22 year-old Kasket, aka Charlie Baldwin, is having the kind of year that would have other fledgling producers turn emerald with envy. Having been signed to R&S sister-label Apollo Records, the young Brighton based producer has just put out his first vinyl record, a three track EP of organic and idiosyncratic ‘live electronic’ sounds. Mixing up studio percussion, with enigmatic field-recordings and samples, the 12” sees the former dubstep producer crafting an audio aesthetic which is difficult to place in any neat genre or scene. It is, in a word, unique.
It’s no wonder then that he’s been treated as the next big thing in certain camps, and that he’s already been signed up to produce more material for the revered Belgium imprint. As his 12” EP hits vinyl outlets around the world, we called Kasket in his Brighton home to find out more about the figure behind one of the freshest sounding records of the autumn.
How did you first get into producing music?
My dad’s a guitarist called Ray Russell who did quite a lot of sessions for musicians like Tina Turner, so when I was a kid, I was always surrounded by music. Then when I was about 16 I got my first copy of Reason and started messing about with it. I didn’t take anything too seriously, but I got some good reactions from what I was doing, so I kept on with it. I [eventually] moved to using Ableton and making sample-based stuff.
And what sort of tracks were you making in the early days?
Four years ago I was [only] making dubstep, because it was so fresh to me. [Then] I started listening to artists like Venetian Snares, Aphex Twin and other experimental stuff, and I decided that I’d just make what felt right for me and not worry about trying to please a certain [crowd]. And that’s kind of how the whole Apollo deal came about.
How did you first get in touch with Apollo?
I released an EP on the Belgium label called DiaMind and met Stijn Brinckman [aka Vyron who runs the label]. Stijn was trying to push me in lots of new directions and get me to talk to other people, including [founder of R&S] Renaat Vandepapeliere. I’m a massive fan of R&S, so I got in contact with him and started sending him tunes, and it rolled from there. Renaat put me in touch with Mixmaster Morris, and I went round to his house a few times, listening to music and talking. They’ve been great guys, such a big help and hard workers. It was a good to be pushed from what I was doing previously to what I am doing now, and it allowed me to establish a sound.
How would you describe your ‘sound’?
I guess in a way it’s organic and not quantised, it’s raw whilst still keeping the electronic elements. A lot of the percussion stuff on the EP I’ve recorded live, just hitting whatever is in my room and creating sounds. When I started making that sound I was already thinking about how it would convey to live performance. I guess I’d called my sound Live Electronic.
Was there an epiphany moment when you knew you wanted to create this Live Electronic sound?
I’d always wanted to do something like it and I’ve always played drums. When I was 16 I toured with the musician and comedian Matt Berry, so I’ve always thought about percussion and wanted to try to get that live recording element within electronic music. When I bought Ableton, it just kind of happened naturally. I remember putting [synthetic] drums together on a track and thinking that it didn’t sound right, it sounded too neat. It sounded a lot better grabbing pots and pans and making it all yourself, making the groove your own and knowing that if you tried to repeat that it wouldn’t sound exactly the same.
One thing I picked up from listening to the August Fades EP is a world music influence. Is that something that interests you?
I am very interested in West African tribal sounds. I love the ridiculous amounts of drums. I remember different people coming [from all over the world] and working with my dad, and listening to all this world music, it was great to have that inspiration.
You mentioned drums again there. Are they the first component of a track when you compose something?
I would like to say yes, but it’s so random with me. It might be 1am and I’m dead tired and playing on a keyboard and write a line that I’ll come back to later, or it might be a vocal line that I just have in my head and start slowly adding to it. On some of the tracks the drums have been done last. I think if you start off with drums it can give you too much of an impression as to what a track has to be. There’s no set formula. A lot of people tell me that I need to have some sort of order, but I’ve always thought why do they?
As you stated, your newer EP feature your own vocals. Why did you decide to start adding them to your productions?
I’ve always liked singing, but [previously] I never really had been confident enough to sing on my own tracks. When you using sampling it’s great, but you’ve always got the risk of being sued [laughs]. I decided instead of searching for hours and hours for samples, I’ll just do it myself. I like writing lyrics and with the Apollo 12” it just fit really well.
When you perform live is your voice a central aspect of the performance?
Yeah, I do a lot of loops with my vocals and I think it’s a nice element. I love Djing, but when I’m performing live I always feel more busy. I’ve got all this stuff in front of me and doing my vocals, it’s great.
And are most of your gigs around the Brighton area at the moment?
Yes and no. It’s difficult because I’ve done a lot of DJ gigs in the south coast and west [of England]. I’ve only done one live set in Brighton, because when someone asks you to do a gig and you tell them you want to do a live set they assume you’re going to bring mountains of stuff and that it’s going to be a pain, when it’s really not.
How healthy is Brighton’s dance-music scene at the moment?
It’s definitely got a good scene; there is a lot of electronic music and it’s growing. There’s lots of new talent coming out of the city, people like Dismantle. But whilst there’s definitely a vibe in Brighton at the moment, it’s very random. There are endless nights of different genres all growing and it’s hard to select what you’re going to do on your Friday night [laughs]. It’s healthy to have that mixture, everyone doing their own thing.
There was talk in the past of an album for DiaMind. What happened with that? Is that on hold indefinitely?
It was due to come out on DiaMind, but we made a shared decision to [shelve] it. DiaMind are a fantastic label, but they felt it might be a bit of a waste to release my album on a label which wasn’t established. Plus, I’ve actually scrapped the original album that was due to be out on DiaMind and started again. Listening back to it, I decided it wasn’t something I wanted to release as my debut album, I was thinking I might release it as a freebie. Right now I’m focusing on more EPs for Apollo, and eventually an album. I’m not going to rush it, but I have started writing a few tracks for it.
You’ve shot a music video for the August Fades EP. Tell me about that.
It looks fantastic. It was directed by a good friend of my Ben Cookesley and the whole vibe was basically what it would be like at one of my live shows, because I thought if I did something too complicated people won’t get an idea of who I am. So we filmed it at an studio and got loads of my friends to turn up in fancy dress. People took the fancy-dress thing quite extremely, so we have everything from Spiderman to people in Teddy-Bear onesies in the video.
Finally, where would you like to be five years from here?
One of the biggest things I want to do is to get into composing and film music. It’s something I’ve always loved the idea of, putting music to film is something I’ve always had my heart set on. But honestly, I’d love to just be constantly travelling and doing sets as Kasket around the world, maybe one day with a full backing band.