After years of fusing and smelting beguiling beat concoctions and bass hybrids, Kastle has rediscovered one of his oldest and strongest musical passions: UKG.
If you’ve been following his releases in the last year, such as his Mind Of A Dragon collaborations and his R U 4 REAL EP, then you’ll know this has been bubbling for a while now. Go even further back to his earliest Kastle releases almost a decade ago and you’ll know this has been bubbling for years; his earliest releases as Kastle such as Time Traveller, Better Of Alone and So You all flexed a sharp twostep. Go back even further and you’ll find it as his entry point into electronic music and production.
Last month, however, he upped his UKG ante by several notches with Get Right Inside. Delivery by Four40, it’s a full flavoured UKG mix album bulging with 19 cuts from a whole host of on-point twostep sculptors pushing the boundaries right now such as On1, EXIT99, Celladore, Mind Of A Dragon, Roska, Royal Flush and many more.
It’s slick, icy and peppered with robust house and UK funky tracks, the mix is yet more proof that UKG and twostep remains one of the most enduring, undying and ultimately unifying styles and sounds in the UK bass cannon. It’s also proof that Kastle is highly inspired with his craft right now. We caught up the man named Barrett Richards to find out more…
Get Right Inside sounds like you’re taking a deep dive back into the genre. Your earliest stuff as Kastle was on a two-step vibe, right?
The Time Traveller EP, for sure. I wrote that back in 2009. But I actually got into garage much further back than that. Like back in the late 90s. It was all about jungle and speed garage for me back then. All that stuff. Then I moved onto other things and tried out all sorts of stuff. But yeah it’s been nice to come back to the sound. I’ve realised over the last 20 years it’s the one genre I truly love and keep coming back to.
It’s always been there in your stuff, like Holographic on the Reflections album and Been Awhile on your debut album…
Totally. It was always the inspiration but I wanted to make something new with it. Maybe now I’m older I’m staying more true to it. I think I did that with the mix.
But it hasn’t got a throwback vibe to it, it’s got house and UK funky vibes in the mix as well…
Yeah I think that’s why I’m in love with the music of EXIT99. It’s got such a dusty classic sound but it’s brand new.
I love the feedback loop, too. US invents garage, UK mutates it, now it’s coming back through you. Obviously Todd Edwards has done that forever but the whole reloop in general is fascinating.
It is isn’t it. It’s funny, a lot of people think I’m from London. Even my own booking agency had me down as a London artist for a while. In America the sound isn’t so big. There are little pockets; I played a twostep party in Pittsburgh in the new year which was great. Seattle has a great spot, too.
What was it like back in the late 90s?
Well it came to me through the internet because I wasn’t old enough to go to the clubs. I grew up in a small town an hour’s drive north from Pittsburgh. I started writing it when I was 12 and was a huge internet nerd and my first rave I performed at in Cleveland Ohio when I was sixteen. Then eventually I started playing New York, then Toronto and that was my local scene for my teenage years.
You’ve been on this longer than I thought. This is all pre-Kastle isn’t it?
Yeah that started in early 2010. I was just playing jungle and hardcore under another name and played pretty heavy stuff, but I guess I was influenced by other things and kinda smoothed out.
What else has helped to smooth out? Any pivotal moments instantly come to mind?
It sounds strange to add this to UKG but there’s almost this psychological element. I’m a big reader and I study psychology and neuroscience, so even down to the title concept Get Right Inside there’s this layer or meaning, to me at least, about getting your head right. Improving your own inner awareness on things. That moved me in a different direction in music. Making sure what’s happening inside of me is what’s coming out. Not just doing what I think is popular. That’s pretty prevalent here in the states I would say.
That’s hard isn’t it? When you have to play gigs so you make the music for the clubs rather than listening to the artist inside of you?
Yeah I know this better than anybody. Over the last couple of years I went very experimental and I learnt I should have released that stuff on a side project. It was bubbling inside of me like I gotta do this, I gotta do this, so I did it. But it’s hard because you don’t want to confuse people. I’ve started a completely different alias now for ambient soundscape music and sound therapy tools. But that’s completely separate from Kastle
You seem pretty academic, are you?
I have an audio engineering degree so I studied heavily on frequencies and mastering EQs. But when it comes to sound therapy it came from personal research. I combined my interest in frequencies, psychology and neuroscience and studied how we can train our brains to certain frequencies. With these ambient tracks I layer specific vibrations that can help with reduce stress and anxieties and enable sleep and help focus.
That sounds revolutionary!
Yeah I’ve been using it as a tool for many years and have decided to make it myself and hopefully help people. That definitely feels like he right evolutionary path for me.
But still make bangers on the side please?
Oh yeah, sure. I’ll never stop doing that!
What’s funny is that people always say ‘UKG is back!’ but it never went away. There have always been threads of it and killer artists experimenting with twostep…
It’s true. Since I’ve been working on this mix and putting out twostep records over the last year, I kept getting messages from friends in the states saying ‘yo UKG is coming back, you were right!’ But I’m like, exactly as you say, ‘well it’s kinda always been here’ But people don’t really focus on it all the time. But recently I have been noticing that a lot of artists who don’t necessarily make it are dabbling with it, which is always inspiring. And there are so many amazing new artists doing crazy stuff right now.
Like Mind Of A Dragon who you’ve collaborated a lot with in the last year?
Ah yeah I finally met him right before Christmas. He was just in LA for one night so we met in real life. He’s smashing it. We actually met through email and said ‘hey let’s trade some stems.’ Within four days we had a track. We work super well together.
There needs to be more!
Yeah we need to get another track on the go for sure. It’s definitely going to happen…
So what’s next?
I’m working n a bunch of new stuff. I have a couple of cheeky bootlegs which might come out on 12. I’m working on some sample packs through Splice to help out other producers and I’ve started thinking about a new album.
Oh nice. Kastle albums always feel like solid and conceptual bodies of work for you, right? Like when you sit down to do one, that’s all you focus on and creating…
Yeah I think they have to be approached in that way. And it is a very intense experience. But I’ll be doing a few EPs along the way. But I’m always writing, things are always popping up…