Smile Politely

Many pieces make up this Kastle

Kastle is touring ahead of a busy summer festival season and, after a stop at The Mid on Friday, he swings through C-U on Saturday night with a show at The Canopy Club. He was booked here a few months ago at the beginning of his tour, but the date fell through. After driving to Chicago to see Kastle last year in the spring as a belated birthday present to me, I was sad to hear he couldn’t make a local show. When Canopy rebooked the show though, I was even happier — the original date didn’t have him as the headliner. That has been remedied this time around.

Normally, when I start writing show previews, I start by digging up links to everything about an artist. I find music and articles and photos that I like by sifting through all the stuff an artist might have floating out there on the internet. This time, I have to edit out all kinds of good stuff I’ve cultivated over the years so that I don’t cram ALL THE KASTLE down your throat at once. Because Kastle is my jam.

His sample from Twin Peaks originally hooked me enough to dig through all his stuff. Anyone who can meld a Log Lady line and a slowed down snippet from an Alicia Keys track into something completely different… well, they’re someone special in my book. And Kastle’s remix of The Weeknd’s “The Party & The After Party” is — in my opinion — better than the original. Thick, juicy bass pulsing through chopped up original vocals — it’s still The Weeknd, but it’s also most definitely Kastle.

But that’s just the slowed-down sexy-time Future R&B sound that Kastle produces. In addition, he also tends towards a more uptempo Future Garage or house-y sound in tracks like “Technique” or “Already Know” or “Only You”. Honestly, it’s hard for me to nail down a certain genre to encompass all of his tracks because he can seamlessly transition back and forth between my two favorite grooves — deep, downtempo slo-mo sound and the faster 4/4 Future Garage sound that makes people get up and dance. The similarities are the chopped up vocals, heavy bass, and an underlying groove that keeps you on your feet for the whole set — the difference is the speed of delivery.

Last spring while he was touring, I saw Kastle at Lincoln Hall in Chicago. At that show, he had stripped down tracks which he then played keyboard along with live at the show. He was criticized on Twitter by someone claiming it shouldn’t have been billed as a live show, but I agreed with Kastle — he’s playing a keyboard live (with improvisation) along with the rest of the tracks he’s produced in studio. If “only” playing on the keyboard on stage with other sampled loops isn’t a “live” show, someone alert the hundreds of people I saw at “live” James Blake show at the Metro last summer.

But even if Kastle had simply mixed his tracks into a longer DJ set as I guess his anonymous Twitter music critic seems to have thought would have been better (I guess?), his mixes are absolutely amazing. It would still be an awesome show if he showed up and spun the whole night. Some of my favorite mixes are from Kastle. His mix Songs 4 ur BB is just 40 minutes of straight-up baby-making R&B music and, combined with his Classic Garage and 2-Step Mixtape, it’s plain to see where Kastle digs for his musical inspiration. His mix for the SubMission dubstep crew out of Denver is pretty deep as well — this time with more of a dubstep and trap flavor than you might normally hear in other Kastle-produced tracks. That’s not to say Kastle doesn’t use bass well in his tracks, I just wouldn’t flat-out label him dubstep though his track selection in his SubMission podcast was spot on.

His musical taste and production style is why the Saturday night show at the Canopy should be packed — Kastle can play tracks of his own (and from other artists) in most of the genres that already regularly draw audiences here in C-U — slo-mo sexy-time beats, big room bass music, blissed out future garage, and R&B classics — all with a fresh take on tracks that have samples reworked to the point of almost of non-recognition. His latest album combines all these different flavors into a flow that works just as smoothly as it does in his mixes.

Photo from

Kastle opens his 2013 debut album on Symbols Recordings (a record label founded by Kastle) with a chilled out track, “Stay Close”, with vocals from Austin Paul who also appears on two other tracks. “Stay Close” is a bright airy track that gently lulls you into the album. “Death from Above” with JMSN (another repeat collaborator and remix target) is similar downtempo track with a soft, dreamy chopped-up vocals. Kastle does this sounds so well and that’s probably why these tend to be my favorite of his tracks and remixes. The track “Circles” reminds me of a rainy day of regret on your couch. At the moment, my favorite slo-mo track on the album is probably “Must Be Crazy” featuring Atlas. It’s slo-mo beat and soulful vocals are a beautifully pleading mix of desire and anger.

Kastle also has several more uptempo tracks on his album. “Been Awhile” and “Red Light” pitch up the bpm more into the house range. It’s a subtle change and it’s not like every track stays in one vibe. A track might start out housy only to dip back into slo-mo speed and then back uptempo — like in “Things We Can Do” with vocalist Reva DeVito who’s also worked with Com Truise. (Best DJ name ever!)

DJ Belly. Photo by Spomer Photography.

Locals DJ Belly and Forrest Bump provide opening support for Kastle. DJ Belly is coming off a big show last Saturday in Springfield where he opened for Caspa and The Widdler. Doors open at 8 p.m. with the show starting at 9 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. 18 and over.

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