Kasra gives the down-low on Critical's summer slammer

Drum and Bass | Wednesday 16th May 2018 | Arren

We talk with Kasra about his upcoming Summer Sonics BBQ.

Kasra is a leading pioneer DJ and producer who heads the Critical Sound imprint. Famed for their events all over, next weekend they’re bringing the heat to Studio 338 for their debut summertime based party.

Taking over the sick Greenwich venue, the Critical family will be hosting a daytime shindig of epic proportions, making use of the venues varied spaces both indoor and outdoor. Ahead of the party, we spoke to Kasra to get the low down.

You got a show, Critical Sounds: Summer Sonics next weekend (26th May) at Studio 338, why did you choose that venue?
We wanted to do something different to just a normal club as we’ve done a lot of shows at Fabric, had a show at the start of the year at Corsica Studios. As a venue it’s somewhere that isn’t really used much for drum & bass parties. We wanted to do something in the summer which is different to your normal clubbing environment. We wanted outdoor space, light and to do something in the day, it just worked out as the best venue.

Have you been there for a party before?
As a party no, I’ve been to the venue to check it out. I’ve heard many good things!

When you visited it what made the venue stand out?
The layout of it, it’s an interesting design. The sound system, you’re never more than 10 foot away from the speakers within the whole space. And just the mix of indoor and outdoor spaces. They sadly had a fire not that long ago and you can tell that they’ve redone the place with it in mind of how you re-interpret a venue once you’ve run events and have to start again. You can tell that they had a lot of knowledge because they’d been running for years beforehand so they knew what to do.

For day-time parties do you think it’s important to have the aspects of both indoor and outdoor?
Well, it depends on the time of year. I think for us we wanted to do something that’s a bit more summer focused. Hopefully, the weather will be there but it works as both indoor and outdoor. In an ideal situation, we have great weather and it works all round. Depends on what you’re going for if you have the space to use it then it’s great.

You’ve got a massive line up heading down there for you, any names you’re excited about?
Everyone really, we’ve got the Critical family in the main room and we’ve got guests there, Serum and Marky our special guest, he’s headlining. We’ve not had him play a Critical party before so that’s exciting. Then we’ve got some older skool jungle going on in the second room so excited about that as well with guys like Nicky Blackmarket, Dillinja. Then we’ve got a new skool stuff going on with the Flexout and Dreamers from London & Italy. I’m really excited about their room cos I remember when I started out the label it was really important to get little showcases at events and I felt it was important that with this show we give someone the chance to do that.

As a label as well as your parties you’ve always got the big names but also always pushing the newer sounds.
Yeah, it’s really important to me that we have that. I do like classic drum & bass but I don’t like to be a retrospective label and look back, rather support the new people trying to do something different.

How did you go about deciding who would be playing at this
It wasn’t purely my decision, there’s more people than just me! There is also the question of availability. More often than not, if you work with a good team of people on a show who share the same vision of what you wanna do you just work around trying to get the best. We got the line up we wanted and people have reacted to it really well.

It’s not just a party with the music, there’s loads of street food as well.
Yeah, they’ll be food, drinks so it’s a bit of a different vibe rather than just being a straight-up club show.

Is that something that Critical parties have moved into?
It’s something that I’ve always liked the idea of and it was just a matter of timing. Also, it’s something you can’t do that regularly so they are kept special and a bit different. It was basically down to timing, at the right point for the label’s event side to do it properly and it’s fell together quite nicely. It’s something we’d like to do more of for sure.

Are there any parties on the similar vibe that you’ve taken inspiration from?
Stuff at Sonar that I went to a couple of years ago that I really liked. Mainly it’s events outside of the UK because we’re not particular set up for it.

How did Circuits with InsideInfo come about?
We’ve known each other a long while and it just fell together. He doesn’t live that far from me and we managed to get into the studio to try and make some music together and quite quickly we had a bunch of tunes and we didn’t really feel like it was a Kasra or InsideInfo project and we liked the idea of giving it it’s own identity. When we first sat down we didn’t think anything other than making something work as we approach music from different angles.

How was your debut at Fabric?
Yeah, it was really good, we’re both good friends with Mefjus. He asked us to play and it was the perfect place to play really.

Critical Sound has quite a long history with Fabric.
Yes, very much so. We’re kind of exploring a bit more outside of Fabric now, being a bit nomadic and moving around and seeing what we can do.

Yeah, there are loads of places out there offering different spaces.
There is, some people would argue there isn’t. But there’s spaces. We’ve been at Fabric for many years, we love it and will always wanna go back but it feels like the time to do something else. We’ve been there for six years now, maybe longer.

How would you describe the London club scene at the moment
Most of the time I’m away at the weekends working myself, I don’t get to go to clubs that much. Then if I am at home, I don’t wanna go to clubs! There’s been a bit of a shift with the daytime stuff like Printworks is doing. Then there’s a whole rafter of things going on in the underground like illegal parties and that kind of thing. My experience is that it feels like its still vibrant with a lot going on in different places that we might not expect.

In terms of all the parties that you’ve done in London, is there one that stands out in your mind?
The Corsica one earlier this year was amazing. Such a wicked club, great sound system. Quite small for what we do. Some of the Fabric parties have been incredible. The first time we played there was room 3, which was like 7 years ago now. Quite a few to mention really, we’ve been lucky.

Is there a venue in London that you would like to do an event at?
Yeah, I wouldn’t mind building to the point where we get our own festival. You look at what Hospital have done, you’ve gotta aim high. Then I really like the idea of doing small stuff as well. I find it interesting to push yourself to achieve a high level but I also like the idea of doing like 150 capacity. I wouldn’t mind doing a Critical night at like Waiting Rooms or something. Really concentrated vibe, just a couple of people DJing all night.

What makes the smaller parties different to the bigger parties?
Obviously the amount of people that are there, the imitate vibe. The sound is always a lot more intense. You don’t need to book like 20 DJs, you can keep it simple. It’s just a different experience. In the same way, that big shows can be incredible, small shows can be really, really special.

If you could take a Critical party to anywhere in the world, where would that be?
Womb in Toyko. I’d love to do, it’s somewhere that I’ve always wanted to go to.

Last year was a massive year, 15 years. How was that received in the scene after your tours all over and the album?
Yeah, really well received I feel. We got a chance to do some incredible shows and some festival stuff. It just felt like a success all around, but the main thing for me being successful was putting out the music and getting to 15 years.

In terms of music was a huge year with loads of releases from more well established artists like Halogenix as well as the new guys coming through like Was A Be & Kumarachi though the quality was consistent.
That’s something that’s really important to us, we always try and do.

Critical Sounds Summer Sonic's takes place on May 26th at Studio 338 - Tickets

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