Ahead of his latest release on ever-reliably brilliant MindStep Music, and roughly three years after the last FatKidOnFire feature with him, we caught up with Cal Trashbat to talk music, gigs, good things from last year and more…
Cal, it’s been a while (almost three years!) since we did our first feature with you here on FKOF. What’s good – how are you? Wow! Nearly 3 years?! That’s a very long time! I’m super, thanks for asking.
What’s changed for you since our last feature with you? Quite a lot, first of all since our last feature I’d have to say my overall sound has changed. At that point in time, I was more about the darker stuff – I suppose what people are calling ‘dungeon’ these days. It couldn’t of been long after that interview that I started down the deeper path, I remember thinking to myself that I thought my better sounding tracks were the deeper, more melodic stuff.
Even though that wasn’t the main focus, it just seemed to come a little more naturally, and I found I had way more fun at it than trying to make dark, twisted reeses (which I was never any good at anyway haha! I remember making a conscious decision to stop trying to sound like this person or style, and just make music that I found came somewhat more naturally to me.
I’ve always been a fan of jazz music and have always been drawn to the more melodic, progressive and ’emotion fuelled’ music; bands like Tool, Deftones, or Nine Inch Nails, so it all sort of clicked. I even remember messaging Crises saying, “I think I’ve found my sound” – so yeah, that’s probably a big one, that and the MindStep signing.
You seemed to have a pretty good 2013, lots of playing out and a few releases (including November’s self-released ‘Inemuri’ EP). What were your highlights of the year? 2013 was, I can’t front – my highlights have to be starting the year off with my Koanashi EP on MindStep. The release was a huge deal for me, as I’d been gunning for MindStep for a while so when Crises got back to me with an EP idea I was over the moon!
I’ve also had a few gigs that were pretty monumental personally, I got to play at Cable in London before it shut down, which again was big for me because I’d been going there for so long. It was surreal to find myself on the other side of the decks.
I played my first gig abroad too in Amsterdam for True Soldier Productions at T301, that was amazing. Amsterdam is one of my favorite places, and I’d been a fair few times so to play there was like a dream!
Then there’s was the Chord Marauders feature which was a honour, I was really proud to be a part of that as I’ve been a huge follower and supporter of all the producers involved for while now, so when they asked me to feature I was ecstatic!
Oh and I started my Rood FM show last year. I think the last show was my 30th one; that’s been wicked. I hit Rood up about a show as I thought it would be a nice platform to showcase my on work along with my friends and other like minded producers, and it’s been really great. I seem to have a couple more listeners every week, so yeah that’s been wicked. The show is 4 – 6pm GMT every Sunday – #SundayBunday!
Tell us about the new MindStep release. It features a solo production and a collab with Vaun, right? Yeah, it’s 4 tracks by myself and the collab. With this EP, my goal was to create a more ‘dancefloor friendly’ version of my sound. By that I mean a bit bouncier and more energetic – my last EP was more music to sit back and listen to, whereas with this one I’ve tried to make it more… danceable!
There’s an underlying theme of nature through out the EP too. I like doing that, incorporating themes and concepts into my music, I find it helps the creative process if I go into making a tune thinking “right… forest music” or whatever. With Koanashi EP, the theme was late nights in a city, the kind of surreal, floaty feeling of wandering around a city at stupid o’clock, and with Hanako EP the theme is dancing in the woods with the animals, or the jungle… I just find applying a theme or concept to a project makes things a little more interesting, pretty weird I guess!
Then Vaun and I did a track a while back and the feedback on it was really positive, so we just decided it would be nice to put it on the EP. It’s a little different from the other 4 tracks, but still fits, and rounds off the EP nicely in my opinion.
This is your second release (after the ‘Koanashi’ EP) on the imprint; it’s obviously a good relationship you’ve got going on! What makes a good connection between artist and label? I think for me it’s communication and honesty, that’s key. It’s the little things like phone calls and Skype as opposed to just messaging back and forth, puts it on a personal level that way, and you can be clearer on your intentions and plans.
We’re quite a tight knit group at MindStep, Crises is a top guy, he just makes sure you’re happy with everything at every stage, and that we all meet up regularly, be it a MindStep night or even just for Nandos! Things like that just make the whole thing seem less like a business and feel more like just friends doing music!
What have you got going on, other than this MindStep release, at the moment? Any other plans? Well, I have a few more things lined up with MindStep this year, not that I can really go into any detail though! I have a few more gigs planned already too, which is wonderful.
Again, not much I can go into right now but one I can mention is a MindStep takeover in Ghent, Belgium which I’m extremely excited about! Oh and the Chord Marauders night at Plan B on the 31st January…
I’ve also I got a track coming out on Deep Heads this year on a compilation which I’m really pleased with. Deep Heads, like MindStep, is a label I’ve been a fan of for years so to have something come out through them is a real honour!
Given your recent gigs, who’s tunes have been going off in the dance? I don’t play tunes that don’t go off! Haha no, but seriously, I’d have to say straight off the bat Geode has been smashing it in my sets, also I’d have to say Anex, Perverse, B9 & Jafu – all just going by crowd reaction.
Another guy who’s tunes have been really going off is a little known producer called Headtraffic, he hasn’t got any releases (yet) and doesn’t have many tunes floating about, but a lot of people have asking me “what was that tune?” when I play his stuff, so definitely a guy to watch out for!
Any final words or shout outs? Thanks for your time and catch you soon! Out to Crises & the MindStep Family, Chord Marauders & Deep Heads for the support, my friends, my Hat, a special shout to Darkside for giving me the opportunity to start 2014 with a nice bang on GetDarkerTV #194.
And most of all out to everyone who’s come to see me play, bought my music, or even just checked out my SoundCloud for a minute or two, you guys keep me going, for real!