Exclusive Interview: Kastle On His Symbols Wizardry, Minimalism and Inexplicable Feelings

July 28th, 2015

Exclusive Interview: Kastle On His Symbols Wizardry, Minimalism and Inexplicable Feelings

exclusve interview kastle

These days, EDM artists are like programmed clones or innumerable sets of identical twins who struggle with sonic originality more than you struggle with captioning your Instagram posts.

Yet somehow, Kastle has managed to defy this convention, staying a step or three ahead of fleeting EDM movements at all times with his bass-heavy brand of neo-grime, garage and … shit, I mean the dude has no genre. I can’t categorize him, all I know is he makes me want to dance, hard, and that’s dangerous because I can’t dance.

Nevertheless, I talked to the L.A. based producer and Symbols label head about bringing grime to America, translating the Tao and Nietzsche into sound, and how in god’s name he manages to run a label and stay ahead of the curve in his own music at the same time. He even detailed the thought process behind his upcoming album, Polytopia, for us, because he’s a nice good great man.

Check him out this Thursday, July 30 at ClubIHC alongside U.K. grime masters Swindle and Plastician (tickets here).

The top two items on your SoundCloud page right now are a RinseFM Mix and a Triple J Mix. What does that international attention mean to you and do you think it at all reflects the kind of music you make? 

I’m honored because Rinse FM and Triple J are two great stations. I approached them both with a proper presentation mentality, finding my radio voice, because I would really love to host a show sooner than later. I have unbelievable amounts of music to share.

You definitely have a grime/ early dubstep sound. What’re your thoughts on those genre’s recent resurgence as mainstays of the club scene?

It’s really nice to hear new takes on instrumental grime by these younger kids. You’ve got some that are kind of more traditional and plenty more experimental. Loving the whole ‘peace edit’ contrast to the original dub wars with guys like Iglew, Loom, Incipe, Mr. Mitch, Strict Face. Symbols (my label) artists Kadahn and Utah? have their very own warped perception of grime influence. And labels like Coyote, Gobstopper, and Her are really at the forefront.

But, despite that upcoming trend, you’re still kind of in a league of your own sonically. How have you managed to stay ahead of trends in EDM?

The extent of my concern with trends is to make sure I’m staying clear of them. If I’m not going to be proud of something for the rest of my life, if there is any doubt, then I just can’t fuck with it.

True. You’ve said you’re inspired by literary sources like the Tao Te Ching and Nietzsche’s writings. Both of these texts emphasize balance and simplicity. Have you modeled your sound to compliment those belief systems at all?

Absolutely. More than ever on my upcoming EP, Polytopia. I think I tended to be unbalanced in the past and didn’t let some aggression or attitude out in my music. My new stuff is much more balanced, more abstract and not as obvious.

If you could produce a track for one vocalist, who would it be and why?

Bjork, because she just seems like an absolutely beautiful human being. Did you read her e-mail correspondence with philosopher Timothy Morton? That’s what a collaboration should be like.

Your label Symbols has released tracks for an incredibly array of artists like Sweater Beats and Jaw Jam. How does running a label inform your own creative process?

I just want the label to always evolve, as it is an extension of myself. We’ve never been limited to specific sounds. It’s a very low-key, family vibe. Just a bunch of great people creating great music.

>What’s it like trying to balance developing your artist’s sound while simultaneously trying to develop your own? Any tips you have for multitasking?

I’m getting better, but it’s always been hard. But to be honest, it is just as rewarding because I put so much of myself into each release whether it is mine or not. I’m often extremely inspired by my own artists as well. In 2015 my biggest inspirations have been Kid Smpl and Kadahn, these guys are so far ahead right now. They’ve really helped me reevaluate my own production methods and to drop some old habits so that I can continue to evolve.

You’ve talked about Symbols focusing less on genre and more on feeling. What is the feeling you’re looking for?I don’t think there’s a specific feeling, but its important to feel something. With the EPs, there is usually some sort of story behind it. It may be abstract and ambiguous, which I actually prefer. A bit cathartic maybe? Just looking for those moments that you get lost and can’t fully explain it.

We have a download series on our SoundCloud, simply titled SMBDL, that focuses more on single club tracks and less concerned about a story.

What’s next for Symbols? What upcoming release are you most excited for?

We have a debut EP from Moth out of DC on August 21st. A great mixture of garage, jungle and experimental vibes inspired by urban settings and field recordings. My new EP, Polytopia, will be out September 18th and it’s my most experimental and forward release to date. In October we have Kid Smpl’s second Symbols release. A brilliant follow up to his Precinct EP.

And if you haven’t checked our latest out now, Kadahn’s “Eraser Meditations” album received album of the month from Mixmag and Utah?’s “Oxygen” EP is a massive EP of club/grime bangers.

The label has had a stellar 2015 and in our third year really starting to make some big strides and really securing our ethos.