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Kasztan talks about gear, label launches and his new release.

Thanks for chatting with us today! How has the year been for you so far?

Thanks for having me on Tanzgemeinschaft! I find it hard to see time passing in terms of years, but rather in terms of deadlines, and my EP has certainly been an important horizon for me this year. It’s been a lot of work, about 6 months full-time, and now its release marks the end of a cycle.

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You have a very interesting background in music. Can you share a little bit about your journey?

I started making music in my teens as a self-taught guitar player. My brother and I started a post-rock band, got ourselves a record deal, and a van, and started touring Europe. Then I got to meet Anthony/M83, we made friends and he asked me to be part of his band on stage so I got to play much much bigger venues. It was also the first introduction to the world of synths and more electronic-oriented production.

After that, I launched my own alt-pop project called STAL and signed to Sony in France. At the time I was splitting my time between Paris and LA and it proved too difficult to keep that band going. I wish I could avoid mentioning the impact of covid but it’s what ended STAL for good and forced me to start making music on my own. At first, I was doing it for fun and then I started sending demos to my manager who thought they were worth being released.

You launched your record label Stemina Recordings last year, how has this experience been for you and what was the driving force behind launching the imprint?

From the beginning, it was clear that my discography would be a journey. There are plenty of guitars in my first tracks, my sound keeps evolving as I am discovering new music (only new to me sometimes).  It wouldn’t have made sense to try to sell different singles to different labels depending on the vibe. So, the best thing to do was to have my own label, which I co-run with my manager. It’s more work but it’s also more rewarding.

You’ve also just released your brand-new EP, “Air Mass” which features a real blend of influences. Can you talk us through the inspiration behind it and your relationship with vocalist Dahlie?

Well, I always go in too many directions, and believe it or not this EP is an attempt to kind of stabilise my sound! I appreciate there are techno and garage and electronica influences but I tried to make a cohesive whole by working on a limited set up, to has a more restrictive framework in terms of sound palette, compared to my previous releases.

Regarding that track with Dahlie, the EP was declared finished so I started working on something different, I sent an instrumental to my manager and he said, “This needs vocals, can I send it to this Soul and Gospel singer I work with?” I was in LA and Dahlie was in France, we started talking on WhatsApp, sending files back and forth and wrapped it up in 2 or 3 days, and now it’s my favourite track on the EP. I’m only going to meet her IRL in a couple of weeks.

What does your current studio set up look like? Is there any favourite gear you lean towards?

I’ve carried too many guitar amps and heavy pieces of gear in my early years, no offense to the analog synths lovers but now I love a light set-up! I mostly work on Ableton live (wavetable, operator, etc) and Serum. I push myself to work with minimal gear. I also use the Novation Bass Station 2 when I want to play on a real synth.

Are there any upcoming releases we should look out for?

This October, we’re putting out an extended version of HAELIUM’s EP with remixes by Blutch (France), Bon-Psy (UK) and Munro (NZ). HAELIUM and I are both from Paris and we’re both making music that owes more to UK Garage than to French Touch. We actually connected because Spotify kept pushing me his music and vice versa. We became friends and the first release of the label is a collab single we did together.

Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Just had the best lahmacun in Paris at Urfa Durum. Go try it if you come to Paris!

Thank you.


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