We reckon Kasra’s smashed 2015 on all fronts…
As a label owner he’s enjoyed Critical Music’s busiest, most varied and exciting years to date.
As a DJ he’s taken Critical Sound across the globe, including the massive EDM-heavy EDC Las Vegas.
He’s even found time to pander to his rare-but-eager inner producer with his and Enei’s straight-talking Inside The Box EP
Critical’s output sums up Kasra’s year most extensively, though: Two great albums (Sam Binga – Wasted Days, Enei – Rituals), a series of incredible forefront experiments in the form of the Binary Series (Current Value, Subtension, Posij) and massive EPs from the likes of Phace, Emperor and Ivy Lab.
We called Kasra up to see how 2015 has been from his unique perspective…
2015: According To… Kasra
“I’ve been running the label now for 13 years, which is terrifying! But 2015 has seen it develop into the place where I always wanted it to be. I don’t want it to stop progressing of course… But it’s great where we are; we’ve got an incredible group of artists spanning different styles and subgenres. This year’s been particularly significant as we’ve released two artist albums, which we’ve never done before.
“I’m especially happy with Sam’s album because it wasn’t a straight up drum & bass record. There’s always a danger when you put out non-traditional drum & bass records out on a traditional drum & bass label that it could get lost but Sam did an incredible job and it got the recognition it deserved from both the drum and bass community as well as outside. In 2015 we’ve also had a whole range of EPs from great artists, I was really happy with it all from the Binary series to the Mef:Lab remixes. It’s all gone down really well… Diverse but well received.
“The halftime sound has definitely developed and come into the foreground a lot more in 2015. For me it’s been a presence for quite a few years now, and I’ve watched with excitement as it has started to grow.
“Any given set I’ll play five or six halftime tunes and they go down equally as well as your straight up rollers. I think people are still getting used to it but there’s definitely an excitement about the halftime sound. Ive been totally inspired what acts like Ivy Lab and Sam have done with the music. Movements within a movement can inspire people to take some risks that they may have not done before so I think 2016 could be an even more interesting year for that type of sound.
“I would definitely agree that there’s been a lot of great heavier, techier drum & bass released this year, too. However, there’s also been a fair amount of imitation. Certain artists have that dark D&B boxed off and people want to sound like them. Mefjus, Phace, The Upbeats, Emperor, Noisia… The producers at the top of their game. With an act like Noisia who are at the forefront of this sound, I have so much love and respect for what they do; they make incredible music, they don’t compromise, they support the underground 100% and always keep pushing the sound – they encapsulate a lot of what makes this scene great, from their face melters to their rare yet just as special deeper tunes.
“They also support the music and new artists to the maximum. Some artists who play on the biggest stages have to compromise to get there. Noisia don’t. They have character and it comes across in their artwork, on their radio show. I think this is a key point: Music is supposed to be fun… I think we’re getting better at remembering this fact. There are other ways of presenting the music; it doesn’t have to be an all-black record cover with a skull on it. Just because music is hard it doesn’t mean it’s made by miserable people with no personality.
“Overall I’ve think drum & bass feels really healthy at the moment with lots of exciting stuff happening and, even more of a global impact than previous years. I’ve been able to see a lot more of the world and represent Critical more internationally. It feels like there are more people interested in what we’re doing; more shows in places we didn’t think we’d ever play. Like the EDC Las Vegas line-up… No one was more shocked to see us on that line-up than me! We’ve got a good relationship with the festival and it was an incredible experience; it was very different to anything we’d done before and was a real eye-opener. But we didn’t compromise; we played what we would play at any festival show and it went really well! It was a really exciting experience and America feels like it’s ready for the music we’re supporting. Let’s see what 2016 has to bring shall we?”