I mean, the things I’ve learned from Kiat are countless. As the 8th producer to talk about in this personal exploration of how I trust people in music, there is no other person I am so glad to get to.
Kiat is a legend. When I first heard his name it was because he had heard I track I’d done with a late friend (an ex radio colleague who was my first real radio mentor, Andrew Crothers). The track was called Stay.
I left 987FM back in 2010 because I realized that I was itching to get back to music after 4 years in radio. It seemed the music bug would not die. I started doing things like leaving the C channel fader down when I’d switched the system to run from A/B to A/B/C after my shift was done. It resulted in dead air.
Anyyyyway, when I left, I started working on the Octover album with Jason Tan, who was an engineer/producer on Urban Xchange's first album, How Did We Get Here? Jason had mentioned Kiat before and so it was finally time to meet him.
I think I met Kiat together with his wife, Cherry. Instantly I could sense they were different. They weren’t uptight, but they were intellectual and creative. They had amazing taste in music. They played me the Syndicate EP, and it was the first time I had felt inspired by my own people in a long time. Izaak Stern, a.k.a Elias Soh was on that EP. I remember his track Daytripper was on regular rotation on my show, which was a online radio show my previous mentor had creatively directed. (People might not also know this but Drew Crothers also helped create Lush back in 2005).
So Kiat and Cherry gave me like 4 GB of music, out of which I totally fell in love with Amon Tobin. Thereafter through our trip to the Gilles Peterson Worldwide Festival in Sete, where Kiat and myself played a set at the regional Centre of contemporary art (also known as CRAC), I came to understand the variety of music through excellent Funktion-One speakers. It was the first time I heard James Blake, Jamie XX, Mount Kimbie, Lefto, Flying Lotus, and Kode9 as well as Raphael Saadiq… All in one festival. I remember Africa Hitech’s “Out In The Streets” was playing a lot on radio too. It will always be my first and best festival experience – something Kiat was a part of.
I also worked with Kiat on the album cover for the original Vandetta EP. This was the first time I worked with him in the photography medium. He wanted to capture my mouth in black and white. I remember thinking…. What kind of textures would work? Should I pick something that would create contrast or something with shine that would reflect light?
In the end the metallic nude/gold lipstick was what ended up on the cover. I look at it all the time and retain fondness for it.
Kiat’s remix of Ground Zero is that perfect balance between hard and soft. It’s liquid courage. As the penultimate track on the album I thought it was a great set-up for what I think about I’ve learned from the scene. A veteran made it. A man who started out as an art director and undergrond music promoter who released on Goldie’s Metalheadz and worked with a team to build a safe haven for people who thought about their community with their heads as much as their hearts.
What did I learn from Kiat?
From him, and the Syndicate crew, I learned to be patient (thanks, Cherry), to think conceptually (thanks, Saf), to experiment (thanks, Brendon), to organize wires (thanks, Rafi!), to speak your mind (thanks, Darren) and to listen and be there for your people (thanks, Elias) and above all to be open minded.
I learned to love where I came from.