Home / Featured Article / Quality Goods Only: Kyral x Banko Release Their Newest EP, Focus [Interview]
kyral x banko

Quality Goods Only: Kyral x Banko Release Their Newest EP, Focus [Interview]

Kyral x Banko, a duo you may have heard, may not have, but if you check out their latest EP, Focus, on Quality Goods Records, you will know. They’ve established their sound over time with experimental trap elements among other bouncey sounds throughout, over four years now. Highlighting their releases thus far, Focus EP goes from festival heavy to wonky, and is ready to amp up your set any day. Once again, Quality Goods has found some major quality.

kyral x banko
Image Courtesy of Quality Goods Records

Just so you guys know, I met up with Collin from Kyral x Banko when he was back in Chicago for a visit. I wish Bennett was there as well so this interview could have been easier to publish. So if any of the answers read weird it’s because it’s part of the recorded and transcribed interview. I also cut the fat off of the interview because we went 42 minutes and we were drinking a bit, and the full interview was over 8,000 words. However, the last un-transcribed part of the interview was my favorite part because we just started talking like a real conversation. We talked about really putting in the hard work to be successful. The full audio interview will be at the end of the typed interview. If you get anything out of this interview with these guys, it’s how much time, and work they have already put in to be able to release such dope music on Quality Goods Records. Enjoy this interview as much as I did. Without further adieu, I present to you, Kyral x Banko.

Hey guys this is Scott from trapstyle and I’m here with Collin from Kyral x Banko. Their new E.P. just came out on August 25th.

So you grew up in Chicago, your home city has such a wide variety of shows and events however most people usually stick to loving like one or two genres. What were you into when you first started listening to like electronic music and who are your inspirations for your music?

C: I would probably say it was about my junior year of college when I was getting into it. So it was about 2011. Pretty much that was like when like Skrillex released Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites. All that shit came out yeah. I had just started deejaying right prior to all of that. Actually for a wedding company that was like when I started deejaying like looking through Craigslist looking for a job and like it was like “deejays wanted,” and I was like well I don’t know shit about that. So I literally just kept going, kept passing it up, and then eventually something got me to be like, “you know it was just like I’ll bring it back and apply anyways.” And so I started deejaying for a wedding company. And I really got into deejaying this one summer. Prior to my junior year of college whenI got back to school and that’s when like Skrillex and stuff was like blowing up and like I was getting seriously introduced to like actual electronic music.

B: I can still vividly recall hearing Flosstradamus’ remix of Original Don for the first time as a student at the University of Illinois. I had already been working on growing my skills as a hip-hop producer, but it was mostly chiller downtempo beats. The second I heard that, everything sort of shifted in terms of style. Just needed to beef up the synths and tighten up the tension/release of the structure of a hip hop instrumental. Other than Floss, early Baauer, RL and UZ shaped and changed everything I thought possible as a producer.

When did you realized you wanted a career in the music industry?

B: When both of us were still in college, our first show ever as KxB was opening for a sold out Flux Pavilion show at The Canopy Club in Champaign. We got extremely lucky to land that spot, and didn’t entirely realize what we were getting ourselves into. From then on out, it sort of felt like we had to keep pushing. Honestly, an exact moment was playing the Vibe Tent at Summer Camp 2014 in front of a few thousand. We had a ton of friends and family in the crowd. That sort of sealed it that this was something that we had to do. Haven’t stopped since.

Is starting in the music industry as challenging as many people make it out to be? If you could change one thing about this industry what would it be?

B: Once we left Champaign and moved to Chicago, it definitely became much more apparent that we had a whole new (way bigger) market to infiltrate. It was also incredibly clear that there was a huge divide between being a really dope ‘club DJ’ and being a producer on the grind that happens to get the opportunity to play their tunes really loudly at said clubs. That’s one thing that I’d say that I’d change. Obviously hats off to DJ’s that refine their craft, but it became very frustrating being booked over for gigs or festivals by people that were known as great DJ’s but haven’t ever produced a song in their life.

One of our Trapstyle admins, Ken Schneider, a homie who wears many hats at Trapstyle wanted to know, “Over the past couple years you guys have gone from quite wonky tracks such as “Flexin,” and “Buzzin,” to “Void” with VALENTINE which was also on Quality Goods Records. How do you feel your tastes and knowledge of production have changed since then, and what are some of your goals for the sounds you create in the future?”

