There’s a reason that everyone is always talking about Melbourne, and you might not want to hear it again The way that Corey Kikos and Maryos Syawish of Sleep D tell it, however, is well worth a listen – the Butter Sessions label bosses have certainly established themselves as pillars of the community in a diverse underground scene.
Their first full-length record, out on the Anthony Naples-helmed Incienso label, is a free-form anthology of pacy groovers and jubilant curveballs. Described in the liner notes as Australia’s “ultimate Doof Dance Duo,” it’s all delivered with their signature steeze. We caught up with the childhood friends fresh off the back of Rebel Force‘s release to talk DIY dynamics Down Under.
Congratulations on Rebel Force, your first full length. What inspired you to make an album?
Corey: We didn’t originally come out with the idea of making an album. We were working on a bunch of stuff that didn’t fit the usual formats we were working with, but it was actually a good foundation for an album. We were also motivated to do something larger than three tracks. We wanted to put more effort into doing different styles and put them in one package.
Maryos: We’ve been doing a lot of different sets, live sets, alias projects that we wanted to put all into one thing rather than being here or there.
There’s a lot of solid grooves on there but plenty of stuff that might not fit into a traditional 12″.
Maryos: I think we’re both just interested in creating sounds. It usually leans towards dance music but we’re both interested in a variety of different tempos and moods. We don’t like to think too much about whether it fits into any certain criteria; we just want to create stuff that we are feeling.
Corey: A lot of the tracks came about at different times of the day and that brings different moods. Some were recorded late at night and come off as solid listening music. Others started when we were building a live set to play at a festival, and that made us make a big banger track.
What ties the record together?
Corey: I think we asked ourselves the same question. It’s not necessarily a fully coherent journey or anything like that. We treated it a bit like a DJ set. It grows from something slower and moodier into something more energetic, with plenty of odds and ends in-between. It’s our techniques and the sounds that we use that tie it together.
Maryos: We don’t go into the studio and say, “today we’re gonna make a techno track” we go in there and jam together until a feeling matches, and that’s how it sounds. So, the link is that it was all jammed out together.
Is the record a reflection of the dynamic between the two of you?
Corey: Totally, I think if one of us created a record on our own, it would lean too much in one specific way. Together, it creates more exciting moments, with more different styles and more energies.
How does that dynamic work when you’re producing?
Maryos: There are a few different ways we make tracks. We use a lot of sequencers when we work. We could be jamming together for a while, just improvising until we get to a certain point that we like. From there, we plug it into Ableton and start looping it together, adding the more melodic elements like the keys. After that, it gets even more looped-out, and at that point, we’re refining it, reflecting on it, trying to find the essence of the track.
Corey: That could be over a week, or it could just be a few days. Sometimes, we’re just on a roll, and it could be a couple of hours, and suddenly, all the melodies and arrangements are put down, and it’s finished. Some of the tracks on the album actually happened like that. ‘Reggaetron’, ‘Twin Turbo’, ‘Central’ all happened in a short amount of time. Things like ‘Danza Mart’ took weeks to do. ‘Fade Away’ started as a remix and there were five versions at one point, it took months to get it to the point that we were happy with.
Maryos: The process and technique that we have been working with have stemmed out of playing lots of live shows and creating music for those shows, and that has come back around now into the studio.
Would you say you’re on a roll right now?
Maryos: I think production-wise, we are on a bit of a roll. We’ve found a good system and a good level with the sounds that we are interested in making. When we realised that, our time in the studio became a lot more productive.
Why didn’t you put Rebel Force out on Butter Sessions?
Maryos: We are so involved with Butter Sessions releases that we didn’t want to be doing every single process of this record’s life.
Corey: Usually, I would master the tracks, and Maryos would do a lot of the artwork for the label. Then we would distribute it ourselves and promote it ourselves. Whereas now with Incienso releasing it, we’re already able to start working on a bunch of new stuff too.
Maryos: They’ve also put their touch on it too, which is nice, it adds a few more tastes in there.
You guys have been both shaped by, and are shaping, the Melbourne scene through your productions, and your label, Butter Sessions. What’s at the core of the label?
Maryos: It sounds a little cliché, but the fact that we haven’t really thought about it is the core of it. It’s been about using our instincts, we’re not putting too many rules in place.
Corey: It’s an open-ended book. In one way, the core of it is that it is a community-driven project. All of our activities are heavily involved in working with local artists in Melbourne, or Australia, and trying to do more for that scene. If there was a core, I guess that would be it, but there’s no artist, or aesthetic, or sound even.
Maryos: It’s an unconscious core. We’re just making noise and seeing what sticks.
Is the Melbourne scene thriving?
Corey: There’s a lot happening here. Just as much as in a lot of other major cities that we have been to. Tonnes of artists and producers and live acts. There’s more than enough to keep us excited.
Maryos: Even in the little things. In our studio building, for example, there are five other studios, and we’ve collaborated with, or released with, or played shows with pretty much everyone in there. That’s a nice reflection of the kind of community that’s going on, and there’s a lot of sharing of ideas which is always healthy.
Corey: It’s pretty incestuous. But really, there’s a lot of collaborations, and a lot of excitement about everything that everyone is doing and the music is also very diverse.
Is the DIY approach part of the Melbourne mentality?
Corey: I think so. Melbourne, being where it is, means there are not really many other options. There isn’t really that big music industry presence here, not like there is in Europe, so it has led to this atmosphere where people really have to do it themselves. There’s a general feeling of not taking things super seriously, so people are willing to try out a lot of crazy ideas.
Maryos: The DIY aspect helps with that. There isn’t this big boss out there that you have to impress. It’s also quite young here so there isn’t really a defined sound and you get a lot of these little sub-sounds going on.
Which acts should we be looking out for in Melbourne right now?
Corey: There’s an electronic four-piece called Big Yawn that is really interesting. On the techno side, there’s a producer from Perth called Guy Contact. We’re actually about to release his stuff. There’s Sui Zhen, who’s just put out a new record too. There are loads.
We just got our hands on Rebel Force, but can we expect more soon?
Maryos: Definitely, there’s already too records that are already finished. They don’t have release dates yet but probably sometime early next year.
Corey: The album that just came out feels old already! There’s a lot of stuff coming next year.
Rebel Force is out now on Incienso – buy it here