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'Pandemonium': An Interview with Kessler

Hailing from Belfast and currently residing in Rotterdam, Eddy Kennedy is really one to watch. Kessler's sound is a refreshing blend of bass-driven genres, with his sets spanning the likes of electro, garage, jungle & techno. Due for release on Yellow Island Records of June 19th, Kessler's new EP 'Pandemonium' is a four track EP that really packs a punch. From blistering bass lines to bold breakbeat rhythms, 'Pandemonium EP' showcases Kessler's complete mastery over his dark driving sound. What is perhaps most impressive is the way in which these tracks are in some ways very expansive and atmospheric, and yet are simultaneously able to really maintain that thumping 'in-your-face'-ness that's provided by the complex, abrasive percussion. The standout track for us has to be 'Innocence', in which mind-bending synths and boisterous bass lines effortlessly intertwine to craft a hot a heavy dance floor heater. As the release date approaches, we had a chat with Kessler himself, where we discussed inspirations and origins, his upcoming EP, and the musical journey that led him to his current growing success.

For those who haven't heard of you, how would you describe your sound?

To be honest, my sound is kind of all over the place and that’s a bit of a blessing and a curse. At one end I love the more electronic/ambient aspect with lush pads, synths & soundscapes, and at the other its pretty aggressive, usually laced with some mashed-up breaks & gritty basslines. I draw influences from all aspects of music though, whether its techno or drum & bass, UKG, electro, hip hop or jazz you name it. I hate to create the same sound over and over again so I am always experimenting with new techniques and styles but as a musician I guess you also want some consistency and identity within your music so I’ve really been focusing on my sound palette, which I feel I have been reaching recently but it was a long road to get there, I have been producing for nearly 7 years now.

How did you first get into DJing and production, and what aspects of life in Belfast helped or hindered your journey to where you are now?

I first got into DJing through my oldest brother Louis, he had a turntables setup at his house and the first time I had a go was at one of his birthday parties. I was glued to it for a few hours until I figured out how to beat match, I was terrible to start with but learned pretty quick! I had always been interested in making music as I played guitar from around the age of 12, eventually being introduced in to the Belfast rave scene left my guitars in the backseat, places like Thompson’s Garage & Shine really paved the way into my love for electronic music & I became obsessed with creating beats on Ableton & studying amazing DJs from the booth. Belfast is pretty small but makes up for it in enthusiasm & community spirit, throwing raves with friends and collaborating with people was easy as you were never too far away. When AVA was born roughly 5 years ago, it breathed a new life in the electronic scene and opened so many doors for younger artists like myself and it also creates an almost family-like atmosphere. However, I guess the lack of opportunities for upcoming artists other than that, kind of subconsciously pushed me to explore other areas and move to somewhere ‘bigger’, at one stage I considered moving to London to immerse myself in music but it wasn’t financially possible then so I went to college in Belfast and also studied online with Point Blank London. Eventually I settled in my ‘second home’ in Holland.

After winning the Coors Light DJ Academy, you found yourself on the way to London to perform a set at Mixmag’s The Lab LDN. What was that like?

Insane! One of the best experiences from my career so far and I can’t wait to play again, unfortunately some shows were cancelled for this summer. Getting to play The Lab was sick, I met some really great people & learned a lot from the trip. They put me up in a lovely hotel, did some press shots, we had a great lunch with some industry heads, then played the Lab and gave me some souvenirs for the road (as much Coors Light as we could carry). After that me and some friends hung around London for a few days.

You made the move from Belfast to Rotterdam. How did this move influence your style and sound?

Rotterdam is really amazing. I had always loved the Netherlands since I first set foot in Amsterdam with a few friends for Dekmantel Festival, I ended up coming back 4 or 5 years in a row haha. The music scene here is so diverse with the more obscure house heads in Amsterdam & the hard techno which Rotterdam is synonymous with, but that’s not to say that’s all there is. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much of a chance to explore the club scene here due to the lockdown but with all this extra time at home I’ve definitely stepped up my productions, I’m working on an album which is nearly finished, focusing more on psychoacoustics and creating deep emotive bassy stuff.

Are they any particular artists or labels that you would say that have been instrumental in the development of your own style?

Hessle Audio, R&S, Ilian Tape are amongst some of my favourite labels, love the output they put and its always so consistent. Djrum would probably be a huge influence for me, would love to be a fly on the wall in his studio.

You have your new ‘Pandemonium EP’ coming out on Yellow Island Records next month. Can you tell us a bit about that?

Yeah sure, it’s an EP I started last year that was kind of the turning point for my sound. A more aggressive sound using a lot of breaks, obviously a UK influence. Before I was making predominantly House & techno and then moved towards a more breakbeat & rave influenced route. The EP is three heaters mainly designed for the club, with an electro cut to tail it off, I don’t make a lot of electro but I would play quite a bit in my sets, so that one was just for fun really! Shout out to Ron Elliot for helping with the name, I sent him the track and he digged it, he said “it’s perfect for a very intense level in Mortal Kombat” lol (check out his music too!)

How have you been keeping busy over lockdown, and what advice would you give to creatives during this time?

In the studio almost every day, eating like a pig & drinking tonnes of beer. And for a change of scenery I have been going for the odd motorcycle drive around the Netherlands on sunny days, visiting places like the The Hague & Amsterdam. My best advice would be to use this time as a blessing and set yourself goals to finish, whether that’s an EP for your dream label, reading more or learning completely new skills, life will go on eventually and it’s hard to see it that way at the minute with all that’s going on but I know for sure when all this is over there is going to be some seriiiious partying so I might not be as productive haha. By the end of the year I plan to have 30 tracks out across a few different labels.

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