Interview: Kastor & Dice
27 April 2011
On Saturday April 30 Belgium's premier dubstep representatives Kastor & Dice once again welcome the scene's cream of the crop supported by a few thousand delirious fans at Untitled's Outlook Festival Launch Party! As dubstep is dominating dancefloors and boiler rooms all over the world, we asked the Diamond City based deejays and promoters how they see the scene evolving further and what triggered them to make their hearts beat at 140 beats per minute.
- by Dimitri Cologne
"To call something post-dubstep while dubstep itself is still gaining fans all over the world is not only a poor choice of words but completely missing the point of how dubstep started out and what it stands for"
For those who still don't know about Belgium's and Europe's biggest indoor dubstep event. What's Untitled! all about?
Kastor - We started out in 2006 in Scheld’Apen, a small venue in Antwerp that always encouraged young people to think outside the box. We tried to uphold that mentality throughout the years, whether we have 200 people attending (our first edition) or sell out 2.500 tickets in advance (our last edition).
How did Untitled! become this big?
Kastor - Untitled! reached a certain level thanks to a devoted fanbase in- and outside Belgium. We always keep our ear close to the ground and learn a lot from the fans' feedback. Whether it’s booking certain artists or looking at the production of our events. As long as they are happy, we are happy.
Untitled! is more than just throwing parties.
Kastor - Indeed. A couple of years ago we launched our very own record label with the fourth release from 501 coming out this Spring. We also just printed a limited amount of t-shirts, it's a collaboration with Kid Vanilla which is an exciting Antwerp based clothing brand.
When and how did you decide to start boosting dubstep in Belgium?
Kastor - Untitled! is the brainchild of Sim (who back then organized the Soulshine festival) and myself. We felt the Antwerp nightlife around 2005 and 2006 was pretty dull, people weren’t taking any risks. So we provided a very needed platform for fresh and exciting bass music in general.
Did Kastor & Dice, your DJ project, came to surface at the same time Untitled! did?
Kastor: Dice and myself were pretty active in the drum & bass scene around 2000 but after a few years we became tired of the small pond most artists were fishing in. You can say dubstep was there at the right place and at the right time. Also BunZero can take a lot of credit for our devotion to dubstep as it were his mixtapes we were listening to in the beginning. Also the first Stainage parties in Brussels really opened up our eyes and ears. Between the second and third edition of Untitled! ‘Kastor & Dice’ was born. To be honest it felt quite natural playing out together as we knew each other already for years and had the same style and ideas when it came to dubstep.
Which tracks or albums lit the fuse for you guys to play out bass music?
Kastor: I’m grateful to the second wave of Detroit techno for sparking my interest in electronic music. Artists and labels such as Jeff Mills, Richie Hawtin, Underground Resistance and Plus 8 got me into DJ’ing. Later on it was Reprazent’s “New Forms” and “Mysteries of Funk” by Grooverider that moved me onto drum & bass. I became interested in playing out dubstep after hearing the 2005 ‘Summer Mix’ by Skream which was packed with classics: “Midnight Request Line”, “Glamma”, “Rutten” and “Tortured Soul” all were on it. Just thinking back of those tracks in that period send shivers down my spine.
Dice (kicks in for just a moment): I found my love for bass music within the surge of 90s dance music. From house and techno in the early nineties, being touched by releases on Belgian mainstays Wonka or R&S and the influx of UK rave music. Later on I really digged the technoid sounds of Moving Shadow through the urban grit of Streetbeats or Metalheadz. But most of the attention came from Skream's 2005 ‘Summer Mix’ as well. It showed what would take the world by storm over the next four to six years.
Jaydee - “Plastic Dreams”
C'hantal - “The Realm”
Nightmares On Wax - “Set Me Free”
Photek - “Rings Around Saturn”
Goldie - “Angel”
Reprazent - “Brown Paper Bag”
Skream - “Midnight Request Line”
Let's talk about dubstep in general. When you read some of the topics on discussion boards, quite often people say true dubstep comes from the likes of Mala while producers such as Doctor P only commercialize the scene. Untitled! has had both artists on its parties.
Kastor - The most important aspect of us booking certain artists, and I can’t stress this enough, is that we need to believe in what they do. Whether it's the deep and tribal vibes of Mala or the epic tear out synths from Doctor P. Both artists have put their mark on the scene and will be remembered in few years time. But what is “true” dubstep anyway? We all started out from the idea that dubstep couldn’t be boxed in. You had the tempo (around 140 beats per minute), a big bassline and that was it basically. So I can’t help but smile nowadays when I read people commenting on Doctor P or Skrillex and claim they don’t produce “real” dubstep. Those guys took their idea on dubstep and turned it into something new, this is how dubstep started out in the first place.
In the same spirit as punk, dubstep is already breeding a subgenre preceded by “post”.
Kastor - Suddenly you have a new generation of producers like Mount Kimbie, Joy O and James Blake and certain people decide to group them as post-dubstep artists. But to call something "post-" while the main genre itself is still gaining fans all over the world and growing exponentially is not only a poor choice of words but again completely missing the point of how dubstep started out and what it stands for.
At our last local Red Bull Music Academy lecture we discussed the future of dubstep. How do you see it?
Kastor - I wasn’t at the lecture so I have no idea of what has been said there but when it comes to the music we are at a very exciting place right now. Everything is still evolving so rapidly, some kid could be making a different kind of beat at this moment in his bedroom and thanks to social media blowing up in only a few months time. I’m sure we’ve only explored 1/10th of which direction this music can go to. But while the music will continue to become more popular I’m quite sure there will be a lot of events that will have to close the books.
Like with every other hype does the popularity of dubstep bring along negative things?
Kastor - There are too many copycats operating at the moment, people keep booking the same international artists over and over. It’s become a running joke in the UK that some artists are moving to Belgium as they play out more here than in their home country.
After dubstep reached its peak, how will you manage to keep on expanding the Untitled! legacy?
Kastor - Untitled! started out as an event that focused on drum & bass, funk, dub and dubstep among others. The last couple of years we focused more on dubstep than anything else but we’re slowly expanding our horizon again with the addition of the second room. Just as dubstep and their artists evolve into something different in a couple of years we will evolve as well.
Untitled! has massive Summer plans, right?
Kastor - We received a lot of requests the past few years to organize an event during the Summer but as with everything else we do we wanted to kick it off with a bang! So now we start the Summer with a stage at Dour Festival featuring Joker, Doctor P, Trolley Snatcha, Dirtyphonics, Digital Soundboy Soundsystem, True Tiger label, Reso, Pariah, Skepta and ourselves. Then we set up camp at the first day of Tomorrowland with performances by Caspa & Rod Azlan, The Others, Cookie Monsta Vs. Funtcase, Kito, Hijak Vs. Kastor & Dice, Girl Unit, Piro, Goldorak & Solpher, Baselab Sound and Jonas Lion). We’re also working together with the people of the Croatian Outlook Festival as we will be DJ'ing there this year as well.
After all these years being scene experts, ain't the time right to gear up and produce some bangers?
Kastor - Well to be honest, we’ve both been producing for a while now. You can spot some of our tracks in our sets when we play out to test them on the floor. And there’s a couple of tunes that have been getting good crowd response. But again, we want to be sure of ourselves when we go public.
Final question. What's the deal behind these bagpacks dubstepheads always seem to bring along to parties?
Kastor - Well I haven’t got the slightest idea. Maybe it’s some extra padding for all the mosh pits they create. I know one thing, those bags can’t be filled with cans of Red Bull, they're being sold quite cheap at our venue!