For those of you that keep abreast of things in the modern day drum and bass scene Kasra should be a name you recognize. Kasra Mowlavi started releasing records under the Critical Music imprint back in 2002 with the label's first release 'Five Faces' and 'Evolve.2' from a new face on the scene at the time going by the name of Dphie (Cyantific). Sticking with the Critical sound of deep and dark, the label has never reached out into the more 'rave' Jump-up sound, or the various flavors-of-the-month since then. Instead, it has focussed on bringing the quality, uncompromising Critical sound of drum and bass to the fans ever since the labels inception.
You've always been seen as a 'gatekeeper' of drum and bass, the guy that brings through all the new names. Is this something Critical originally set out to achieve as a label?
Originally I set out to run a label that focused on the new exciting producers in D'n'B, in the past ten years the scene has opened up a lot more with producers breaking through seemingly a little easier than it was back then. I never want to lose site of developing new artists, the art is in helping those producers grow into what they want to be.
In doing so you've become a huge label in yourselves though, was that a surprise given your method of operation?
When I started the label I didn't have huge aspirations, I just wanted to be involved in the scene I love. We work really hard on signing good music and giving the fans of the label something they can believe in, I hope that's what has lead us to where we are now.
The label came from humble roots, from your front room in North London way back in 2002 and has came a long way since then. Have there been any particular challenges you've faced along the way that stand out as being tough ones?
In the early days of the label we had a few false starts, mainly due to distribution issues. They were really taxing times as distribution is a huge part of what means a label can exist in a physical form.
It's widely agreed that you're one of the most successful labels in drum and bass today, which is no mean feat with the amount of labels dying of late... does it ever worry you though? The state of the scene at large?
I never focus on things like that, if you take your eyes of what you are trying to achieve you can make mistakes. Of course if the scene is strong then the music is strong but I'm interested in Critical and making sure we do what we need to. No one person can be responsible for a whole scene.
Do you still hold any sort of a torch for vinyl or the MP3 route?
We still release every single on vinyl and I spend a small fortune each month on my own vinyl collection. Seems to me there are just as many DJ's out there as ever, they are just using whatever method they like most - be that vinyl, CD, digital etc.
You've brought through some of the most respected producers in the scene today and definitely developed a 'Critical' sound. Enei and Foreign Concept are a couple of our favourites, are there any other names we should have our eyes open for in the near future?
Definitely Mefjus, hes been around for a little while making his own waves and we have now signed him to Critical and I'm incredibly excited about what we have in store for next year and beyond. Also keep an eye out for Xtrah and Emperor, huge!
We're a big fan of Enei's new album 'Machines'. Are there any other album projects you can tell us about in the Critical pipeline?
Not quite yet, got a couple of really exciting projects on the boil. All will come clear soon enough!
Doing a Fabric CD must have been a real 'made it' moment. How was it coming up with the track list?
That was such an honour, I had to pinch myself when I got the call. I spent ages on the track list, hunting down exclusive bits, making sure it was as fresh as possible. Its not an easy challenge but one that was so rewarding.
Are there still any favorite tunes from your back cat that still float your boat?
So many, a few are :
Calibre - Rockafella
Breakage - Blue Mountain
Icicle - Late Nights
Stray - Timbre
Rockwell - Underpass
Thats just a snapshot, I could be here all day
Aside from the CD mix you've been putting together regular nights at Fabric? How was that for a challenge?
Again its one I love to take on, the team at Fabric are so supportive that its just a pleasure putting on the nights. I'm just so pleased with the reaction we get, each night is better than the last.
Do you feel you've managed to keep the Critical vibe, associated with the nights in the past on such a huge scale?
I think so, we never compromise on the acts we book. All the artists play music that I feel represents the label, I'd rather not put on a night than have to have a DJ play to fill the room that doesn't fit in with our vision.
We are massively looking forward to your NYE party. Have you confirmed a line up totally or are there still surprises to come?
We really don't want to miss this so we will need all information regarding tickets, prices and where we can purchase said tickets before we can let you go...