Q&A: KASTLE

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We’ve long been swooning over Kastle, a producer whose love for philosophy and science translates into atmospheric beats with the soulfulness of R&B and the dancefloor rhythms of house and garage.  We speak to Kastle below about his influences, his favorite R&B records, and what the future holds for this talented musician.

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How does your experience as a sound engineer influence your music production?

Going to college for engineering definitely helped me think more about EQ’ing, dynamic range, frequency balance, and mastering. Knowing the frequencies of all your sounds and where they sit in the mix is essential.

R&B seems to have quite an influence on your music. What are your top 3 favorite R&B records?

That’s a tough question… but off the top of my head: Aaliyah’s self-titled album, Lauryn Hill’s Miseduction of Lauryn Hill and Sade’s Soldier Of Love.

Some people say R&B is dead. How do you feel about this? 

I think it’s just been in a transitional period the last couple of years. I think a lot of the traditional commercial R&B artists started going more pop/dance, which really made room for the indie artists like The Weeknd, Frank Ocean, etc. Now you have artists like Inc., Johnny Rain, JMSN, Xavier, How To Dress Well, etc. all doing it their own way and to me its very exciting. Feels more real.

What are some records or influences that might surprise your fans?

I’m influenced by a lot of things and I’ve made it no secret that I enjoy studying philosophy and science which has been the biggest inspiration to me. I’ve also recently started running at gyms and I’ve found it puts me in a zone that just opens up a lot of creative space in my head.

Tell us a little more about your collaborations on your recent albums. How did they come about? Is there anyone you’re just itching to collaborate with? 

All the collaborations happened very naturally. The first couple collabs were the tracks with JMSN and Austin Paul. JMSN and I worked on those two shortly after I had finished the remix for his track “Alone”. Austin just hit me up randomly on Soundcloud one day and we clicked. Same with Ayah Marar, she contacted me on Twitter and we instantly connected well. All of the collaborations were done via the internet.

Your music is often described among some of my friends as “babymaking” music. How does it feel to know that your music might be accompanying some very, uh, “intimate” moments?

It can be a little awkward, especially when I have been told in person at a show. Or people will leave Facebook comments about details. I guess I appreciate their honesty? Haha.

You are one of the most engaged musicians I’ve seen on social media, taking time to interact with fans, bloggers and followers. Why is this important to you, and has it influenced your music at all?

I try my best to keep involved and the airport downtime definitely helps with that a lot.  Honestly I don’t really think about it that much. If I see something and can respond… I just do. I know I miss a lot though and sometimes I do need a break from all that. But I think its great that we are all connected. I’m not trying to separate myself. Open, honest communication is good.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years? Will you stay in San Francisco?

Always such a hard question. But I will most definitely still be writing music. I love San Francisco. I think the only city that could possibly take me away from there in the next five years would be LA.

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See Kastle perform live tomorrow night at the Low End Theory. Cover is $10. More info here

Photo Credit: thesupermaniak

SONG OF THE DAY: JACQUES GREENE – “ON YOUR SIDE” FT. HOW TO DRESS WELL

Jacques Greene makes dance music that is undeniably soulful and contagious, but little is known about the young producer, except that he has a penchant for stirring R&B vocals and deep shuffling rhythms. Greene’s latest track, “On Your Side,” is laced with yearning falsetto vocals from bedroom-pop and experimental R&B singer, How To Dress Well. The two make for a beautifully moody combination in this title track which will feature on Greene’s forthcoming EP, available for digital release June 3, and physical release July 1 on Lucky Me Records.

SONG OF THE DAY: WILLIAM ARCANE – “WANT SOMEBODY”

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William Arcane is a producer out of the UK whose forthcoming EP, “Permanence was just announced by the veritable Pictures Music record label, home to esteemed artists like Lapalux and Dauwd. We’re digging this track “Want Somebody” with its tight electronic production and Arcane’s own soulful vocals smoothly gliding across. Take a listen below, and mark June 10th on your calendars, when Arcane’s EP “Permanence” drops digitally and on 12″ vinyl.

VIDEO: RARE TIMES – “NO ONE’S LOOKING OUT”

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Rare Times is a soulful Los Angeles-based quartet who’ve found themselves aligned with the hedonistic partying scene of the city’s downtown warehouses. It’s no wonder, then, that their video for the single ‘No One’s Looking Out’  feels like something from the 80’s or early 90’s, with its alternately dark and neon scenes, sultry and  yet evocative of the infamously grimey Skid Row where young Angelenos often frequent afterhours parties. Rare Times‘ video confirms our belief that Angelenos are often stuck chasing a past era, but in this case, we don’t mind it one bit. Watch on for this strangely seductive journey.

