoming album

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KOAN Sound reveal new music from forthcoming albumSarah Koury2FKoLAB Studios Https 2F2Fkolabstudios.co .uk 2 Medium

KOAN Sound have released a single titled “Chilli Daddy” from their forthcoming LP, Polychrome. The release is especially notable, considering how elusive KOAN Sound’s style tends to be. They traverse sonic genres like water, bringing warmth and meticulous attention to everything they wash over.

While Will Weeks and Jim Bastow’s sound has developed over the years, two things have remained overall consistent with the duo. One, their releases stick to a musical theme. In 2011, their Funk Blaster EP ripped through the dub scene, showing the fluid connection of bass and funk. Their Sanctuary EP in 2013 showed their orchestral skills, and in 2015, their Dynasty EP defined a genre of smooth, tight, distinguished beats from palatial heights. Secondly, KOAN Sound pay a huge amount of attention to detail in their creations. The arrangement is highly thought-out, the synths meticulously developed, and the beats are sown tight.

“Chilli Daddy” has listeners excited, and rightfully so, since it’s been three years since their last release. Moreover, this release shows that during that time, these guys weren’t sleeping. Their attention to detail is there, and the sound of this single isn’t quite like anything they’ve released. There are fast-paced funk basslines, tight beats, and to add more excitement, some of the older more dubby influence that fans have come to adore KOAN Sound through. Welcome back.

Polychrome is to be released on December 7.

Photo credit: Sarah Koury

Lunar Lunes: KOAN Sound return, Zomboy showcases feisty ‘Lone Wolf,’ Doctor P gives listeners ‘something to believe in’ + more

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Lunar Lunes: KOAN Sound return, Zomboy showcases feisty ‘Lone Wolf,’ Doctor P gives listeners ‘something to believe in’ + moreLunar Lunes E1540831560592

Each week, New Music Friday sweeps through with torrential force, showering streaming platforms with immeasurable amounts of new tunes. Just like Dancing Astronaut rounds up 25 of the biggest songs of the week for the Hot 25 Spotify playlist each New Music Friday, Lunar Lunes serves as a landing pad for SoundCloud users who want a whole new dose of tunes to kick off the work week.

Three years in the making, KOAN Sound have unveiled a single from their forthcoming debut album, Polychrome. Also making a comeback is Haywyre, who’s released his first single in two years: the disco-infused “Tell Me.” Luttrell returns to Anjunadeep for “Out of Me,” a mystical venture that propels the listener deep into outer space. Dubstep powerhouses Teminite, Chime and PsoGnar have teamed up for a dynamic single, “Monster,” which showcases all three artists’ skillful wobble-crafting abilities, along with PsoGnar’s vocals. Also in the dubstep realm, Doctor P returns with his fourth release of the year, “Something To Believe In.” Xavi’s created a clever take on Porter Robinson‘s notable “Sea of Voices,” and Nitti Gritti molds his own bass-heavy version of Dillon Francis‘ “White Boi.”

The selection is updated every Lunes (Monday).