After a brief hiatus, we’re back with another rendition of PB&J™ Radio. This week brings us the musical stylings of Kastra. He’s been featured on the site before with a pretty mesmerizing remix of Avicii’s ‘Silhouette‘, and more recently with his Spring 2012 Bootleg Pack. This go-around we got the chance to sit down and talk with the young up & comer about a few topics and he even put together an exclusive mix for us. And since we’ve been gone for so long, we decided to include a bonus: Kastra’s latest remix of Wolfgang Gartner’s ‘Redline‘ that he put together with Aylen — absolutely massive!
So check out the new remix, then give PB&J Radio 008 a listen before reading our in depth interview with Kastra — we even get to ask him about Chuckie playing HIS remix on BBC Rado 1. You won’t wanna’ miss this one!
Alright first off, introduce yourself for our readers that aren’t familiar. Where are you from?
I hail from the great state of New Jersey, more specifically the Jersey Shore. But not the Jersey Shore that you see on TV, I live in “Springsteen Country”. It’s a really musical area with some pretty talented kids and a great rock scene.
Now that school’s over, got any big plans for the summer?
Technically I’m not done yet. I don’t technically get my MBA until August because of an online class. I cant wait to be done though, trying to do music and school full time has been incredibly stressful. I’d be sitting in the library trying to study for a final exam and end up making disco tracks. I’m pretty happy with the amount of tunes I’ve been able to put out even with school hanging over my head but once I’m totally done I’m gonna go balls to the wall with music.
Where did you get the name ‘Kastra’ from?
One night I came home from the bar really fucked up and turned on the discovery channel. I ended up watching some show about stars or something and I heard it. I wrote it down that night and then forgot about it. Later on the next day I saw the piece of paper sitting on my nightstand and I thought it sounded cool so I stuck with it. The hardest part about picking a name is just committing to it.
When did you first start producing and what inspired you?
I’ll never forget the moment that I really got turned on to electronic music. I was at Bonnaroo in 2008 and was walking to see Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead’s late night set. All the sudden we walked by this stage with these crazy lights and people going nuts to this upbeat electro music. I took one look at it and said “FUCK PHIL LESH IM GOING THERE”. It ended up being Ghostland Observatory who was the perfect group to help me transition from rock to electronic music. Then about 2 years later I went over to Australia to study abroad and just absolutely fell in love with house music. I actually enjoyed going to the clubs because they weren’t playing cheesy hip hop or top 40 which was really new to me. Since I didn’t have a band to jam with during my time there I started fooling around with Ableton Live. I slowly started to learn how to mix and then I started making my own songs and remixes. I just loved the idea that I could do an entire song by myself all on my laptop. By the time I came back to the States I was producing dance music more than I was playing my guitar.
It’s pretty major that Chuckie played your ‘Who Is Ready To Jump’ remix in his BBC Radio Mix, how did that feel? How did that all come about?
It’s actually kind of a funny story. I had put that song up on Soundcloud and it got removed for a copyright infringement claim. It had gotten really good feedback prior to that so I figured what the hell I’ll send it to Chuckie’s label. So I sent it in and never heard anything. About a month later, I was out drinking and I got a YouTube comment on the song from some guy saying Chuckie had been playing it out live. I didn’t believe him so I asked him if he could send me a video or a link to the setlist. So he hits me back saying its in his essential mix that he just recorded live in London. So I drove home as fast as I could, flung open my computer, and found out he was right. I started freaking out at 3 AM in the morning telling it to anyone who was awake. I actually spoke to my friend who was seeing him that night at Lavo and he said he played. It was really exciting for me to get his approval on a remix of his own song.
What are you looking to accomplish this year?
This year is going to be big for me. I want to release as much music as I can and start playing more gigs. I’m going to be releasing a pack of remixes and bootlegs at the end of every season as well as a follow up to my single Hold A Light on Antiblaze Records. I have a remix of Wolfgang Gartner’s “Redline” that I did with my buddy Aylen that should be out soon as well as an official remix I did for Hoodie Allen. Its hard keeping up with everything because it happens so fast and can be overwhelming but I love being busy.
All your mashups have been pretty massive and you put together great vocals with some phenomenal beats — where do you get the ideas for these?
Most of the time I’ll get the ideas while DJing. I’ll mix two tracks really well together and then just go in to the studio after and develop the idea a bit more. Or sometimes I’ll get a hold of a cool acapella and then look for the perfect track to accompany it. I really just make them for other DJs to use and to make my live sets more interesting but people are really
What kind of production equipment do you use?what do you think about EDM and its rising popularity in America? do you think the genre is going too commercial?
I use Ableton Live 8 with a Mac Book Pro and various software synthesizers like Sylenth, Massive, and Nexus. Pretty soon I’m going to be incorporating live instruments in to my tracks more.
What do you think about EDM and its rising popularity in America? Do you think the genre is going too commercial?
My favorite thing in the world to do is to turn people on to the music I love. Watching someone’s face the first time they go to an EDM show is just priceless. The weirdest thing for me is growing up I never really liked the music that everyone else did. I had only a few people that I could intensely discuss music with. Now it seems like I’m able to have intelligent music conversations with almost everyone. My only problem is that I think a lot of people don’t really understand the music when they first get turned on to it. They just get won over by the insane light show or the massive party that is going on when these artists play. But slowly I think the majority learn what its all about. I really think this is going to be the dominant genre of music for this decade. I wouldn’t compare it to anything else besides the explosion of rock n roll back in the day. Some people hate it because they don’t understand it… but that’s what makes it cool. “This isn’t music its just noise” was said when rock came out and now people are saying the same thing about EDM. But the mere fact that people either love it or hate it with a passion assures me that it’s something special. There’s no doubting its going to completely cross over in to the mainstream. But the cool thing about electronic music is the possibilities are endless. For every artist that hits the mainstream, there’s someone underground who is making a new style of music that is ready to blow peoples minds.