Since joining Blackout three years ago, a young Hylke Klazema (aka Pythius) has progressed leaps and bounds and is ready to share his debut album, Descend, with the world. “I’m super excited and a bit nervous, it’s my first album ever, and I’ve put a lot of love in it so I hope it goes down well!”
We’ll be the first to tell Pythius that there’s no need to worry, as his much-anticipated album is a masterpiece; the type of album you want to hear from beginning to end because it plays out like an audible story of destruction and chaos. After the previous release of album singles—“Monster Black Hole,” “From the Future” and “Akkoord”—Bassrush knew the enormity of Descend was going leave a serious impact. Every aspect of this album has been thoughtfully executed, from the collaborative efforts with Gridlok and June Miller to solo track titles that stitch together a jaw-dropping narrative that will stand the test of time. Considering Hylke’s album is dropping March 30, we thought it be the opportune time to catch up and learn about his wicked ways in the studio while also premiering one of our favorite cuts, “Sovereign,” below.
Where do you think you’ve grown most production wise since signing with Blackout a few years back?
I think everything. My sound design skills have improved a lot since then, my mixing skills as well and my actual music writing skills, too. I mean, it’s a natural process from everything you do, be it failures or success. You learn, grow and get better at what you’re doing.
Lets talk metal. Who are some of your main influences as of late?
I’ve been really into this whole so-called “post” movement. You got bands like Der Weg einer Freiheit, Wolves in the Throne Room, Myrkur and Amenra are really killing it. They take elements from genres like hardcore, black metal, shoegaze, doom and blend it into a whole new sound. One of my favorites is the Belgian band Oathbreaker, also featuring an Amenra member. They’ve really created some beautiful music while still managing to keep it very raw!
Your tune with US export Gridlok captures a bit of old-school tech-step vibe. Who did what on that particular track?
I was working on this track for ages, but got really stuck with it. The track had the right elements, like the Konflict-y vibe and the acid lead, but it needed more and I was really getting frustrated that I couldn’t get it further. So I thought, “I really want this on my album, maybe I should finish this together with someone” and I thought Gridlok would be the perfect match! Turned out it was! He sprinkled his magic dust over it and gave the track a new life! He sent it back afterwards, and I molded everything together to the track it is now. Definitely a very good collab I would say!
Out of curiosity do you remember the first Gridlok tune you ever heard?
If I remember correctly that was the track “London’s Burning” with Dom & Roland! Such a tune!
Can you tell us the story behind your collab with June Miller?
That remix went through a whole lot of different phases. [Laughs] If you heard the first idea and the final you couldn’t even tell that it was from the same project! I think only the snare survived, sort of. I’ve known these guys for a couple of years, we all share a passions for consuming beer in quite large quantities. Also, they both live in Utrecht! Well, Mark doesn’t anymore as he moved to Rotterdam at a certain point.
Where did the vocal snippet come from?
I have no idea where the vocal snippet came from, to be honest; Mark threw that in as a joke. As Mark and Bart (formerly June Miller) call each other Piet–pronounced Pete, all the time. I get called Piet as well because if you pronounce Pythius in a super Dutch way you get Pete-ie-us, so that gets shortened to Piet. So thought it would be funny to have a vocal with the word PIET in it. That’s why it says, “It’s time to repeat.” We actually considered naming the track “Re-Piet” but didn’t do it. The current name comes from the vocal sample at the very end of the track; it’s Bart saying AKKOORD, JA HOOR AKKOORD which means “Agreed, yes agreed!” This is also is a bad inside joke as Bart says that a lot. [Laughs] Coincidentally, akkoord also translates to chord, so that’s nice.
I’ve been really into this whole so-called 'post' movement, (producers who) take elements from genres like hardcore, black metal, shoegaze, doom and blend it into a whole new sound. They’ve really created some beautiful music while still managing to keep it very raw!
Really digging the diversity on “Drowning.” Would you say there is a footwork influence here? How did you link up with ETLA?
There is definitely a footwork influence in that one, and also a Moderat one! Those were the two biggest influences for that track and I really enjoyed doing something completely different for a change! I know the ETLA guys from one of the two members, Mark, also known as vocalist MVE. I was working on the track and asked him if he knew someone who would fit and he did! It was Neil, the other guy in ETLA. They write and sing together, so they also did that for this track. It was a very good experience working with them.
How many hours do you usually sit in for a studio session?
That depends, really. Some days I only sit for five to six hours, some days I sit for nine to twelve hours! It’s such a good feeling to just go on when you’re feeling inspired and the music is just writing itself!
Is there any backstory or idea that inspired “Sovereign”?
Not really, to be honest! I just wanted to make a really angry track! I think this is the angriest one of the whole album so I fully went for it! Big trance build with even acid sounds on top to make it even more aggressive, really angry mid bass on the drop, big drums—all the ingredients are there. Fun fact: the track name comes from Grand Moff Tarkin, his Star Destroyer. Same as with my track “Executor,” where the name came from Darth Vader’s Super Star Destroyer.
Who are some sound designers that you look up to?
Noisia! Who saw that one coming? I think Mark is very good (Abis/ex-June Miller) that guy has some skills and the knowledge! He makes some amazing sounds and also makes it look easy in the process too! I also really like the way Strapping Young Lad songs are constructed, it’s really loud and there’s a lot going on with fast drums and a wall of guitar sound and synths, but you can still hear everything that’s going on!
“Suspect” has such a large feeling to it. What kind of synth did you use on that track?
I used Serum, by Xfer. Both the lead, bass and midrange are from there. It’s such a nice and versatile synth and it really challenges you to take risks by turning some knobs you normally wouldn’t which all give sick end results!
What are you gonna do after the album drops? Any special plans to celebrate?
I’m gonna celebrate it at the Big Blackout event in Utrecht the night the album drops! I’m playing there and so are Black Sun Empire, Audio, Camo & Crooked, Critical Soundsystem (Enei, Ivy Lab and Kasra) and Silvahfonk! That’s gonna be a blast! Many, many, many beers will be had!