Kemal has been in drum & bass for while. Since 1999 in fact, and after a somewhat lengthy hiatus from the drum & bass scene, Kemal is now back and firmly knee-deep in beats. We caught up with Kemal to get his personal take on remixing, studio tech and his latest offering, the rework of Trilo & Vegas’ Rush.
What kind of mindset do you get into when doing a remix? How do you get into the zone?
I tend to work best at night when there are fewer distractions. It takes time to get into the zone and it’s something that can’t be forced. I tend to work in creative bursts and like to have a bit of time between studio sessions to hear the track with fresh ears. I know some people can work more regimented hours but I prefer to be flexible.
If you’re familiar with the track, is it your intention to enhance, strip down or re-write it? What is your general policy?
The creative process involved in remixing differs from starting a track from scratch. In the former, I identify the elements I like from the original, discard the rest and see where I can add my particular style. Often this tends to be in the form of funky percussion and syncopated grooves. On the other hand, when starting a track from scratch there is more creative freedom as you don’t need to satisfy the original artist’s expectations.
How would you describe what you’ve done with the Trilo & Vegas track?
The original track was highly energetic and I wanted to keep that vibe but at the same time add some interesting percussion and funky stabs, giving it more of a techy groove. The production on the original was top notch and it was hard to match.
Delivering it to the label must be quite a daunting experience?
I try to get an idea of what the label expects before embarking on a remix and for the most part those expectations are normally met. However, I am also willing to take their suggestions on board and deliver a draft or two before settling on a polished version.
Could you tell us a little bit about your studio set up?
Ableton is the main DAW that I use along with an analogue summing unit and some valve processing. I have a Nord modular and Yamaha AN1X but find the standard of soft synths incredible these days and tend to rely more on those. Billain masters my tracks and I’m happy with the results.
And who you’ve been working with or what projects you have going on?
I did a collab with Phace called ‘mode 101’ and another with Billain for his album called ‘cosmic gate’. Billain and I are planning an E.P. along with some unique releases that will be multidimensional. A collab with BSE is in the works as well as a remix collab with Inside Info. Hopefully a Tech Itch collab too. I’m also doing a remix exchange with Bop and working with Mr Livewire, a techno producer who also is deep in D&B. I’d like to contribute a track to the tribute album for Optiv too. These are some of the projects, there are others but I’d rather keep them under wraps for now.
What is inspiring you right now, in D&B and elsewhere?
I find inspiration from nature, patterns and fractals which translate into polyrhythms and musical textures.
As for musical inspirations, I like artists who have their own sound, such as those mentioned above and more. Buunshin and Misanthrop come to mind.
How have you been keeping yourself occupied during the pandemic?
One of the few activities that I’ve been doing regularly is forest bathing, hiking and generally spending time outdoors when possible. I’ve also been quite productive with remixes and making my classic tracks available on Bandcamp.
What are your plans for both the immediate and long term future?
I feel optimistic about the immediate future as spring emerges from the dark winter we have experienced. With lockdown easing up and the days getting longer, it feels ‘hopeful’. I feel more productive musically and looking forward to experimenting with sound. I really can’t say how long I’ll be doing this for but it feels right for now. I look forward to touring in the future.