We share an office with Ivaylo Kolev. When he’s not in the booth at Jaeger, he’s preparing the itinerary for the next guest DJ or playing host to some or other DJ diginitary. Recently he’s become a proud father again, a girl and the third and last in the Kolev lineage for this generation. Between being a family man, working full time and DJing at least once a week, you might think he’d have his hands full, but the last year has also been a period of intense activity for Ivaylo in the studio, which has ushered in a new era for the producer with his debut on Prins Thomas’ Full Pupp.
“Syklon” finds Ivaylo adapting his sound to the Full Pupp aesthetic. A punishing bassline greets the listener, with progressive build-up as various percussive elements join in the track before dissipating into a lovely soul-searching pad and a vocal snapshot taken from an old House track. “Aerodynamisk” and “Karla” reinforce the sound of the EP with bold basslines, firm percussive arrangements, metallic synths and floaty chord sequences weaving brief, but fundamental passages through the record. Ivaylo adopted some of the Full Pupp spacy production, but pivots it around the functionality of the dance floor.
There’s a slight evolution from Ivaylo’s previous releases for the likes of Cymawax and his own Bogota Records imprint. The new EP follows a track on a Kwench compilation earlier this year, which will be superseded by an EP on Cassy’s label in June, and finds Ivaylo in a very critical phase of his career going forward, dedicating more time on production. Beyond that there’s a new record coming out on Bogota from the boss with a “super nice remix” from hugo LX, perpetuating that “Bogota sound.” A Techno leaning track on the Full Pupp sublabel, Rett i Fletta and some more music, he can’t really discuss also highlight an intense creative flurry from the artist.
*Syklon is available now from all major distributors.
On top of that Bogota records will be releasing new music too this year, with a new track from Jarle Bråthen, and a remix from Kim Dürbeck. “I’m in love with the whole record” urges Ivaylo who says it’s all “a lot of work,” but he also feels that time is just right for this next phase of his career. We sit down for a coffee to talk about this next phase, but immediately our conversation turns to work and the gripes and pleasures of dealing with agents, DJs, artists and the daily meleé that ensues around booking and promoting events. But that’s not why we’re here…
Let’s talk about you for a minute.
Yes, let’s talk about me.
There’s a new record coming on Full Pupp and some more in the pipeline for Kwench and of course Bogota. Would you consider this a new phase in your career?
It’s like an extension of a phase for me (laughs). I’m happy with how everything has ended up this year, because I’m enjoying the sound of both labels, and it gives me the freedom to experiment with new sounds, while at the same time I can be myself.
Do you think you’ve changed your sound, especially in lieu of this next Full Pupp release?
In general I’ve changed my sound with regards to adding percussion and the rougher basslines, which is a bit closer to Techno. Working with Thomas took me further, and I’m super thankful for that
How did that release come together?
The reason everything happened was that we were just driving in the car one night after he played at Jaeger and I played him one of the tracks. It was actually the first track I made last year, and he was like; “hey what is this, I really like it.” And then it just happened and that gave me the motivation to explore this sound further.
What made you want to go in that direction in the first place?
The scene. Not in a commercial way, but the crowd. Being at Jaeger every weekend, I see so many artists and see how the crowd reacts. It’s kind of my summation of what people are playing and what people like.
Is this the same with the upcoming Kwench release?
There’s like a red line between these records because the percussion is still there, and the way I program the percussion is still there. It’s House, but with Thomas it’s also kind of Full Pupp.
Thomas is always very hands on with the Full Pupp releases. I know he’ll often help with the mixing and the final arrangement. How much influence did Thomas have on Syklon?
Thomas is a genius. The way we worked is that I played him a track, he liked the track and then he asked me to finalise it. Then he had the final touch; in terms of mixing it down. On the rare occasion he might ask to add something, like an effect, but Thomas is just the final layer of polish.
Do you think that’s where the Full Pupp sound comes from, from his final touch?
Definitely. As I understand it, everything goes through Thomas in the end. That’s one of the reasons I chose to work with him and the label, because I learn from him, while at the same time he makes me more confident in what I’m doing.
Is it something that you think will have an effect on your music going forward?
Both and yes and no. With Thomas I learnt a lot about mixing, but when it comes to taking it forward, this direction has been an idea that has been brewing for years; ever since I took a break from the studio.
Since we haven’t heard the new Kwench release yet, can you tell me a bit more about what that might sound like?
