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Touching Bass: Kasra

Errol Anderson

kasra 300x225 Touching Bass: KasraAs head honcho of Critical Music, Kasra has hand-carved a niche of drum and bass that undoubtedly needed tending to. Forged from the stencils of forefather labels including Metalheadz and Good Looking Records, Critical have gone on to become the main accepted home for deep, atmospheric D&B. We stop to discuss cassettes, LTJ Bukem and the troubles of finding time to produce.

Also, check out the Touching Bass mix series, which continues alongside all features via Mixcloud.

Where did the initial root for your idea for a cassette only-label come from?

When I was growing up, my parents always had loads of records and tapes lying around. They were very musical, as in not musicians but music lovers. I was very fortunate to be exposed to gigs and the whole procedure of buying records from an early age. Maybe that’s showing my age. I was fascinated by the whole process of putting together a record from start to finish and particularly the whole DIY ethic that was championed by Sonic Youth.

What are your opinions on vinyl’s current state in the music environment?

I find it quite surprising that we still sell the amount of records we sell and obviously that’s really positive because I still go out and buy records myself. Unfortunately, I don’t DJ with them any more because some set ups aren’t that good on the vinyl side. I’m a real believer in vinyls and I hope that it continues to sell because three years ago, I was saying that it wouldn’t be around and it still is.

What are your first memories of the drum and bass rave?

I think my overwhelming, nostalgic memory of a drum and bass night is going to The End when Storm [Metalheadz] was playing. I didn’t know much about the music at the time but a few of my friends were really into and I was into guitar music whilst almost holding this disregard for electronic music. It was like ‘well, you guys are just pressing buttons’. I remember hearing it and feeling a weird combination of unease – because it was so edgy – but also really exciting as well.

There was a point when drum and bass wasn’t faring too well in terms of sales. How did Critical go about avoiding that?

You can look at what dubstep has done and it’s become part of the mainstream fabric of music now. To certain people’s credit, they’ve managed to get that scene out there but drum and bass has always been lurking in the shadows. There have been periods where it’s been at the forefront and there’s always little nods to it here and there, but it’s always been an inherent part of underground culture. For the label, we kept putting out the records that I like. Unfortunately, it’s a bit selfish because I get to choose tunes that I like, but we’ve created a good foundation because people trust the label.

How much did the whole intelligent drum and bass movement by people like LTJ Bukem influence Critical, if at all?

All of the Logical Progression stuff was definitely a big influence because what was interesting about drum and bass back then is that there was quite a wide spectrum of styles. You had Bukem doing intelligent drum and bass (terrible term), then people like Hype and Zinc doing more straight up stuff and then all the darker stuff too. It was a massive melting pot and I’d like to think Critical is a mixture of all of those sounds and styles.

Will you be getting more involved in the production side of things in the future or do you prefer the backseat role?

I do work quite hard on making music, but its just about finding the time. I’ve just taken on my first proper member of staff, which has given me a bit more time. I’ve got a few collaborations going on and I hope to release some more in the new year.

As 2012 draws to a close, what’s the general stance for 2013?

Well, next year we’re working on just concentrating on a core base of producers to work towards more artist-based album projects. We want more singles and more events but essentially its just about doing more of the same.

Touching Bass: Kasra by The Independent: Touching Bass on Mixcloud

Kasra plays at the Critical Sound NYE party this year; tickets are available via Resident Advisor now. You can listen to last week’s mix from Starkey on the Touching Bass Mixcloud page.

Download the ‘Touching Bass: Kasra’ mix here.

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