Kloudmen: Dynamic Duo

Emerging as a duo that succeeds in lavishly injecting significant horsepower into even the most delicate of compositions, a track touched by the Kloudmen now carries a substantial addictive quality. Combatting the inevitable variables of everyday life, the Swedish masterminds of wonky and wonderful sound sculpture continue to strike sweet spots in their rhythmic and abstract bass laden exports. Having seen their latest releases praised by dub-lovers worldwide, and catching the attention of illustrious selectors such as Hatcha and Truth, their most recent signing affixes them firmly amongst the rising ranks of Deep Dark and Dangerous. As heavyweight single “I” oscillates the airwaves surrounding DDD’s growing catalogue, we were eager to find out more about the two piece. Offering a full toned narrative that holds just as much gravity as their music, we sat down with Martin and David in an exclusive and inspiring session on the inner workings of the music making machine that is Kloudmen.

Stoked to finally talk with you Kloud dudes and get to know the creative forces behind it all! Many are sure of the fact that your tunes boast a heavy shock factor (in the best way) but we’d love to hear a bit about your story from Kloudmen’s inception till now, where did it all begin?

David: Thank you so much for having us! Alright, so the story goes like this: Once upon a time, in the dawn of 2011, there were two lonely dubstep dudes. Unbeknownst to each other, their mutual interests and their future companionship, they both started studying computer game development, sound design and music at the University in [a small town called] Skövde. One day in class, David noticed that Martin was wearing a t-shirt that implied he liked dubstep. David thought to himself, “Hey, that dude seems to be into dubstep!” so they got to talking about it. Eventually, David invited Martin to his house and showed him some of his tunes. Martin was blown away. But Martin had created some dubstep as well and showed it to David. Needless to say, David was equally blown away. So the two dubstep dudes started producing dubstep together, quickly realising that they were a natural fit. One day when sitting in David’s (bedroom) studio, casually producing some bangers, the two thought about forming an alias. David gazed out of the window, where big and beautiful clouds slowly passed by. “Kloudmen”, said David suddenly. They looked at each other and was struck by how perfect the name were for them. Kloudmen became their alias. That is the story about how the Kloudmen got their name.

Martin: To give you a quick recap up until now, we met almost every day during our years at university to make music. By accident, I sent “Shifter” (the original version) to DJ Hatcha. We really thought he would think it was too hard or not his kind of dubstep, but we were so wrong! It was probably at that moment everything took off. Known DJs started asking for our tunes and playing them out and on different radio stations such as Rinse FM and KISS FM. After university I moved to Stockholm and David stayed in Skövde (because of his family living there), but our music didn’t suffer from our “separation”. We kept producing, growing, learning and constantly sending stems to each other. From there we just kept doing what we love which led to several releases on amazing labels, gigs, interviews, collabs, new friendships and more.

You’ve had a solid slew of impressive releases with Encrypted, as well as Duploc and Uprise Audio as of late, how are you feeling about adding Deep Dark and Dangerous to your repertoire?

M: We are extremely proud of being a part of Deep Dark and Dangerous. It’s such a great label founded by two of the coolest dubstep dudes in the scene. We’ve always been big fans of TRUTH, and to be able to say that we’re releasing music on their label and that they support us is crazy! Big up Dre and Tristan!

“I” definitely holds the characteristic ‘Kloudmen’ groove that you guys dish generously throughout your music. Do you feel like you’ve always found this sound naturally or did it take some tweaking time working as a duo?

D: Our sound indeed developed naturally. We noticed after a while of working together that people gave us many comments about us having a recognisable sound. I can’t say that our intention was to actually achieve that. It just developed over time I guess. I think that you shouldn’t focus too much on finding your own sound. Your focus should be on making music from your heart. It may sound cheesy, but I think that is one key aspect of eventually having a distinct sound of your own.

M: It has come to mind that nearly every tune we start has lots of pads and mellow ambience to it. I think the most natural sound for me when producing is to add a more cozy and relaxed soundscape, because we like it so much! But in the end we often strip down and change the vibe totally to fit the overall mode (hard drums, high energy percussions and dark basses etc).

I won’t go on about how stoked we are on “Shifter VIP”, but would love to probe about what drives you guys as producers. What motivates you in the studio? Are there any particular influences in mind that you think shows up in the genesis of your tracks?