B: To be honest, working with UZ and Quality Goods Records has completely changed everything for us. Since that first compilation release last year, this label has continued to set the gold standard of forward-thinking electronic music and has pushed us to bring our production to the next level and want to keep up with these big dogs that are also on the label (shouts Oski, Hydraulix, Ian Munro, Quix)

C: So I’d say one of the bigger changes and influences into our current stuff. Not necessarily the EP because that was mostly created prior to me moving out to Colorado is just that Colorado has a very like hippie bass scene or whatever. Yeah. You know genre names are ambiguous and whatnot. So we are taking a more abstract point of view to a lot of the music. And like being influenced by like other people out there that we like. Like some of our homies are Homemade Spaceship, and So Down. The homie Jantsen is out there too. But that that has absolutely influenced our music. I’m an avid believer in the whole mindset of,” you know the people you surround yourself with changes your whole outlook,” and then probably a lot of the stuff you do creatively especially when you start working with those people. The influences that it will be changing our style of music I feel like. Either way. Hip hop, heavy bass, and like all that stuff will always be a signature style of our stuff for the most part. Some of our goals are really coming from the new knowledge of spending a lot of time in different VSTs like serum and stuff, and really learning the ins and outs of sound design. That’s something that definitely is overlooked by most producers. Spending the time to learn to create your own sounds, and alter them. You know you can take a preset from a sound that is really well known, but if you know what to do with it, and if you know how to create a sound that you’re looking for based off of something else. You can really make it your own, as opposed to just using other people’s sounds that they create for you. You know you can use that as a base and then really like do your own thing to it and that is the same idea of remixing a song. You know you like you take the basis of the track, and then you put your own twist on it. So when you really learn how to add your own effects, and put your own design into like different sounds, it really feels like I can change our sound, and I definitely foresee our sound changing quite a bit while keeping the fundamental hip hop, bass forward, energetic style that we generally have tried to go for in the past.

kyral x banko
Image Courtesty of UPC.fm

Were either of you trained in college? Musically I mean. Did you ever take music theory when you were older?

C: Younger when I was like teen music and stuff. I never took a specific music theory course or whatnot. Since I’ve graduated, I went to one music production workshop in Chicago. I think it was, 2013. It’s called Music Industry workshops and unfortunately that company since has dissolved about a year after I had like graduated that school.

C: Past that I’ve sort of like currently and what I think will influence my future sound, and our future sound is the work I’m putting in right now since I’ve moved out. I quit my job at Headquarters in Chicago right here. All of my free time is not only going to making new tracks, but I’m really trying to designate my time into time blocks of like bringing my saxophone back and learning music theory from one of my buddies Jeff Nellessen.  He is a music teacher in the suburbs. So I’ve been having FaceTime calls with him just to really revamp all the actual musical knowledge to put all those skills, and ideas, and stuff back into the music rather than just playing around in a program until it sounds good. I’ve definitely over the past month or two have seen like a really positive progress in what I’ve learned. And then what I’ve been able to put into what we make and stuff. It’s been really positive and it’s been a very very short time frame that we’ve even been doing that. I really can’t wait to see what will happen with the next like six months to a year of continuously putting in that work.

Yeah it will come. It seems like there’s a lot of those producers out there right now. Who you know are still crushing it with their production, but they don’t really have “that knowledge.” You know what I mean? They have… maybe they’ve they played in band or whatever or like you know in high school they took some classes here and there may be like one class in college or whatever. But if you don’t really put the work in you’re not going to get the greatest results out you know? And that’s the same thing in any industry, in any job that you have. You can’t just get the job and be like, “that’s it.” Work as hard as you can to achieve the goal that you want, and it’s great to hear that you guys are doing that.

C: We definitely live in an era of short term rewards. People are very motivated by short term rewards, and that’s where I like a lot of that stuff can very much be applied especially with sound loops that where as Mr. Joel Zimmerman young Deadmau5 says. He calls it. “Mr. Potato Head music” because you just have a full bin of stuff that you haven’t made, and you just pick, and you can put them together, and it will sound pretty good. Yeah. But like you know… The general public will never hear that, and they won’t know the difference. Both of us really have integrity to never be grouped into that, and to want to make our own sounds so that it’s actually original.

