I Dub Thee is a new series featuring conversations between Nez, creator and resident at Drop Shots, and his guest artistes. This month, Nez catches up with Iyer, founder of music label, Phyla, ahead of his set at this Friday’s Drop Shots.
Hi Iyer, great to have you back in Singapore. Everyone is looking forward to your set at Drop Shots this Friday, so tell us what you have in store.
Good to be back! It’s been a long time. I’m conventionally a drum and bass DJ but I incorporate more styles into my set under the “Iyer” alias. It’s been a while since I came back so I’m planning to do my original style – I play tech-y, rolling beats incorporated with some throwback sounds and I think my set this Friday is going to be similar. So expect a lot of rollers and good ol’ vibes!
You’re based in Toronto, Canada, now. Why move there?
I moved to Toronto to pursue a university education in electrical engineering and I’m in the midst of completing it right now. I was lucky to have the opportunity to get a change in scene and I took it.
What’s the music scene like over there?
Music in Toronto is very diverse and there is some great underground music here as well. It used to be the mecca of drum and bass as well and they do have some great bookings and parties as well as a loyal junglist following! So in a sense it’s like a second home to someone like me.
Tell us how you got into music production.
It must have been back in 2007 or 2008, my buddy Krisztian used to show me things he could produce on Sony’s Acid Pro software. That was my first introduction to music production. It interested me but I didn’t really have that much technical knowledge so I ended up messing about with loops and trying to teach myself structuring. I decided to come up with the “Iyer” alias and I’ve been very fortunate to have released with some incredible people.
What have you released as an artiste from an independent music label?
I had a remix and a single come out on Good Street Records last year as well as my debut EP out on Ground Mass Music this year. Not to mention I’ve given away a ton of free music! I also had a split EP with Mark Kloud out on Phyla in September earlier this year. It’s been a long and wild road and there’s a lot more to come!
Could you describe the genre of music that you produce?
The best way to describe it would be eclectic uptempo music. I’m a huge fan of frenetic beats and breaks. I don’t think there’s a genre for it just yet because it’s such a hybrid of all my favorite styles. You really have to listen to it to understand it! But if I had to force a description, I’d say it’s a mishmash of south style beats and ghetto house mixed with jungle and rave-influenced drum and bass. Basically, everything!
Phyla is the Singapore-based music record label you founded. How and why did it start?
In mid 2012, I honestly felt things had stagnated a bit in terms of music output in Singapore. There had been a great and ongoing electronic music scene in Singapore but some of my good friends, who were also producers, had few avenues to release their music. One of these guys was F A U X E, for example. Phyla initially began as a way to put out their music – no holds barred. I wanted to create something foundational for these guys – I wanted electronic music producers to look at Phyla as a place to be heard and supported from.
I talked to my partner, Harv, about it and we decided we’d go in for it. We did and learned everything ourselves from scratch, and it was especially difficult because I had to move abroad to pursue my education as well. Mistakes were made and lessons were learned but we’re still learning and it’s been a fun ride thus far. Looking back on the progress we’ve made, I wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re growing! Some of the guys coming through make me very proud and glad I got into this. It can be difficult, but it’s totally worth it.
What plans do you have for the label in the future?
Part of the reason why I’m returning is to nail down a five-year plan and set targets for all of us. We have some other things that I have to keep under wraps right now, but I can’t wait to share information as we move ahead. Rest assured, there are plans to widen our reach and we’re going to keep doing shows, releasing music, and supporting the local scene in any way possible. I’ve also been blessed with great international support for what we are doing.
How does it feel to be one of the game-changers in Singapore’s music scene?
Though none of this is done for validation, it does feel good to know something is being done right. Eventually we would like this to be a beacon for Singapore electronic music and we are hard at work to make that happen. That is, in short, the plan for the near future at the very least.
Before we go off, is there anyone you would like to give a shout out to?
Oh, before I forget, shouts to our in-house selectah, Jaydah, holding it down day in day out with quality DJ sets – I’m looking forward to having a face off with her maybe? I’ve heard only good things about her sets so she’ll make me up my game!
Here’s what you can expect to hear from Iyer at Drop Shots: