Interview with Kylolus
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I was taught classical piano from a very early age, and fell in love with prog rock music as a teenager. I’d begun to write songs before going to university, but my career actually took me away from music into the world of bio-science and medical communications. It was only when I had children of my own and we bought them a digital piano to learn to play that I rediscovered my passion for songwriting. So, music is not my primary career, but it is certainly now my primary passion as I absolutely love the whole creative process of songwriting, and it can be so cathartic.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I’m quite an outdoorsy sort of person. I regularly go on local hikes and walking holidays with my partner, and sometimes I am inspired to write about places visited, or about the outdoor lifestyle. One obvious example is a song called May Green, which was inspired by the beautiful Spring we had in 2020. Although it was a terrible time because the nation was in its first COVID lockdown, many people took to going on walks in local parks or countryside to get some exercise. The weather then was absolutely glorious, and the roads had fallen silent (as we were all told not to travel) so the birdsong sounded just awesome. Despite the awfulness of the pandemic situation, there was also a sense of optimism that came in that Spring.
How long has your band been around?
Kylolus is not actually a band, but at the same time it’s more than just me, Murray Edmunds. I’m a songwriter, not a performing artist, and I think of Kylolus as the platform that gives life to my songwriting. To turn my songs into professional recordings that sound as good as they can be, I need to collaborate with others. So, for about six years now, I’ve been working closely with professional singer and vocal coach Andrew James in Chipping Campden. Andrew does most of the vocals for the Kylolus songs, as well as producing them and helping me with the instrumental arrangements. We’ve also been collaborating a lot with local guitarist Steve Skidmore (aka “Skidders”) who’s a very talented and versatile player, and he brings the perspective of a guitarist to the music. Both of these guys are very talented songwriters in their own right, by the way. Occasionally, we’ll also employ other musicians and singers when a song requires it.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I live in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, I’m not aware of whether and how that influences my music. I would say I’ve been more influenced by my classical piano background, and by all the music I’ve listened to and loved across my life.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
The name Kylolus is actually a derivative of a computer password I was given at work! When I first uploaded music to Soundcloud, I was asked to give an artist name, and as I didn’t think ‘Murray Edmunds’ sounded very ‘rock’n’roll’, I gave my old password as a temporary solution, expecting to replace it with something better. But every name I could think of was either already in use or didn’t really fit the vibe of my music, so in the end I stuck with it.
I know it’s not the easiest name to remember (which is why all my websites feature the name in a logo in big capital letters!), but at least if someone does remember ‘Kylolus’ and Googles it, they will easily find my music! I also like to think it is a bit enigmatic, and maybe reminiscent of something like ‘Vangelis’!?
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
I think just to worry less, not take myself so seriously, and not to ‘sweat the small stuff’! I’ve always been a bit of a worrier, but I’ve learned that the things you worry about seldom merit that in the long run. From the point of view of music, I think the greatest satisfaction comes from writing what you want to write for yourself, and you can’t let it affect you if some people are dismissive or critical of what you do. I also think it’s important as a songwriter to learn that you shouldn’t always try to do everything in terms of the instrumental arrangement yourself; involving others and soliciting others’ views can really help to improve or refine a song.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Well, they all mean something to me as nearly all of them have been inspired by actual real-life events, so many carry important memories. If I had to nominate just one, I might choose The Words Left Behind. I’m especially proud of the lyrics of this song as I think they are quite eloquent, and thought-provoking, and other people have told me that they have been quite affected by them, so that is the ultimate endorsement for me as a songwriter. The song is also quite musically dynamic building from a quiet poignant start to a finale with a searing lead guitar solo played by Steve.
What is the creative process for Kylolus, and what inspires you to write your music?
Most of the songs start off as simple improvs on the piano. Sometimes, I feel the need to just sit down at the keys and improvise riffs and chord sequences until I come up with something I really like. Then, I can usually hear what will become the vocal (or instrumental) melody in my head, and over the next few days, I’ll record, re-record, evolve and perfect the emerging song. The vibe of the music then dictates the lyrical content, and I keep a stash of ideas for lyrics. I can spend hours and hours on lyrics, but once I have the lyrics, melody, chords and song structure all sorted, I’ll take these into the recording studio and start to build the final song recording with Andrew. Steve usually records the guitar sections remotely.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
As I am a writer in my profession, I take lyrics very seriously, and I believe that the words of a song should be elegant, have a real purpose, and be thought-provoking or able to evoke an emotional response in the listener. I tend to write about life events that are challenging or rewarding, and which other adults are likely to relate to. Occasionally, I get a bit political too!
I find a song is often inspired by a small event that has a big emotional impact, but I’ll make the lyrics more general so that others can more easily relate to it. To give you 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 in the lyrics, I deliberately don’t define what the subject of the bad news is so that more listeners can relate the lyrics to their own life experiences. Quite a lot of my songs are like this. I like to make them relatable with a clear subject of ‘discussion’. I really hope that listeners will find they are able to connect with the lyrics and gain some value from them.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
The plan is simply to continue to enjoy making music. I just love the creativity of songwriting; It’s what I thrive on, and I always look forward so much to taking a new song into the studio.
Over the years, I’ve written more than forty songs, so I’m now in the process of trying to make these into the highest quality recordings possible. I’ve recently released a first album called Uncharted Territories, which can be found on all the major streaming and download sites, and we’re now in the process of putting a second album together, and I already have the content for album number three in mind. Oh, and there’s a single coming out in April called ‘When’.
So, with quite a lot of my existing portfolio still to be processed and new compositions in progress, there’ll be a lot of songs to come, and to keep me going! It might also be nice to expand my circle of collaborators (any good female singers out there?), and perhaps explore sync licencing opportunities.