Founded in 2002, Critical Music is one of drum and bass’ most respected independent labels – one that’s shaped and made many a producer’s career and released some of the finest electronic dance music the genre has ever seen.
Ahead of the imprint’s next FABRICLIVE takeover (moving into Room 1 instead of their normal Room 2 spot) next Friday (alongside Distance, Pinch and Rich Reason and their respective artists holding fort in the other two rooms of 77A Charterhouse Street), I recently caught up with Critical founder Kasra to talk heritage, discovering new music and more…
Kasra, thanks for your time man. How are you? I’m good, recovering from my recent US tour. The jetlag hit me hard this time!
Let’s go back to the beginning for a sec. Late 90s’; where did it all start for you? How did you get into electronic music? For a long time I was dismissive of electronic music; I was always into guitar music and bands. Then the more and more I heard, the more I began to like what I was hearing. Some friends took me to The End and I never looked back.
You’re known as one of the best DJs in DnB. What makes your sets unique – and if you could give a single piece of advice to upcoming DJs what would it be? Haha, I don’t know about that! I just play what I like with a view to making things interesting and always keeping the dancefloor moving.
Of the venues you’ve played, local or international, which stand out as the best? Any favourite soundsystems? Fabric (as standard) is always incredible, the Moat stage at Outlook Festival… The system at The Twisted Pepper in Dublin is also incredible.
You started Critical in 2002. It’s since gone on to become one of/ if not the best label in DnB, supporting some of the best new artists in the genre. What’s your process for discovering new talent? I love discovering and nurturing new talent, so I’m always on the look out for who is coming through.
I just keep an eye on what’s interesting and as I’m always looking for new music to play, I just follow the tracks by new producers that get a good reaction.
In your opinion, how healthy is DnB at the moment? It’s one of the genres that never seems to die out – and from a dubstep head’s view it looks as healthy as ever! I think its incredibly healthy. DJs and labels are exploring more and more influences and different styles within the 170 remit.
We’ve had a few DnB artists (Skeptical, Jubei, Icicle etc) cross over into 140/ dubstep. Is this something you’d be keen on doing (if you haven’t done it already)? I’ll be honest, it’s not something im planning on.
Haha fair enough! Any pointers for artists to watch out for in the coming months? Hyroglifics is a really exciting talent and I’m excited to watch what Mefjus, Emperor, Ivy Lab, Enei, Sam Binga and Foreign Concept do next.
We’re coming up to the latest residency dance at Fabric. How did that relationship come about? I had wanted to work with Fabric pretty much since I started the label. The team over there approached me in 2013 (when they felt the label was ready) and it’s just grown from there.
You’re one of the few producers/ DJs to have been asked to put together a FABRICLIVE release. What was that process like – and how did you select the music you included? I spent so long choosing as many tracks as possible, getting it to flow, to include as much new music as possible without the focus being on freshness for quality, then piecing it together. Lots of late nights!
Critical is a vinyl and digital label. What are your thoughts on the vinyl vs digital debate for labels these days? Is vinyl still a viable format? Definitely, we still have a fanbase who want to support vinyl and until the format becomes unsustainable I’ll keep on pressing it.
For a taste of what to expect at next Friday’s epic FABRICLIVE (with a more-than stellar lineup across all three rooms from four of the best labels/ promoters in bass music!), here’s what the Fabric gang have to say:
“Drum & bass masterminds Critical Sound step up from their usual Room Two spot to our first arena for their residency, where boss Kasra will go head to head with Foreign Concept, as will Phace and Mefjus, for two back to back sets. Russian producer Enei is also in town alongside the legendary Fabio for a special swerve classics set. Incendiary trio Ivy Lab are booked again, linking up with Emperor and Bristol’s Sam Binga, as all of them join the Critical clan for the Room One take over.
“Two veteran labels combine their 140bpm array across our second space with Pinch’s monumental Tectonic imprint uniting with the heavyweight fusions of Distance’s Chestplate collective. The two label bosses are no strangers having collaborated together before as Deleted Scenes. They top the bill going back to back alongside sets from Coki and Cyrus, Tunnidge B2B Vivek and Kahn B2B Ishan Sound.
“Back to pilot our mezzanine, Hit & Run enlist Marx XTC with Trigga, Tonn Piper and Fox to lead Manchester’s formidable Monday night party crew. Chimpo will also be out in force alongside Hoya:Hoya’s Jonny Dub and long-standing resident, Rich Reason. The back to back stylings of Nanny Banton and Danny Drive Thru will complete the lineup.”
Kasra and the rest of the Critical Music guys join Distance, Pinch and Rich Reason (and their respective artists) for a Friday night of utter madness across Fabric’s three rooms.
We’ll be giving away tickets to next Friday’s FABRICLIVE on Twitter next Monday (05/05/14), so head over and get following so you don’t miss the comp!
Order your tickets for £18 on the Fabric website here – or they’re £19 OTD (£13 for students and fabricfirst members) or £10 after 3am. Doors are 11pm to 7am.
See you by the subs!