2010 is the year of dubstep. It’s everywhere, influencing all genres, all scenes and all things rave… Pioneering this movement is a handful of dutty dubstep-ists, dedicated to driving new sounds forward and dropping tunes so bassy they’ll give you motion sickness. Amongst them is DJ, producer, label owner and former basketball star, Caspa. In between shooting his new music video in LA and jetting off to play in Ibiza, we grabbed some time with the man himself to find out just how it feels at the top.
Hi i’m Caspa, a.k.a Gary MCann from West London.
What were your early musical influences? How did you first get into the dubstep scene?
Jungle and hardcore were huge when I was at primary school. I had a Brockie One Nation tape that I listened to so much it snapped and my granddad had to fix it with sellotape! That was the first time I heard real bass music.
As a teenager, I didn’t really go raving though. I was big into basketball, and was even selected for the England squad. Training was tough so I couldn’t go out drinking. But at 18 I had to give it up due to injury, which is when I re-discovered my passion for music and focused on that instead.
I bought shit decks with my first dole money, and started practicing, practicing, practicing. Then I found the dubstep night FWD, and instantly knew this was the sound I’d been looking for.
So I began learning to make music like that, which is where it all started...
Where did the name Caspa come from?
Um, there was a crazy character in the film ‘Kids’ called Caspa, with a wicked sample of him drunk & singing. I used that in one of my first Caspa tunes.
It’s been pretty catchy. And it got me ‘the dopest ghost’ nickname. I get a lot of Halloween gigs too!
How did you link up with Rusko?
Rusko was one of the first artists I signed to my Dub Police label in 2004.
He moved down from Leeds, we started DJing together and made a few tunes. Then we got the opportunity to do Fabric Live 37, which became the first ever commercial dubstep album.
There was actually already a Fabric Live 37 mixed by Justice ready to go, but they pulled the plug on it last minute cos it wasn’t edgy enough. So we only had 48 hours to hand in the mastered live mix from scratch. Fabric is known for pushing things forward, so big respect to them for taking that risk on us – but it paid off. And gave us the boost we needed.
Dubstep’s been heralded the ‘Sound of 2010’, and you’ve been one of the key figures in its development and success. It must be an exciting time?
It’s been a massive year for the scene. It’s amazing to be at the forefront, having worked so hard.
It feels like we can do anything at the moment. Like at Sonar festival I played on the main stage to 65,000 people, in between Dizzee Rascal and the Chemical Brothers. A dubstep DJ never would’ve had the chance to do that in the past.
Dubstep’s really unified and lifted the whole dance music industry. It’s changed the way people are thinking about music, mixing music and making music. You can hear it influencing drum & bass, house, even hip-hop.
There’ll always be scene people complaining that dubstep’s got too commercial. But the bottom line is that we’ve always worked hard to get this music heard. If that means it’s got popular, then isn’t that what we always wanted?
Your album title, Everybody’s Talking, Nobody’s Listening, suggests some cynicism about the scene. Can you explain the background to this?
As the scene’s got bigger, everyone’s got something to say about it. You can be a megastar just because people talk about you on YouTube and Facebook – even if no one’s ever seen you play! It’s all hype. We forget sometimes that when you take that away, what’s left? The music. And it’s all about the music. That’s what my album was about, with the cover shot of me holding a tape across my mouth so it could do the talking instead.
Where do you see dubstep going next?
It’s definitely got legs because the main guys in the scene really care about longevity and quality. And unlike garage, you can go to a rave and there’s no trouble. That’s what killed garage.
Dubstep’s getting huuuuuuge out in America too. The kids are crazy for it. Lil John’s just done a dubstep tune, and Rusko’s produced Britney Spears’ new single for fuck’s sake!
What have you got planned for the coming year?
My new track with Mr Hudson, Love Never Dies (Back for the first time) is out on 16 August, which I’m really excited about. And I’m doing loads of festival stuff – I’ve got Creamfields, Ibiza, SW4, Bestival, another US tour.
In between all that I’m in the studio writing a new album for 2011. Plus doing label stuff like getting Emalkay’s album out there and singles for Subscape and D1.
And then… partying and drinking! But that’s a while off yet. I’m not complaining though, it’s good being busy.
What are your top 5 tracks at the moment?
My remix of Swedish House Mafia – One
Katy B & Benga – Katy on a Mission
Emalkay - Crusader
The Others – Say to you
Subscape – All day
What’s your proudest moment to date?
I’ve got a touching one involving my dad. He told some younger guys at work that Caspa was his son. They didn’t believe him at first, then he brought in a bunch of signed stuff and they were gob-smacked. Now they’re always asking him for Fabric guestlist, he’s a legend! That was wicked, to know he’s proud to be my dad.
Ha it involves my dad again. He came to one of our Dub Police nights when David Rodigan was playing. Rodigan pulled him up onto the stage and he went crazy, raving and squirting drinks all over the crowd while Rodigan was screaming ‘make some noise for Caspa’s dad!’ Hilarious.
Most embarrassing moment?
On tour recently, we were in Minnesota and I shouted down the mic ‘What’s happening, Utah?!’ Everyone stopped cheering and just starred at me. I was sooo embarrassed. I went bright red.
Who’s your secret crush?
Ummm, when I was younger I used to fancy those twins off Fun House with Pat Sharpe. I’ve outgrown that though, they’re probably rank now!
Finally, can you tell us anything that might surprise us?
Ha there’s one thing I’ve never ever told anyone... okay, when I was younger I owned a My Little Pony. A yellow one with a blue tail, which I’d groom with a special brush.
My mates would come round with their footballs wanting to play boy-stuff, and I’d rock up with a My Little Pony! Fuck, I can’t believe I told you that. It’s a running joke in my family.
For the record, I like ladies and did eventually move on to transformers…