FvF Mixtape #101 — Kyson
An ambient blend of languid flutes, looping guitars, and crackling percussion, Berlin
Mixtapes > FvF Mixtape #101 — Kyson

Jian Kellet Liew’s music is like the soundtrack to a dream. Working under the alias Kyson, his ethereal productions mix delicate beats with swelling synths and reverberating vocals.

Born in sleepy Adelaide, Australia, Kyson developed his intimate sound, almost ironically, against the beat-heavy backdrop of Berlin. “The city definitely influenced me,” he says, “but in an unexpected way. There was so much of that heavy sound when I moved here in 2011 that I actually went back and focused on my original roots: melodic and atmospheric music.”

His second album, 2016’s “A Book Of Flying”, fresh from its vinyl test-print, also came about in an unforeseen way. “I’d posted my synthesizers back to Australia last time I visited,” Jian says, ”but they took ages to arrive. So I started playing around with my father’s nylon string guitar. I’d never really played one before, but each day I worked on new song ideas, with the idea of eventually translating them into electronic music when the synths arrived. That’s how the process started and how I ended up with A Book Of Flying.”

Tracklist

  • Arthur Russell – Hiding Your Present From You

  • Unterpop – Ok Cinema

  • King Crimson – The Court of Crimson King

  • Lau Nau – Painovoimaa Valoa

  • JS Foley – Seeing is Remembering

  • Ori – Black Books

  • Portraits – Intellectual Throughout

  • Unterpop – Whats to Expect

  • Nick Hakim – Pour Another

  • Moses Sumney – Seeds

  • Pavlov – Untitled

  • Sufjan Stevens – Blue Bucket of Gold

  • Floating Points – Nespole

  • Portraits – Controversy

  • John Martyn – Solid Air

  • Olafur Arnalds X Nils Frahm – A2

  • Orla Wren – Moccasin Flowers

Kyson's full Boiler Room Berlin – complete with live drums and keys

A long-time FvF favorite

It’s not the first time that the spirit of Jian’s father influenced his music. “My Dad is one the most inspiring artists that I know,” he says. “He’s a well-known furniture designer, a very interesting man. He makes furniture; I make music — totally different, right? But the general concept is the same: expressing your creativity. It’s hard to put your ideas into practise sometimes, but having someone there to push me and support me really helped.”

“My dad looks at his exhibitions the same way that a musician looks at his albums,” Jian continues. “Each has a purpose. Each piece correlates with the others. There’s a cabinet named after me, which I still keep in my studio, and there’s also one named after my brother. Other important people in his life got their names on a collection. I think it’s his way of expressing how these people influenced him. I’ve kept mine with me ever since I got it.”

Jian attaches a similar significance to other objects in his life. That includes the book he found in his family home that went on to inspire the name of his latest album. “I was going through a bunch of old boxes back home, and I found one that made me pause. It was called ‘Book Of Flying.’ It resonated with me at the time, as I was going through a huge change in my life — I was moving back and forth in the world. That’s what this album’s about, you know: the idea of a baby bird leaving the nest. I used to be so scared of flying, but over time I think that has changed.” You can hear those themes of flight and change in the mix that Jian made for us, which layers the driving rhythm of Floating Points against the Nils Frahm’s wistful piano. It’s a lovely reflection of Jian’s new album, one that leaves us hopeful that spring is just around the corner.