May 07, 2013

San Francisco’s own Kastle brings his new live show on the road in support of his debut self-titled album. We sat down with Barrett Richards before he took to the stage in Brooklyn to hear all about his label, his signature drink, and all of the work put into his new album.

Kastle feat. Austin Paul - Stay Close (Original Mix) [Symbols]
LessThan3: We noticed that you did an article with MTV recently about drink pairings for your album. Are you a mixologist?
Barrett: I guess. One of the drinks on that list is definitely a recipe of mine which I just end up calling ‘The Kastle'; that came about from a holiday party in San Francisco. I used to live with Dean Grenier (DJG), another artist on Symbols. A lot of our friends came through, just the whole local SF family, and I started making drinks, and I kinda just raided my fridge, so it’s sweet lime juice, grapefruit juice, muddled fresh basil, black pepper, and Cholula sauce with gin. I made it and everyone loved it.
LessThan3: What are you drinking tonight?
Barrett: I’m actually not drinking when I do the live show.
LessThan3: Tell us about the experience of working with all of the different artists that you featured on your new album.
Barrett: It was a very natural process. It started with JMSN and Austin Paul, because I had done a remix for JMSN and then immediately we started working on our own collaborations. At the same time, I was working with Austin on a couple of things, and when we started doing all those tracks together I was like, “wow this is album material.” So then I seeked out some more vocalists that I had released on Symbols like Rita DeVito, Emily Harris from Atlas, and also people like Ayah Marar who ended up being on the lead single. She just hit me up on Twitter one day and was like, “Hey I like your stuff, would love to work together.” All this happened all at once. Xavier is another guy who I had been working with, and he has a Symbols release coming up. I couldn’t have tried, it just happened.
LessThan3: Austin Paul just had his own release on Symbols. Were you involved with that as well?
Barrett: Yeah, I mixed and mastered that. Definitely have been working a lot with Austin, he’s a great songwriter. He’s actually working in the studio with Pharrell right now.
LessThan3: Does most of your production happen back home in San Francisco, or have you been traveling, for example, to Miami where Austin Paul is located?
Barrett: No, him and I have mostly just been working via internet for now. That may change in the future.
LessThan3: How long has this album been in production?
Barrett: I started it in June of last year, which is actually right when I launched Symbols. It worked out really well because when I started Symbols, outside of other artists’ releases that I’d planned, I had 3 EPs of my own written. So with all of that set, that’s when I started working on the album. For a while I wasn’t working when I was on the road, so it’s kinda tough because I was touring. November, December, January, I toured throughout US and Australia, but then I would come home and go right back to the studio.
LessThan3: Tonight we get to see your new live show. Will this be your first such performance?
Barrett: The first time was at SXSW, but tonight is definitely the first time in New York.
LessThan3: What kind of setup are you using for that?
Barrett: It’s very simple; it’s just me and an AKAI MPK49, so it’s a 49 key MIDI Controller, and basically all of the melodies, all of the synths, solos, all of the stuff you hear in my music. I just play it live, and you hear a lot of improv too.
LessThan3: Who are some of your current favorite artists that we should watch out for?
Barrett: Druid Cloak, Lindsay Lowend, Sweater Beats, Jaw Jam, this dude Liar from Bucharest–he has an album coming which is really good. I just named a lot of new Symbols artists. We have releases coming all summer, got some good stuff.
LessThan3: If the world were ending in LessThan3 minutes, and you had an iPod with every song ever made on it, what would you listen to?
Barrett: I would choose the first song that I remember hearing, which is Herbie Hancock’s Rockit. That’d be a pretty rad song to go out to, right?
LessThan3: Describe your sound in LessThan3 words.
Barrett: Soulful.
Airplay enabled