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Percebes starts 2021 by releasing the label honcho’s brand new “Gestures Of Release” LP. It’s an offering of tracks that reflect the producer’s unique take on languages he knows well, whilst retaining a unique sense of coherence.
Guests include portuguese electro-funk band Thunder & Co, local junglist producer AL:X, fellow Percebes founder Hélder Russo and Chicago House new school gold medalist Andrew “Change Request” Emil. The quality of production and engineering is second to none on an LP that sounds as close to a maxi single as physically possible! There’s much that a DJ can use on both dance floors and cooler settings alike, but also, an album that a music lover can enjoy on a proper turntable. Quoting Vito Corleone, it’s “an offer you can’t refuse”.
Label: Percebes Musica
Release Date: 2021-05-14
Interview with Ka§par
Q1: Who is Ka§par?
Hi! Ka§par is an artistic persona developed by me: João Pedro Gaspar da Silva Pires. There’s others… “Fidelio”, “Gatupreto”, etc… but this is the oldest and the main one. The identity that unifies everything. It’s spelled out of my mother’s family name Gaspar and I’ve been using this alias since as early as 1998. I think the first track I released as Ka§par dates back to 2000 or 2001. It’s an obvious reference to the comic book character Casper – of course – which I guess relates to my lonely upbringing. Being a millennial, growing up in the 90’s, surrounded by mainstream stadium rock & roll while wanting to dig into disco, funk, electro, hiphop, house music and drum’n’bass – yet finding it incredibly difficult as an 11, 12 year-old to do so. Lisbon wasn’t London at the time, few kids my age were into real urban, club and rave music. So I was a loner, the only vinyl head in my class, the only DJ wannabee and beat maker in my school, I also had kind of a nerdy fame, the character’s ethos resonated. I remember an insight that if I just spelled “Casper” I’d probably be stuck in a sea of other people with the same name, so I quickly decided to explore smart spelling options to use in the name, and came up with the “§”.
Not sure it was the smartest move, since that symbol makes it hard to look for my work online, my artist profiles on spotify, itunes, beatport and other digital platform spell a much less interesting “Kaspar” for practical reasons, I’m forced to leave “Ka§par” for press and artwork – ‘till the day google and browsers can handle the “§”. Perhaps a fitting metaphor for my own presence in the world.
As I said, this all started back in the late 90’s, early 2000’s. I did hundreds of pieces of music and released a lot. I started a label called Groovement, that went on to grow, then went to the RBMA in 2005, DJ’d a bit around the world, got signed to Clone and 4Lux in Rotterdam, Stripped & Chewed in Chicago, Midnight Shift (then) in Singapore, and many others. I helped some friends out in Austria and Berlin with Blossom Kollektiv and Mont Lake, at the same time I set up a studio with the family behind Tomorrow Is Now Kid! from Amsterdam and worked there for a few years. Later I decided to start my own business and got my own bar, worked on that in parallel to my career for the past four years… I also teach music, do gear and music reviews, host a weekly FM radio show on local Lisbon urban station Oxigenio, and so of course, decided to start my own label PERCEBES MÚSICA. With so much getting done, I proved I could do what I wanted, why the hell not release my own music and put it out on my own terms? Fair to say I have the help of many valuable and close friends to make all of it, none of it is hardly my merit. No man (or fictional comic book ghost) is an island!
Q2: Tell us about your new LP on Percebes?
The new LP is my fourth album to date, but to be fair it’s the second that is solely made up of all new material (last year I did two long players, made of vinyl only back catalogue with a couple of unreleased extras each that I released on my own bandcamp page). Now, this one is more like the follow up to “Ascensus”, the first totally new album on 4Lux from 2013. “Gestures” is an album centered around ideas of self-exploration and emancipation. A piece of work where in I broke free from pre-made mathematical expressions for apparent success and formulas usually and typically associated with the so-called “dance music industry”. Notions of like what “house music” is or should be, the expectations about what a certain type of production “should” sound like, or common sense about personal objectives (if you want to DJ here or there you should be producing a track like this and that and releasing here and there or you ought to be a resident in this and that club, to get to this or that booking).
Truth is I was a always a loner and a “do it myself” kind of dude. I did try to fit in the norm for a while but I realized it certainly wasn’t for me. I felt there was way more in me to be shared, that what little I could fit in that small mold. So these 10 tracks reflect that… coherence in plurality, diversity of form, retaining clarity of character, clear intention permutating over different aspects of shape and manifestation into sound waves of personality and imagination.
I wrote and interpreted tracks like “Rectify” (which talks about the relationship between life and alchemy) and “Gestures of Release” (something about the inner realms of the spirit that are accessed through deeper club music and it’s way of life), had guests on the two more downtempo moments (fellow label founder Hélder Russo on “Suave” and Chicago artist Andrew Emil for the mystical dub experimentation of “Maritime Myriad”) and also the intense jungle moment “Time Apart”, that features a now familiar TV host from Portugal singing his lyrics (Rodrigo Gomes, who has been a good friend for years and used to be a lead vocalist on a few bands I worked with) and is a track that was produced with AL:X, one of the heaviest old school portuguese drum’n’bass producers.
