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Higher And Iyre: Catching Up With Sri Lanka’s Rising Star

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With releases on Celsius, Influenza and Goldfat records, upcoming music due out on Pilot and Fokuz, and his spectacular UKF debut, Iyre has had an incredible year. We caught up with him to talk about his brand new music, how he’s coped with international acclaim, and what he’s got in store for us in the future…

There’s something special about Iyre’s music, and for a while I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. After a few weeks of listening to everything Iyre-related I could find, I think I’ve found one of the reasons. It’s the stories he tells. 

You can see it in the Instagram breakdown of his track “Away From You”. There’s a key moment a few minutes in, where he’s discussing a particular drone fx sound. He says, “it’s a very distant sound. I wanted to portray it almost as if you are living alone in this ghost city that has been abandoned.”

These stories give Iyre’s tracks that sense of immersion – they’re what keep me coming back for more, hearing something new each time. Even when using the traditionally lighter liquid soundscapes, there’s depth to every idea. Huge layers of emotion build up in subtle harmonies.

Take his upcoming song, Asrama. As soon as we get talking about it, his eyes light up. “Asrama means ‘monastery’. I was inspired by Mohican Sun at the time, so I was trying to come up with something really narrative. As the song progressed, I realised that I could add some elements that represent where I come from, from South Asia.”

Sri Lanka D&B

If you look through Iyre’s socials, you’ll see that he’s a big hiker. He lives in one of the most beautiful places in the world, Sri Lanka. He’s surrounded by lush mountains, thick with jungle. “I go hiking into the mountains whenever I can. We have this mountain range called ‘Knuckles’, and in it, there’s a monastery which is run by a priest. They’re very serious about their learning, the exact location is kept a secret – outside visitors are not normally allowed. I was inspired to search for something in that direction. So that’s when I decided to include Buddhist chants, the ‘Ohm’ sounds. And then I added some local drum and percussion”

When you’re finished following him into an ancient jungle temple, Iyre’s got another journey to take you on, with the flipside track, ‘Zainab’. “With this song, I wanted to experiment with Arabic vocals. It’s not something that I think I’ve heard much in drum and bass before. I think they’re very mystical, they have variations that are not seen in other types of singing. As I worked on the song, I realised that it was talking about a beautiful girl in a desert. The word ‘Zainab’ means ‘desert flower’. The song looks to beauty where beauty may not normally be seen as an option.”

They say not to judge a book by it’s cover, but it’s impossible not to comment on the artwork for this release. “It’s something that Mitekiss, Mr Porter, and everyone at Goldfat do. They push us to be the best in every aspect we can. They really caring about every small detail. I wanted to include some of the natural beauty of Sri Lanka. So I asked one of my closest friends, Chamodh Delpearachchi, who often goes hiking with me, if I could use his amazing photographs. And then Johnny did his magic with it.”

#FatFam

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The guidance and support from everyone in Goldfat’s #FatFam is something that comes up several times throughout our interview. Iyre described group video calls where everyone gets together to discuss the scene, and the history of the music.

“It’s a real community and I’m really proud to be a part of it. Making great music is their primary drive. But they’re also committed to diversity and inclusivity, and they strongly believe representation of all minorities is key to ensuring the scene is welcoming to everyone. For example, if you look at Pyxis and Athena, they’re killing it right now. It’s a really cool label to be a part of. Especially being South Asain, away from everything, I consider it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

In Iyre’s city, there’s no dnb scene at all, which means that he’s never actually heard one of his songs on a big rig. “The first time I saw one of my songs being played on a system was thanks to Kublai. He sent me a video clip of him playing ‘Zainab’. It is a disadvantage, not being able to test out music. But I can rent a studio if I want to use monitors. I’m always improving, always learning techniques to ensure things sound good in a club environment.”

Holy Shit Moments

At this point in the interview, we come to ‘Holy-shit moments’. This is how Iyre describes feeling when he first learned that his song ‘Fragments’ was going to be premiered on UKF. He proudly shows off a framed print of the youtube video – “It actually meant a lot to me as an artist, to be the first on the platform from Sri Lanka. To show that this island has some great music producers.” With over 40,000 views on that song alone, I think we can all agree he’s definitely made a big impression already. 

“I’d like to thank some people who have helped me get to where I am – Mitekiss, Mr Porter, Dreazz, and everyone at the labels I’ve worked with. HumanNature has helped me as well with the DnB Academy – he reached out on Facebook after I posted asking for help. My parents, who don’t necessarily understand what I do, but aren’t judgmental about it. I’m very thankful for my brother’s support as well, and my girlfriend Vimanthi has helped me to balance my life – she stops me getting too focused on just production.”

Looking to the future, Iyre has big plans. He’s picked up a few guest mixes, and DJing is definitely a focus. He’s also working on something that’s “darker than typical liquid dnb. That’s why I really appreciate labels like Goldfat, they push you to grow creatively. I’m letting my musicality guide me, and hopefully will create something that will resonate with the listeners.” 

Buckle Up And Do Something Even Better

As we bring our chat to a close, I ask Iyre how he plans to celebrate the release of Asrama and Zainab. “To be honest, releasing music inspires me to create more. It’s the trigger-point where I tell myself: now you’ve done this, it’s time to buckle up and do something even better.”

After the interview’s over, I allow myself a bit of escapism, scrolling through his socials again, soaking in the postcard-perfect views, watching clips of his music. And I can’t help wondering what journey he’s going to take us on next, what new stories he’s going to tell…

Asrama / Zainab is available now on in all the usual places: https://lnkfi.re/iyre-asrama?s=09

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