Having been on the London dance circuit for about five years now, CA$TLE has been bolstering the diverse underground scenes our city has to offer for some time. With his extensive experience as a DJ and hard work in the production studio he’s been feeling out his own style, building up an extensive network of friends in the industry, from LCY and Sherelle, to influences like Scratcha. You’re equally likely to bump into him at a tiny loft opening party as you are a grime night at Fabric, or a techno mega-rave on the outskirts of town. How is it he can be in so many places at once? We had the pleasure of enjoying his high-energy selections at The Jago back in February, and since then caught up with the London-based producer for a chat.
CA$TLE’s productions have gained a lot of airtime, getting snapped up by DJs across Radio 1, NTS and Rinse FM. ‘It's funny because I always used to focus on the DJing. But then I would meet complete strangers in nightclubs who love my songs and didn't even know I DJ,’ he says. ‘So now I'm just going to keep making tunes and play shows as they come along.’ It's a switch-up that makes sense, since CA$TLE’s been navigating his love for DJing and the ways it ties in with his studio work for a while now. ‘I DJ because I love showcasing great music and production came along after. It’s definitely very influenced by what I'm listening to at that time,’ he says. ‘Since about 2019 I've been making what I guess is ‘forward-thinking club’ music, generally playing anything from around 120 to about 175bpm. It definitely feels like the last two or three years is the most comfortable I’ve felt DJing wise.’ In spite of the broad diversity found in his mixes, incorporating elements of footwork and jungle with grime and hip hop influences, CA$TLE’s work across the board has certain sonic themes which tie all of his work together. ‘Tone-wise I try and play like dark and sinister stuff, and bringing in breaks and Jersey, I let that be the little glimmer of light before bringing it back into darkness,’ he laughs.
Cultivating such a cohesive sound out of a broad backdrop of influences is the result of years of radio experience. ‘It's just good to get on radio and showcase new music that people are making,’ he explains. ‘It's a good outlet to regularly do that because there's so much great stuff constantly coming out.’ With extensive knowledge of a variety of genres, CA$TLE has had plenty to dip into. Emerging as a self-professed ‘pop-music presenter’ back in the day, he held down a hip hop residency at Egg London, then quickly built up a library of weirder tunes. ‘Yeah it's been quite a mad genre journey!’
Of course, like many others among us, the pandemic sped up the process of reconfiguring his relationship with music. The last couple of years represent a pivotal time in working out producing and DJing. ‘Over the pandemic I suddenly got a bit bored of doing a “normal” radio show, where you just mix, and occasionally speak, say the shout outs,’ CA$TLE reflects – ‘I was listening to other people’s shows a bit bored, and then I realised I was doing exactly the same thing that I was getting bored listening to. I thought, okay, let's try something different.’ Indeed, radio is the perfect place to switch things up, despite it often feeling like there’s a formula we have to follow. ‘One day I thought I’d put together a different Threads Radio show as an experiment, and try to make something more like a mixtape,’ he explains. Taking samples from across the internet and working them together with his own library in Ableton brought his skillset to life. ‘I wanted to make it sound collage-y. At the time, the policing bill was going on, which was concerning to me, so I went onto YouTube and recorded discussions about the bill, mixing it over one of the songs. I didn't know what people would think about it, but I thought you know I'm just going to do it, and people really liked it.’
CA$TLE seems unafraid to take risks, and so far it looks as though they’re paying off. ‘As long as you're just enjoying what you're doing and you're keeping your output consistently high - whether that’s DJing, producing, events, whatever - that's all you need really,’ he tells me. It helps to have inspirational creatives around him, having established himself a place from the ground up out of quiet North West London. ‘I just didn't really have a network where I'm from, so I’d reach out to this person, go to that event, talk to the DJs and people there, and I guess I’ve built a bit of a network from that over the years,’ he tells me. ‘Otherwise, would I probably be doing music? Maybe not– there's just not much of a scene for it around here [where I’m from].’
CA$TLE is now reaping the benefits of putting yourself out there, which isn’t easy starting out. ‘A lot of the [initial] opportunities came from me just telling people ‘hey, I want to play here’ or ‘I want to make a track for you, book me for this event, that event,’’ he says. ‘And so that's generally where most of my opportunities have come from.’ From that he’s developed a strong work ethic, establishing consistency in his output, which is enviable. Particularly for many producers, getting projects finished and released remains a challenge which requires constant work – how does he do it? ‘I think I've figured that out very recently. The way I work generally is I wait for an idea and then give it a go. And the really good ideas come together quite quickly, to be honest, with most of the arrangements finished in a day or two,’ he explains. ‘Giving myself deadlines really helps with that because with so many different ideas it's easy to have ten different unfinished projects in a day. I was asked to make a track for [the label] Choccy Biccy with quite a tight deadline and so I just sat myself down and told myself I had to finish one promising idea tonight.’ What resulted was a sweet and nostalgic jungle track sampling BADBADNOTGOOD’s Running Away and Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine. ‘I think I've cracked it now. I've got a few other EPs in the works, and hopefully from now on I’ll release music regularly.’
So what’s coming next for CA$TLE? ‘I've started a Subtle Radio residency I'm pretty excited about,’ he says. ‘I've considered curating one dedicated to jungle, footwork and vibes around that BPM for quite some time. There are so many talented producers and DJs I've discovered in that realm, so I thought I might as well consistently showcase what I'm up to whilst providing a spotlight for them.’ Continuing to nurture his radio roots, we can now look forward to hearing some of his own work featured alongside them. ‘I'll be premiering my tracks for the first time there, with a lot of producers I'm a huge fan of appearing in the near future, so keep your ears peeled for that!’
Stream CA$TLE’s latest track ‘Stars’ via Hyperdome Records here.