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Kasra

kasraCritical Music is one of the most highly respected imprints in the game, and it’s no wonder – the label is a bastion of the creativity and experiment that made liquid DnB such a powerful force in the first place. Label founder, director and DJ ambassador Kasra Mowlavi is bringing his expertise to Perth on the Critical Sound tour. MIA CAMPBELL-FOULKES and ZOE KILBOURN check in with Kasra before he and label buddies Enei, Mefjus and Zombie Cats play Villa this Saturday, September 20.

Kasra’s helmed Critical Music since its foundation in 2002. He’s helped launch international profiles for DnB radicals like Rockwell, S.P.Y, Calibre, and Foreign Concept, all producers who can move a crowd while eluding easy drops, synths, and samples.

“I don’t see what we do as part of the EDM scene,” he says. “The EDM scene is focused on a style of music and event that Critical isn’t involved in. That said, the popularity of electronic music on the whole has seen some positives for us, as people discover more than just the mainstream – they dig a little deeper into the underground and find us doing our thing.”

Kasra doesn’t produce music himself, but he does have a knack for cultivating cutting edge artists and making sophisticated mixes. As a DJ, he doesn’t shy away from a self-conscious air horn or two, but overall his brand of DnB is as suave as a 180 BPM Amen break can get. It’s led to his residencies at BBC1 and too-cool-for-you nightclub Fabric, which included mixing Volume 62 of their esteemed Live series.

“I suppose on a personal level I’m one of the only label owners in recent times to make a career from DJing, without having to resort to production work to help with profile,” he says. “Most DJs these days have to produce to get themselves out there.”

Managing a high-profile label like Critical could be exhausting alongside frequent DJ work, but Kasra’s grateful they bleed into each other. “Both work well together, like the night we are playing in Perth – its part of a label tour. As with all areas of music now, the live performance side has to be completely harmonious with the label side. One feeds the other and vice versa.”

As an energising force of fringe DnB – he’s recently signed Russian producer Enei, who fashions deep grooves out of classic breaks – Kasra’s borne witness to increasingly interesting modes of collaboration.

“A lot of the newer label releases feature collaborations made entirely over the Internet or started in studios apart from each other. Funnily enough, right now I’m sitting in Enei’s hotel room whilst him and Mefjus write some music!”

Mentoring as many artists as he is, it’s worth asking where he draws motivation from.

“A mixture of things,” Kasra says. “I tend to not take inspiration from within DnB itself as the music can become too insular, but I definitely look outside to get ideas as everyone has a different approach. I also like to make it up as I go along. It’s more exciting.”

It’s clear from his output that Kasra’s approach to life boils down to dedication and distinction. His advice: “Be different, work hard, don’t listen to negative people and don’t spend all your time on Facebook.”

 

Kasra and label buddies Enei, Mefjus and Zombie Cats play Villa this Saturday, September 20. get your tickets here.