PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF FOR US WHO ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH YOU AND YOUR MUSIC AND TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF.
The first thing to know about me is that I am a songwriter, not a performing artist, and that I regard ‘Kylolus’ as the platform that gives life to my songs. Kylolus is not a band, but I guess the name now represents the informal collaboration I have with the other people I need to turn my songs into professional records. Foremost among these are Andrew James, who does most of the vocals and all of the production, and guitarist Steve Skidmore, AKA ‘Skidders’. I also use the name Kylolus, because my own name, Murray Edmunds, is not exactly ‘rock’n’roll’!
The name Kylolus is derived from an old computer password I was given at work. When I first uploaded music to Soundcloud, I was asked for an artist name, so I entered ‘Kylolus’ as a temporary solution. I intended to change it to something more memorable later, but every name I could think of was either already in use or didn’t seem quite right for the music, so in the end I stuck with it. I like to think it sounds a bit enigmatic, and perhaps reminiscent of Vangelis?!
Music began for me when I learned classical piano as a young child, and I began songwriting in my teens after discovering and falling in love with the rock music of the day. But I followed a different career path (in medical communications), and only returned to songwriting in middle age after buying a digital piano for my own children to learn on. It quickly became a passion again and now occupies a lot of my time. I try to challenge myself with songwriting, but I’d describe my style as a mix of adult contemporary rock and ballads. I tend towards the softer, more melodic end of the rock spectrum, and some of my songs have actually been likened to musical theatre! Over the years I’ve written more than 40 songs, and there are always a few in progress too. I’m now at the stage where I’ve made the decision to revisit the portfolio and make the best possible recordings we can do.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR NEW ALBUM?
The album is a collection of 11 songs that provide just over 60 minutes of music. They’ve been selected to showcase the range of what I do musically as a songwriter, so hopefully there’s some nice variety in there. But the songs are also chosen because of a common lyrical theme. In one way or another, they deal with the transition from a current state or life situation to an entirely new one, that is unfamiliar – hence the title, ‘Uncharted Territories’. Some are positive uplifting songs, some are sad or reflective, at least one is quite joyous, and one is rather angry – so there’s an emotional rollercoaster in there too for those interested in lyrics!
WHAT INSPIRED THE ALBUM?
I’d been uploading songs to Soundcloud for a number of years, but decided it was time to get a bit more serious and start to organize my material into albums for release on all the other major streaming and download services. Andrew and I had also been learning and improving our studio production techniques, so it also felt right to revisit some of the older tracks and revise or re-record them to the best of our abilities.
When thinking about what songs to collate as an album, I noticed that there were a few broad themes that I often return to in my songwriting, and one of these was ‘change and transition’, as explained earlier. In fact, I’ve already got the content of the next two albums mapped out in my head, as these will also group songs according to a broad theme.
CAN YOU SUM UP THE ALBUM IN A FEW WORDS?
I’d like to think it is very melodic, varied and has thought-provoking lyrics. I hope it will appeal to people who have some life experience as the songs deal with topics such as parenthood, break-ups, triumphs, career changes, political crisis and bereavement.
WHAT RECORD CHANGED YOUR LIFE AND WHY?
There are so many records that I associate with memories and/or which have been like lifelong friends to me. If I had to pick one, I might choose the early Genesis album, Selling England by the Pound. It was the first prog rock that I encountered, courtesy of an older friend, and it seemed to bridge the divide between the chart music that we all loved watching on Top Of The Pops back then, and something far more sophisticated and akin to the classical music I was learning on the piano. It led me to explore the genre further and to discover so many more artists, and so much more quality music. I became an avid collector of albums, and a regular attendee of rock concerts.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE MUSIC VIDEO FILMED BY YOUR BAND OR ANOTHER ARTIST?
To be honest, I find it a little bit depressing that video is considered such an integral part of a music recording. Back in my album buying days, I would place the stylus on the vinyl, then sit back and close my eyes for the next twenty minutes to really focus on what I was listening to. I guess I’ve always regarded videos as a bit of a distraction, but I do recognize they can be highly entertaining. In that respect, I love the videos of the band, The Darkness. They are basically a self-effacing piss-take of the heavy rock genre – as also are the band’s lyrics. Yet they’re such great musicians too. It’s a wonderfully entertaining combination; so funny, but musically great with it.
WHAT WOULD WE FIND YOU DOING WHEN YOU'RE NOT MAKING MUSIC?