D: We’re happy that the VIP version of “Shifter” is getting so much love! Alright, so my biggest motivation in the studio is actually Martin. I get very excited when I have worked on a tune and am about to show it to Martin. It has been like that ever since we started making music together. We spur each other into making better and better music.

M: It may sound cheesy and childish, but one big thing that keeps me motivated is David. He’s one hell of a producer and it’s an honour to work with him. He has been teaching me new things since day one and we keep the energy up together. I also strive to make music that me and my friends like. That’s where it all started. To produce music for fun and showing it off to our friends. It’s important for me and I’m glad that I feel the same way since we started. There aren’t any particular influences which come to mind, but we strive to make our music feel energetic with some touch of dark or melancholic vibes most of the time. I try to listen to all the music I can get my hands on. Spotify has helped a lot to stretch my field of view in music and I can be inspired of all kinds of things. I think one of the most important things for us is to make music that we would both love to hear out on a system but also that you can move to. The only rule I have is: if the music doesn’t get me to stand up and dance for myself, then it’s not worth finishing.

Absolutely loved the mix you shared on DDD recently, busting with originality and some plain lovely tunes. What is important for you when designing a mix, and what do you look in mixes you listen to?

M: Thank you! Glad you like the mix. For me personally, regardless of what kind of mixes I listen to I tend to seek that “journey” kind of feel, that the music takes me somewhere. I like when it starts off nice and easy and tends to rise more in energy the further in the mix you are. I love when you hear a tune which you can’t find anywhere else, except in that mix. Same goes for producers and DJs who only produce and play some tunes strictly live and not on radio and in mixes. It gives more of a “value” to that tune. Also, I really dislike mixes that don’t include the playlist! I know the struggle myself of listening to a mix and the need of a playlist.

D: Martin hit the nail on the head on this one.

What are some obstacles that you come across while working as a duo, as well as some of your favourite aspects?

D: When we’re working together, especially IRL, everything regarding the music making process flows really well. One obstacle, not necessarily related to working as a duo, is time. We’ve all got it, but it’s a matter of prioritising and making use of it. Sometimes music can end up pretty low on the priority list because of life (kids, work, boring grown up stuff), but we try to at least do something [music related] every day, whether it is designing sounds for our library, mixing, mastering, finishing tracks or just playing around etc. Some favourite aspects of mine are that we complement each other so well and that we’re very honest with each other. We also have similar but very different ideas which is really nice. It’s a little hard to explain, it’s like we’re one, but and at the same time ourselves. Sometimes we make whole tracks (for Kloudmen) on our own and it will still sound like a Kloudmen track.

M: Yeah, I would say that the biggest obstacle for me personally is the distance between us. We usually talk over the phone or message when we give each other feedback. But sometimes, you really want to be there in person to share ideas, thoughts or point out that little thing that bothers you in the mix etc. At the same time, distance can also be one of the best things when working in a duo. We are honest with each other but I’m personally kind of a control-freak. I think if we were in the studio together all the time, many projects would probably get lost because of me (laughs). David is a fantastic producer and has started a lot of tunes that I have put a sweet little touch to at the end, and sometimes it’s the other way around. We both have a similar taste and vibe when it comes to producing and listening to music.

David and Martin behind the decks

Over the past few years, what are some of the most cherished tunes you haves shared?

M: Beside “Shifter” and “Shifter VIP” which has gained a ridiculous amount of plays lately, I would say that “Win” and “Mind” are two of my favourites. “Win” was a project we worked on for only 2-3 hours and then we forgot about it for a year. When we found it later on and it still sounded big to our ears, we just wrapped it up and sent it to N-Type and Hatcha who both loved that tune and supported it for a good long time. “Mind” was one of those tunes that “wrote itself”. It was one of our first early tunes where we really prioritised sound-design. It came out great and at the time we didn’t have as many followers as we do now, but I think it’s a “Kloudmen-Classic” (laughs).

D: I totally agree with Martin here. “Win” is definitely one of my favourites, and of course “Shifter” and “Shifter VIP”. Another early tune we made, and released for free in 2014 was “Desert Mike” which has kind of an ethnic vibe to it. One tune I really cherish though is “Abduction” released on Encrypted Audio 2016. “Abduction” is another tune that we kept simple and made in like 2-3 hours.

