Alland Byallo grew up with music. Fate and diligence would see him become the champion of underground electronic music he is today.
After several years in SF, Byallo caught the Berlin-bug. He put the US in the rearview and relocated to Germany. Alland, now Berlin-based, owns and operates his second label, Bad Animal, and just released his second full-length album, Bones, Flesh.
This Wednesday, Housepitality and F8 are bringing Alland Byallo back to the Bay Area on his North American tour. He has no shortage of new music to showcase, having already followed up on last year’s album release with fresh cuts on RAWAX and HOUSEWAX.
We wanted to know what shaped this mogul. So we caught up with Alland in advance of his return to San Francisco to ask a few questions. Find out more on what makes Alland Byallo tick in the full interview below.
What was your first contact with music?
So, my dad was into Disco, my mom listened to a lot of classical music and The Beatles. Between the two I had a really solid, unique musical education, and that eventually led to my own obsession with it all.
My mom played piano quite well growing up in Russia. She really valued a musical education so she saved up and bought us a piano for the house and sent me to a Yamaha method piano school when I was four.
After tapering off from piano, I ended up playing trumpet from fifth grade to twelfth, playing in various jazz bands. The jazz led to hip hop, the hip hop to trip hop; that led to IDM…and the rest is history.
I did find house music first though–in 1989 with Technotronic, which I would listen to with my mom. I think I was really lucky to grow up in Los Angeles in the 80s and 90s. Totally musically spoiled. And there were so many great undergrounds… hip hop, house, IDM, punk… you name it.
I imagine your background in piano constantly lends to your music-making process. Does your history with trumpet ever come into play?
Yeah, for sure. I guess I never mentioned it to my friends and when they found out they all pitched in and bought me a trumpet for my birthday last year. It was so touching and I’ve been doing my best to include it in as much music as possible since. I played horn over my recent Rawax and Housewax record releases, my forthcoming Viva! Recordings cut, and I play it all over my band KAMM’s new album–I’m the trumpet guy now!
Before you moved to Berlin, you ran the [KONTROL] event series. What did that experience teach you?
How to believe in something with every fiber of my being. How to work my ass off and invest myself 100% into that thing–how to build something successful in the world of music without relying on bought press and hype. I developed my skills as a graphic designer as I made all of the flyers and directed the visual end of things. I handled a large percentage of the bookings so I learned a lot about that side of things too. Invaluable.
How did your decision to move to Berlin come about? What struck you most about Berlin early on?
I’d been playing in Berlin already once or twice a year while on tour. I just fell in love with the city and since I was a young techno fan, I’ve always wanted to jump ship and immerse myself in techno. Though the first minimal and dub techno I heard was coming primarily out of Cologne, at the time of my move, Berlin was the epicenter.
I had a few doors close in SF and so that was my cue to leave and open some more. I sold some stuff, stored the rest, packed a couple of suitcases and a bag or two of records and moved.[In Berlin] people seemed more patient, more relaxed. The people I met were living in, and more appreciative of, the moment. Nobody was trying to outdo each other. Nobody was putting on airs. SF had that as well. But by the time I left SF, things were changing.
Have you seen any major shifts like that in Berlin’s music scene?
Yeah sure, but maybe it’s because I came in a bit naive, a bit fresh. Since coming to Berlin, I’ve noticed a bit more of the “Hollywood” side of things moving into the dance music culture. More people rushing there to make it big, playing some kind of game, rather than trying to just immerse, learn and contribute. Again, maybe this has been present this whole time, but I never noticed it until a few years ago. It’s a bit more, um, showy, than before.
How has that affected your production and live performance?
I’ve pulled away a bit and find myself pushing more to the left, if you will. Kinda taking things back to where I come from. More musical, more experimental. Hard to put into words. Just going the other way.
Let’s talk about your record label. Bad Animal has signed artists from all over the globe. How do those relationships, signing new talent, typically come about?
At first, I really didn’t plan to take demos. Eventually people started sending me music and I got the A&R itch. It’s really fun to discover and share music and artists with people, especially when they’re young, talented and humble. Some artists like Fredrik Stjärne sent very personal demos. He spent time in SF and loved it so he felt it was natural to send it to me. So glad he did.
Is there a Bad Animal studio?
Nope. I would love to build that some day, though.
Is growth a goal for Bad Animal?
Literal [growth], as in more artists, more records, more more more… not really. Figurative, emotional, creative growth? Definitely.
We’re running pretty chill and steady with two or three records a year, focusing mostly on my own and my partner Kenneth Scott’s records now. [And] We’re talking to a couple of our SF friends living in Berlin about future singles or EPs.
What does it mean to be a part of the Bad Animal family?
We all smell great and dance like Elaine Benes! Na, [we’re] just honest, humble, fun, talented and soulful people, I suppose.
What are you most excited for on your upcoming trip to SF?
Annual Thai dinner with my boys, seeing all of my old friends, being by the Pacific even if it’s not beach weather. …Nug…burritos…
+++ Alland Byallo is coming to San Francisco to perform Housepitality on March 16th, with support from Secret Studio and Mike Bee. Doors open at 9pm. Grab tickets now for just $6 through the event page. Listen to Alland’s recent music here and check out Bad Animal here.
There will be free champagne from 9pm-10pm and the event is free with RSVP before 10pm