Calyx: 5 Tunes That Changed My Life






Hard at work in the studio polishing off the final mixdowns on the highly anticipated Calyx & TeeBee LP for Ram Records, Kmag convinces Calyx to take a breather in order to fill us in on the tunes that have transformed his world.

This track and the LP it came from completely changed my music taste and my direction as a guitarist. I was 13 years old and had never heard of Jimi Hendrix until I found the Electric Ladyland LP in my dad's dusty old vinyl collection. It was undoubtedly my most profound 'first listen' of any music. I'd been playing guitar since I was very young (mostly classical), but until I heard Hendrix I had never conceived that a guitar could do things like that. I then set about learning how to play every note of every tune Jimi had played - he was a teenage idol of mine!




I was 17 when I first heard this and it played a pivotal part in my transition as a guitarist from Blues and Funk to Jazz. 'So What' is the opening track on the Kind of Blue album: the biggest selling Jazz LP of all time. Unlike other genres' best sellers which are usually a lowest-common-denominator cliché, this album was a truly seminal LP for the genre and for me as a musician. 'So What' showed me that jazz could take the essence of 'the blues' and evolve it into such a wider range of feeling and expression. Uplifting and melancholy at the same time, Miles Davis created the most intense and sublime 'less is more' moments I've ever heard in music.




Wes Montgomery is my favourite and most influential guitarist (closely followed by George Benson). His style is so unique and unconventional; his improvisation so pure and inspired. He couldn't read music but was technically incredible; playing so effortlessly, and without ever being contrived or showy. His use of chords is just so far beyond the vision and talent of any guitarist before or since, and this track is a classic example of that. I used to listen to his solo on this track over and over again. As he often does, he progresses from single note improvisation through to an incredible section of octave work and then plays a vast section of chords that create melodies mere mortals could only conceive through playing single notes. Wes is THE DON!




The Orb provided the soundtrack to some mind-blowing weekends in my late teens - free festivals, warehouse raves, coming up and coming down - horizons were being expanded! I had a few really profound moments watching The Orb perform live in the early nineties - partly because I was invariably out of my mind, but also because these were my first experiences of four-on-the-floor-music in the context of a rave or festival - the amazing feeling of collective unity with those around you: a shared experience of being taken on a musical journey through a spectrum of emotions, and uniquely for me, it was all without a conventional instrument or microphone in sight. This period in my life, and The Orb's music in particular, definitely sowed the seeds for my love of 'dance music' and d&b.




I'd got into d&b through the softer and more 'musical' end of the genre in the mid-90s - firstly through LTJ Bukem and producers like Wax Doctor and Peshay. I then progressed to the more twisted sounds of Source Direct, Hidden Agenda and Photek, but then along came Dillinja! I'd already started trying to make some d&b but Dillinja's music and this track more than any other, made me know that I absolutely had to be making and releasing drum and bass - his combination of musicality with darkness just gripped me. D&b was on fire at the time and it felt as though everyone was collectively creating a soundtrack for a twisted, dystopian future. Hearing 'Silver Blade' in a club in 1996, after it had been rewound and started from the top - the moment those huge foghorn sounds rang out over the Vangelis strings - my hairs stand on end just thinking about it!



As told to: Chris Muniz


Keep checking in with Kmag for updates on the as-yet-unnamed Calyx & TeeBee album from Ram. With a tentative release date sometime this Autumn, the LP teaser in the form of 'Scavenger' and 'Stepping Stones' will have to tide you over until then.


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