Care to join in on Rare Times‘ warehouse adventures? Join the band for their underground party tonight, get details here.

21 QUESTIONS: CLAIR CATILLAZ OF CLAM LAB

 

Every morning when I sit down to thug BBC/Gawker/Bossip, I fix a proper bowl of cereal with my Clam Lab “everything” bowl. Brooklynite Clair Catillaz hand throws each piece on a human-powered kick wheel and finishes it off with hand-mixed, food safe glazes. FACT: Regular use improves the taste of food.

CLAM LAB can be found on restaurant and kitchen tables worldwide, and has been recognized in a range of media outlets including: FastCompany, Inc, Wilder Quarterly, Remodelista, and NY Magazine. So we were pretty flattered when she started answering our texts.

So, what’s up?

I’m trying to get a handle on my horoscope. I’m currently trapped in Brooklyn which is technically Long Island.

Can we get you something to drink?

No thanks. Well, ok.

What are you wearing?

Caftan.

Are you interested in anyone right now?

I have a crush on every boy.

Do anything last night?

Made glaze, dinner, love.

How late did you stay up?

I guess you could say that I’m “over” time.

Meals or snacks?

Meals.

How often do you consume alcohol?

What is this, The Purity Test?

You kissed a girl and liked it?

Maybe I did and maybe I did.

Has anyone seen you naked recently?

Yeah.

Please don’t touch that.

God Dennison, you are such a prude.

What’s on your feet?

Purple socks

Blue or black ink?

Black. Blue is frivolous and not to be taken seriously.

Ever sit down in the shower?

Lying down in the shower is the bomb but you have to make the water just a little bit hotter so that it’s the right temp when it hits.

When was the last time you really froke out at someone?

August 25th. It was really uncalled for.

What was the first thing you said aloud this morning?

“It’s morning”

Are you listening to music right now?

Todd Rundgren’s “a wizard, a true star” on repeat.

Will you text the person you like today?

I texted you, and all I got was this phony interview.

If we gave you $50, what would you buy?

I’d probably just blow it all on fancy produce.

Last three google searches?

Gerstley borate, buffalo china, Craig Spittle

What are you doing later?

Sleeping

Can we come?

Fine, but you have to snuggle.

 

photos by Becky McNeel

INTERVIEW: Robert Raimon Roy

Robert Raimon Roy  is deconstructing modern music. Discovered by Erykah Badu and compared to Andre 3000, Roy’s sound is novel and eclectic, incorporating warped manifestations of hip-hop, jazz, R&B and rock sounds.

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Vi: How did Erykah Badu discover you?

Robert: I believe it was in 2005, a while back. My first album/mixtape as a solo artist, titled Dollar Out of 15 Cents, I gave a copy to a friend who was a friend of  Erykah Badu’s manager. She wanted to meet me and Paul, her manager, messaged me about possibly working with them for her label, Control Freak Records. I ended up going to Dallas, where she was on tour with Jill Scott and Floetry. I went to a  pre-going away party at a theater she owned in Dallas. That’s basically where I got to meet her and talk to her. I geeked out and it pretty much was my first time getting that kind of recognition. Nothing really came of it, but from a motivational standpoint, that was definitely a catalyst which set me on the path that I’m still on.

Vi: For people who’re unfamiliar with you, how would you describe your sound?

Robert: When I first started, the first album I did was a little more straight forward. Kind of underground hip-hop-ish, in the sense that a lot of samples were used. It leaned a little left but it still wasn’t that crazy. The first project we did, we were getting beats from somebody, whereas the second album, me and Lucian Walker produced everything and that’s kind of where the sound got a little more adventurous and experimental, incorporating different influences. It’s not super out there in the sense that a casual listener couldn’t listen to it. It’s not quite Brainfeeder or Warp Records, but it’s really kind of a meta-work, in the sense that I’ve made an album that’s definitely not 12 rap songs in a row. Even though my roots are in hip-hop and r&b, I get bored very easily and I think about what would keep me entertained.

Vi: Who are your creative inspirations? You’re a painter, drawer, etc. so what are some of your other influences?

