Eryk Kowalczyk, aka Xilent, is a dubstep, electro house and drum & bass producer signed to Shimon’s AudioPorn imprint. He recently released his new single Falling Apart so we caught up with him for a guest mix and he told us all about plans for his debut album, collabs with Seven Lions and Bassnectar, his studio set-up. and more…
Where are you from and to what extent would you say this influences your music?
I was born in Poland, but after high school I moved to the UK once I got accepted to a university in Edinburgh and stayed there for six years.
I wouldn’t say being Polish has influenced my music much, however my parents, being musicians themselves, fed me all kinds of fascinating 80s music throughout my childhood. Growing up, trance particularly touched my soul and sprung a whole spectrum of ideas I’m implementing in my tracks today.
When did you first try your hand at DJing and producing?
I tried production for the first time when I got my first PC at the age of eight, when Propellerheads’ Rebirth RB-338 synth rack was shown to me by my dad. Until this day I still find floppy disks full of old trance loops I used to make when I’d just begun primary school.
I started to learn to mix in my secondary school years later when I would bring my cheap Reloop turntable to my friend’s house who owned a proper Technics machine. He’d be teaching himself to scratch, while I tried to mix two tracks together; usually some of the old Metalheadz releases or Lifted Music vinyl.
How did you get your music noticed in the beginning?
Back in 2008, I was a frequent MySpace user along with a couple of internet drum & bass forums, which was my go-to genre in the beginning. I would upload a new track to my MySpace practically every week and I was pretty known for that sort of pace on a Polish forum “dnb.pl”. It was the only way to go Facebook and Twitter!
How would you describe your approach to making music?
I always try to bring colour and emotion into the music I produce. I like to incorporate as much complexity as possible into the tracks I make, but still try to ensure that they are rhythmic and danceable.
I don’t really care about genres so much as my productions tend to reflect the mood that I’m in at time. That’s why I’m never very genre-specific.
What’s your studio setup like?
I started with a laptop and headphones, but I have expanded to a studio set-up that I’m pretty happy with. A pretty high-tier PC, a NI Komplete audio interface, Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro headphones, a set of KRK studio monitors, obligatory two monitor screens not to feel limited, and an Oxygen 61 midi keyboard to speed things up.
Tell us about your recent single ‘Falling Apart’ on AudioPorn…
A lot of my music this past year has been sounding quite underground and abstract to me, so I wanted to switch things up and try something a bit more mainstream and hookliney.
My good friend Grimm, who has done some great work with Hybrid Minds, provided the vocals on Falling Apart. Since 2011’s Choose Me it’s become a bit of a tradition to include two versions of one track on one release, e.g. version #1 as electro house and #2 dubstep, etc; I badly wanted to get back to that concept again.
Did you have much say in the direction for the video?
I looked at a couple of different ideas that the director of the video Gulliver Moore presented, but I really liked the idea of a man literally falling apart due to the apparent loss of his better half. Gulliver and his team are super professional, so we let them take it from there and we’re really happy with the response it received.
How did you hook up with AudioPorn?
I was approached by Shimon in 2010 I believe, just as I was finishing work on my ‘Choose Me’ track and it became my first AudioPorn release, causing a chain reaction of life-changing things to happen.
The only work of mine that had been out at the time was a bunch of drum & bass tracks which people really seemed to like and after working with a couple of other labels prior, I knew it was time to step up.
Shim is a legend and I’ve said that before many times – he’s been like an uncle to me ever since. AudioPorn is like a second home to me now.
Got any other releases in the pipeline we should look out for?
Apart from the AudioPorn release chain leading to my debut album early next year – this year it’s collaboration time for me. I’ve recently finished working on a single with Seven Lions called The Fall and it is now awaiting its release on OWSLA. I’m currently also writing a track with BT and one (or two?) collabs with Bassnectar, but those will probably take a bit longer.
What can you tell us about your debut album?
My album will feature a whole genre-spectrum of futuristic bass music in the style that my listeners have grown to like. This LP will be my biggest project to date and I intend to satisfy as many fans possible, starting with the drum & bass ‘ultrafunk’ crazies, through the melodic trancey dubstep bassheads, ending on the complex electro ravers. I intend to make it a continuous adventure, where you won’t be able to tell where songs begin or end.
What else have you been working on in the studio recently?
I finally got myself an Ableton Launchpad literally days ago – boy, was that overdue. I still can’t believe I hadn’t done it earlier. It’s so versatile and, among other equipment, will soon become a part of my journey into the world of live sets. I can’t wait to show the world some of my drumming skills which I’ve put to sleep for the past eight years, hehe!
Ever thought about starting your own label?
Honestly I have, but it’s way too much work and stress and I’ve got too much going on with making music and playing out for now. I’m putting my faith in Shimon and AudioPorn and building up my work as a producer before I consider starting something of my own.
Tell us a bit more about the mix you are giving away with us…
The mix contains my freshest releases along with my other current favourites among all sorts of genres and artists. I always go for the energy, melody and versatility in my sets and with talented friends such as Virtual Riot, Naked Fish or Memtrix – you can never go wrong.
You recently did a Reddit AMA, what was the best question?
I like when people ask for really detailed description of how I do one particular thing. It shows that people have really noticed the struggle I go through when it comes to, for example, “spatial imaging and supersaw layering”. This time though, my favourite question award goes to xKore for his ‘what’s ur favourite vest?’.
What’s the best gig you played in the last six months?
Hands down – St. Louis, Bass Cave in April. A freaking six million square feet cave, with bubble machines, pyrotechnics and bats flying around above your head. That night I also busted out my first ever stage dive after my set. Massive night and fantastic crowd response.
What do you get up to outside of music?
Well, I got engaged and married this year to my biggest fan and most precious girl to me, so there’s the family business on track! But as for other things – I tend to try a variety of different things every year.
I’ve always done a bit of everything, starting with simple web design, Photoshop, video editing – nothing that I would consider myself a professional in though.
As of recent, after a bit of a break, I also came back to reading books; one right now would be Daniel Tammet’s Born on a Blue Day.
Anything else you want to tell us about?
Check out my new drum & bass track, ‘Reality’ out on October 1st. And thank you for the questions!