Get Familiar: K15 - XLR8R

Get Familiar: K15

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In the rapidly evolving world of electronic music, it's all but impossible to keep track of every new artist, label, party, and genre. At the same time, certain names will inevitably pop up again and again at the XLR8R office, some of which we've only given passing mention to on the site. In an effort to get our readers up to speed with some of the things—both new and old—that we've been digging lately, we recently launched a new feature series called 'Get Familiar,' which aims to shine a spotlight on subjects we think are worthy of a little more attention.

London producer K15 (a.k.a. Kieron Ifill) has created one of the best closing tracks in recent memory. "Yellow" and its bittersweet piano wrapped up Funkineven's XLR8R podcast back in June, the Apron boss has also played the track on BBC1, and now, it's set to drop in early November as part of the five-track Insecurities EP, a double 12" on Kyle Hall's Wild Oats label. Granted, Hall has been supporting Ifill's tracks for a while now, even sending the producer video of crowds reacting to the EP's pensive, pad-heavy titular cut.

Despite these developments, K15 sits amazed at the internet-aided response to his music. He's never been the sort of artist that maintains a heavy online presence, and he actually began his musical journey in a decidedly old-school manner, attempting to imagine warehouse parties via trips to the record store. "I was really into house and garage during my teens. Obsessed is a better term," says Ifill. "I bought lots of jungle records but because of my age, I could never go to raves—which was the epicenter of it all—so I sought sanctuary in records, radio, and tape packs." This tale of pirate radio education is common for multiple generations of UK producers, but K15 wasn't satisfied by a steady diet of club bangers, so he also immersed himself in jazz and broken beat, genres that have informed the emotional chord progressions at the core of his current work.

The blue chords of K15's most memorable tracks are reminiscent of Theo Parrish's string of '90s and '00s classics (e.g. the Blade Runner-sampling "Solitary Flight"), and Ifill attributes his gift for soul-stopping melodies to his study of the pianists and musicians that infused jazz with space-age synth sounds. "Herbie Hancock, James Mason, they are people that I admire," Ifill explains. "They make music, they are vibe creators, so any weird off-kilter jazz tendencies come from them." This appreciation for sounds that aren't "of the moment" also helped Ifill forge a bond with Kyle Hall. The Detroit producer shot Ifill a message via SoundCloud last year, and they connected over a shared affection for broken beat elder statesmen Dego and Kaidi Tatham. (The latter actually remixed K15's "Bordeaux" on a 12" released by WotNot Music earlier this year.) That said, K15 isn't someone who's overly enamored with the past. He also cites contemporary jazz artists like Zoe Rahman, Gwilym Simcock, and Sam Crowe as influences and reps for modern-day grime as a place of continued growth within the hardcore continuum.

During daylight hours, Ifill teaches English to underserved youth, but he still manages to work tirelessly in his bedroom studio during off-hours. He's quietly built up a catalog of eight EPs, including Theme Music for a Pariah and The Black Tape, the latter of which deals with the loss of his mother. Like most bedroom producers, he's sitting on a wealth of unreleased material, a situation he plans on changing with the support of Wild Oats and Wotnot. "We don’t live forever," he says, "so I need to do what I can, make what I can, and release what I can with the time I have." If the unreleased material is anywhere near as solid at "Yellow," Ifill is sure to garner plenty more attention, both online and at the local record shop.