We chat with two producers who are shaking things up, Billain & Kodin

Drum and Bass | Wednesday 24th February 2021 | Arren

We’ve got not one but two excellent producers in for an interview this time round, Billain and Kodin.

They’re two exceptional producers in their own right, and highly regarding for their technical edge and crystal clear production values. They occasionally come together and release some real madness. Recently we had another spectacular track from them both, 'Selcouth' - that featured on Kodin’s last EP on Korsakov Music.

We decided to have a chat with both producers who share what’s been going down over the last year or so. We talk about their latest collaboration, how lockdown’s have affected them and their thoughts on the wider industry. They haven’t held back, and provide some realness.

How have you been in this crazy world we’re living in right now?
Billain: Anyone knowing where Bosnia is and how isolation works inside it will kinda know that sadly people like myself are used to this. I am sad that other people went through this absolute chaos. Then again, I am glad that many have survived, many became resilient, developed a new set of skills, and became more in tune with themselves in the darkest of times. As for me, I have found creative peace and shelter that was always there, but now finally more present.
Kodin: It was depressing for all of us I guess, but again a lot of producers stay in the studio anyway so not a drastic change. More work to be done.

Is there any aspect that you’ve been struggling with, and how have you coped with that?
Kodin: Nothing special, only a few big earthquakes and 100’s of smaller ones that have shaken us recently here in Croatia. After that nothing is a struggle!
Billain I haven’t really, aside of the fact that travelling has never been more distant. But that connected us more in this digital domain somehow right? I talk to so many people that I probably wouldn’t, due to my introverted nature / a nature of being absent in public places - thinking of visual and audio coding. Also got myself a mountain bike, because my city is surrounded by amazing hills and forests.

Has it affected your musical work in any way?
Kodin: It was all positive. I got more time for production without rushing and fewer distractions around me. The only negative part is not listening to live music on festivals and club systems, that sometimes gives me inspiration for my own work.
Billain: Music has never been more free. As all the role models of major 'restraints' and the role model label and festival directors were kinda distancing themselves from new forms, the very misfortune gave birth to a new, courageous generation that I hoped for. I talk with more talented young creators around the world than my generation and the older forms of ‘competitive culture’. Younger generations don’t care about this. They acknowledge my sound and I think it is all about that. A genuine non-egoistical ecosystem. We sit on chat rooms all day and exchange knowledge.

Have you picked up any new habits in these new times?
Kodin: As a Master of Information Technology I love to build, fix and upgrade computers. I upgraded my work machines 3 or 4 times since the pandemic started. Switching and changing parts, building custom external RME soundcard in 19" external rack connected directly from PCIe to remove any sound interference from mb and gpu that was getting through full range (25Hz-35Khz) mastering system. I built a custom frequency analyzer that is run on another machine and receives digital SPDIF signal with low latency from the main daw machine that is then displayed on 4K display in real time while I’m working on tracks or mastering others artist work or just listening to music, it is always on. For more than 8 years I've been doing mastering for different labels and artists, so trying to get the best possible sound and visual in my studio. I know, nerd, but hey it works and it’s fun, especially nowadays.
Billain: I’ve suddenly fallen in love with coffee and my house is the cleanest it’s ever been! I’ve started a film finally, learning all the important aspects of film creation in my free time. So my current timeline looks like 17 hours. Now I am learning to get some more smaller power naps or separating sleep time in smaller portions because I would love to try to automate sleep like other things that I am doing. I find myself being commissioned over 3-4 different types of profession every two weeks. So what I am constantly refining is discipline, because then you can take 5-6 more works across all areas and be prolific.

Despite all the madness that’s happened you’ve kept the production wheels turning with a string of great releases each, what are your personal stand out releases over the past 12 months or so?
Kodin: I guess the 'Snake Lies' EP on Korsakov Music accompanied with great artwork by Martin Simpson. It features four amazing artists and is my stand out release. Also maybe the track 'Chronic' on DLR’s Sofa Sound could be mentioned.
Billain: I try, in between working on a game, a film and new visual format, to have a new reflection every now and then to see what time has prepared for me. I have to mention the releases of my buddy Kemal, because they always stand out. 'War' is so underrated it’s beyond me, he is our Metnem buddy and speaking of my crew, I really enjoy the hell out of my buddies Codex, Phase and Toxic’s unreleased projects that are now officially another pillar of cyberneuro genre/realm creation.

