Sasith Gamage, also known as IYRE, is one of the biggest success stories in South Asia’s Drum & Bass history. An avid fan of the metal and Dubstep producer at first, IYRE decided to make a bold move to the delicate side of Drum & Bass in 2020.
His first release came with pyxis’ Beats In Mind imprint for a tune with his long-time collaborator Bala Mandala. ‘The River’ was then followed with a release on Goldfat Records in March 2021 as part of their Full Fat Compilation for a delicate Liquid Drum & Bass number called ‘Fragments’.
Since then, IYRE has been on a sensational run of releases with labels like Celsius, Recordings, Fokuz Recordings, UKF’s Pilot Records along with a return to Goldfat Records for a breathtaking 2-track EP. He is also nominated for Drum&BassArena ‘Best Newcomer’ award with the results due in the second week of December.
We caught up with the Sri Lankan phenomenon to know his thoughts on Drum & Bass in Sri Lanka, his releases so far, his nomination for the awards and lots more:
- From being a budding artist operating in the Sri Lankan music landscape to the hottest bass music talent coming out of the country. How would you like to describe your journey?
IYRE: It has been immensely satisfying so far, just because it was a nonstop struggle from envisioning myself to where I am today right now. I saw this dream in 2016 and it took me a good 6 years to get here, but I finally have. I started making music in 2012, started to produce DNB and Neuro in 2016. The pandemic was a blessing in disguise because for the first time in years, I had time to re-evaluate my journey and make the necessary amendments. Investing in myself in terms of developing knowledge and skill sets, re-inventing myself with a fresh alias and a clear focus on what my sound would be like, was only possible due to the pandemic. During this period, I understood what my strengths are, I’m pretty good in melodies, deep and techy aspects of DNB and I felt as if that is where I want to position myself in the future. Hence IYRE was born.
- What was your gateway moment into Drum & Bass?
IYRE: My gateway to DNB was the discovery of Pendulum. I heard ‘’Witchcraft’’ in 2016, something clicked inside me, and I have never looked back ever since. My love for the genre only increased as time passed by, and now it’s an essential part of me. I love to identify myself as a DNB artist from the region. I was heavily influenced by Pendulum that I started to mimic their style of production in the beginning. In fact, the first ever DNB track I produced called ‘Retaliation’ got on EDM.com (drumnbass.net) as an exclusive. The tastes have evolved by now with time, but Pendulum always have a very special place in my heart, and I hope and pray that I will be able to catch them live one day.
- A nomination for the best newcomer for the DNB Arena awards is a fabulous achievement and being the first one from the Indian subcontinent makes it even bigger. What are your thoughts?
IYRE: The nomination was a huge surprise. I have spoken about it to my close friends and to guys like Mr. Porter just for the sake of dreaming, which was all fun and games. The nomination was least of my worries but then it did happen. I felt as if fans and friends have understood what I’m brining to the table and that they were being appreciative of what I’ve been doing so far. By no means I consider this as any sort of validation to what I have been musically doing, but I’m compelled to consider this achievement as the cherry on top of a well baked icing cake. Obviously, my main priority for any given time would be to bake a cake that I’m proud of. If my friends and fans enjoy it as much as I do, it’s the icing of the cake. A nomination or any form of an accolade for that matter is the cherry.
I did not know that I was the first to be nominated from the region. That’s a lot of pressure for young IYRE I guess, but nonetheless like I said before, I take a lot of pride in portraying myself as an artist from the South Asian Region. Our region is filled with talent and rich culture, so I want to shed some light whenever I get a chance.
- Starting with the heavy sounds of Dubstep and Neurofunk; and now the soulful terrains of Liquid Drum & Bass. How was the experience like while transitioning into Liquid DNB?
IYRE: I guess the transition was smooth and steep than I expected to be frank. I did not expect the transition to be complete this soon, but like I said, since I’m playing to my strengths, I feel as if I was able to bridge the differences rather easily. That being said, I also feel as if my sound is evolving. Musically speaking, I’m in a weird place right now, and my tastes and style of production has evolved. It’s a combination of liquid elements with deep and techy aspects of DNB, and there’s a lot of ambiences and retro and analog synths being used. I’m enjoying the ride so far. I pay a lot of attention to the little details, since I feel as if that’s what makes a good track, a great track.
I very quickly outgrew the dubstep sounds from the early 2012, because I felt as if it was the same sound rinsed all over again, and I needed something new and exciting. DNB doesn’t seem to go out of style at all. It’s a rich culture. It’s a lifestyle. It never exploded nor died away, it’s a sustainable genre by itself. I’m glad to see DNB seeing the limelight during the last couple of years or so. Long may live DNB (and Jungle)!!!
- Starting the year with ‘Fragments’ with Goldfat Records and ending the year with a release on Pilot Records. How would you like to describe the year that has passed by?