It’s just proper House music.
Is it as deep as the stuff you’re previously known for?
I’ve got those deep elements in there… I’ve got the chords, but it’s more straightforward, something for the dance floor.
How did you get those tracks into Cassy’s hands?
I knew Cassy through the club, and after we met a few times, I sent her some music and she said “you should do a track for the compilation”. And then she asked for more tracks and to do a release. I think I sent Cassy like 7 tracks and she picked three of them.
You mentioned that you were influenced into this new direction by watching and listening at Jaeger. Is it when you’re working or while you’re playing?
I would say both. I’m a person who absorbs everything around me. It’s a combination of everything and I can be affected by something immediately?
Has it affected the way you DJ as well?
No as a DJ I’m always all over the place. I would say it mostly affected my productions.
Your lifestyle has also changed dramatically in recent years. You have this job at Jaeger that means you’re always in the club on the weekend, but working, and then you also have three kids to take care of. How has this all work with a career in music in terms of touring as a DJ?
Perfectly. That’s kind of the final journey, when you mention touring. The reason I had six years quiet time, was because I had to help my girlfriend with the kids. That was my focus then, now I can come back to producing full time and touring. We’ve had good training, with me working every weekend at Jæger, and with my kids it’s changed my whole mindset too. I’m not partying, like I used to anymore.
So it has had a positive effect on your music?
Do you think you’re better off now as a DJ now than when you were partying with the same kind of people you were playing for?
Yes, I do. I feel more secure in what I’m doing now. My head is clearer and being a dad is amazing. You have more structure. I still like to party, it’s just in a different way.
Don’t you feel that you’re getting disconnected from the dance floor in terms of age?
No I don’t think so. For me in music there is no age restriction. All I care about is the music. I feel exactly the same age as when I started with music. There’s no change in it.
Do you think that is due to the nature of being a DJ of your generation, that you’re more of a faceless facilitator?
I love that aspect of Djing. When you’re only concerned about the music, it’s a different story than about the way you look or what people see. I don’t care about that, and all I care about is how people feel about the music, how it affects them and how am I able to participate.
Working in an aspect of the industry – the behind the scenes kind of stuff that you and I do – do you ever get fed up with it?
The only thing I get fed up with is the DJ ego. I’m looking forward to be touring again so I can get out of the social media aspects of it all, because it takes up so much of my time, and I think it kills the music. Now you have models of DJs which gives all these young people the wrong impression of what it means to be a DJ. Young people are spending more time on their appearance than on music, it’s ridiculous.
You meet a lot of DJs in person, and like me you must notice that there’s some difference meeting these DJs and artists in person.
It’s a necessary evil, especially bigger artists that have PR agents that take care of it, which is a sad thing. It’s a big part of the scene today, and even if you have good skills as an artist or a DJ, you have to follow this bullshit. That also means that people with no skills are coming through based on their social media presence. We don’t see that as much at Jaeger since we’re pretty good with the bookings, but you see it everywhere else in the scene. I’m not going to judge anyone, but I don’t see the point.
I find that side of it completely exhausting, to the point where it affects my enjoyment of the music.
I totally agree with you. It’s a combination of how the crowd reacts to it, or how people think they have to act for the crowd. I really like what DVS1 said recently; you don’t go to the club to watch, you go to listen.
And this takes me back to my first DJ set. Back in the 80’s and 90’s, the DJ booth was a seperate room, divided by some glass. People didn’t really see you or even know who you were. You had a little space where you could invite friends into and they were all music junkies. Now it’s so annoying with all the phones and having a particular look.
All these things like how people arrive, people taking photos and all this energy around the actual set, it’s an unnatural energy, it’s fake.
Which brings me back to making a record for the purpose of Djing like you’ve just done. You spend so much time on it, and it takes about a year before it comes out, and then it has a brief moment on the dance floor (if you’re lucky) and then it’s forgotten until you bring out the next track. Don’t you sometimes feel that you’re putting too much effort into it?
Not for me, because first of all I don’t make a track today to get out tomorrow. For me it has to be timeless. I’m not concerned about when it will come out or how long it will be played, I don’t care about that. I just care about if the track has consistency and if it has its own personality.
So if you consider an old track like Pelican, is that still a track that you’ll play in your sets?
Yes, if the moment is there I’ll play it. Each track that I’ve done has its own personality and these personalities go around with me.