Welcome to this exclusive interview with Yaygon Lamagier, an Australian electronic producer known as Kalya Scintilla and Merkaba. Yaygon is an internationally acclaimed music producer with a captivating live performance and an impressive discography.
In this interview, we will discuss his music career, creative process, and how he has managed to stay relevant and make a name for himself in the electronic music scene.
Hi Yaegon! Where did you grow up and how were you introduced to music? Where are you based these days?
I grew up in a little country town a few hours outside of Sydney, Australia. My introduction to music was my definitely parents record and tape collection.
Growing up through the magical era of the 60s – 70s they had acquired a taste for a range of music from classical and progressive rock and metal through to funk, soul and disco. My older brother was also in introduction into the world of 80’s and 90’s music as I always looked up to him and his musical tastes.
I’m currently a gypsy. I’m living out of 2 bags and staying with friends for the next year while touring extensively. All my belongings and studio are in storage in Hawaii so I will definitely end up back there when its time to find a home.
Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations and influences outside of music?
Number one is definitely nature. I find her to be infinitely inspiring. The sounds, the color, the diversity, and the textures… all vibrations and essentially sounds. You can sit in nature and be immersed in her concerto and learn so much.
Your two projects, Merkaba and Kalya Scintilla are on different realms of the psychedelic world.
Merkaba is a fusion of trance with deep tribal and expansive emotive realms. Kalya Scintilla is a world music laden broken beat and downtempo adventure.
Take me through your typical approach to creating a track. Have your techniques changed over the years?
Techniques have definitely changed, but mostly refined.
I spend a lot of time doing prep work for my LogicX template so when its creation time the music can just flow out. I have all my beats running through samples so I can quickly and easily start a beat by arranging midi to taste or tapping it out on my controller.
First and foremost I will turn off the internet and often lock myself out of that world of distraction with a wonderful little app called Freedom. Then I’ll start creating a simple 8-16 bar loop of beat and bassline. Once I have a solid backbone I’ll stretch that over a period of time say 5-9 minutes.
If the song has an intention and narrative which it usually does it will be easy for me to have an early vision of how I want the structure of the song to flow from movement to movement. From there I start jamming out different parts and build it as I go. The key for me is to keep the mental and technical side of things to a minimum when I’m in this creation stage. I keep the majority of the mixing work till the end.
From the outside, the Australian scene seems to have its own influences & style. Do you think this rings true?
I feel that its the land, the energy of nature there. You can travel the world and hear different sounds in different lands and often different sounds on different sides of the same land. As the land changes so does the sound. Culture also has an impact I’m sure but the land is the biggest vibration wherever you go.
You formed the record label Merkaba Music in 2011. What do you look for when signing new artists?
The only thing I really strive for with the label sound is something that feels like it has come from a human soul and not just a mental or emulated idea. I can listen to a demo and feel/hear this in under 10 seconds. There also needs to be a certain level of production skill involved.
Has it been challenging running a label in the digital age?
Its been quite easy actually. Probably because I have never treated it as a business but more as a fun activity in musical exploration. Bandcamp and other digital distribution is pretty streamlined so its easy to start a label up. Being an artist myself I strive to make sure everyone gets paid but the accounting has been my least favorite task because I’m not to fond of maths and spreadsheets.
I believe your last Merkaba album entitled As Earth To Sky took 3 years to make. Do you still see full length albums as a viable way to release music?
I love the story of a full length album. You can express so much more than a single or EP. I’m happy to wait more than 7-10 years for a new TOOL album because its all about the album as a journey. I’m my albums were more of a collection of jams and random ideas it would be easier to break them up into EPs. Creating musical stories, journeys and worlds is what excites me most.
Have there been any highlights for you this year?
This year Eve Olution and I focused predominantly on the US. Its been a pretty awesome journey over the summer and fall. We got to drive over 8000 miles in an RV to see some of the most beautiful nature the US has to offer.
How has Cape Town treated you?
I have always had an infinity with the mother land, Africa. The ancient tribal culture, the esoteric mysteries, the percussion, have all inspired my life and creativity. So to feel the vibration of that land and to be able to offer our art there is a huge honor for both Eve and I. Expect a deep inward journey and a chance to celebrate being human.
What’s the most challenging thing about being a touring artist?
The ungrounded feeling of always being on the go combined with the physical strain of travel, late nights and early mornings.
Any upcoming releases you want to mention?
Eve and I are working on the next Kalya Scintilla album. It’s well on its way but as its telling the story of the earth and her nature we will be creating it on tour over the next year in all the different lands we visit. There is also a new Merkaba release in the works and another 2 projects I’m secretly working on.
Thanks for the interview!
I’ll leave you with this classic Bill Hicks quote…
“The world is like a ride in an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it you think it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are. The ride goes up and down, around and around, it has thrills and chills, and it’s very brightly colored, and it’s very loud, and it’s fun for a while. Many people have been on the ride a long time, and they begin to wonder, “Hey, is this real, or is this just a ride?” And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and say, “Hey, don’t worry; don’t be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride.”
…And we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one. Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.”
― Bill Hicks