And you guys are smart guys so. I can tell. I mean I mean just getting a degree in Chem is pretty crazy in general. I mean just the fact that you, I mean you completed college, and it wasn’t in music, and it was in something that’s as crazy as Chem and not like liberal arts whatever.

C: I feel like math lines up with music that especially electronic.

But I mean math you know I mean all of music is mathematics and not easy mathematics either you know? So it’s great to see that you guys are working hard to evolve your sound, because so many people nowadays are just not doing that. Or they’re just not trying hard enough or they don’t really know what you really have to do, because there’s thousands of producers all over, in every city that are all trying to do the same thing, but the only way that you’re going to really make it is if you put the work in.

C: Right. So once I graduated college it was like, “wow I’m not going to do a thing with this degree.” I was like I’m in it for the long haul. And like if you’re in it for the long haul you need to do the fundamental core tasks, and busy work that people don’t want to spend time to do for in order to really develop like who you are, and whatnot. I guess it’s going to take longer than like just like throwing a bunch of loops together.

C: Because you know long term, it would absolutely benefit you and get you somewhere you want to be. If that’s what you want to do. And I’ve always I’ve always seen that especially when I was throwing away a really really expensive degree.

Especially at U of I. (University of Illinois)

C: Yeah. I knew how much time I was going to have to futuristically put into it. Since I’ve quit my job in Chicago I moved out to Colorado. I’ve finally given myself the time to really invest in myself, and to learn new skills and theory and whatnot. But I think I did have a great grasp that but I had like a good idea. Yeah like it has really changed a lot of the stuff that we’ve done recently especially since we made that E.P. and stuff. So I’m really excited to release the music that we’ve put out even since we’re about to release. I’m so pumped to put this stuff out there already because we’ve been like waiting a little bit to put it out.

Now you are creating new stuff and you’re like, I want to get this out so I can get six months down the line I can put down more stuff. Yeah that’s awesome.

kyral x banko

So we kind of covered this but how do you feel that the experimental and mainstream trap are melding together in the current state? Is it a good thing that festival type sounds are being more intertwined with the experimental crowd?

C: I would sort of think about that question oppositely like is it good that the experimental is being put into the mainstream, because you know they probably the…

That’s probably the best way to put it…

C: …because the mainstream is always going to be there.

I’ll blame Ken for that, cause he wrote that.

C: Haha. Because the mainstream is always going to be there. There’s nothing I mean nothing but positive vibes to be put in especially because it’s not accepted by the masses. You know it definitely takes an interesting mind to accept some of that music because it’s not necessarily simple, and it’s not necessarily catchy. But it’s something that, if you like music, you like Trap music, you will like experimental bass music. You know I feel like a lot of this EDM and whatnot era has… Where it sort of started from is… Sounds that you’ve never heard before. So yeah. So like it is it seems like it’s always a positive thing to hear something that you’ve never heard before. So when people push the boundaries and people make crazy shit you’ve never heard, people you know do something you’ve never done, before or whatnot, it’s always a good thing. It’s always good as far as pushing the music envelope. Like what we do. But. Yeah I mean it’s nothing but positive to me, and it’s like it’s a great thing. Especially it is definitely hard for a lot of those people who make more experimental things to get broken in. But… Like… That’s what makes you different. I mean, that’s what makes me unique…

And it seems like a lot of people… sorry to cut you off, but it seems like with a lot of those guys somebody popular will find their stuff and then you know listen to them be like oh that’s crazy shit. I’m going to put that in mine. But they have like eight hundred thousand followers or whatever, and then they put that dudes track or his sound in there and some dude is just like, “I literally just made that, they stole my shit.” So it’s like shitty when that happens.

C: You know, just do something new the next time or whatnot. And it’s something you can’t get like salty about it because music is very fluid you know. So like people, especially with EDM, like people that make their remixes and take shit from other people… we are that culture to be doing all this illegal sampling and like unofficial remixes like all over the place so you know if someone takes something. I wouldn’t be mad about it. You can’t be. Like how could you be?