Robert: I like this artist, Jill Magid. She performs these productions that are kind of difficult to classify. She seduces these impersonal systems of power. For instance, the New York City Transit police project, one of her works that dealt with surveillance cameras. It’s very conceptual. A lot of what she does, she ends up turning into writing. She self-publishes. I also follow a lot of youth culture, even though I’m not that much older, but there’s enough of a gap there. These “Digital Natives”, people who didn’t know the world before the Internet. [Laughs] I’m speaking about them like aliens. The way they share information and their lingo, the way they digest their content online, that’s how you stay current. How you maintain a sense of relevancy. The saddest thing to me is watching some of the people I grew up with looking like dinosaurs. Either you evolve because culture changes, or it progresses without you. Evolve or get out of the way.

Vi: You’re French and Filipino, how does that influence your music/artistry?

Robert: I used to think I was a lot more unique when I lived in Jacksonville, but then I moved out here [to LA] and saw how diverse it was, there’s a lot of ethnic fusion .. a lot of biracial, multiracial people. I’m not quite as unique as I was back home. I had access to realms that exposed me to different socioeconomic backgrounds. I went to a gifted school that was in the hood, there’s that contrast there. Being somebody brown but growing up with a white, French dad, and hearing the things he says. Hearing different view points, and him not necessarily being able to relate… It was just really strange. All those things, figuring out where I fit in. The area I lived in, it’s primarily white and black, it was kind of  like redneck versus ghetto. What does that do to someone who doesn’t really fit into any of that?

Vi: Tell us a little bit about your new single, named after yourself…

[Laughs] The song itself is kind of a deconstructed take on 90’s hip-hop. I like to do things that are not very in right now, for example, trap is really in at the moment, and I thought it would be more interesting to put something out that was a little nostalgic but still fresh. It’s one thing to dig something up from the past, but if you don’t put your spin on it and make it contemporary then it just comes up as nostalgia. It kind of comes off as purist. There’s a way to reference things. I feel like styles get revived and people treat it like a holy grail of a thing, and it doesn’t progress. All these movements have become very insulated movements that are protected by the people who’ve created them. What I like to do is deconstruct a lot of these things. I used to take my toys apart and put the legs and arms in different places. There are so many places to go. I like to open up another door or portal and say, “hey, you can go over here too”. Invert stereotypes, concepts, cliches…

Vi: How about the video?

Robert: The video, well, it’s a very cliché thing in hip-hop to use your name. There’s a boastful element or bragging that comes along with that. Empowering yourself, creating a new history for yourself. It’s the one ultimate power, and talking about success and women. That’s fine, and I get the mentality that goes behind wanting to do that. Artistically, though, to me, that’s very boring. So what we did with the video, directed by Peter J. Brant, a good friend of mine, we did a video that was like an inversion of that cliché. What if, instead, we create a realm that denies this fundamental right of your ability to create and sculpt your identity? The name you think is yours… what happens if you are denied that ability?

 

Vi: What can we expect from your show at LA? I hear you’re quite the performer…

Robert: My performances need to come a long way still, I’m very hard on myself. The production value needs work, there’s so much I want to do. But, you’ve got to work with what you got. I’m very energetic, I just try to give a show that I would want to see. I get bored watching people, particularly rap… these are just things that are inherent in the genre itself, it lends itself to karaoke a lot of the time. Especially, these days, they’ll have just the backing track with their own vocals. If you’re going to do a traditional set up, there are other ways you can do it to make it interesting. For example, Buju Banton, he’s incredible. I saw him recently and he literally only had like two backup singers and a track playing, but, he was all over the stage. So energetic, charismatic, super confident. In control, very in control of the situation, of the crowd. That’s what I mean, you don’t need to pull a Kanye West with a 40-piece orchestra, but there’s a way to do it that doesn’t look lazy. For my performances, I like high energy, engaging and interacting with the crowd. Think of it as being like someone who has ADD, I get very bored, so I think of myself as the guy in the crowd.

Vi: I found it really unusual that you’re signed to Dim Mak, a record label founded by Steve Aoki and is mostly electronic in terms of genres. What’s the story?

Robert: There were some legal problems that I had to take care of, I was being courted by several labels when I put out this video “Fur in My Cap”. Kanye put it up on his blog, Hype Machine picked it up, I was building steam and I had made some bad decisions. I pretty much had a legal situation and had to sort that out. By the time that was sorted out, I didn’t have a lot of options left. I knew that I needed to make a record that was gonna come out and not get shelved. At the time I was working full-time at Trader Joe’s and just needed to get out of that situation. Thankfully, it worked out for the best because I took a deal with Dim Mak that afforded me creative control.

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Roy’s forthcoming album, Le Tigre Blanc, is slated for release December 11, 2012. You can catch the suited rapper Tuesday night at the Echoplex, along with The Internet (OFWGKTA) and Quadron. Tickets available at: www.ticketfly.com