Some artists are just born to be visionary forward thinkers who create ideas, styles and genres long before they are the “popular” thing. Barrett Richards, the producer/DJ better known as Kastle, comes from a small town in northwest Pennsylvania where he got into playing music at the young age of 12. Inspired by the early house sounds of Moby, he picked up synthesizers and ditched his guitar to create futuristic “forward thinking” music. Later he moved to San Francisco to be further influenced by things like philosophy and science. It's fitting considering most of the great thinkers in both of those disciplines were considered “ahead of their time” despite creating theories and inventions to improve the present.
“I think a lot of people describe my music as futuristic but for me its very now,” says Richards. “I guess because it's so different people tend to think it's futuristic but it's very much where I am.” People tend to label things that they don't understand especially when it's breaking molds and creating something that sounds very unique. Also being on tour with dubstep master 12th Planet probably further created his acceptance in the dub community. “You can maybe say I'm an extension of that scene a little. I have definitely been influenced by the dub and bass scene,” the DJ adds. Fusing together bass, dubstep, house, electronica and R&B Kastle has created his own unique sound which is clearly shown on his first self-titled album which came out in April on his label Symbol Recordings. Tonight, he's wrapping up his 15-stop North American live tour with a DJ set at Focus Tuesdays in Newport Beach, live set at Low End Theory in LA tomorrow and then heading to Mexico City on Thursday.
“I've been producing for so long that it was well overdue to have an artist album,” says Barrett. “It was more a personal goal and a personal challenge to create this one cohesive piece of work.” The album came very naturally for Kastle who started producing it in June of last year in between his three month world tour that included North America, Australia and New Zealand. “The track with Austin Paul 'Without You' was important to the album because it set the vibe throughout. I got a lot of ideas while touring and I'm very happy with everyone involved.” The result was a funky electronic album that fuses old school R&B, house and trap. Yet don't let the chill vibes on the album fool you he's already in the works to make a more clubby house sounding EP in the Fall.
“I have so much amazing house music that I get sent from label mates and artist on my label that I'm always super excited to be able to play an entire house set,” Richards says of his DJ set tonight at Focus. “I'm excited because its even different house music. Kind of this new bass house music.” Being so far removed from dubstep now, Kastle shares how he recently did an impromptu DJ set in Boston a couple of weeks back because he had a day off from his live show tour. The club was an all deep house night and he realized his style of house is still very different. “In the end they loved it and it was something new for them which I hope is the new trend,” he says. “I hope to see more producers focusing on work that comes from their creative realms rather than thinking they need to fit into a specific genre. That's why you hear a lot of music that sounds very cookie cutter using the same sounds.”
Kastle on the other hand focuses more on his creativeness and variation in his music which is what you can see in his live show which comes back to Lighting in a Bottle in July. “My album is very melodic with a lot of solos and the live show embellishes that with me in front of keys pretty much the entire show playing all of the melodies live,” says Richards. With lots of improvising, Kastle's live show is a varied mixture of electronic music played live and organically. Similarly to his artistic career. One moment he is touring to a dubstep crowd, the next creating a very soulful inspired R&B album and now he hopes to get more into the clubby side of house music. “I meshed all my influences together and created this new sound that I hope is very much me and can hop around in different scenes,” Richards says.