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5 Minutes With: Kastro & Scudd

5 Minutes With: Kastro & Scudd

Fresh talent from Newcastle fling down a batch of war riddims in the form of ‘LDN Ting’ via Serial Killaz. Jamie gets the lowdown and an exclusive mix to boot.

The title track pays respect to the London scene yet you guys are from Newcastle. What was the connection here or did you both just want to give a nod to the scenes roots?

Kastro: “We for sure wanted to give a nod to the scenes roots, it just conveniently happened that the vocal in the title track also mentioned London. Scudd is actually from Essex but has lived up here for a while now so he’s an adopted Geordie ha ha!”

Scudd: “Yeah most of my mates into drum and bass lived in London so I got to go raves there quite a lot. It’s nice to be able to link the title track to the City I went to some mad raves in.”

Do you think there’s a big crossover in the UK or are individual towns and cities just doing their own thing? Are we just one big country of drum and bass, united as one or does it go deeper than that?

Kastro: “I think it’s a big bit of both too be honest. I think the scene is united as one but each City has their own little cliques and flavours. Especially Cities as small as Newcastle where all the producers inside the scene are good friends and link regularly.”

Scudd: “When I moved here I thought the scene would be dead but its amazing right now. It’s definitely helped Kastro and I move forward with where we want to be and linked me up with all the heads up here. But i think the whole UK drum and bass scene right now is proper strong and churning out some unreal talent.”

What’s big for drum and bass in Newcastle? Do you see younger DJs and MCs coming through into your local scene or is their a wider appeal genre wise?

Kastro: “What isn’t big for drum and bass in Newcastle at the moment? You have so much talent breaking through lately. The likes of Skantia, Nectax, Stompz and Hexa all absolutely killing it at the moment. Newcastle is definitely on the map for the new generation of drum and bass. As far as MCs go there’s many sick talented riddim riders coming up through Newcastle. The likes of Zico, Cunningham MC and P Mann all sick hosts.”

Scudd: “Well, gotta shout out the donnys Nectax, Hexa, Skantia and Stompz. We all know they’re doing bits right now getting releases on Ram and Souped Up. Getting features in Kings of the Rollers mixes and constant DNBiD posts about their tunes. ITS MAD!! MC wise defo got a mention Zico, he’s killing it right now. Cunning MC He’s hosted us a few times and always a vibe. Danox and Dilate Newcastle as well picking up an award in 2018 for best breakthrough event. So gassed to be part of it all.”

Talking of breaking through into the scene, how did it work for you guys? What was your biggest struggle in terms of getting heard, learning the ropes etc?

Kastro: “To be honest, I wouldn’t really say we have really broken through into the scene yet.

I think the biggest struggle is that sometimes it can get frustrating not really being where you want to be in the scene, however, I’m just trying to make as many tunes as possible and improve with every one.

Scudd: “Well we were lucky enough to feature on last years Serial Killaz Mixtape both with a colab and some solo tunes and I think that really opened the door for us with them because they liked the flavours we came up with in them first few tracks and agreed our debut EP which we were so gassed about! As for learning the ropes it sounds obvious but just cram your head with as much knowledge as you can. Get your head down and hone your sound.”

Any advice for up and coming artists in your city?

Kastro: “Just keep making tunes as much as you can and enjoy doing it!”

Scudd: “Don’t give up. Just keep learning and banging out tunes.”

2019 was certainly the year for monster basslines and the title track ‘LDN Ting’ certainly contains a whopper! For those eager to create this kind of sound, do you have any top tips or sneaky tricks to share?

Kastro: “It certainly is a whopper! Courtesy of Scuddy’s Neutron. As soon as I heard that sound when he sent me it I was so hyped to start making the tune. 

Scudd: Well the main screechy foghorn in ‘LDN Ting’ is from my hardware synth going through some mad distortion and reverb.”

‘Ease Out’ from the EP certainly has that Serial Killaz flavour. Do you think when you’re writing tracks for a particular label that you have to stick with their style? How far do you push the boundaries?

Kastro: “We actually made that tune about a year ago, it wasn’t specifically made for Serial Killaz but we thought the vibe fitted perfectly. The horns in the intro and the inconsistent drum pattern really helped wrap up the EP and add that classic Serial Killaz jungle flavour.”

Scudd: “We never thought it would go to somewhere like Serial Killaz but it was 100% their flavour so they snapped it up for the mixtape last year! I’d say if you have a label you aspire to be on your productions will normally be influenced from their tunes anyway but i try not to load up a project and think “I want it sound like this” because it can really bog down your creativity.”

Influences are in abundance when it comes to drum and bass. What do you think was your first contact with everything 175? Can you both break down a few tunes with some memories attached to them?

Kastro: “My first experiences with drum and bass were not even that long ago. I started going to raves a couple years ago when I was 16. I knew Nectax from skateboarding and he really introduced me to the scene properly as he is a few years older than me. He was playing nearly every weekend in Newcastle around then so I got a very first hand experience and decided it was what I wanted to start doing.

As far as tunes go that I have some memories attached too are tunes such as Echoes vocal mix by Nectax, a lot of old liquicity stuff such as ‘Colours [Whiney Remix]’ and ‘Memoirs’ by Rameses B. Also a huge fan of Voltage! Especially his ‘Mood Swings’ EP out on Metalheadz. I also love KY and the sound he’s carrying at the moment is absolutely ridiculous.”

