At the epitome of show and festival season, his name can be heard in whispers sending chills down the spine of any eager bass-loving mind. Some of his most famous songs, “Rubber Chicken”, “Itchy & Scratchy”, “Big Headed Slags”, and “Check Yourself”, have become anthems in the dance community, leaving crowds with their jaws dropped when he hits the decks. He was born to dominate the music world. It was almost as if the bass gods themselves had plucked him out of his West London home; choosing him as the master of the dubstep universe. Release after release he has become nothing short of a legend, with every producer in the game aspiring to work with him. He’s someone who can make this highest of watts on a PK sound speaker cry with his wubby synths and heavyweight bass. His music is known everywhere. He exists throughout bass music history as a “figurehead” and “tastemaker” of the scene.
Caspa “came in at a time when dubstep didn’t quite know what it was and created a spark that turned into a brush fire” (youredm.com). As the founder of several influential labels such as Storming Productions, Dub Police, and Sub Soldiers, he is consistently staying on the top of his game and creating a huge impact in the bass music world. This UK grime phenomenon’s career has spanned “over three studio albums, 30+ singles and many high-profile remixes of tracks from Depeche Mode, Deadmau5, Swedish House Mafia, and Ludacris” (soundcloud.com). Fans can agree that none hold a candle to the pure, raw talent he has and the madness that ensues from hearing his elusive dubplates.
He is back for his 2nd time ever in Philadelphia for Boss Wave: A 3D Visual Experience presented by the Kontrol Room. At last, the overpowering fan hunger in Filthadelphia for grimey, sharply produced dubstep lessens… but the desire… grows. They crave… for more. As he departs for his block of shows in Philly and Houston… he leaves countless awestruck, headbanging crowds… to find… yet… another here. Once seeing him it’s almost as if your body becomes possessed with visions of heavy subs and goosebump-inducing synths. And once you’re in his trance, it never stops. You will soon be in the presence of none other than the dopest ghost in town, the UK grime Lord himself, Caspa.
It was an honor to be able to catch up with Caspa before the destruction ensues at District N9ne. Enjoy the inside look into the mind of a genius and grab tickets to see him here.
I’ve been producing for over ten years, but really feel like I’m just now getting the hang of it and finding my own sound and style – as weird as that sounds! My biggest accomplishment out of everything I’ve done is being able to do this for a living and as long as I’m able to do that, everything else is a bonus.
You’ve cited Jungle and Hip Hop as some of your biggest influences, how do you feel they have played a part in your music? Who are some artists that have influenced you? And what are some of your favorite old school hip-hop tracks?
Mobb Deep – Hell on Earth and Bone Thugs N Harmony – East 99. Those two albums, if you listen to them you can hear where I’ve drawn my influence from. My older brother was responsible for that, he was a massive Hip Hop Head. It was the raw, rugged, stripped back, dark sound – almost cinematic – that I love.
How did you first discover bass music, and what made you want to produce it?
Bass music is engrained in the UK culture, ever since the sound systems first came here from the Caribbean in the 60’s. For people my age and older it’s standard to have grown up listening to reggae, jungle, hardcore. Pirate radio was responsible for that, it was all over the airwaves. In the very late 90’s early 2000’s when UK Garage was evolving into something darker and more underground, that’s when I heard something special in the sound and wanted to be involved in the scene.
You started your first record label in 2004 that focuses on grime and dubstep, and then another, Dub Police, for specifically dubstep. What made you focus on these genres, and what’s the process like for your when you create a new track?
There wasn’t a name for the genre when I first started doing it, that’s how underground it was, so my early label – Storming and then Dub Police, they were some of the first labels for that sound and scene. It was a total progression from Hardcore, Jungle, Garage and then Dubstep and Grime. I thought it was really exciting and unique, this sound that had started in a little club in London and to be part of pushing and spreading that sound was and is still so exciting to me, it’s London through and through. The process of making a track, for me really it’s about trying to do something different, for me all the best tunes are made when people take risks and push boundaries and that’s how the scene started and that’s what made it stand out. I’m not necessarily interested in a track sounding current, just that it sounds good and has a great vibe. My biggest thing is making music for me and hoping people like it, not the other way around – you always need to be 100% happy with what you’re making.
You’ve stayed true to your UK roots and consistently created sub heavy, wobbly, and wonky tunes, such as “Rubber Chicken”, “Foundation Dub”, “80’s Kid”, “Itchy & Scratchy” and “Madman ft. Riko”. What makes you stay true to your roots with your sounds?