What’s next for Kloudmen? What ideas do you have for upcoming projects and the direction of your musical path?

M: We have been telling ourselves and our close friends for years that we want to work more around the 160-170 bpm area. We have some DNB-projects that are waiting to be exported and unleashed but it’s not the right time for that now. We just released tunes on Duploc, Gradient Audio and Deep, Dark and Dangerous and have vinyl + digital coming up on Encrypted Audio. At the moment, I only produce dubstep and I don’t have the time or focus to be experimenting with other genres as I want. I like the 140-groove too much and have got so many ideas left in that BPM that I want to get out.

D: Yeah, we definitely want to branch out to different genres such as DNB and halftime, and as Martin said, we already have lots of projects that we’re holding onto. Maybe an album is in the works *wink* hehe. We’re also working on eventually releasing a sample pack. Right now we have a bunch of tracks that we’re finishing up. We will keep producing dubstep since we have plenty of ideas left and a BIG love for the genre.

In terms of releasing music, from the initial creation and polishing of a tune to it’s eventual debut, what kinds of considerations do you make? What propels you to work with specific labels or artists?

M: When we started making music, we didn’t care if the tune would fit nicely in a mix or not. We just produced music. Now, we have a lot of friends who play our tunes at gigs and on radio so we have to make our tunes more or less “mix friendly”. Of course, any good DJ can mix in whatever kind of crazy tune thrown at them, but we want to make it easy for both ourselves and others who play our music. We want to make sure that our music adds some spiciness in a mix and that it shouldn’t be too hard to beat match.

D: I think one general consideration we make sometimes is (for better or worse) “How will this sound on the dance floor?”. This could be a good thing but it could also restrict your creativeness a bit. We don’t usually make special considerations in terms of releasing music though, but we always try to make better and better music. Our relationship with the labels we’re working with right now are very good. If one label doesn’t want to release a specific tune, another label is grabbing it instantly. We haven’t really searched for specific labels or artists to work with, we’ve usually been approached but have always been open to working with new labels and artists. What propels us is our creative urge, to create cool music with cool labels and artists.

Between the two of you, can you compile what you think would be your 5 most helpful tips for the enthusiastic and developing artist?

In no particular order, here are five tips from us:

1.  It’s easy to get caught in a pattern when making music. One thing you can do to counteract that is to experiment a lot! For example, by trying out new combinations of effects and settings within them you might achieve a totally different sound than you usually get. This also involves plenty of trial and error. Some things just work while others doesn’t. Experiment away!

2.  One good way to learn is to listen to some of your favourite tracks and analyse them. Try to build your own track after one of those favourites, try and get it to sound similar. That way you can learn, for example, arrangement techniques and develop your own. If you do this with the right intent, to learn, I would say this is a great way to grow and learn new stuff. But if you’re only doing this to completely copy another artist’s sound and style I would say it’s for the wrong reasons. Cheeky old bonus tip: Listen to your favourite artists inspirations. What artists inspired them to make some of your favourite tracks?

3.  Try to work on music every day. Eventually you’ll come to a point where you feel that you’re stuck or not motivated enough to work on a song. That is the perfect opportunity to just play around and create some crazy sounds to add to your sample library, search for some new interesting music or record some foley sounds. Sometimes the best thing to do is to just simply take a break from music and later return with a fresh mind and a fresh set of ears. Have patience.

4.  If you haven’t already, get yourself a handheld recorder. Carry it with you wherever you go, because you never know when an opportunity to record cool sounds will appear. Record as much stuff as you can and add them to your own sample library. Implementing foley sounds in your productions can really improve your sound. It will make your tracks feel a bit more organic and alive.

5.  Feedback is incredibly helpful. It’s important to be able to take criticism in order to grow and learn new stuff. Embrace it! There are several ways to get feedback on your tracks, for example, by posting in different forums and sending it to your friends. Hell, even your mum might give you some constructive feedback!

Again, thank you for having us. Has been a pleasure!

Kloudmen’s DDD single “I” is out now and available from Beatport, Juno Download and the Deep Dark & Dangerous Store.

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