Sarajevo-based D&B heavyweight Billain is the next artist in our Gamechanger series.
Innovative, experimental and passionate about drum & bass; Billain combines conceptual audio, stunning sound design and mind-altering visuals. With the newest release on Critical & Assembly it is easy to see his gamechanging qualities at play. Prepare yourself as we dive into the world of Billain and list the reasons he has earned a place in this series…
Incredible sound design
“Think about the old BBC audio-phonic workshops & old star trek sounds; the people just sat down and recorded things that nobody would ever record; then put these sounds through chains of effects, creating unique samples. My main thing is breeding and layering sounds. I will create breeds of breeds of breeds of sound, always layering and using FX. I then keep the good sounds and bin the bad ones.
Once I just recorded two original sounds and challenged myself to see how many things I could make with these two. It was about 500 sounds in the end and it can increase exponentially. I have templates for combining sounds and breeding sounds but the pallet for sounds is unlimited. My advice to people who like sound designing in DnB would be to push yourself, and see what you can do with your baseline; you can always layer more.”
The sound design industry is outside of the box and that is the only rule that applies.
I record so much through a microphone because in the real world nothing ever repeats twice, it is like an unlimited sound library. The problem is that people don’t have the time because of the speed of living. Think back to all the people who inspired us years ago, they all played the long game. So do what you love to the best of your ability.”
The sonic elements are intrinsically linked to visuals
Assembly is a video short from Billain that will sonically, visually and conceptually blow your mind…
“As a child I found solace in drawing, and not in classic education. I took to researching on my own, looking into e-books about sound and synthesisa to try and explain myself. It was just a matter of time before I found something that allowed me to express myself in a more profound way… Music and sound especially is a place where I can do that, DnB is the perfect place to experiment.
The Assembly video was a logical step that started out as a video blog of building my new machine. But suddenly this idea hit me to explore the relationship between visuals and sound. I like to test and experiment to push myself forward. I think visuals give a new way to present tension but the sound is still way more than 50 per cent of the piece, without the sound you wouldn’t know what you were watching.
Think of the video like a machine narrating its own creation in the year 2050.
Assembly is exploring things like Moore’s Law and Singularity. Somepeople will see it as abstract art; other people will see it as noise but it was 5 months work and it’s the first of a trilogy where mankind is eventually eaten by progress through playing with our own artificial fire.”
Music with a concept and a narrative
UKF explored the Collussus EP here but that was just the start. It seems that every piece of music from Billain has a story, concept or narrative to add another dimension to the music. This gives his particular brand of D&B a much longer shelf life…
“If you listen to and watch Goldie – Mother, Photek – Ni Ten Ichi Ryu or Chris Cunningham they always brought more and they have been remembered because they gave you visual elements. You can tell a story sonically for instance; 2008 – 2010 in D&B there were loads of epic intros that could transport your imagination to a completely different landscape. It’s a weird phenomenon but music has the ability to awaken your imagination.
I want to provide the full 3D experience.
This for me is 100 per cent proof how tracks should be, if you give people the music, the visual and the narrative it lasts longer. This because people can always find new details, the story is one dimension, visual is another and sound is the third dimension.”
If you haven’t yet heard Autonomous, it is bat shit crazy. Fundamentally the track is a kick drum black hole, depicting the hyper aggressive manifestation of artificially intelligent robots. If that doesn’t defy convention, we don’t know what does.
“To give yourself the creative freedom you need to build trust with a label. There are times where you might go down a road that compromises your artistic ideology but I don’t subscribe to that. I always tend to lean on the autonomous and experimental side of things.
In drum & bass the competition is healthy and strong, but every now and again something comes out that is completely free from all of the rules. I am always going in, I have weirder tracks than Autonomous ready but it’s about gaining trust before you release them.”
The best way to describe the feeling is like, you’re an artist trapped in reality.
Also I’m in Bosnia Sarajevo so you have to really research to find out about D&B and UK culture so everything about the music is special, everything I do is a conscious decision because I had to work to find it out. I did my first gig in Brighton in the UK and the crowd seemed to really appreciate that I had done my research, so that’s awesome.”
Unique and diverse views and influences
“When I was too young I watched lots of movies that have influenced my imagination. As a child I had vivid and elaborate dreams about planets and their gravitational pull, it was a nightmare at the time. The sound I heard in the dream was the loudest earthquake; like the sound of the planet moving. I probably have to thank my parents for their love of Sci-Fi for that one.
I’m also very nostalgic about older drum & bass and I think this has been a big influence on my music; my new EP is like classic tech-step combined with the Blade Runner sound track.
We always try and progress in some sort of way and drum n bass is about progress. With the advance of sequencers it has brought about a lot of good things and lot of bad things. There will always be weird genres and business minded motives to contend with, but natural curiosity will prevail and DnB is a proof of concept. D&B has lasted longer than any underground genre and it is strong as f**k.”
So as our Gamechanger piece on Billain draws to a close, we hope you agree that the music, the concepts and the art alone each deserve gamechanger status… Assemble them together and we have one of the most exciting D&B artists in the scene. Here is a final message from the man himself:
“A message to everyone, play the long game and have your opinion. For me I am just getting warmed up, you can expect more videos and science fiction movies from me. I am going to make it happen.”
Keep Billian locked and watch things develop yourself: