As we revealed in March, Kasra and InsideInfo have been in secret studio cahoots, meeting up as frequently as possible over the last year in InsideInfo’s studio, forging a new sound together.
Timing is everything. Both artists were at relatable points in their career when they first collaborated: Fresh from writing his debut album for Viper, InsideInfo was looking to explore the deeper shades in his palette while Kasra’s stealth steps as a producer had reached the point he was ready for a new challenge. Their first collaboration was only meant as a one-off experiment…. But it ended up going so well they’ve given the project its own identity, sound and soul and built a whole body of work around it.
The work starts right here with the Coming Through EP on Critical Music. Four tracks of rolling machine funk, the sound of Circuits is textural, heavily groove-based, atmospheric and ageless. And there’s plenty more to come. Read on to find out why Circuits marks such a critical point (not sorry) for both Kasra and InsideInfo…
This might seem like a random partnership but you guys go way back, right?
InsideInfo: We’d been talking about it for years and it got to the point where it was possible. I’d done my album, we met at a gig and agreed to actually do it and stop talking about it. Then when it happened, it worked really well. We both had an idea of what we want to achieve and it came together. One track turned to two which turned to an EP which turned into us thinking of making something more serious about it.
Kasra: Paul was actually one of the first artists I earmarked to work more closely with at Critical around 10 years ago. I asked for an EP then he disappeared!
InsideInfo: Yeah we had a meeting and everything. But life stuff got in the way for a bit and I disappeared for a while then, through the Brookes Brothers, I hooked up with Viper and my stuff wasn’t as appropriate for Critical.
Kasra: Mefjus, as a mutual friend, was also someone who brought us a bit closer. Then, more recently, Paul’s tune 2 Minds came along. That’s been one of my favourite tunes in the last few years so I knew we would have ideas in common.
Kasra, what are your memories of a young Paul InsideInfo, trying to break through in the drum & bass game?
Kasra: Just a very talented and creative person who had some really interesting tunes. We put out a track or two on compilations like All Sounds Electric Two. I suggested he wrote an EP but then he never came back. Well, not until recently.
What was the first tune you made together? Is that on the EP?
InsideInfo: We haven’t used it. We knew it was cool and we could pass it off. But it wasn’t quite there. Drench was the first tune we made where we were both like ‘okay this is happening now’ Kasra brought round a sketch of the track and we knew what we were meant to be doing. I realised I was over-thinking things and putting too many details into the tracks but the vibe is meant to be more simple and effective, more about atmosphere. Cold, you know? That was the track that cemented the sound.
Kasra: From my perspective, because I’m not really known or as skilled as a producer, I try and bring the bones of the idea because otherwise you end up sitting in room with someone who puts their own stamp on it and you might as well be making cups of tea.
Paul, what’s Kasra like as a producer?
InsideInfo: He’s good! Every track on the EP was sketched by him. He’s good at getting down a vibe and getting the idea across. He’s played his solo stuff to me and it’s there. It’s great. I play his tunes out. He’s a badman.
Do you feel like a badman, Kasra?
Kasra: No, not really. My confidence isn’t there yet but I’m gaining more of it. I’ve put a lot of energy into building the label and now I’d like to put more energy into writing music. Not in a career building way, it’s just something I really want to do and enjoy. After 16 years, I still love pressing a record, doing the artwork and working out ways to get the music out there. But doing that with a project I’m personally involved in creatively is refreshing. I’ve actually got a number of solo things to come out later this year but it’s made me realise that being your own A&R is difficult!
How do you go about it?
Kasra: I send it to a cross-section of artists who I know will be honest and know what they’re listening for. Paul, Mefjus, Enei, Halogenix. I know if I say ‘is this good enough?’ They’ll say if it is or not. It’s the same with Circuits; everything is there for a reason. Every little sound has a purpose and if it doesn’t then we scrap things and start again.
InsideInfo: We’re quite brutal with that, which is good. Sometimes you can get so far into a tune you think you have to persist with it. If it’s not working within the first week of gestating, then it’s scrapped. But nothing gets wasted; those tracks become scrap yards you take parts out of.
Kasra: Designer Drugs was like that. That went through about three different versions.
So are you having weekly sessions? This is serious isn’t it!
InsideInfo: Yeah pretty much weekly. As often as possible.
Kasra: We’re working on another single for summer time. There’s one thing I’ve started and one thing that Paul’s started. Then we do a day or two together, develop it and go off and do our thing.
InsideInfo: Now we know what to do we can delegate tasks and give each other ideas on what to do. Also I do a lot of the EQ’ing and mixing down on my own because it’s a waste of time doing that with Kasra there. We just crack on with ideas.
I understand you’ve invested in some modular kit?
InsideInfo: Yeah. When I did my album I became wary I was using the same gear for 10 years. I really wanted some hardware that does what I do in the box but has knobs I can twist in a hands-on way. I have a lot of fun with sound design, but I wanted something that was immediate and tactile. So I’ve built this thing and, as anyone who’s got into modular synths will tell you, I’ve realised how addictive it is. Each module opens up other sounds on the ones you have, so it snowballs until you have this ridiculous machine that does everything. With it being analogue, too, it’s warm, a bit lo-fi and a bit uncontrollable. It fits into what we’re doing.
Kasra: Using the modular set-up gives us a particular vibe as well. Sitting down looking at things being drawn on the screen is boring. But we’re both working on something hands on, it’s a lot more fun.
InsideInfo: It’s about making accidents happen. Those moments where you suddenly go ‘woah!’
It’s also a bit foundational. You can hear references in the EP. Like some Headz-style sounds in Coming Through and a bit of Virus-style groove in Resistor
Kasra: I’m really not like a revivalist, I find that boring, but there are amazing things to take from some of those records. We were definitely influenced by those labels and ideas like having a lot of space in the productions.
InsideInfo: Everything is built around samples. Nothing is a VST instrument, we’re not playing notes. A lot of the music back then was made in the same way. Especially with the hardware we’re using. This is modern day version of that way of working, I guess. Plus subconsciously it’s always lurking in my sound because that’s what I grew up with.
It’s in your DNA. What comes next?
Kasra: There’s quite a lot of things coming actually. We’ve got some collaborations with The Upbeats, with Halogenix, QZB and Synth Ethics. We’ve got some remixes and a single around the summer, then maybe build up to another EP again.
InsideInfo: We’ve built up a catalogue in the space of a year. I like how it’s got a sound to it already and we’ve already found it so early on in the project. The new stuff will sound different though, it will always evolve and always develop. There’s a lot of ground we’re looking forward to exploring, I won’t lie, this is the most inspired I’ve been for a very long time…
Get inspired: Circuits – Coming Through is out now