WORDS

Who The Hell Is Kusp?

Lynx has always run his label Detail on a less-is-more flex. Quality, not quantity; both in terms of the release rate and the amount of artists who’ve appeared on his eight year old imprint. But there’s been a development since the summer with the arrival of a young artist called Kusp.

First came two singles; Moments and Shook. Building on a short run of low key singles since 2016 on labels such as Context Audio and Authentic Music, the tracks’ widescreen scope, brazen stylistic switches and punchy, paired back production announced his arrival on the label and set the scene for what’s just landed this month…. An entire album.

Entitled Arashi, it’s a rare example of a new artist being given full blank canvas and big boy backing for a proper debut album. Emphasis on the word proper; just like Lynx’s albums on Detail, Arashi is a deep digging document that explores and exposes Kusp’s creative potential. A dynamic weave of styles from deep rippling halftime to gully bashy steppers, it’s a crucial calling card for another exciting addition to the burgeoning new D&B generation currently stampeding the genre, adding their own twists to its evergreen tale…. And whether you like it sweet and soulful or all smashed up, there’s almost certainly something in Kusp’s sound that will resonate with you.

Take a listen and find out more…

What a mad blank canvas Lynx has given you. That’s got to be the holy grail for a lot of producers and probably a bit scary?

Yeah, it’s quite mad. I met him through university in Portsmouth. My housemate Sarah sent some of my tunes to Brummie, a local club promoter she knew, who in turn sent them to Lynx. Steve (Lynx) really liked them so he introduced us. I was playing at a night and the promoter, said ‘oh by the way, Lynx is coming down to watch you play’. I’d never met him before so I was like ‘oh fuck!’. After that I sent him a tune in 2016 called Hood which is on the album, then sent him some deeper tracks for potential b-sides and he said ‘how about writing an album?’ It was pretty daunting but yeah, a really cool challenge for me.

That sounds like Lynx. Kinda all or nothing at all and trying something a bit different…

Yeah I think he loves exploring other routes and new ideas and trying new things. I guess he heard something in the music and knew it would be an idea worth developing.

It’s important to establish you’re not brand brand new… You had a sound bubbling with the early releases but it’s great because no one has expectations of your sound yet.  

Exactly. That’s what I spoke to Steve about. I said I didn’t want to be pigeonholed and he suggested I spread my sound as wide as possible from the off. I was doing that naturally anyway; I never sit down to write just one style. One day it might be jungle, the next a deeper thing.

What was the first thing you sat down to do when you started the album? 

Well I had those three tunes ready but as it was a bit unexpected I just kept writing music and eventually it started to shape itself into an album. But I did know that I wanted to do a big epic orchestral jungle thing for it. That turned out to be Through The Rough which came along quite late in the process.

Having Kemo on that track is a strong link to Detail because of his work with Lynx. Also, that second set of breaks that come in half way? Have a word!

That’s nice to hear! I must have spent 200 hours on that track. It’s probably why I got a 2.2 in my degree!

Totally worth it. Any particularly challenge moments along the way?  

Yeah Ritual with Rider Shafique went through about four different iterations. It was right before mastering deadline and I put more of a rolling feel into it. Before then it was more of an ambient halftime thing but I thought ‘fuck it let’s track some breaks on there!’ It totally changed the track.

An album isn’t done until the very last possible minute, right?

Oh totally. The deadline was while I was at Outlook so I was messing with the album just before I left for the airport. I had to leave the laptop open uploading it while I left to the airport.

Last minute! So what’s your background pre drum & bass, then?

I got into production in 2012. I was sixteen, coming through listening to all the UKF videos that got rinsed at the time. They’re what got me into drum & bass.

Nice! So you’re definitely a producer first/DJ second, I’m guessing?

Definitely. I learnt to DJ on Traktor and a really shitty £30 Korg Nano Kontrol, using two of the sliders as jog wheels somehow, this was about a year after I started producing, then I got my head around CDJs when I could get access to them. I do love DJing, though.

Is there a strong scene in Portsmouth? Context Audio are based down there too…

Yeah they are. The scene is pretty small but got some really cool and talented people involved. Soul Motion is down here too.

He’s on the album, too, right?

Yeah he’s a very busy and talented man. He’s done bits for Hospital and Galacy.

Back to album… Arashi means storm doesn’t it? Are you inspired by Japan culture?

Definitely. It’s an interesting culture, I love their aesthetic and traditional Japanese instruments like the koto that’s on the tune Arashi. It brings such a sick element into the tune.

Yeah man, really provocative vibe isn’t it….

Dark but beautiful in a way.

I’m guessing you played a musical instrument before you produced…

Yeah I learnt to play guitar, I was really into punk like Dead Kennedys and Rage Against The Machine and also a lot of hip hop growing up.

Did you know there’s a famous Japanese boyband called Arashi? If you had a boyband who’d be in it with you?

Lynx for the crazy shit. I think Rockwell is into hardcore punk and I love his tunes, so he’d be in. Then Rider Shafique on vocals. That would be interesting!

That Ritual tune he did with you is wicked. Did you do it together in person?

It was an old vocal Steve had and let me use. I sent it over to Rider and luckily he liked it. Unfortunately we didn’t do it in the studio. Maybe one day we can. He does have a mad vibe around him.

Amen. So what comes next?

I’ve got a remix of a Lynx & Kemo tune coming on Detail, then a single coming on Context with a Rizzle remix. But after that, who knows? I’ve been making loads of tunes so we’ll see what comes….

Kusp – Arashi is out now on Detail

Follow Kusp: Facebook / Soundcloud / Twitter