Unite and rise. This is what local DJ duo Kueymo & Sushiboy (KYSB) firmly believes in. (You’ll find out why soon enough after reading the next few paragraphs!)
Earlier this month, the Neue team was invited to take an intimate look at how Electronic Dance Music (EDM) tracks are created by young aspiring producers from Brunei Darussalam.
KYSB held its first ever ‘Producer Weekend’ in August last year, which eventually led to the release of the ‘Sounds of the Brotherhood’ album earlier this year.
‘Super Snacks’, a music label based out of Singapore and co-founded by Perk Pietrek, was also invited over to do a demo drop to give local producers an opportunity to be signed if they were deemed fit by the music label’s manager, Keith, and producer, Jay.
“We hope to be able to increase the quality of music production in Brunei and hopefully create a sustainable industry and career path for local producers,” KYSB told Neue. “The ultimate goal would be to see our local producers becoming both regionally and internationally recognised powerhouses.”
You’re probably wondering how much money would be needed to organise such a master class and flying a team over from Singapore.
Well, Neue was informed that it was somewhere around the ballpark of 5,000 Brunei dollars (BND)!
And how much did the young aspiring producers from Brunei (some of whom were scouted by KYSB on Instagram) have to pay to attend the master class? Not a single cent!
You see, all expenses were personally covered by the duo behind KYSB – Edmund (Kueymo) and Riff (Sushiboy) – who both have day jobs outside of their music gigs. Kueymo deals mostly with finance for the oil & gas industry, while Sushiboy works with a leading insurance company.
When asked why they were doing this, KYSB told Neue: “It’s really all about uniting and rising together as one. We take pleasure in organising this master class for aspiring producers in Brunei. At the end of the day, all we want to do is to build up talents in this beautiful country of ours.”
That weekend, a number of tracks came to life under one rooftop.
Known for their weekly night sessions on Saturdays on Kristal FM and their jet-setting EDM career slash lifestyle, Edmund and Riff had plenty of resources (and experience) to share with the super low-key, almost secret young talents they’d discovered from right under our noses – some of whose work had garnered over 100,000 plays on Soundcloud! (Impressive, isn’t it?)
The master class sessions
Teenagers, somewhat reserved, but noticeably highly talented, were among those who showed up for the master class. Donning headphones, you could see them ever so focussed on coming up with rhythmic beats. They were later divided into groups for their respective demo drops.
While some of them dropped singles, others decided to blend their unique styles into collaborative tracks. It’s interesting to note that some of them do have their own individual sound, making them easily identifiable.
The ‘Super Snacks’ exchange
The following Sunday, these young’uns had plenty of tricks up their sleeves to present to their mentors. Let’s take a quick look at the background of these mentors before we move on to the electrifying bits of the story.
Lincey and Perk recently just launched their new project called Pandasaurs. Both had worked separately prior to this, albeit in the same eco-system and local label.
Lincey, who recently left his resident DJ job at Zouk Singapore after having spent 6 years jolting the club alive, has been in the game for quite some time, planting his music here and there in the international EDM scene. He’s worked with One Direction, Diplo, San Holo, Zedd and Skrillex, to name a few.
Perk Pietriek, on the other hand, had recently been signed by Amsterdam label Barongfamily, under which his EP is expected to be dropping this August. He’s got tracks released under Far East’s Movement’s label, Australia’s Be Rich Records and most his music synced on cable and Netflix shows, even billed into high end commercials. Dubbed Singapore’s Hottest Producer by European top label Top Billin, this chap’s got plenty of serious attention to his music, no doubt.
Of course that only means motivation for Brunei’s aspiring producers, ranging between the ages of 13 and 21, to bring their A-game for the demo drops that fateful Sunday.
The demo drops
I was sat next to Perk while the group in the isolation room presented their demos. Also listening to the tracks intently were Keith and Lincey who were seated at the other corner of the room.
After the demos dropped, out came their comments. (The moment of truth!)
“This is solid work!” Keith exclaimed.
“How old are you guys?” Perk asked one collaborative duo, Reinagades (individually Krystall and Nemo).
“I’m 15,” said Krystall.
With a long pause down, Perk jokingly said: “Man! One day you’re gonna take all our jobs!”
And then came the constructive criticisms.
“It’s a high quality sound, but what’s needed is a climax (so that listeners could identity with it),” said both Lincey and Keith, noting that it’s important not to have too many elements in one track.
“It feels more like a mix rather than a track,” they added.
After Jay entered the room, the duo play another track for him.
One of the remarks that caught the Neue team’s attention was when the team from the ‘Super Snacks’ music label emphasised that it’s important for producers to focus on a particular distinct sound in order for listeners to “develop feelings for it”.
These were the kind of feedback that these young aspiring producers from Brunei received that weekend.
We here at Neue are confident that they will be able to sharpen their music-making craft if they take to heart what these experienced folks from Singapore have said.
Unified across borders through EDM
Towards the end of the weekend event, the ‘Super Snacks’ team expressed their gratitude and respect for the KYSB duo for all that they have done for the local EDM scene.
Stories of EDM journeys were exchanged, bonds notably forming strong.
In fact, all of them had a shared agenda – something to teach each other.
This is best summed up with what Keith said – “It’s about performing on the top level by international standards … it’s not necessarily about being number one!”
Words of encouragement and praises were exchanged, and the ‘Super Snacks’ music label team had one very important thing to say to the KYSB duo – “You should start a label since you’re already doing all the groundwork.” (And we here at Neue could not agree more!)
And to the Brotherhood, the ‘Super Snacks’ team shared the sentiments that they themselves carry through their journey in the global EDM industry – “Be good to your brothers and don’t lie to each other!”
According to them, these are the values that they should follow, especially in the ever competitive music industry.
Show your support
The first royalties from proceeds from the sale of the ‘Brotherhood’ album came in on May 15, according to Edmund.
“At the end of the day, the more traction that these aspiring local producers get, the more times their music will be played, which would in turn lead to more royalties for them.”
“If you really want to support our local producers, go and buy their tracks off iTunes,” said Edmund, noting that they can visit this link to show their support.
“For now, iTunes is the main one because Brunei does not support Google Play,” he added..
The album costs US$9.99. “All the tracks in the album are pretty unique,” he said, adding that there are also tunes that you could listen to unwind after a long day.
What are your thoughts about EDM music? Do you see a future for aspiring producers from Brunei? We’d love to hear from you! Oh! Don’t forget … Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat!
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