Exclusive Interview W/ Caspa (Wavefront Music Festival 7-6-13)
When you talk about the formation, growth, and essence of the dubstep genre, Caspa’s name cannot be left out. Outside of his own productions, Gary McCann (Caspa) played a huge role in the emergence of artists such as Rusko, Doctor P, Subscape, and many others. His 2007 album produced with Rusko, FabricLive.37, was the first ever dubstep edition of the Fabric Live Mix Series. Caspa is still bringing the hard bass he helped popularize; however, his most recent album Alpha Omega (purchase here), offers a wide variety of additional styles within the EDM genre. It was truly an honor to have the UK dubstep legend offer up his time to us.
You do some amount of touring in the United States, but only a handful of venues are lucky enough to have you here. What does it come down to when choosing what places you’ll play in the States?
It comes down to the type of people that are trying to book you. Like I announce that I’m coming to New York, and people say “Oh, come play in Mississippi or come play in California.” It’s just not possible. I can’t do it all. You know I can’t play in all of those regions. It comes down to where I get the bookings, but it has to be the right kind of booking. I try and work with people who know what they’re doing. You get a lot of people that mess around. And just people that have invested their time and effort in a scene to fill a fan base on their side. So when you come, it’s like people are ready for your music. Sometimes I get offers, it may be good money, but it’s a s***t venue it’s too fancy. It’s all about having a good crowd and a good sound system.
What’s your opinion of the venue here, Montrose Beach?
I’ve never played a festival in Chicago. It’s a lot different (than I imagined). I never knew there was a beach in Chicago. I’ve been here like 8 times and never knew. It’s great. I had a good time.
Your new album, Alpha Omega, showed a bit of a different style out of you. It went beyond the classic UK Dubstep you’ve made such a name for yourself playing. What was the thought process behind that, and are you looking to move a new direction with your music in the future?
It’s just, literally, I didn’t go in the studio to write an album. You know what I mean? I just write tunes. I sit down at a table or my studio desk, and I just write what whatever comes out. It’s really just the collection of music I’ve been writing over the last three years. I had a lot of it and thought this would be quite good as an album. I had a title for the album, it was quite cinematic and I just kind of pieced it together. Like with the first album, I never really went to write a first album, I put it together the same way. I just wrote my music. I think the best thing as an artist is freedom to do what you want. I feel like what I do, people kind of expect a certain thing, but I’m always going to do what I want. That’s why I love doing what I do. I’m gonna have my kind of feel, but I do what I want to do. And there is stuff on there that is a lot different than what I normally do, but it’s exciting to keep doing that and to just keep progressing.
In your opinion, does your music still fall under a specific genre (dubstep)?
It does. The fact is I’m a dubstep producer. I’m a dubstep DJ and that’s where I come from. A lot of people now are like, “Oh no, I’m a bass DJ.” You know what I mean? I come from dubstep. It’s what I do. It’s what I love. That’s what my label is. So, I make dubstep, but I make everything around dubstep. It may take influences from house, hip hop, or techno, I fuse it all into my songs.
You’ve been a staple of the dubstep scene for a while. I remember how big your essential mix was in 09. You started well before that. But since then, you’ve seen the genre experience so much growth and increase in popularity, especially in the US. Did you see this coming?
It’s kind of been unexpected to be honest. It started as just kind of a bunch of guys in London making music. It suddenly went from that (dubstep artists) to headlining big big places. And you’re playing with your heroes. Like people you used to look up to, and you find out you’re playing above them in the fliers, it’s weird. It kind of exploded out of nowhere. It was like (people) started to embrace it and to treat you well for it to treat you back when it was hard. When times are hard, you kind of need the people around you to kind of comfort you. So, when times are good, you shouldn’t forget that. That’s what I’ve done. Those are the people who have kept you going.
You were an inspiration and huge influence on so many dubstep producers. There’s so many, but some names that come to mind specifically for me are Subscape & Emalkay. Can you let us know who you grew up idolizing?
When I grew up, my first sort of dance music exposure was jungle drum n bass in like 93 94. And then, my brother was like a big hip hop player. So, I really got into hip hop. (I liked) gangsta, Mobb Deep, Wu Tang Clan, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, so I really got into hip hop and jungle. If you listen to my music, you can kind of hear jungle drum n bass and hip hop influence in it. That was my thing really. As far as artists go, there was no one really specific I could say. I mean, Dr. Dre, I loved a lot of his beats. But like Mobb Deep, Mobb Deep was like my stable of beats. Their beats was like my focus in dubstep. He’s like, “less is more.” He keeps beats simple. That’s kind of where I suppose I got my influence as far as dubstep. I mean with drum n bass you’ve got Goldie and Shy FX. Those are like legend guys. And my dad is a record collector, he collects punk rock. So, I’ve got a bit of punk influence as well.
So, you have influence coming from all directions of the music spectrum?
Yeah! So like with everything, it’s about making stuff I enjoy. I don’t pay attention to what people want from me. When you start making music for people, that’s when it goes wrong.
Do you see that idea of making music “for people” as a problem today? I specifically have seen a lot of it with festival electro house.
It’s too obvious, isn’t it? It’s the easy way to get bookings and all that. I’ve always said that I’d rather be a shepherd than a sheep. I’d rather lead people than follow people. You see what I’m saying?
Do you see that trend as an influence on where music is headed today?
Everyone has jumped into trap. That’s what’s happened. It’s fantastic to me. I played a little bit in my set as you heard. But, everyone has moved to trap. (As a result), it’s kind of like all the sh***y sh***y dubstep is gone and all the good stuff has kind of stayed. And now, I’m getting more bookings. It’s great, dope. It’s all good for us.
You have a good relationship with Rusko. You’ve produced a good amount of music together. Does that friendship extend outside of the studio?
Well, yeah geez, the first time I’ll see him in two years will be tonight. It’s because he lives in LA now, and I live in London. He literally used to live 5 minutes from my house. We spent a lot of time together. Everyday we used to see each other, and then he moved to LA. People always ask the question, “Are you going to get back together? Are you going to write more music?” And sure, (I’d like to), but we live in two different countries. It’s not as easy as people may think. And to be honest, we’ve only written like 9 tunes together. We’ve only stayed in the studio (together) like 7 or 8 times, which is not a lot. When we write music together, it is very very powerful. It’s very powerful collaborations. Rusko is very musical, and I’m all over the beats and bass. It’s a good combination. It may happen again (in the future).
You’re a very busy man. On top of producing and touring, you own 3 record labels. How do you balance your time, and what do you do at the rare occurrence that you have free time?
I have great people around me. The guy that helps me on the label, Gary J, he’s based in the UK. All I’ve really wanted to do, is listen to music, play music, sign music, and produce it. All the other shit in the background that no one really sees is credit to Gary. He kind of sorts it out. He’s amazing. When I’m away, things are still moving. You’ve gotta love what you do. If you don’t love what you do, there’s no point doing it. I love it. It doesn’t feel like it’s a challenge and it doesn’t feel like its work. It doesn’t feel like too much because I love it. If it was a burden like, “Oh man, I’ve got to do this. Oh no, I have to release music. Oh no, I’ve got to play a festival in Chicago on the beach.” When it starts becoming a job, you’re in the wrong industry. (In my free time), I eat foods. I eat food and drink wine. I just enjoy myself. When I can, I’ve got to see my friends because I don’t get to see them much. I spend time with the wife. She was on tour with me for a while but she had to go back. She is a jazz singer. Actually, she was just on a tune with The Others (Dub Police Records). It’s coming out next month. She’s got her own (music) career too. It’s cool.
Photo credit: Camillo Bohorquez for edmtunes.com