In our last feature, we did our best to explain the significance of the Bristolian scene and the impact it had on Peverelist’s musical heritage. As for the musician we’re paying homage to in #28, the ‘Bristol sound’ is simply part of the greater story. Kahn breathes musicality, and living in Bristol has undoubtedly catalysed his style and sound.
Joseph ‘Kahn’ McGann grew up with a myriad of musical influences. Thanks, in part, to the music his parents played, McGann grew up playing musical instruments and went on join bands during his formative years. In a 2012 interview with Truants, he explained how producing came into and subsequently took over his life: “I started getting into music software at school around the age of thirteen and though I’ve continued writing other types of music, my electronic compositions have become the most full-time endeavour”.
McGann continued in an interview with Deep Rooted Bristol: “Like many people I began just playing at friends’ parties and I would spend most nights out at small club nights like Dubloaded, just immersing myself in the music and learning through listening.”
McGann’s material is an endeavour that leans and draws on the vibes found in the city of Bristol. His music is – again perhaps thanks to his childhood and teenage influences – influenced by punk, dancehall and reggae. These are the sounds you’ll find played on the sound systems at Bristol’s St. Paul’s Carnival and in the roots of various pop and punk bands. While his work may refer to his love for these genres (for example, one of the Kahn signature sounds is the use of vocal samples from old dancehall and reggae tunes – as well as his preference to work with vocals, remixing almost pop music into moody masterpieces), it is clear that these influences are far from superficial.
Delving deeper into his music, Kahn’s work can be characterised by the presence of dark and melancholic atmospheres. This is perfectly illustrated by the B-side to his first DEEP MEDi release, Late Night Blues. It sonically embodies the haunting, near-treacherous smokey atmospheres found when walking through a back alley after a party late at night. These atmospheres are knitted together with razor sharp hats and rides, with equally surgical bass stabs that are placed with similar surgical precision. These elements combine to create a range of unheard shuffles that make Kahn’s music totally unique. The clear musicality that is found present in even his most minimalistic tracks is what makes the producer a true musician – one that brings a new outlook to the unlimited potentials of electronic music.
Bandulu Records by Chris Colouryum
In an effort to support and nurture his local scene, Kahn and his frequent collaborators took the baton to represent the sound and spirit that Peverelist‘s Punch Drunk had helped put on the map. Kahn’s Bandulu Records imprint, the Young Echo collective and Peng Sound have planted a flag in the sand within the Bristolian (and UK) dub/ reggae/ dubstep realms. Each project has provided platforms for young producers and DJs – pushing the Bristol community into the wider limelight. McGann’s love for keeping the Bristol sound local and (to some extent) analogue – as well as his involvement in so many different projects – has helped to sustain the creative catalyst that is Bristol’s sound system culture.
Kahn’s earliest release appeared in 2010 on A Future Without, a label that embodied the musician’s forward-thinking spirit. AFWDL033 – the Altar EP – features the truly emotive title track with Jasmine’s vocals. Altar highlights the potential of a young producer (who, at the time, was calling himself Kähn) that would flourish across subsequent releases.
In 2011, McGann’s Punch Drunk debut Helter Skelter / Like We Used To dropped alongside his huge Box Clever Way Mi Defend / Azalea release to put Kahn center stage in the exploding UK bass music community in 2011. These two releases were followed by Illy / Tehran to round off the year, and it wasn’t long until Tunnidge stepped up to draw the Kahn artwork for the now-legendary DEEP MEDi release Dread / Late Night Blues. While we normally document an artist’s discography, with Kahn we’d rather let his music do the talking. If you’re not familiar with it, please take the time to enjoy the producer’s releases. With releases on DEEP MEDi, Bristol’s own Idle Hands, his own Bandulu imprint, Hotline and Black Box, it’s no wonder Kahn’s catalogue is envied and admired the world over.
Joseph McGann’s body of work isn’t limited to just his Kahn moniker – the Gorgon Sound project with Neek (watch for a standalone feature sometime in the future) and even his vocal involvement on All I Can attests to his many musical talents. We chose to feature the productions and remixes upon which McGann is credited with his 30BE mix, while excluding the grimier material co-produced with Neek (which may appear in its own standalone mix as well).
Today’s dubstep, dub and grime communities would be significantly less colourful without Kahn’s involvement.
Together with the likes of LAS, Commodo, Gantz, Kaiju, Thelem and TMSV, it’s not a stretch to suggest Kahn is and has been a key player in both the redefinition and revitalisation of the dubstep sound, broadening its spectrum and appeal while strengthening its influence on underground music and culture. For that, we are forever thankful for McGann’s contributions.
Click to DOWNLOAD (90MB)
- Kahn – Altar [A Future Without, 2010]
- Kahn – Over Deh So [Deep Medi, 2015]
- Kahn ft. Flowdan – Badman City [Black Box, 2013]
- Kahn – Tehran [Punch Drunk, 2011]
- Mungo’s Hi-Fi & Charlie P – Rules of The Dance (Kahn remix) [Scrub A Dub, 2014]
- Kahn – Late Night Blues [Deep Medi, 2012]
- Kahn – Azalea [Box Clever, 2011]
- Ishan Sound – Namkha (Kahn remix) [Tectonic, 2014]
- Kahn – Way Mi Defend [Box Clever, 2011]
- Kahn – Polar [Electronic Explorations, 2012]
- Kahn – Helter Skelter [Punch Drunk, 2011]
- Kahn – Abattoir [Deep Medi, 2015]
- Kahn – Dread [Deep Medi, 2012]
- Kahn – Like We Used To [Punch Drunk, 2011]