IYRE: Honestly speaking, it has been a blur, and it’s more than what I expected. I never expected to be where I am today and I was just excited to release in few of the coolest labels right now like Goldfat, Fokuz and Celsius. ‘Fragments’ getting on UKF definitely provided me with a huge momentum and gave me enough confidence to pursue and do what I do the best. Then ‘Zainab’ was also premiered on UKF and later, I was able to be in touch with Luke and Sampo from UKF who helped me to come up with the Pilot EP. The Pilot EP also paved me to get one of my tracks uploaded on Liquicity, which was another goal of mine, and everything happened within a year which was unbelievable. With ‘Zainab’ being playlisted in Massive Drum and Bass and Lactic Acid run playlists to being featured on Mixmag, UKF, Ticketfairy, Data Transmission, DNB All Stars Podcast, Love That Bass, and finally a DNBA nomination, everything has been a blur. I’m honestly so grateful for the entire DNB community. It has been everything and more than what I expected it to be.
All this roots down to Goldfat Records, honestly so proud to be a part of a label of that calibre, where the focus is on building the artist and helping them to be the best versions of themselves. I can’t thank enough to Mitekiss and Mr. Porter for taking a chance on me. They have been my mentors as well as my drum and bass university. We also have a family like relationship between us artists and we call ourselves the #FATFAM. I deeply draw off energy from those guys, and it pushes me to be the best version I can be as an artist. Big ups to Athena, Auris, Kublai, Pyxis, Note, Geeks, Leniz, PRSPKTV, Shiva, Counterculture, DEON and of course Winslow.
I would also like to mention Dreazz for the incredible support. Fokuz and Celsius in particular helped me to create my identity in the liquid world, and it also paved me to meet few of the coolest friends of mine right now, like Alpha Rhythm, Luciano, Ritual, Rezilient, and many more. Being a part of the community is so important.
- You are an avid metal fan as well. Do you think your influences from metal have helped you in your Drum & Bass productions?
IYRE: Oh yes!! Most definitely. I draw little to no inspiration from within DNB genre for my productions, but I use a lot of influences I have from metal and rock music into DNB. I’m an avid fan of bands like Tesseract, Skyharbor, Meshuggah, Black Crown Initiate etc. Particularly with Tesseract, I even flew to Bangalore with my mates to see them live. Met them at the meet and greet, best times ever. I use a lot of ambient elements from Tesseract’s style of production. If you listen to a Tess song and then me, you will clearly identify those influences. I also listen to bands like M83, and a lot of Progressive metal with the likes of Ne-Obliviscaris, The Architects, Northlane, and even to Symphonic black metal acts such as Dimmu Borgir and Behemoth. I also play bass guitar and produce for a Sri Lankan Progressive metal band called ‘’Constellation’’, hence all that counts as influences and experiences.
- How would you encapsulate the Bass music scene in Sri Lanka and how do you envision the community moving forward?
IYRE: As far as Bass music goes, I feel as if it’s in an infant stage when it comes to DNB, Jungle and even Dubstep. The sounds are a little alien to the average listener. There’s not many producers trying their hands on DNB either, which is a little frustrating to see, but there are few fans here and there. Sri Lanka has a strong underground scene for genres like progressive house and its sub genres. I feel as if there’s opportunity for DNB to grow into that similar demography, but it would still take some time. I hope things would change with the traction that I’m receiving so far, and I hope more producers will be encouraged to make DNB.
However, since I consider myself as a regional act in addition to being Sri Lankan, I would love to see if I can start playing in India and in Southeast Asia. That’s in my bucket list for sure.
- One artist that you would like to collaborate with outside of Drum & Bass?
IYRE: Outside DNB, I would love to work with guys like Martin Grech, Daniel Tompkins from Tesseract, or even with guys like Bhaiju Dharmajan, who is the ex-guitarist for Motherjane, an amazing prog rock band from India. I would also love to work with the guys from The Soul, a superb fusion band from Sri Lanka, and one of the best we have to offer. A huge shoutout to my brother Bala Mandala, who has been a very regular collaborator. We have 2 tracks to be released next year and I’m so exited for you to hear them!!
- What can we expect from IYRE in 2022?
IYRE: There are few personal aspirations I have that I would like to achieve next year but that’s neither here nor there. I’m specifically focused on my debut EP right now with Goldfat Records, closely working with Mitekiss and Mr. Porter to release the best set of tracks that I can muster. I have few stuff in the pipeline that I’m excited about for next year that are in the works, but we will see. I just want to make good music. The rest are just the outcomes of great music. 😊
Biggest ups for Sagar and the Ticketfairy crew for having me!!! Much love and power to you!!
Also huge shouts to Humanature, DNB Academy, Laurie Charlesworth, ZJ, Dave Culombo Jenkins, Sampo Kaskia, Purav Parmar, Luke Hood, and Shelley Dodds for the immense support.
IYRE has a HUGE 2022 coming up so keep your eyes peeled!