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There’s an infectious energy to the work of Dublin-born, Manchester-based producer Krystal Klear. Swimming against the tide of the UK club scene’s current obsession with bounce and bass, his music gets into your bones by alternate means: a highly honed, silky sense of groove. While there’s clear reverence for early-90s vocal house and smooth-talking R&B, there’s also a fresh snap to his cuts that connects with the present. He’s released records on Cooly G’s Dub Organizer label and Floating Points’ Eglo Records over the past couple of years, and now – off the back of the success of his Rinse FM show – he’s releasing his ‘Addiction’ EP with the label arm of the revered station, including the appropriately named titular track featuring vocalist Jenna G riffing on a classic theme: music about loving music. Ahead of that, Dummy caught up with Krystal Klear for a quick email chat about being a pessimistic optimist, dream collaborations and exploring a darker sound.
I understand that musically your background was in metal. Where did your love affair with house, disco and boogie begin?
Krystal Klear: That’s not entirely correct; my musical background was very diverse growing up. My Dad was into a range of genres, specifically blue-eyed soul and a lot of pop music, so growing up I was surrounded by all sorts especially boogie/house and funk. But, like most teenagers that are boiled up with hormones and teen angst, I decided to learn guitar and basically try to be Kirk Hammett or Kurt Cobain.
Krystal Klear’s Addiction feat. Jenna G [Rinse, 2013]
I’m big into Addiction, it’s such a feel-good tune. Are you a positive soul by nature?
“I would always describe myself as the most pessimistic optimist you will ever meet.” Krystal Klear
Krystal Klear: Hahaha….emmmm…..HAHAHA…I know EXACTLY how a lot of my friends would answer this question so I can’t really bullshit you; I think I would always describe myself as the most pessimistic optimist you will ever meet in that, despite how bad or unlikely something is, I always think that there’s a chance it will work out while on the other hand no matter how amazing or good something is looking I will generally think it’s gonna work out shit, haha. So I guess I’m positive in certain ways and negative in others…..can’t get much vaguer then that really.
You’ve collaborated with vocalist Jenna G before. How do the two of you work together?
Krystal Klear: Usually Jenna will come up to the studio and we will have a good gossip and a natter about all sorts, haha, and then we work on music. Most of the time an idea is in place…like Addiction was a track I had sitting there waiting for vocals and we decided to start it but didn’t finish it and eventually went back to it after we did More Attention a few months later. I work really well with Jenna, she’s just a pleasure to work with…up for anything, easy going, ready to work, open to direction and extremely talented so it’s always a good session when Jenna comes through.
Krystal Klear’s More Attention feat. Jenna G [MadTech Records, 2012]
I really liked your track Never Thought You Would Go with HudMo-collaborator Olivier Day Soul. What do you look for in a vocalist?
“Most of the time it’s that late 80s/early 90s NY RnB gospel-style vocal I search for.” Krystal Klear
Krystal Klear: I guess just someone who can fit my niche and style….generally I look for a vocalist who can really nail the sound I’m trying to achieve with the said track. Most of the time it’s that late 80s/early 90s NY RnB gospel-style vocal I search for. Olivier is like a human dream team…the guy is hands down the best male vocalist I have ever worked with. His songwriting capability is amazing and his range is obnoxiously good…he can pretty much do anything.
Who is on your dream collaboration list?
Krystal Klear: Olivier Day Soul. Michael McDonald. Nile Rogers. Teddy Riley. Thomas Bangalter. Beyonce. I’d also love to make an RnB love record with Ross HudMo just cause I think it’d be cool.
Krystal Klear’s Never Though You Would Go feat. Olivier Day Soul [Eglo Records, 2011]
In a world of gloomy bass, I admire your dedication to loved-up anthems. Ever been tempted to make something darker?
Krystal Klear: I have a lot of music sitting in the wings, as it were, that people haven’t heard which to my extent are fairly deep. I guess the music I have released (most of it) is uptempo so I’m already planning to release something a lot darker next year to flip things up.
The Rinse signing was a little bit of a double-take at first. How did that come about?
“I’m planning to release something a lot darker next year to flip things up.” Krystal Klear
Krystal Klear: Well, considering I have a show on the station it kinda happened quite naturally just with conversations with Rat – Head Honcho, etc. I sent him the track and they were super keen to release it and my manager and myself just thought it could be a good outlet for the nature of the track.
Will there be more releases with Rinse?
Krystal Klear: Trying to get a summer thing together at the minute but between gigs and production work. It might be a push but nothing in stone yet.
What else do you have on the cards?
Krystal Klear: At the minute I’m working hard building up my studio which is proving to be much more of a ball-ache then I had anticipated. Doing a lot of production stuff for a few majors and then just gigging and working on music really…next few months are gonna be good.
And finally, your house is on fire (sorry). Which three records do you save from melting?
Krystal Klear: OOofft….the old “mum or dad” tough choice question. Mmmmm, I guess off the top of my head I’d grab my signed ‘Madvillain’ LP by Doom, Madlib and Coleman (Cover Photographer) and Egon (Stones Throw), Pamela Niven’s It’s You I love 12” and then T Connection’s ‘Everything Is Cool’ LP.