Scudd: “For me it was back around 2002. My friend played me a Shy FX mix at a house party and I was hooked from there. I started to get into the likes of Benny page, Serial Killaz and Dillinja. Then when I discovered Hazard I knew I wanted to start producing and DJing. There’s so many tunes to mention as influences but for me that whole jump up era from about 2005-2009 really did it for me. I’ll never forget the raves at Fabric, grabbing my mates when a new tune was coming in and just getting so gassed over it! As for influences from todays producers people like T>I and Limited really give me inspiration. The drums and sound design they manage to pull of is just unreal.”

How do you think these influences shaped your sound?

Kastro: “I think having such a varied music taste has helped craft my sound into what it is today more than anything. 

I literally listen to anything from Black Sabbath to Britney Spears lol, Hol’ tight Britney.

I really want to start making things outside of drum and bass soon too but I’m finding it difficult not to slip that BPM up to 175 when I’m making tune haha.”

Scudd: “Because I’ve been into drum and bass for so long I think it’s allowed me to see it evolve so much through the last 15 plus years and that really helps me call back to certain sounds from back then but also add the newer vibes you hear in today’s tracks. I love to make anything steppy and something that you nod your head to involuntarily. If you can have a 16 bar loop on repeat for 20 mins and not get bored, then you’re onto a winner.”

Talking of shaping sounds, how hard is it as producers to craft a unique sound when so much has already been done already. Especially considering the genre is over 25 years old.

Kastro: “Personally I’ve found it very hard. I think this is from comparing my tunes against other tunes I love far too regularly. When making tunes, I just try and catch a vibe and have fun with the tune. I’d definitely say one way to really progress your own sound is just to sit and mess about with stupid sounds and arrangmenets and enjoy what you’re doing, dont over do or force it or you’ll just get annoyed at yourself.”

Scudd: “There’s nothing more I love doing than to just warm up the hardware synth and play about until you hit something nice. I’m always surprised by the subtle little shapes and sounds you can achieve when messing about.

It’s all about happy accidents ha ha!

I still think there’s so much more room for new sounds and styles to come in, as technology changes so does the music. People are making sounds today you’d never imagine 5 years ago, its crazy. It’s all about either doing it first or doing it well.”

Who’s your go to producers when playing a DJ set?

Kastro: “Currently I am playing a bloody load of Skantia tunes out every set I play, likewise with Stompz and Nectax. Also loving IMANU, Calyx & Teebee, KY, T>I, Serum, Voltage and of course Buunshin. I try and plan a lot of my sets and vary through a wide range of drum and bass from Techy stuff to Fred V liquidy stuff. I find playing more diverse sets more fun.”

Scudd: “I try to draw for a lot of tunes that some of the younger heads might not know and sometimes the responses can be insane! Some artists I usually include in my sets are anything off the KOTR lads, KY, My dons Skantia Nectax Stompz and Hexa (Of course!) Alix Perez, Upgrade, T>I, Limited. So many more to mention but yeah, they always get a rinse.

What’s on the horizon for you guys? Anything big for New Years Eve? Is the plan for 2020 to rise up in respects of DJ bookings or is production the way to go?

Kastro: “The horizon is looking promising and healthy I think. Over the last few months I’ve worked very closely with the lads at RAM Recordings so expect to see plenty of releases on there from me next year. Big ups Jim and Wayne every time! As far as New Years Eve goes, bookings wise, I’m not currently doing anything. It’s my birthday the next day so I might be making a trip to Holland with Skantia. Who knows? I am hoping the bookings pick up next year. My main aim however is just to try and make as many tunes as I can and hopefully the bookings come with them!”

Scudd: “I’ve recently got some tunes signed up with Dutta on his new label Informal so keep an eye out for them got some big plans with him in the future. I should be finally getting some bits out with DJ Hybrid on audio addict next year sometime and hopefully be making a return to Serial Killaz at some point. Few co-labs in the works with Hexa that could hopefully be going somewhere (can’t say much at the mo!) And a handful of bookings for early next year. But yeah the plan is to keep banging out the tunes and like Kassy said, hope the bookings come from them!

Nothing planned for New years at the moment I tend to just chill out and eat all the leftover Christmas food then fall asleep before midnight!”. 

Finally, any shouts or big ups?

Kastro: “Yeah! First and foremost big ups Graham, Toby and of course James! I’ve worked with Serial Killaz for about a year now and loved it all! I’m sure this won’t be the last time. Big ups all the Newcastle Dilate crew and the dons Hexa, Skantia, Nectax and Stompz. Hol tight Mumzy too, wor’ Susan does a lot for the scene up here by providing me and my pals part time jobs allowing us to produce in our spare time haha. Obviously big ups man like Scuddy too for making this EP with me! He’s taught me a lot along the way.”

Scudd: “Massive thank you to Toby and Graham. they’ve been amazing since the moment we got on board. Big ups to all the local dons Nectax, Skantia, Hexa and Stompz. Also huge big up to Danox for letting me and Kastro be apart of Dilate can’t wait to shell more raves for him. Shouts to JustJo for jumping on a tune with me, she’s got amazing vocals look out for more bits from me and her in the future! Gotta large up all my dons from back in the day as well Scotty, Andre and Mush and of course Kastro for being part of the EP!”

Pick up a copy of the latest release here.

You can follow Jamie Section 23 on Twitter, @JamieS23
Jamie S23 is part of the editorial team at Drum&BassArena, has a huge collection of vinyl from the 90’s and spends many hours wishing music still came on cassette. He’s stupidly into fitness and most importantly, a devoted Dad. Reminisce about air horns, lighters and The Sanctuary with him via Twitter or Soundcloud