Wait… don’t answer that. Of course there is. But not many things.
From that initial idea spawns endless hours, days, even weeks of trial, error, practice and precision; the infinite options of intro and outro, all those tricks you’ll show off in between and, perhaps most importantly, knowing when to let the mix breathe. Your very own 70 minute narrative; soon to be enjoyed by you, your mates and every promoter and potential fan you can palm it off on.
Whether you’re busting your mix in your record room or Fabric has invited to join their CD trophy cabinet, there really is a magic to making mixtapes. Just talk to Kasra: his Fabriclive mix is available today. We asked him for three key ingredients for that perfect mix.
* It should represent you and what you want people to think of you as a DJ. Never put tunes on there that you think people might want to hear. This needs to be a proper snapshot.
* Light and shade – every good DJ mix should have that. Don’t just stick on one level. You need that quiet and loud. Contrast makes everything interesting.
Kasra’s holy mix trinity: Follow it and your CD can’t fail. Of course making a mix for Fabric does raise the game a notch, but the spirit remains the same… You want people to enjoy it.
“And buy it!” laughs Kasra who’s early mix inspirations were Andy C’s Nightlife series, Randall rave tapes, Marky’s Brazilian Job and a 10 year old Bukem mix for Ministry Of Sound. “It’s hard these days when there are so many mixes being given away for free. Plus I want to represent myself as best as I can in something that’s set in stone. For me the main thing is representing drum & bass; the form of music I release and play. I want something for the drum & bass crowd that they’re going to love. So I want to give them something they’ve not heard before. Something special. The turnaround on music these days is so short, that it devalues the mix if people have already heard a lot of the content.”
So how do Alix Perez’s VIP of Rockwell’s Underpass, Phace & Noisia’s MPD, Enei’s Machines or Foreign Concept’s Detuned Souls sound to you? Unless you follow Kasra around every night as he plays in some of the planet’s finest discotheques, this will be the first time you’ve heard these rollers. Not that you’ll be shocked at their quality. The founder of well-respected Critical Records, he’s been the go-to dealer for many bass-hounds for years…. Although he finds it hard to take the credit.
“For me it’s always been about the artists,” he says proudly. “Without them the label would be nothing. It’s nice that people associate me with the label – and yeah, it’s my baby – but I’m very lucky to have these guys give me music to release! It feels like a good time for what we’re doing but even though I’ve been doing for it a long time, it feels like we’re only beginning. For a long time no one gave a shit what I was doing! I was no one. I wasn’t a name. I haven’t made a solo tune!”
A rare breed of DJ, Kasra’s profile hasn’t been driven by production credits. His name is synonymous with selector: the output on Critical and diligent DJing over the years giving him all the clout he needs to be at Fabriclive level. To be recognised just for taste and technical ability is an applaud-worthy achievement in today’s game. There’s only one problem: When he finally finds the time to indulge in some serious studio time, he’s going to have a hard job getting it past his very own strict A&R policy.
“I’d love to release something of my own on the label but I’ve set the standard so high for each release!” he grins. “But that’s a good problem to have. I’m certainly not up to the standard of the guys who give me music to release, but I’m working on it.”
I’m working on it; a motto that rings true in everything Kasra does. The only reason why we’ve not heard a solo production is because of the hard work he’s put into the foundation of the label. A borderline workaholic, he even found himself grafting on Christmas Day!
“Yeah, that was fucked up,” he laughs. “I do kinda feel the burn after the last three months, but I really don’t see it as hard work. Whether it’s the label or the Fabric mix or anything else, it’s what I love doing.”
And there’s nothing more satisfying that that…
Fabriclive 62: Kasra is out today. Listen and download here.
Reader health warning: If you’re a DJ who’s been inspired or affected by the mixtape magic discussed in this feature please head here for our life-changing DJ competition in association with Glade Festival!