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Road Kahan

Dutch D&B veterans flip the script

2017 Nov 27     
2 Bit Thugs

Road Kahan have years of D&B experience under their belts. So, obviously, they've just released a progressive house tune

Road Kahan may have only released one song so far, but their story is already worth telling. Born out of a chance meeting between one of the most prolific and longstanding Dutch D&B artists of all time (Bardo Camp, AKA Nymfo) and a veteran studio whizz and behind-the-scenes producer (Daan van der Pol), Road Kahan is about two artists breaking free from the stylistic parameters set by their day jobs, focusing strictly on vibes and writing whatever they gosh-darn feel like.

Ostensibly their debut track Blue Velvet (no relation to either Bobby Vinton or David Lynch) is a velvet proggy house cut. But in the background rules are being flagrantly ignored, formulas are blatantly being burnt and plenty of fun seems to be being had - to the point they wrote a whole album’s worth of material within two months of hitting the studio together.

No two tracks follow the same path or do the same job. From shimmering downbeat sunset soul to sweet, shuffling introspective two-step, we’ve had a sneaky peak at what’s to come and the story isn’t just worth telling - it’s worth hearing, too. We caught up with Bardo to find out more...

Take us back to the moment Road Kahan was born...

"Last year I decided to set myself some new goals. I’ve been very focused on drum & bass and had released several times on all my favourite labels, and I knew Daan was experiencing similar vibes. There are so many unwritten rules when you write music and mixdown rules get so geeky and crazy. It means writing DJ-friendly music is always in danger of compromising creativity. Your intro needs to be so long, your mixdown needs to be as good as the latest Noisia track, you’re tweaking and tweaking and checking your checklist and so on, and it totally takes the focus away from the whole creative process."

So Road Kahan is about getting away from all of that?

"Yeah, it’s not about rules, it's about doing whatever we feel like! If it’s downtempo that’s what we do. If it’s 140bpm, that’s what we do. If it’s more house-y we do that. Writing music with that mindset was very refreshing an inspiring. We wrote 12 tracks in two months! It was all very liberating."

Tell us about Daan…

"Daan and I have studios in the same place and we’ve known each other for a few years. He was always involved in dubstep and electrohouse, doing a lot of additional arrangements and production and mastering for people. He's a proper behind-the-scenes type of guy - he’s never been a DJ and is much more of a studio head.

"It’s cool for me to get him out of his batcave and get him more exposure and props because. More people should know about this man! We work well together, I can send him a sketch and he can see how to build it and develop it. Our skills complement each other musically and technically."

Have you dabbled with making this type of music in the past?

"Maybe a little on the side, but I’ve always felt that if you don’t focus on one genre then you lose people and you lose your own discipline. But last year was like, ‘Okay, I need new inspiration’ It felt like the right time to try new things.

"I was nervous in the beginning, though. Thinking maybe no one will like it. But it’s too easy to stay in your box and make the music you know people are going to like, whether that’s the safe roller or safe neuro track or whatever."

I think there are certain points in your career where you can experiment and develop on that signature skill…

"Yeah I think so too. I certainly wasn’t ready for this type of experimentation if I tried this, say, five years ago. I feel I have more of a musical and technical maturity now. I can translate my vibe and express myself in different genres. I feel more confident about my music and exploring that."

How about gigs? Will we see Road Kahan on the road at any point?

"We’re not ready for shows yet. We just want to focus on the music and getting it out there. What we want to do is to release a single every month or so and get the name out. Maybe in a year’s time we'll look back over what we’ve done and whether people might want to see us playing. The music isn’t club/DJ-friendly, though, so if we take it to the stage it will be more of a live show set-up."

But Blue Velvet is pretty DJ-friendly!

"That’s why it’s our first release. It’s the most upbeat and housey track we’ve done. We didn’t want to go too deep or experimental with our first release, especially on a big label like Armada, so we debuted with the catchiest one. But don’t worry: the second release we have lined up is already deeper."

A lot of people say that if you can make drum & bass at a top level then you can turn your hand to anything. Certainly guys like Calibre, Fresh and Chase & Status have shown this in many different ways. Now you’re experimenting a lot more, can you confirm this, too?

"Yes and no. Technically, drum & bass is one of the most difficult genres to produce, especially when it comes to mixdowns. But getting vibes down is a whole other art. I think a lot of technical artists would struggle to get the vibe down because they’re so focused on the details. In drum & bass we make tracks way too complicated.

"For instance, when I first started making house my intros were going off the scale, because I was so used to making D&B ones with lots of edits and details. What I needed to focus on was the vibe, and that’s where we’re at with Road Kahan. It’s 100 per cent a vibes thing."

Words: Dave Jenkins

Blue Velvet is out now on Armada Music

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Tags: Road Kahan, Bardo Camp, Daan van der Pol, Nymfo, Armada Music