This isn’t Caspa’s first UKF interview rodeo. One of the most consistent voices on this site since we launched in 2014, he’s reared his cockney head and proudly proclaimed dubstep’s rude state of health in a whole variety of contexts. This time is no exception. Besides one difference… None of the previous interviews have taken place at such a weird time in the world.
Fresh from 18 months off road, like the rest of us, Caspa’s invested his time wisely… Into spending time with his family, into launching his new label Ghost Town, into making a whole bag of new tunes and launching a series of worldwide ticketed online streaming events. Now back on the road, he’s more driven than ever, he’s running sell-out boat parties loaded with some of the finest dubstep guvnors of all eras like Coki, J:Kenzo, V.I.V.E.K, Sgt Pokes, Crazy D, Subscape, Deep Tempo, Chad Dubz and more. And he’s dropping beats like this…
In Full Flow in every direction: here’s where Caspa is at right now and why, after so many years grafting at the dubstep coalface, he’s more inspired than ever before.
The scenes from that boat party! Wow…
The boat thing had never been done within our genre, surprisingly enough. We were going past these historic landmarks like the wheel and Millennium Bridge and all these places and people were throwing gunfingers from the riverbank. It was like nothing had changed in 10 years! Like a Dub Police night at Fabric or something. It was such a buzz doing it. It sold out. We had a really nice young crowd, who had travelled from all over UK and beyond. A crazy mix of people who are the future of dubstep. The line-up was stacked with all headline artists, it was so good. I’m so proud of it.
It’s a lovely buzz to be back after that weird old 18 months, right?
Having the rug pulled from under our feet was a big challenge I can’t lie. I’m a DJ first and foremost. I got into production so I could get my foot in the door and exchange tunes down at FWD>> and stuff. So productions were always a business card to get the gigs. And at first it was devastating; 75% of my income was based around live events. I’m not an engineer or a producer who makes beats for other artists, I make beats and bass for me to play at shows. So it was difficult to begin with but I got into a groove and it gave me time to reflect. It’s been almost 20 years.
All I’ve done is dubstep since I was 18. To stop abruptly gave me time to think about what I’m doing, correct a few things about what I do, spend a lot of time with my family, start a new label and do lots of cool things. It ended up being a very positive experience and gave me a whole new lease of energy and inspiration.
Appreciating what’s on your doorstep!
Actually yeah! That’s one thing I have come out of this with is a real drive to play more UK shows and more European shows. That buzz of driving up down the motorway to Bristol, to Manchester, to Nottingham and all those places. This is the home of dubstep and, while I’ve loved being an international touring act, I’ve realised that less is a whole lot more and I’m really inspired by helping the scene here flourish and grow again.
We speak about this a lot, even back to the first interview we did on this site. Dubstep is never dead from your perspective and with your energy. But can you feel the rise in the UK again?
Well firstly, in terms of that energy, it’s always in my nature to try new things. I’m not frightened by failure. I’m always trying things and learning from them. It’s never been about the money – it gets to a point where it is about the money and you’re loving and it’s great but that doesn’t last and you realise that’s the cherry, not the foundation.
It’s humbling and I’ve been through it a few times now and learnt so much about myself and found ways of keeping things exciting. Like the streams I did during the lockdowns. I did two Secret Streams with the Caspa brand and two Ghost Town streams inviting the artists from around the world that I am feeling. All four events where ticketed, we sold out a few of them and the chat room was vibes. I then decided to give back by pressing up and giving away almost 1500 free CDs of the mix. You can check out the hype with the hashtag #secretstreamwithcaspa.
In our niche world of this music they were genuinely one of a kind and proof people will pay for an experience online…
A lot of artists and labels and people get so caught up in what they’re doing they forget to make it exciting. Not just for the fans but for themselves. They’re frightened of failure, they’re frightened of people saying, ‘That release was shit.’ Those thoughts worry me too, but I have to overcome them and keep myself excited and inspired or what’s the point?
This industry can be gruelling and heavy you need that excitement to keep you going and keep doing things people will feel. And to get back to your original question – yes, I think dubstep is in a really exciting place in the UK right now. Homegrown is where it’s at. It’s making people go back to basics and realising they can do exciting things without having to spend so much time on a flight. I’ve worn all the t-shirts, I’ve played all the clubs, done all the big festivals. So what’s next? Let’s do something big here and champion what we have on our doorstep and just do something fucking cool.
People feed off that positivity too, man
There’s so much fakeness in the world and so many people saying things just to schmooze or make things just to get the big cheques. I want to be proud of everything I’ve done and stand there and say ‘I did that. I stood for something.’ I stand for realness and that’s why I love jumping down from the decks and chatting to fans about their lives and hear them telling me their own stories that my music or my shows have inspired.
It makes me realise how long I’ve been in this game and what I’ve done so far. But I also feel like I’m still getting started. I’m in my prime and I believe I’m at my fullest and flowing. That’s why the title of the EP is Full Flow. I feel more inspired than I have in decades. I think I say this every year to you though, don’t I?
Yes you do, but always in a different context. This does feel like a new chapter. New sounds as well. That Low Low track for instance – there’s no reference to that in your previous work.
Nice one. It’s the same energy but it is different. I love the idea of that people might be like, ‘Who’s this? Oh it’s Caspa, really? Rah!’ I love that because it means I’m still creating new things and doing something fresh. The Deep Tempo guys have been hammering that track and Mala has also shown great support too, so I’m really happy with that. It actually only took me 15 minutes to get that first idea down. It was so simple. The Where’s My Money remix was the same. It took me half an hour.