I love to be outdoors, especially with my partner, so you’ll often find us walking locally in the Cotswolds, or on holiday in the Wye Valley, the Yorkshire Dales or the Hebrides. I love nature and all things natural history. Sometimes you’ll find me gardening, but other times you might find me supping a pint of ale in a lovely country pub.
HOW DID YOU START?
As explained earlier, Kylolus is not a band, but the recordings are very much a collaborative effort. I met Andrew about 10 years ago when he was suggested to me as a session singer, and we’ve built a great friendship and working relationship since then. Andrew in turn introduced me to Steve whose guitar input is made remotely. Steve’s involvement has been a huge benefit as he’s a very versatile player and brings the perspective of a guitarist to the music. I find I’m increasingly giving him free reign to add in guitar parts as he sees fit, and the song always sounds all the better for it.
HOW DO YOU WRITE?
Well, ‘Kylolus’ is the vehicle for my songs, but both Andrew and Skidders are amazing songwriters in their own right and they also put music out under their own names.
I compose at the piano, improvising chord sequences and riffs, and when I have a sequence I like, I’ve learned it is actually quite easy to ‘hear’ a vocal or instrumental melody in my head to go with the chords.
A few years ago, I used to think that to consider myself a bona fide ‘songwriter’ I had to do everything myself in terms of the musical arrangement. So, I would turn up at the studio with wav or midi files (recorded on my Clavinova) for the bass line, pads, drums, strings – everything. But I’ve learned that the songs always benefit from allowing others to input their ideas, so these days I’m a lot less precious and more inclined to just turn up at the studio with the melody lines, lyrics, and the song structure, and a rough idea of how it should sound in my head. Then Andrew and I will bounce ideas off each other about the instrumental arrangements. When we have a ‘skeleton’ of the song recorded, we get Steve involved. There’ll often be a section of melody intended as a guitar solo, but I tend to ask Steve to use this just as a basis, and play what he thinks best as a guitarist – and also to add any licks or rhythm sections that he thinks would benefit the song. Steve is great at this, and often provides alternative ideas. Once we have his wav files, we can choose what to include and do the final mixes.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Musically, I’m influenced by my classical piano background and the rock music I was raised on, but the inspiration for a particular song can come from various sources. The music usually comes first, and the mood of the piece then dictates the subject matter of the lyrics. I keep a stash of lyric ideas (written as notes on my phone), so there’s often one to draw upon to fit the vibe of the music. But sometimes a melodic phrase lends itself perfectly to a new lyrical phrase, and this can then evolve and determine the subject of the song.
I tend to write about life events that are challenging or rewarding, and which other adults are likely to relate to, and sometimes I’ll get a bit political! Quite often a particular event that evokes a strong emotional response can become the inspiration for a song, but I’ll broaden the scope of the lyrics so more people can relate to them.
As an example, my son, when he was about four or five years old asked me, right out of the blue, if he would die one day. I’ll never forget the dreadful feeling I had, knowing that I needed to be truthful, but that the answer would be upsetting for him. It inspired me to write a song called Tell Me, in which the lyrics describe the situation of having to break bad news to a loved one. But the subject of the bad news is deliberately not defined so listeners can more easily relate the lyrics to their own life experiences. Quite a lot of my songs are like this.
I take lyrics very seriously and spend hours and hours perfecting them. I like to make them worthwhile and relatable with a clear subject of ‘discussion’. I really hope that listeners can connect with the lyrics and gain some value from them.
WHAT IS NEXT?
Well, I’ve got single called 'When' out in April. It’s a rather ethereal piano ballad concerning loss and memories. I’m also well underway on album number two, which will be called Tears Run Dry. It will be a bit rockier and ‘proggier’ than the first album, and feature a few quite lengthy songs.
There will also be a couple of songs on it featuring different singers, including a lovely female lead vocal. I’m hoping to get that album out before the summer.
And after that, I already know much of what will go onto album number three! I’m also continually working on new songs, so with these on top of my existing portfolio, I hope there’ll be plenty to come in the years ahead. I really love the whole process of songwriting – from piano stool to studio production, and everything in between, I find it so creative, and often cathartic. Hopefully, it will help keep me sane for the foreseeable!
PLEASE TELL US ANY SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS SO WE CAN SHARE.
You can find Kylolus on all the main streaming and download sites (Spotify, Apple, Amazon, YouTube, Deezer, Soundcloud etc.) I also have a Facebook page where I’d love to hear from you.