Coming in direct from Hackney, we have the honor of hosting British duo Kassian for our next Mixed By. They’ve put together an insanely groovy mix of soulful, jazzy house for us and it’s just what you need to soundtrack your next dance. The duo comprised of Warren Cummings and Joe Danvers have been putting out belters on labels such as Phonica White, Shall Not Fade and Heist Recordings since 2019. Kassian’s career got off to a flying start, with the title track from their debut EP ‘The Premise’ garnering a track of the year nomination by Gilles Peterson. They’ve since put out several stellar EP’s with this years ‘Crush’ on Shall Not Fade being the most recent.
Kassian have been very busy in the studio, they’ve also done a thumping remix of Nebraska’s ‘Dip and Flip’ on the latest edition of Heist’s notorious Round Up series. ‘The Round Up Part VII’ (released on March 12th) is packed with slamming remixes from a huge cast of big house names. We’re glad to have them today for our new MIXED BY series.
Hey guys, thanks for taking the time to talk to us! Can you tell us what your inspirations were for this mix?
Recently we’ve been really into the heavier side of club music like techno, bass and UKG, so for this mix we thought we’d get back to our roots and work the mix around the new Heist Round Up record, focusing more on jazz influenced house and some London bruk.
‘Crush’ is your first EP on Shall Not Fade and it’s absolutely unreal! What made you decide to choose them for the release?
Kieran had been messaging us for a little while saying he wanted to do something together, the label is really blowing up at the moment and we really admire the variety across all the sub-labels. Plus their illustrator James is super talented so we always knew the record would look great.
‘The Premise’ is still one of my favourite tracks, but I’ve loved everything you guys have put out since. Do you feel like your sound has changed or evolved from your first release till now?
Absolutely, we’re moving away from organic sounds and jazz samples and focussing more on the hardware in our studio now. We’re taking our sound a little heavier and moving closer to techno and bass this year. We still love our old records and we’ll keep spinning that stuff if the club calls for it, but we can never sit on one style for too long. Changing it up as we progress keeps it interesting for us and hopefully our listeners too.
What was your recording process for ‘Crush’? Do you have any instruments, hardware or software that you always fall back on?
Crush was actually made in the middle of the first big UK lockdown, so we were totally remote for maybe 2-3 months. All of the sketches for the record were made back then, and we were passing the projects back and forth and chipping away at them on our own. It was only after the lockdown eased that we could get back into the studio and wrap them up together. Because we were at home most of the sounds on Crush are from VST synths, samples and NI Maschine. In terms of stuff we always fall back on, Maschine is the backbone of almost all of our drum tracks, and we have a small collection of VST settings we’ve tweaked over the years that we use for giving our tracks a recognisable atmosphere, things like soft pads and low arps that just roll in the background.
How did you both get into music, and then electronic music? What were your musical upbringings like?
Joe: I grew up around music, my Dad has been in bands throughout his whole life, so our house always had instruments around, I’ve been playing bass guitar since I was about 11, and also drums through most of my teens. When I was a kid it was all Beatles, Pink Floyd and other classics, until I left for uni and started getting into electronic music.
Warren: Same as Joe for me, music was always a big part of my home life growing up and even now a lot of my friends are due to random musical connections. My parents would always be playing and my dad had his own soundsystem that we would set up in clubs around London, so a large part of my childhood was spent fiddling with sound equipment and testing speakers. From then on it was something that I knew would stay with me for life.
How have you guys handled the quarantine this past year? Did you have to change the way you worked or your creative process in any way?
Yep, we’ve got a lot better at working remotely now, everything in our studio is synchronized to both of our laptops so either of us can just pull up a project and tweak it from home whenever we like. It’s actually been really great because we can just focus on getting great ideas together in the studio then work on the small details at home in our own time, and then get back into the studio to do the mixdown at the end.
Tell us about your relationship with Heist?
Heist will always be a very special label for us, they helped us launch Kassian and we were so lucky to have such experienced guys helping us promote a vinyl record as our very first release. Dam Swindle have been a huge inspiration to both of us over the years and they have definitely influenced our productions a lot. Even though our sound is changing and we move on from the label, we’ll always be proud to be part of the Heist family. Big shout to Maarten & Lars!
You’ve remixed Nebraska’s Dip and Flip on Heist’s The Round Up Part VII. Tell us about that?
We were so happy that we got a chance to remix Nebraska for this year’s Round Up, we love his original EP and the samples are incredible. For the remix we wanted to touch on the heavier sounds that we’re into right now but also keep the remix true to Heist. The original sample has so much energy and really sounds like it’s bursting into life. We’ve chopped up the sample to emphasise the energy and put our own super loose drum track underneath, and added the acid line at the end so that the track transitions from a sample led track into something heavier, just like the direction we’re taking with our own sound.
What’s coming up this year for you guys? Do you have any big plans after restrictions begin to ease?
We do! We’ve got a few more records lined up that should land just as we come out of lockdown, one more with Shall Not Fade and the second release on our ‘Versions’ disco series. We’re also launching our own label later this year which will be a change in sound from our previous releases, watch this space! Of course we have a few festivals and shows lined up but we don’t want to talk about those too much just yet in case we jinx them…