An obvious record to talk about is the latest Kodin EP on Korsakov Music. 5 tracks of bloody madness, and the killer track ‘Selcouth’ from you both hits it just right. I’ve heard through the grapevine that it has been produced out of some special samples? How did that come about?
Kodin: We worked on 'Selcouth' around 30min to 1hour every time and Adis dropped by at my place. There were maybe four occasions for this track, we didn’t work online on it at all so it took a long time in the end, but we were happy with the results. We were adding different elements, edits, bass stabs, etc from each of our personal sample banks and creating some new sounds along the way to fit the theme. Near the end, we were trying to get that epic intro, at first it sounded okay and already had 2 layers of synths and an arp. Then we added another synth layer that Billain somehow played from first take on top and it just connected everything together, finally I finalized it for the release.
Billain Yeah, I remember being at Kodin’s place, we had several technical solutions which I like to call projects in their initial phase. I was heavily under a new phase of learning to play and refine my taste of what makes sci-fi music sci-fi in its core. A melodic statement happened and we just had a moment of two scientists looking at each other as if they got a signal from a UFO and started hyping about it; I love moments like this and Kodin is one of those people where we can possibly create 123120 collabs if we had the time, with no sweat. Everything around the track was trial & error, we would add a lot of elements then remove them and in that removal process weird combinations would click - its one way to make a progress.

How did you find working with each other?
Kodin: Our countries are really close, so we are long-time friends, we didn’t do collabs for years, we were just not pushing it at that time I guess. Then we started for fun and made some cyberneuro bangers like 'Feed For Speed'.
Billain: EX-Yugoslavian culture - in other words, good old friends with great points of views on vast areas of curiosities, physics, geometry design, specific taste in various cultural artifacts of our time I guess. But yeah those are all layers, the most important one is that we are friends for a very long time.

What’s your favourite thing about the other producer’s style?
Kodin: Innovation, sound design and of course, surreal humor.
Billain: That refined level of nerdism and geek culture in technical aspects, all of that wowen with a sense of advanced sci-fi knowledge to describe certain moods.

Are there more tracks together in the pipeline or was this a one off?
Kodin: We usually only make one track, but there is always another one in the folder waiting to be accidentally finished on the next encounter. We got one started a while back with Flipz MC, maybe it will be finished in the near future.
Billain: There are more tracks, we have a weird pipeline. We just know when is the time for some track to be done or left until an idea grows into a solid object. We got more of course.

One aspect of the current situation that has changed the way the industry operates is obviously the clubs/festivals being closed - meaning you can’t road test new tracks. How have you dealt with that, is it something that was really important to you?
Kodin: Yes, that is really important for that track you are working on when people react to it in real time on a BFS (big fucking sound-system), you just get another perspective for music and can easily change your idea how it will be finished or does it even work.
Billain: For me playing on big festivals is not important to me because they were gathering the same acts with a twist of alphabetical order and different caps lock. To me it was always important to deliver the new, because the new will also educate you. And yeah there are festivals and clubs for that. Educative. I am happy that the underground will be reborn. Because that is where all the big heads will have the reset to factory settings for their ego. For everything else, music will always find its way, because people will keep finding each other through it. Hard times always bring something revolutionary.

The year has just begun pretty much, what are you goals for the new year?
Kodin: My minimum goal is to make music and get better at it on each track. I miss DJing it’s really something that gives me energy, feedback and inspiration. We are all there, so hopefully this year will have some good news for a change.

If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be and why?
Kodin: I would change dnb scene lobbying, we need to decentralise the scene.
Billain: I am a tyrant from a third world country. My passion - could be translated as take on dnb scene like Bane takes on Gotham, with a positive twist. Because now in dnb we have: elitism, racism, sexism, nationalism, psychopaths and most spreaded sociopaths smiling their success stories like Epstein’s coordinators.

What superpower would you say the other has?
Kodin: Adis is a great supporting friend and being a cyberman gives him different frequency bending abilities you can often hear in his work.
Billain: Dinko’s superpower is that has the resilience to say No to integrity eating labels. I relate to that so much that I think of it as superpower that resonates in the tracks eventually.

When restrictions are lifted, what’s the first thing you are going to do?
Kodin: I will finally travel somewhere nice. And of course meet with all friends not seen for a long time and have some fun, hopefully at a dnb party!
Billain: I will release something that I have been building for probably a decade, all of that from the commodity of travelling again.

Billain & Kodin’s insane track 'Selcouth' is out now as part of Kodin’s 'Snake Lies' EP on Korsakov Music - Buy/stream

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