I love experimental stuff. I love people that I like put it together well, and obviously it takes a musical mind to put a bunch of experimental stuff into a track to make it musical enough, and especially for “EDM” for people to dance. Yeah. Electronic Dance Music so that that can be the more difficult thing I think for a lot of those producers that do the really abstract things. Like G-Jones, Eprom, dudes like that. I saw EPROM kill it this past weekend at 515. He is on another level right now. I saw him Sub-Octive, sooo good dude.

I saw them and Koan Sound and I haven’t seen them before. And I was like you know shooting photos and everything and I’m like, “OK, I’m done shooting photos,” and go in the crowd and just like rage. I’m just like oh, my, god! And that’s literally experimental music that has gone semi-mainstream.

C: … it’s accepted…

… it’s so accepted… and it’s just. It’s just so raunchy like it makes you feel different than most of the stuff that you would hear at festivals.

C: and like that that is what like influences me. It has driven a lot of my passion to make this type of music. You know any time I would hear something that’s so different, or that is, just crazy, like, “oh I’ve never heard this before. This is nuts.” Yeah. That stuff always inspires me to do something new, or do something better. Even along those lines. I very much will admit that I am very inspired by a lot of artists out there. I literally can’t name them all because there so many people that are so talented. And yeah I listen to the music and I analyze it. I think about it and I try and take certain things that I like from it and put it into my own without just like straight up copying it.

Yeah I mean you listen to it and you just like that sounds dope. Let’s see what I can do with my own style.

C: Yeah. Or when I’m trying to finish a track sometimes I’ll listen to other music to be like man what is this missing or whatever. So like we have our own style of something that we’ve made, and then I’ll take an idea from another professional and try to merge them together. You know and keep it, so that it’s still unique, but like not like just ripping them off, or anything like that.

What was your favorite or least favorite job before you started producing full time, that either gave you like select skills that use today or push you harder to achieve the goals that you have either reached today or for the future?

C: OK, so I started you know messing around with Ableton and whatnot my senior year of college, and at that point I was working in a bar in Champaign. I was working at Red Lion, shout out to Station 211. And that was what I was doing at that point. And I wouldn’t even call myself full time right now other than the fact that I quit my job and moved out, to do it full time. Seems like more time for me because I’m just living off of what I currently have until I need to get a another job. 

I know. I’m assuming like when you work at a bar you learn at least something.

C: At the bar was great because it was like you meet people and the industry is very similar to people that go to shows or go to concerts. That was actually really positive, and I’ve always loved bartending. I love meeting the people. It’s a networking job pretty much so it can be in line with like what we do. The only problem is like if I need time off work it could conflict with a show that we’re also playing. Whereas if you work a nine to five that will never conflict with a gig. Yeah. I did that the wedding deejaying. That’s probably the one thing. That first off started my deejaying career. I was actually in Minnesota like last weekend doing a wedding for a friend. So I still do them for friends, and family, but like that was one of the things that is very stressful. You always have to think about the bride and groom, and you know everything is tailored to them. And everything is about them, which is always just how it should be. But like it’s stressful and it’s and it’s not that fun when you have to deal with all the guests, the requests, and stuff like that. You know I’ve done a lot of different parties and stuff like that. And you know dealing with people that want to request stuff and whatnot it can get really draining.

Is there any advice you can give to your fans, our readers and our staff that have the same goals you had to pursue a career in this industry? Either in production or life skills.

B: It’s crazy even being asked a question like this. Still feels like we have so much more to accomplish before that ‘made-it’ feeling, but in all reality all we did was download Ableton and continued to push. Also just be a good person. 99% of the best networking opportunities we’ve had have come from interactions with artists in green rooms, and not acting like assholes. They’re also just another human being with emotions, and feelings. In terms of production, I’ve sat with a lot of people that get super wrapped up in being meticulous with organization or doing everything perfect. The best tunes come from a stream of conscious, non-stop production until you feel like you can’t work anymore. Keep pushing.

Thank you so much to Collin and Bennett aka Kyral x Banko for giving us this opportunity to sit down and chat with us about their lives as producers and how hard they have worked to drop this killer EP, Focus. You can purchase and stream this EP and more on Apple iTunes, and Spotify. If you guys have made it this far, note that these homies are having two album release parties. One in Denver and one in Chicago. Check out my personal twitter next week or so to find out the deets on the Chicago party happening on the 14th, @3zerosomething.