Wemoto Radio - 011 - Kassian
Combining influences in jazz, soul, broken beat and hip hop….
Kassian is an exploration in house and electronica from a duo set on taking their own direction in club music.
Formed of Joe Danvers and Warren Cummings, the project spawned from a chance meeting at a party in Peckham London organised by a mutual contact. With Dancers background cutting his teeth in the Bristol club scene and Warren having collaborated with many of Londons eminent soul and house artists, their comparable interests lead them to their first studio session together at London’s legendary studio ´The Premises`.
Their first demos caught the attention of Dam Swindle who signed and released their debut EP ´The Premise` on their own imprint Heist Recordings. The pair have since pushed their sound forward and began a lasting relationship with legendary London record label and store Phonica Records, joining a esteemed selection of artists including Peggy Gou and Midland who have released multiple EP’s on the Phonica White imprint. In summer 2019 Kassian self-released their ‘Kassian Versions’ series, a vinyl only edits label which placed at no. 6 in Phonica’s Top-10 Singles of 2019 with multiple represses since. With follow up records on Phonica and Heist Recordings and a stunning remix for SG Lewis, to name a few highlights in 2020, they will join the Shall Not Fade family with the ´Crush` EP in January.
Hey Joe and Warren, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions. Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background, perhaps where you grew up and what first got you interested in electronic music?
Warren: I was born in London and studied in Nottingham. Ever since I was young my parents and friends group were really musical which opened me up to lots of different styles. My dad was mainly the one who got me into electronic music at a young age and it’s just stuck with me since.
Joe: I’m from Nottingham originally but we moved south to Dorset when I was a teenager. Just like Warren my Dad & brothers are all musicians and I got into playing bass and drums pretty young. As soon as I started uni I got pretty heavily into electronic music and started DJing regularly.
What have you been doing during lockdown? How is the pandemic affecting your day to day? Do you have a daytime job or do you make music full time?
Warren: We’re both working full time at the moment which has been hard to juggle work with music, but luckily we managed to figure out a nice process before lockdown started so we’re working on the same projects over the cloud. it’s actually been a nice adjustment producing music in a slightly different way.
Joe: Since lockdown has lifted a little we’ve been back at 38East (our studio) pretty regularly. We’ve been using the time to finish as much music as possible, now we’ve got 4 dance records lined up for 2021 and that’s leaving us free to work on our first album.
How did you come up to make music together as Kassian and how is this project different from your previous ventures?
Warren: After we first met we decided to get into the studio together, and i think when we created The Premise in our first session we realised that the chemistry and music was strong enough to make more music.
Joe: I guess we just hear different details when we’re producing, so we can fill in the gaps for each other when we’re working on a new idea. Recently we’ve decided to stick to 100% hardware in our studio for awhile just to change up our process. We both make quite different music with our solo productions, and when we met we both said we wanted to lean more into house and techno.
In a short period of time you put out some stunning releases on Heist, Phonica, Groovenence and your own Kassian Versions. How do you decide what you release on your own label or send out to others?
Joe: Thanks! It’s been such a privilege to be involved with Heist and Phonica right from the start, they’re both great labels that we’ve followed for years. The plan for Kassian was always to use these labels to build our following up before taking the leap and self releasing.
Warren: We had a lot of fun with Kassian Versions because it meant we could make some nice edits without overthinking it too much. We’re currently in the works of making plans to create our own club label sometime soon so watch this space.
You recently updated your studio set up, how is your workflow together and which piece of gear would you miss the most? How do you start a new tune?
Joe: Ha… We’re quite obsessed with our studio to be honest. Despite all the hardware, the NI Maschine is still my favourite piece of gear in there. Until recently we used to start sketches individually and then bring them into the studio to work on, but now we’ve switched things up for the new year, we start everything from scratch in the studio and we only use the hardware. Usually we’ll just turn on one of the synths and start experimenting, and the track builds itself from there.
Warren: Yeah it's been a lot of fun changing the working process, which always keeps it nice and exciting.
You have your „Crush“ EP on Shall Not Fade coming soon, congratulations! How did the idea for the record come about?
Warren: Cheers! The label boss reached out to us at the perfect time really. At the time we were making slightly faster, more techno-inspired club music so the Crush EP shows that transition quite nicely.
Joe: Yeah it all happened really organically, we were sitting on a pile of recent demos and then Kieran messaged us to talk about a release. We’ve had our eye on SNF for ages and he’s doing great things with the label, so we’re really excited to be part of it. We’re planning to take Kassian into a new place in 2021, a little heavier with less samples, Shall Not Fade is the perfect platform to make the transition.
Can you tell us a bit about the process?
Warren: Most of these tracks were started in lockdown working remotely, so it's a very different way of working to our other records. It was fun passing the sketches back and forth and then finishing them up in the studio.
Joe: Yeah the whole EP was made separately from home, and then we eventually got together in the studio to finish them off together. Not sure if we want to repeat that process any time soon but it was definitely interesting!
What have you been listening to recently at home during these difficult times?
Warren: Skudge’s album Time Tracks has been a big part of my lockdown experience as it's quite repetitive and fits the lethargic isolation experience. Also quite a bit of uplifting classic house whilst i've been digging through records and cleaning up my iTunes with all the free time.
Joe: I usually don’t get to listen to mixes while I’m working, so working from home during lockdown has actually been bliss, I’ve had Charlie Bones on every morning and then a mix in the afternoon, there are too many to name.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Joe: Well we’re done for Xmas now, both heading home to spend time with our families. In the new year we’ll be promoting Crush and then moving on to our next record in Spring. As well as promoting our studio 38East, we’re going to be working on our first album.
Can you tell us a bit about the mix? Were there any particular thoughts or themes behind it?
Warren: It's a general mix of a few tracks we're feeling at the moment that fit well with the Crush EP, we’ve included three tracks from it so we hope you enjoy it!