Blimey. The best stuff does come naturally and very quickly doesn’t it? When you’re not overthinking things
That’s right. And life can get heavy, and you can lose your focus, but when you let go of certain things and just let it flow like that it makes you realise what you can do when you don’t let the other shit side-track you.
People are like, ‘Damn, you’re still making bangers!’ And that’s because that’s what I love what I’m doing. I don’t do other genres, that doesn’t interest me. I am dubstep to the core and I’ve still got so much to say in this genre. I got so many ideas. I consciously made the decision to just go with the flow and let my brain follow the path of least resistance and since then the tunes have been flying out.
Up & Up, which came before the Full Flow EP, has that spirit, too…
I think the label’s given me that feeling of freedom, too. I’m not thinking about numbers, I’m not thinking about likes or any of that superficial shit, I’m just trying to do exciting stuff. I know people can see what I’m doing, they don’t have to press a like or whatever, just as long as I keep my standard up, then it will reach a point where things naturally build to a point where more and more people do follow or support it. But it all has to be natural.
Also an ability to flip things – Ghost Town started as an event didn’t it? But when things went down, you flipped it into a label.
It started as a release for Insomnia but I always loved the concept and had ideas about what I could do with it. The idea dubstep had become a bit of a ghost town in so many places led me to the idea of events where we could re-ignite that love for dubstep. So yeah, I had no plans to do another label – I’d had Stormin then Dub Police and Sub Soldiers and I wasn’t into the pressure of running another label. I’d done that. But I thought if Ghost Town is solely me on the label, I don’t have that responsibility, it’s my own vehicle. So the brand was there, the potential was there and I had a lot of music ready to go so it all fell into place.
You’re being very honest with yourself there…
They say don’t look for happiness the same place you lost it, right? So let’s keep it Caspa, let’s keep it in the family and just sign my wife and kids and build up my repertoire on Ghost Town.
Oh sweet, do they co-own the label?
Every release my son and daughter are down as executive producers. They will always have a say on what happens to the music. So in decades to come, when dubstep becomes like reggae and gets sampled all of the time, then they can enjoy the royalties. Who knows what’s going to happen? Did we still think we’d be talking about dubstep in 2021? Look at drum & bass and how big that’s become.
Love that. There’s a different funk and groove to some of your new stuff. Do you think that’s the influence of being a father with your family more recently?
Oh I’ve not thought about it like that. Maybe! They definitely keep me grounded. Your kids put you in your place, don’t they? I’m just dad. Gary from west London. They don’t care about Caspa or dubstep or anything like that. So that keeps things very very real for me.
But also, and this is down to being at home and really taking everything in, I got zero to prove. Absolutely nothing. I’ve played everywhere twice over. I’ve done mad things like opening for The Prodigy three nights in a row. I’m in my own lane, I’m enjoying taking it back to basics, having fun and focussing on the dancefloor. I’m tyring to stay as close to having fun as possible.
This is kind of a continuation of where you were at when you did the 500 series in a way. That was the start of you realising when you’ve got nothing to prove…
Yeah it was in a way. That tour nearly broke me mentally physically and emotionally. I was on the last straw! I put so much of myself on the line – I put everything into it. We did 28 shows in six weeks in America then went to Australia and Japan. It was gruelling. But I said to myself, if I can come out of that and still want to do this and not being thinking, ‘Fuck this!’ Then I’m going to carry on with it. At that point in my life, from 2008 to that moment in 2014 everything was instant and ridiculous. That tour was me smashing into the wall at 100mph and asking myself, ‘Do I want to drive any more?’ I did and that made me realise how much I love this. I love the grind. And it made me change things for the better. I was prouder of who I was and where I was heading.
And then you became a dad, right?
It’s funny. In 2015 I came back and was exhausted but inspired, then Rusko moved back over here. We started writing and did a little tour and both of our missuses became pregnant at the same time. Our kids were due within weeks of each other!
Oh sick. What a nice thing to experience together!
It was mad and it kept us bonded and focused on what we were doing and why were doing it. It blew my mind. And yeah I became a dad in 2016 and I wondered how I’d do this, but also still be a father. That was a headfuck for me because I love touring, I love the grind and the music but I didn’t want to be an absent father. So, when I had the opportunity to work with SUB.MISSION to do a six week residency at Black Box in Denver in 2019, I moved my family and my team over to America for the duration of the project. It was unusual and stressful, but it was so worth it. I wasn’t interested in spending too much time away from them. It made me more hungry.
It made me want to make my work as an artist successful and be the best father. And that’s part of the thing about me wanting to tour in the UK more – I can be home again for breakfast and spend the rest of the weekend with them. When you’re touring you spent so much time in transit, in isolation, hungry in hotel rooms, worrying about money, worrying that I haven’t got the energy to give people their value for ticket money. Not that I won’t tour in the future but it has to be on my terms and not on anyone else’s.
Finding that balance! So what comes next?
I’m in the process of finalising a release with a massive European dubstep brand, a release lined up with another dubstep label that will make a few people go, ‘huh?’ I also have a unreleased track with Peekaboo dubplate titled Reload doing some serious damage in the clubs and the US festival market, there’s a cheeky Crazy D collab and I’ve already got the next Ghost Town release and UK events lined up. Loads to look out for.
Amazing. Anything else to add?
Dubstep since dubstep! And thank you. I appreciate you and all the press writers helping to document the journey past and present, I appreciate UKF and I appreciate everyone who takes the time to buy, listen and support me in different ways. If it wasn’t for fans buying my merchandise and the tickets for our streams, things would have much harder for me over the last year or so, so thank you from the bottom of my heart. It means the world to me. I will see you in the dance, chat room or on a boat real soon.