Sri Lankan Drum and Bass Producer Iyre Drops Seismic New EP ‘Light of Hope’
Sasith Gamage talks about his metal roots and releasing music via U.K. label Goldfat Records
The final track “Kalanthia” on producer-DJ Iyre aka Sasith Gamage’s new EP Light of Hope swerves between ambient passages and rattling drum and bass, its synth-bass almost slicing through the beats like a saber.
The Colombo-based artist says the track was composed as Sri Lanka had enforced its third lockdown last year. “[I was] confused and angry because we were not seeing the end of the Covid outbreak, and I was mentally exhausted. I tried to improvise with dissonance, which is quite evident with the style I have followed in the second drop.” The urgent song is also a nod to Gamage’s metal influences, even if they’re a bit latent throughout the five-track EP, which released on May 27th via U.K.’s Goldfat Records.
While his press photos have him repping Indo-American prog band Skyharbor, Gamage – who plays bass and produces for Colombo metal act Constellation – says he’s a big fan of U.K. prog act TesseracT. “I actually flew out to Bangalore from Sri Lanka to see them with a couple of my friends. We also met them at the meet-and-greet and it was a surreal experience. Naturally, their music may have creeped into my style of production too,” the producer and DJ says.
He points to songs like “A Distant Memory,” “Reverse Apology” and the title track as significantly informed by polyrhythms, fit to a four- or eight-bar drum sequence. “I use ambient guitars quite a lot, the trademark spacey octave guitars most of the progressive metal bands use as an ambient layer, right on the background of the heavy guitar riffs,” Gamage adds. The way he sees it, heavy music shares a sense of aggression and groove with styles like dubstep or drum and bass. “It’s very convenient, to say the least, in terms of storytelling,” he adds.
Scotland-based vocalist Breezy Lee pushes the opening track “Light of Hope” into a new dimension, being the expectedly wistful voice we’ve heard in drum-and-bass tracks but also adding a soulful twist throughout. Gamage says of his collaborator, “She understood the dynamics of drum and bass very clearly, even when this was her first time working with a DnB producer.”
The EP arrives at a time when Sri Lanka is slowly trying to make its way out of a tense economic and civil situation, beset by hyperinflation as well as frequent power cuts. Gamage describes how most events and plans have been pushed back and “it doesn’t look good for anybody, not just musicians.” He adds, “The prices of essential commodities have grown over 100 percent, and if the people cannot afford the basic necessities, how will they afford tickets for events?” The producer-DJ remains hopeful that Sri Lanka will bounce back, with the current time allowing more privileged musicians like himself to focus on making content to put out when things get stabilized. “I have been busy making music, and there are a few releases that are scheduled towards the latter part of 2022,” Gamage adds.
There’s a collaborative EP with London-based singer-producer Pyxis in the works and a single that will release on Pilot Records, an imprint of longstanding label UKF. There’s also another collaboration project with artist Istoria, coming up on Celsius Recordings, all of which is a continual effort to take Iyre overseas. The producer says, “I would love to tour and play in the U.K. – that would be the dream, and also my biggest priority this year.”
He adds, “I would love to thank Goldfat Records for helping me release my music, Breezy Lee for the ever-so-amazing vocals, and for Mr. Porter and Mitekiss for molding us artists to be the best versions of ourselves.”
Listen to ‘Light of Hope’ below. Stream on more platforms here.