Tyr Kohout is a Toronto producer and DJ with releases on Deviant Audio, Flight Pattern, and more. His music has premiered on Skankandbass, Drum&Bass Arena and DnB Portal. He is also the vocal engineer for all projects by vocalist flowanastasia since 2017.
Q: Coming from Toronto, how would you characterize the American DnB style? Any major differences from the European one?
R: I wouldn't be an expert on American DnB specifically since I'm in Canada, but believe there are some differences between North American and European sounds. As far as I can tell, the underground music culture is equally strong. You'll find with DnB specifically that 95% of the music that we listen to and DJ comes from Europe, so I don't know if we fully have formed an identity yet. North American rock and European rock, for example, are very distinct in their rhythmic styles, guitar distortion techniques (especially since the amps being built and used were very different in the early days). The internet has sort of turned DnB into an amorphous culture that doesn't have much of a border. I think it's fair to say that North American fans seem to like more "mid-heavy" sounds where Europeans tend to gravitate towards minimalism.
Q: Which artists influenced your music? How would you characterize your own style?
R: I try not to be too strongly influenced by any one thing, but we like what we like! In my early days of production (starting in 2009), I came from a scattered background of psychedelic rock, pop, lo-fi beats, and jungle. More recent works (2016 and onwards), the sounds of Austrian DnB caught my attention the most. There must be something in the wine there because the way people from Austria think about sound and composition is unique to what pretty much everyone else is doing. Their stuff just has a thick, polished, and unique flow to it. Even though DnB is very much UK thing, I keep hearing stuff out of Austria that's 3 years ahead of what anyone else is doing. This seems to have affected a lot of other people in the neurofunk world as well because that polish has made its way over here with people now focusing on tight, loud, and clear sounds that are equally made for dancers and listeners. I think we are on amazing trajectory of sound design chops coming together with really high musical skill. There are labels emerging which focus exclusively on that sound now. I love that STRANJAH, and by extension Deviant Audio, are pioneering bringing that sound to Canadian releases. It makes writing exciting.
Q: Tell us about The DAW you use and why you prefer it over others that you've tried.
R: I started on Pro Tools 10 and quickly moved over to Ableton Live after getting a free copy of Live 9 with the Focusrite Saffire Pro 14 interface. That was probably one of the last interfaces with FireWire that natively supported Windows at the time. My computer was so old that it was one of the only options I had for music production. Turns out that marketing campaign worked and I have been using Live for 10 years now. I have messed around with other DAWs and they all have amazing features. I am super comfortable and used to Live at this point, so I have chosen to stick with it. Now that version 11 has vocal comping there is honestly no pressure I feel to try anything else. DAWs (except Luna by UA) all sound the same, so really it's about what you're comfortable with.
Q: I know you're into sound design since 2012. How do you approach making a track, especially regarding the sound design?
R: My tried-and-true method for writing good tunes is starting a new way each time. I find you will write a lot of similar content if you seed it from similar origins. Sometimes it's blasting weird samples through my cassette deck and resampling them, sometimes it's loading up the stems from a funk record, and other times it's about making odd sounds in a synth and resampling them through hardware processors. My collection of hardware is pretty small because of how expensive that stuff is, so I try to seed musical directions from unique sounds I find all over the place. flowanastasia recently bought a Zoom H5n so I'll likely be getting more in to field recording and integrating "found sounds" into my tunes.
Q: You're known as a "scientist of sound". Can you tell us more about gaining this reputation?
R: I think it's similar to knowing why people like your music! I don't think I've ever asked anyone directly why they like my sound design or writing. I think that's something you just feel out. It would be fair to say that I spend a lot of time trying to come up with the punchiest possible snares, the loudest output RMS levels, and pushing basslines further into "sci-fi spaceship" territory. I have had a personality type that's obsessed with finding the limits inside anything I have or do. I always overclock my computers as hard as they can, tune my scooter to be as fast and torque-y as possible before it catches on fire, calibrating my speakers to be razor flat etc. I don't like to leave any performance or potential on the table if I can do anything about it.
Q: What about "Accelerate Lp" coming next on DnB Portal? What can you tell us about the main theme or the inspiration for it.
R: I've thought about what the title means for a while. I gave the album/titular track the name via the feeling of accelerating into the future that I got from it. The rapid arppegiation, aggressive sound design, and bombastic feeling felt, to me, like you were plowing ahead through any obstacle in your way. In a way, this represents the album in totality. I had to stop ignoring my under-developed skills if I wanted to step toe-to-toe with my inspirations. The growth required to make the album happen at a quality I was happy with would have to happen quickly and efficiently, hence the name seemed to fit perfectly. Progress in a skill tends to accelerate in a logarithmic way. To get 1% better than where you are at, with tons of experience, requires a lot more effort than being 1% better at having no skill at all. Accelerate LP is, I hope, what being 1% better every day for 3 years sounds like.
Q: Where do you find your inspiration? Any specific ritual, activity or place?
R: My best inspiration comes from doing new things. That usually involves musical sounds or instruments, but it can come from people, places, and other things. A big one for me is working on music with other people or even just at someone else's studio. I have written a lot of music at STRANJAH's studio. It sounds way different than stuff I write in my own space even though I'm the one pressing the buttons. You tend to draw a lot of character from your environment. It's important to switch that up as frequently as possible. I don't think you can write a collection of totally unique sounding tracks if you make them in the same way in the same place.
Q: You have releases on Hospital Records, Deviant Audio and your music has premiered on BBC Radio 1, Skandandbass. What is the apogee you dream to reach în your music career?
R: I can honestly tell you that my dreams mostly lie with working with more of my musical heroes over specific labels. I don't think making it onto any particular label can be the apex of one's career as a musician. I really appreciate the big exposure bump that can come with a major label or even YouTube channel, for that matter, but still. This is especially true with the bad contracts that artists get all the time when it comes to signing to a "major." Talented people are what truly push the music industry forward. Feeling happy with what I have created and how I have spent my time is my top priority.
Q: If you could pick one producer to spend a day in studio with, which one would be and why?
R: For me that would be Mefjus for sure. He's got such a great head for sound design, composition, and just generally a great dude. We talk often on What's App and he has been nothing but a sweetheart. I always feel bad for taking his time up since he's so busy so I try to keep it short. I can't say enough good things about Mr. Schober. One of the easiest people to get along with by far. Chemistry is everything and I would put it beyond even sound design chops or experience. If you really like the person you're working with, you'll undoubtedly make great things together.
Q: You're flowanastasia's vocal engineer; do you guys have any collabs planned for 2021?
R: Yes, but nothing we can discuss right now. She is an amazing artist and we have an awesome time together when we record. Check out our video on my YouTube channel if you'd like to see our process.
If you are a curious one now, I have the antidot: the debut solo album from Tyr Kohout, "Accelerate Lp", has just been baked in Deviant Audio oven and waits for you to listen and spread around its taste. Stay positive, creative and follow your dreams, the power of Universal Attraction low is stronger than you think.
-> Tyr Kohout: https://www.facebook.com/tyrkohoutmusic/ -> Deviant Audio:https://www.facebook.com/deviantxaudio/ -> Accelerate Lp: https://deviantaudio.bandcamp.com/album/accelerate-lp