I just write what I love and what I want people to hear, for me being current or relevant is neither here nor there, I’m just doing and making what I enjoy and what I like the sound of. You and fellow DJ, Rusko, are very close and you’re responsible for signing some of his debut work. How did you two meet? Did you ever think when you two were making old school dubstep tunes back in the day that it would ever blow up to what is has become today?
I met Rusko on MSN messenger, he sent me a bunch of demos which I really liked and signed, along with the rest of his tunes to Sub Soldiers. He was like all of the artists that were on the label, I just wanted to give a platform to unheard artists and for their music to be heard, that was the whole ethos behind Dub Police and Sub Soldiers. We were just having fun, we weren’t thinking about it and that was the key to the success.
“Custard Chucker” featuring Rusko was released back in 2007, and it’s this very old school melodic, dark and liquid-like, wobbly tune. How did you two create this song?
What you have to remember is, that when tracks are released they aren’t necessarily made in that year, especially the older ones, sometimes it’s 1,2 even 3 years before they see the light of day. We made ‘Custard Chucker’ in 2005 and again I know it sounds cliche, but we were just messing about, having fun! Rusko played the guitar and bass live on that track and the beats and arrangements were programmed by myself, so it was a real collaboration of mine and Rusko’s styles, so I think that’s why it worked so well.
The word “riddim” has been very big lately and seen as a choppy sub-genre of dubstep. How do you feel about the hype it’s getting? Do you listen to any riddim yourself, and if so, what artists?
First off, let’s be clear – it’s Dubstep. You can call it what you want but it’s Dubstep! I’ve heard some decent tunes, but my only concern is that most of it sounds the same and I’ve yet to be blown away by something that I haven’t heard before. I’m all about good music, if it’s good it’s good.
You’ve played mostly every major venue and major festival since you started out, what has been your favorite and why? And what are some places you’d like to play that you haven’t?
The smaller gigs are always my favourite, more intimate and vibey and that’s where the sound comes from – small, sweaty clubs. That’s where the sound was made for, it was never intended or originally thought of for the main stage at a festival! Having said that, I’ve played some incredible shows – Sonar festival in-between Dizzee Rascal and Chemical Brothers, Serbia I played right after the Arctic Monkeys, which were unreal experiences, but put me in a basement club with 500 people and I’m happy as Larry! I’ve never played South America so I’d love to be able to play there and tick that off my list.
On July 7th, you’re performing in Philadelphia for your second time ever, what are you most excited about? What is your favorite staple food to eat while in the city?
I’m very excited especially off the back of doing the Bassnectar show in Atlantic City – that was such a good vibe! It’s been a while since I’ve played a club show on the East coast so I can’t wait to unleash all these Dubs! I’m not trying to be a tourist, but you know I’ve got to get a Philly cheesesteak – but a proper one! Any recommendations? – tweet me, people! (@caspaofficial)
When preparing for new shows, what is the process like for you? Do you have any go-to tracks that you always love to play out? If so, what are they?
You can never fail to chuck some of the classics in a set, coz people love to hear a few of them when they come out to see you. It’s great to test out new music and see people’s reactions, apart from that it’s about bringing that true UK sound, which I find very rare to hear in the states at the moment.
Who are some artists that you listen to?
In Dubstep I love what Kloud Men are doing and Subscape’s new tunes are killer, also Variations from the UK. I love what DJ Slimzee is doing with his label and artists, they’ve got a good movement going (If you don’t know who he is, he’s one of the original Grime DJs) Joker’s new music is really good and for me, right across the UK there’s some really good Dubstep and Grime music at the moment and it all seems to be merging, which is really exciting, they’re two sounds that were around at the same time and it’s nice to see them both having a resurgence.
What can we expect from you in the future?
More music that I’ve ever released before, but quality over quantity. Everything for me right now is music, music and more music. I’ve got the next part of my Vibrations series coming, the first track was called UMBONGO, second up was VENOM, then GET HIGHER and followed by 33 DEGREES last month. This Friday the 7th the latest installment drops – DEJA VU. I have Mix 2.0 in the works which should be ready to be released in the next month and a bunch of other stuff that I can’t talk about right now 🙂 but as I said, music, music, MUSIC!
Keep up to date with all things Caspa here.
Get your tickets to see Caspa tonight in Philly right here.