Just over three weeks ago, XLR8R broke the news that Etapp Kyle is set to debut on Unterton, the sub-label of Ostgut Ton. A shroud of expectation has surrounded the 28-year- old Ukranian DJ-producer ever since he first released on Ben Klock’s Klockworks in 2013, a four-tracker that perfectly captured the maturing skills of an innately talented producer, and marked him as one of the most exciting figures in the global techno scene. Interest, over time, has continued to rise, sustained through an ever-growing touring schedule, the reward for which was an invitation to join Ostgut Booking towards the back end of 2014. He then followed this up with Klockworks 16 in November 2015.
Despite this, however, there is extraordinarily little known about him. Besides a few brief interviews—the majority of which are through Ukranian or Russian media outlets—there is almost nothing published detailing the origins of his relationship with either Klock or the renowned German institution. “I didn’t do much press,” explains Kyle, softly, over coffee last week. “It’s because my English was not good enough!” There is no denying, he says, that this impending release marks the next significant milestone in his career—and, following a brief conversation, he agreed that the presentation of this week’s XLR8R podcast offered the perfect platform on which to share his story. “It’s a long one,” he says, smiling. “But I think it’s important that we go from the start!”
“I was a really big fan of the John Digweed and Hernan Cattaneo stuff, but that sound just disappeared and it left me without any music to play.”
The roots of Kyle’s musical endeavors can be traced back to Chernivtsi, a modest city in the West of Ukraine, with a population of around 200,000. He has, he says, always entertained an appreciation for electronic music—nurtured, in part, by his work as a promoter and technician for one of the local clubs—but struggled to properly explore it given the “non-existence” of a strong underground scene in the area. DJing, which began as the main focus during his late teens, offered him a valuable outlet, but the evolution of musical tastes left little demand for the dark, progressive house that he found himself pushing at the time. “I was a really big fan of the John Digweed and Hernan Cattaneo stuff,” he explains. “But that sound just disappeared and it left me without any music to play.” Attempts to adopt a more a commercial voice left him only unsatisfied, establishing a mild resentment that led him to consider new avenues through which he could express his creative desires. “I had no money and no energy to DJ, so I decided to focus more on production,” he explains. Following the discovery of a large online music sharing platform, he also began to compile mixes and share them with other like-minded users.
It was through the latter outlet that he first discovered an appreciation for techno music. “I found this one set and was completely astonished,” he recalls. “There was a story from the beginning to end—and I suddenly felt more connected to the music than before.” Inspired by the discovery, he emailed Kirill, the artist, to begin a channel through which the two would continue to exchange music and mixes. “The progressive stuff that I had been playing earlier aways left me with a certain emptiness—there was always something missing,” he explains. “I was never really convinced that that was the music that I wanted to play or produce.” Although they would talk regularly, Kyle explains that he knew nothing about his musical acquaintance—besides the fact that he operated in a legal profession. As it turned out, he was based in Moscow and had close ties with the founders of ARMA17, the city’s most prominent nightclub, who subsequently invited Kyle over to play having been made aware of his talents. “I knew nothing about these guys,” Kyle recalls, laughing. “I thought I was going to go over there and never come back!”
"It felt like a brand new start—I had lost everything and began everything again. You have to reboot your computer sometimes—and it does seem to have worked.”