Few artists leave at the very top of their game.
No chance to get stuck in a creative rut and stagnate. No chance to compromise that original fierce vision they had when they began and start to sell out. No chance to fizzle out and just fade away.
Kemal Okan is one of those rare artists.
From 1999 to 2004, he was one of the most prominent and pioneering forces to stir neurofunk’s primordial soup, hurling in his own ingredients procured from a 90s youth growing up in the Glasgow techno scene. Be it solo, collaboratively or as one half of Konflict (with fellow Glaswegian Rob Data), his consistent subversion of dynamics, arrangement, texture and drum programming led to a whole legacy of cuts on labels such as Moving Shadow, Renegade Hardware, Timeless, DCi4 as well as Konflict’s own label Negative Recordings and Cryptic Audio.
Regarded as one of the most experimental and innovative artists who pushed drum & bass’s darkest and most uncompromising designs during the turn of the century, Kemal’s output had a huge influence on the direction of heavier, tech-based drum & bass… To the point his productions are still lauded 20 years later and tracks such as Star Trails, Gene Sequence and of course Messiah are seen as categoric anthems and still have massive dancefloor impact to this day.
But in 2004, he left. No explanation or warning; he disappeared. No more productions. No more gigs. There were rumours he felt the genre itself had got stuck in a creative rut. There were other rumours he’d become jaded with the business side of the genre. There were also rumours that the hedonistic side of club culture was challenging his own beliefs and approach to life. Either way, there was no official announcement and a near-mythical level of appreciation has developed around him ever since.