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Storemix NTS Williams
Storemix NTS Williams

Has any label influenced Melbourne's underground dance music soundscape more than Butter Session has in the last decade? We don’t think so. After meeting at high school, Corey Kikos and Maryos Syawish started out releasing electro house music on MySpace before becoming DJ and production duo Sleep D and launching Butter Sessions. From its blog and party beginnings, the label has evolved into a platform for like-minded artists from across Australia, and beyond. Over the last ten years, Butter Sessions has released over 40 records and its catalogue features releases from the likes of Roza Terenzi, Ewan Jansen, Tornado Wallace, Low Flung, DJ Fett Burger, Jayda G, Haruka and many more. While soundtracking a city and cultivating a sound, it has built a community.

As the Melbourne-based, community-led, DIY-focussed label celebrates its tenth anniversary with a run of merch celebrating the milestone, a three-volume set of 12-inches and a 120-page book filled with visual artefacts and anecdotes from the label and it's extended group of friends and collaborators, LN-CC just had to celebrate Butter Sessions. While its own physical birthday celebrations have been affected by the pandemic, lockdown easing enabled the community to come together for three parties in May. One of which included an eight hour Sleep D set and the duo have shared the opening two hours as an exclusive Store Mix.

Storemix NTS Williams

Hey Corey, hey Maryos. Thanks so much for taking part in this series. Firstly, how are you, where are you and what have we interrupted you from?.
We’re currently in our studio in Naarm, Melbourne, after coming out of a mini-lockdown and we cannot complain! The temperatures recently dropped and we’re in the zone working on our next Sleep D album, while finalising some releases on the label for 2021.

Could you introduce the LN-CC community to your world – who are Butter Sessions and why do you do what you do?
Butter Sessions is run by us two, it’s a sonic and visual experience that is made up of a community of artists. We predominantly release records and throw parties and engage in our scene as much as possible with a wide range of AV adventures. We started BSR to release our own music when we were 18 and haven't looked back since, we just keep moving forward.

When, where and how did you meet – are we right in saying that you met at “the finest high school in Frankston”? What did you make of each other?
Yes that’s right! Well it’s kind of a joke because the school was so shit but we did meet in the early years of highschool. A mutual friend introduced us when he found out we were both trying to DJ. We got along easily in the early days. We both had a drive to do something more than smoke bongs or do graffiti so we pushed each other but had a pretty chill time simultaneously.

How old were you when you realised you wanted to join forces and make music?
It was at the same time pretty much. We started DJing at house parties together when we were 14/15 and shortly after started making edits, then our own productions. Playing at house parties allowed us to save money and buy some studio equipment, some of which we still own today.

How is your approach to illustration and DJing similar? And how does it differ?
My approach to illustration and DJing are similar through storytelling - both of them act as a kind of diary to me. Throughout all of my work I try and tell a story, whether it be completely personal or made up (but the two usually feed into one another). With a mix or radio show, I often create worlds, scenarios and situations where I’m providing a soundtrack and evoking certain emotions through the music itself. The illustration side of things allows me to be a lot more visual - I use a lot of inside jokes and real scenarios I’ve been in.

What did your early virtual DJ-made, Myspace-released music sound like?
The sound was electro house, fidget house or something like that. Dirty peak time shit.

If you experienced a raving-as-career epiphany, can you tell us about the moment that you realised that you could make people dance for a living?
From pretty early on we were totally dedicated to music making and DJing. For years we played to no one, warm up sets, our own empty parties...but it never deterred there wasn’t really one moment in particular, we just needed to make it work, it’s what we really want to be doing. We didn’t have a plan B career or anything like that. We both did other sound related jobs on the side to pay the bills when we needed to.

After those early uploads to honing your sound as Sleep D, what was the catalyst for launching Butter Sessions?
We had written our second EP which we shopped around to some local labels to no success, so we decided to start our own label and put it out ourselves.

As Butter Sessions turns 10 (just like LN-CC) after evolving from blog to party to label, what does Butter Sessions mean to you today?
Congrats on 10 years to you too! It’s really all about the community of people we’re surrounded by. We love working with audio and visual artists to create something special and then share it with people that appreciate it. That hasn't really changed since the beginning. We’ve had the privilege of meeting so many interesting and lovely people around the world, friends who we never would’ve had the chance to meet if it wasn't for the path the label has taken us on. Getting to see and experience the diversity of people and cities around the world are some of our favorite moments.

In addition to a run of merch celebrating the milestone, Butter Sessions released a three-volume set of 12-inches back in April and a 120-page book titled, 10 Years Of Butter Sessions, collecting photos, artwork and stories. How cathartic was it to make these releases?
Making the book was especially cathartic for us. So many people contributed words, shared photos etc - it really brought up some amazing memories and made us feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with all these people and share it with such an open minded group of people around the world.

To what extent were your plans to party frustrated by the pandemic?
We were actually going to announce this 10 years project in 2020 and run a bunch of parties around it then. When the world went into lockdown we put the brakes on the whole project and waited for the right moment. That ended up being in May 2021. We put on three parties and it was well worth the wait. We were reminded of why we look locally for the next best thing. The scene is so strong with artists and dancers we’re happy staying put.

The last 18 months or so have been a mad moment – who and what were the people, distractions and sounds that got through? What excites you most about a future beyond lockdowns?
We’re starting to really miss touring and seeing our friends in Japan and Europe, this and the festival season coming back is what excites us the most.

Thanks for stepping into our Store Mix series with over two hours of music! What can you tell us about it?
This mix is a live recording from one of the first parties we did post-lockdown in Melbourne. We played an 8 hour set at a club called Colour and this is two hours from the start.

Beyond shopping at LN-CC, what would you like listeners to be doing to this mix?
Go for a run, ride your bike, cook some food, plant some seeds, smoke some your thing!