Kastle Speaks on R&B/EDM Mashups, Festival Shows, and New Music



Usually, you don’t associate R&B with EDM unless you think retrospectively at the time where synths, vocoding, and rhythms and blues dominated from the early ‘70s into the ‘80s. Roger & Zapp, Teddy Riley, and Parliament-Funkadelic are just a few acts that tied in electronic sounds with funk and R&B. San Francisco based producer, Kastle, is bringing back that old school vibe and giving it a futuristic upgrade. Regarding his opinion of the current EDM scene Kastle states, “Technology in [the] music creation world has really just skyrocketed. I think right now is the most exciting time.” He recently released his self-titled record that consists of a combination of soulful R&B, house, and trap. At the ripe age of 12, Kastle got his start in producing and hasn’t looked back since. His spruce and signature production skills are the attributes that helped the launch of his label, Symbols Recordings. Here, Kastle revisits what initially catapulted him into the music industry and reveals his new project for the fall.

Life + Times: You made your live debut at SXSW and Coachella. That’s pretty exciting!
: It was great. Doing the live show at SXSW was really important to present it there just because it’s a very live environment. Yeah, it was great. It’s funny, when I finished I was like, “Man, I totally messed up a few times.” – But, nobody noticed. I think a lot of the live show is all about improv and about adaptation to the night. So, I’m kind of okay with having mistakes here and there. It’s bound to happen.

L+T: Do you consider events like SXSW a bit more unnerving than club gigs?
: Not really. Coachella…I guess you can say it’s unnerving in a little way, but I don’t really get nervous. Well, I did a DJ set at Coachella. For me, as long as I know the first couple of tracks I’m playing; I’m good to go. From that point on, I’ll just read the crowd. I guess, the big festivals – it doesn’t really matter to me if it’s a big festival or a club. It’s kind of all the same to me. I think when I go on; I’m in the same headspace wherever I am.

L+T: Let’s talk about your latest album, Kastle. “Circles” is my jam! I appreciate the fact that you tie in so many sounds – R&B, house, and trap [are] on the album. It’s just a little bit of everything. What styles of music did you grow up listening to?
: My earliest influence was Herbie Hancock. I was lucky because my brother is five or six years older than me. So when I was five years old, I was listening to Herbie Hancock, Run-DMC, and Zapp & Roger and all of this, like, electro funk and hip hop basically. Over the many years that I’ve produced, I’ve done a lot of different genres. With the Kastle stuff, it really pulls from my early musical memories and my early influences.

L+T: You have a lot of different artists that you partnered with on the new record – Austin Paul, Ayah Marar, along with others. Did you already have in mind artists of whom you wanted to collab with or was it a less calculated decision?
: All the collaborations happened very naturally. Austin and JMSN were the first couple of collaborations I did. Once I got those tracks out, I thought, “This is really starting to shape up.” I was feeling more comfortable about the album. A lot of the other artists like…Ayah Marar, they sort of happened just very naturally. Ayah just hit me up on Twitter one day and was like, “Hey! I’d love to collab with you.” So, we did those two tracks (“Insatiable” and “Red Light”). Reva DeVito, she had did a track with one of my artists on my label, Symbols. The same with Atlas. I had released Atlas’ debut EP last year; so having their vocalist on just kind of made sense. So, a lot of those collaborations happened very naturally.

L+T: Tell me about Symbols.
: It launched in June of last year. I kind of conceptualized it over a period of honestly almost a year. I was on tour with 12th Planet. I think we did the tour in February of 2012. While I was on the tour, I spent a lot of my down town working on the label – working on the idea, the aesthetic, what kind of artists I wanted to have. Once June came around, I had three EPs of my own written. Once I told people I was starting a label, everybody sent me their music and I had some really major stuff for the first six or seven releases. So, that’s also when I started writing my album. I basically just wanted to create my own world – a further extension of my own music. Every artist on the label has their own sound. I really focus on the feeling. I put the feeling as a genre. Whenever I sign something to the label, I have to feel a certain way.

L+T: Back in 2010, you had five or six remixes of “Better Off Alone.” Will you do something like that with this album?
: We’re working on a remixing piece for the two singles. So there’s “Red Light” and “Make You Say” with JMSN. I’ve got remixes being made right now basically. I’ll probably release them in a month or two.

L+T: The creative types never rest. In addition to the remixes, are you already working on another project?
: Pretty much, yeah. I already have a next EP written basically. I’m already kind of planning for the fall. I’m definitely going to leave some space and have some time for the album to do its thing. I’m already working on my next EP for October time maybe.

L+T: Wow! You’ve been producing for a while, huh?
: (Laughs) Yeah. I think the next EP will be more clubby. The album was…well, the goal was to create this whole cohesive piece. I’m actually really excited to get back to doing some dance music – stuff for the clubs.