Kasra – Q&A

Ahead of this years festival we caught up with Kasra, the founder of Critical Music, for a chat about the history of his label. Founded 15 years ago in London the label is widely regarded as being at the forefront of the modern underground drum and bass scene.

“Kasra is a gatekeeper to what is under the surface in drum & bass. He does what he does with passion and care. He is a kindred spirit.”
Goldie, Metalheadz

How did Critical Music come about?

I had been a long time fan of the genre and was hearing more and more music by unsigned/new producers. I wanted to get involved in the scene so decided to try my hand at running a label.

When did you know or feel that your label had become a staple in the Drum & Bass scene?

I wouldnt like to say, i suppose thats for others to acknowledge. We’ve been doing this quite a while now and i think its something we are good at, we just keep on doing our thing.

What is your most memorable performance to date?

Probably our MainStage takeover at Boomtown last year or my first set at Glastonbury.

When you’re not making music or DJing, what are you doing?

Overseeing the running of the label, spending time with my girlfriend and friends or thinking about music!

Which artists do you look up to and why?

Anyone who sticks to what they believe in.

What is your favorite tune atm, apart from your own?

Probably a forthcoming Critical tune called “Blej’ by Halogenix.

What are your future plans for Critical Music?

This year is a big one so focusing on the releases in the forthcoming months including our 15 special anniversary album.

What can we expect for ’20 years of Critical’?

Ask me in 4 years when i start thinking about it !

What three things can you not live without at a music festival?

Sun Block (even in the UK) , inlfatable mattress (if camping), the missus

#Nozcast 002: Jurassic 5 Interview with Akil The MC

“What is this thing? … Oh this is hip-hop.”

Ahead of their European tour, J5’s Akil the MC talks to Mica Millar about his experience of the growing and shifting hip-hop scene, his first ever performance and the reasons behind the break-up and reunion of the band.

Growing up in L.A in the ’70’s, Akil was right in the centre of the emerging hip-hop scene. Controversially though, he doesn’t see hip-hop culture forming with the likes of Sugar-Hill Gang and Grandmaster Flash – he associates the start of the movement with the arrival of Run-DMC:
“Sugar-Hill Gang came out and I still didn’t know it was hip-hop. Even though they was like ‘hip-hop a hippy…’ but we just thought it was like some… funny type of song or whatnot…Then when Run-DMC came, that’s when I said ‘what is this thing?’…Oh this is hip-hop. That’s when all the elements came together, from rapping to graffiti to mc-ing.”

Akil pinpoints 1983, when he was 13 years old, as when “hip-hop came to [him] as an artform and a culture”. It was around this time that he attempted an open-mic contest and very openly admits that he’d only written his rap on the day and it didn’t quite go to plan:
“I was like I’m gonna mention my friends’ names and this that and the other… and then I got up there and I was like ‘errrrrrrr…’ I just froze. *laughs*”

Since then, though, his career skyrocketed with the birth of Jurassic 5. Despite their success, however, they decided to split in 2007, a period of time that they would all rather forget by the sounds of it. On the subject Akil said that “the universe has its ways of saying okay it’s time to stop… [and] okay it’s time to come back together and stuff.” He used a very relatable analogy of sibling rivalry:
“Yo, you go to your room, I’ll go to my room, but if someone is trying to break into your house… you’re gonna forget being mad at your brother or sister and you’re both gonna come together to try to protect the house.”

It seems then that Jurassic 5 are back and here to defend their house. Akil suggests that he wants to get back to the “hypnotising” beats and “nice lyrics” of ‘90s hip-hop and just send out something different from the club tracks and braggadocious tracks that are out at the moment. He does say that there are a couple of artists that he likes right now, Kendrick Lamar being one of those. He says that Kendrick is what he feels hip-hop should be right now, bringing back the aesthetic of the past whilst still being connected to today: “I can appreciate him meshing the two and then coming out on his own and saying I’mma show you the future”. Now that would be one hell of a collaboration!

Catch J5, Saturday night, on the Orchard Stage.

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