Behind the Ski Mask
It’s all in the details…
Kasra isn’t the type of character to do things in halves. His Critical imprint is a testament to this, with attention to detail paramount in the label’s ethos; from their releases and designs, to their merchandise and events.
It’s an approach that’s enabled the label to flourish as one of the most respected underground forces in the scene, with an astoundingly impressive back-catalogue – one the label boss has only released on a handful of times in the past 16 years.
Now comes his first solo EP on the imprint – Ski Mask.
Weaving diverse sonic textures throughout the 4-track release, the EP truly showcases his versatility as a producer with surprising twists and turns.
From the rolling, rugged soundscapes of the title track, to the the glitchy stepper that is ‘Miso’, to the deep, menacing rhythm of ‘Alburz’ and the stunningly ethereal sounds of ‘From the Outside In’, Ski Mask sees Kasra at his most inspired.
Along with his Circuits side-project with InsideInfo, there’s definitely a renewed sense of energy from the London-based artist, one that suggests we can expect a lot more new music in the very near future.
We caught up with the man himself to chat about the release and what’s coming up next…
‘Bout bloody time mate. What an incredible release! Why’d it take so long? 😉
Haha, well the label kept me busy and i’ll be honest i’ve always struggled with the confidence to release my own music when all the guys on the label had given me such incredible material.
Now i’ve got a bit more time to dedicate to studio I can take the inspiration I get from those artists, touring and other things to express myself.
What was the catalyst that sparked this then and got you thinking “it’s time….”?
Well I set myself a target late last year… I thought to myself after 15 years I just need to do it!
Glad you did! Once the seed was planted did a lot of planning go into the release and what tone you wanted to set with it, or did it just fall together naturally when you got started?
Musically it fell together quite easily after i’d gone through all my sketches and ideas. The visual side, the artwork and the feel of the release took time though, that really matters to me.
That definitely comes across in all the releases. Where did the artwork concept come from then? It’s intriguing
A really talented designer called Yasseen Faik did the art, I love his direction!
Have the tunes been floating about for a while, or were they freshly produced with this release in mind?
Yeah these were freshly baked.
Were you as hands-on with the planning of the release as you would be for any other release on the label, or did you step back and get the artist treatment on this one?
I set some clear goals for what i’d like to get out of the releases. My label team are amazing so I knew I could step back a little on this one.
You’ve had a lot of collabs in your time, how did you find working on your own in the studio again and having to motivate yourself?
I’m very lucky to have spent time in the studio with some amazing producers. I took some of the things I learnt from them and channelled my own ideas and vision.
I also found the time i’ve been spending with Paul Insideinfo on our Circuits project to be really helpful to help push me on. I’m feeling really inspired by the music at the moment. More than ever.
You can certainly hear it in the tunes! So why ‘Ski Mask’ as a title?
I love this band called Nothing from Philadelphia, and their guitarist has “Ski Mask” as his Instagram handle. I had just finished writing the tune and was bouncing some audio when I saw his profile on my own. Odd but true.
The title track has elicited some furious nodding the past few months. It’s got a real classic Critical vibe to it – is there a story behind this one?
I wanted to make a tune with energy and weight that wasn’t too in your face, and also drawing on some techno influences.
From The Outside In is a persy. It’s cosmic. It might not be something people would generally expect from you but it really shows your artistic range – was this the idea behind it?
I wanted the EP to be a snapshot of my taste so it made sense to have something a little deeper, maybe even, dare I say it, “liquid”. Even though I hate that term!
So what’s next? Can we expect more solo releases?
I’ve got more coming from the Circuits project with Insideinfo, some collabs with Enei, Mefjus and Bou, as well as some solo bits planned for spring next year. Lots going on!
Looking forward to hearing it all!
The Ski Mask EP is out now on Critical – get it here