I did the rest by myself: synths, MPC and a lot of engineering. There’s that dark funky floor vibe on tracks like “Miles Away” or “Heads Down”, the noodly composed electronic funk of “Feelin’ Something”, “Membrana” and “Clone Forge” (this one samples my favourite fight’em’up from the Sega Megadrive).
Q3: Who are your greatest influences ?
Always feel this is kind of an unfair question. I have bought records my whole life, all the way up to last week, so it’s hard to reply shortly. I’ll make an attempt at summing that up in three, DJ minded tracks – so we don’t get side tracked in abstract considerations:
Balo – Only You ( Danny’s Ballroom edit )
I listened to this when I was growing up. Reminds me of a time and place: mid 90’s, local (and world wide) legend DJ Vibe hosts a radio show on national youth radio Antena 3, two hours of house music every Friday night from midnight to two in the morning. Used to tape that show every time from the time I was 12 up to when I was a 16 year old. He used to drop this often. It moved me so much! The diagonal chords, the amazing, sexy african beats, the dirt and soul of it all. It’s just ace, the kind of track I listen to to get in the mood to make some deepness of my own.
So, this track was huge for me when it came out in 2005. It blew my mind that a guy could use a huge live drum set and a single oscillator to such a devastating effect, then completely flip it into a nasty 808-ish acid number with such amazing ease. It really made me question a a lot about what is “complexity”, in the sense that something ground breaking needn’t and shouldn’t be necessarily heavy in resources and music scoring, but can simply be a radical idea. Maurice Fulton is the man.
Tony D – Don’t Wanna Lose You
Of course by now hip hop is the universal, planetary, culture that pervades and permeates all others. I grew up on it. But I was aware of American, British, French and Portuguese music in this domain. Grand Central was a great label from Manchester, they released this incredible album from the late Tony D, with a few songs on it that are way too moving to be described. Just listen to this! This song is what I put on to coach a vocalist on how to sound soulful. Also, listen to those drums… if you want to make sure your mix is tight on that SP1200, they hold your perfect tone and dynamics. It’s a brilliant song, brilliant album, brilliant point in time.
Q4: Can you let us about scene in Lisbon? What artists do you love past and present that have inspired and encouraged you and what parties that you love going to have helped your musical evolution.
Sure, the first great hero I had was DJ Vibe – as I hinted. He used to play really deep shit, true garage and house, some Detroit techno too… real dubbed out trippy club roughness. I heard my first Moodymann records from him, Theo records, Herbert, Motorbass, Super Discount, even Daft Punk and other stuff from the time. He was amazing with three decks. Later went on to pursue wider fame with massive club sounds, something that I felt wasn’t so interesting, and that also came with a later backlash after a while. Artists and DJ’s should be careful about their options, sometimes making money in the short term can also mean burning bridges in the long run. I love that guy anyway, he’s very cool, very friendly, supportive and he has a true passion for great music and great sound to this day, I would easily go and hear him spin, and make sure he knows I’m there – so he doesn’t make it too easy on everyone else LOL. Other heroes: I’ll say my good friend Bernardo Marques (Mr. Mute) – he’s an amazing DJ, and not a producer, just a straight up record collector and music promoter. The great and omnipresent Rui Vargas – who besides programming the best club in Portugal and Spain, Lux Frágil, also hosts an amazing radio show and is very supportive of my music since I got started. I go and listen to Rui as much as I can, as both a fan and a friend. Also, Tiago Miranda – as much a talented, eclectic DJ as they come! I also think Marco Rodrigues (Photonz) is a great DJ and producer that I often try to catch up on. The realest heroes are people that are truly under the radar, like Nuno Bernardino, Miguel Sá, Pedro Beça, Júlio Maciel and Trol2000 – there are so many others (sorry for not having the insight to name you all, but you know who you are!)
More DJ’s from around here that are great too, of course, Sheri Vari being a stand out talent (but I have a clear bias), Chima Hiro, Lady CC, Claudia Moonchild and others. There’s a fictionalized-by-the-
Worth pointing out that a lot of my technical DJ skill and philosophy was developed in Frágil, the club where I was resident in from the time I was 15 until I was 29 (1999 – 2013), heavily influenced by Rui Murka and also Mr. Cheeks – who was GOD to DJ kids growing up in Lisbon, he taught everyone how to mix and DJ in his record shop Supafly.
Q5: How have you been keeping busy during lockdown?
Making music, driving the label forward, trying to manage a closed-doors bar (pandemic…), working online, writing a music production manual, recording a music production online video course, cutting records, making compilations, recording streams, sets, radio shows, cooking, drinking wine, smoking cheeba, making love, enjoying life. It’s a pandemic, not the end of the world. I’m not a pessimist, I’m a realist… I don’t entertain anxious visions, I have experienced way too much chaos and madness in unpredictable situations that relate to odd human behaviour to find and accept a well coordinated conspiratorial apocalyptic world view as the best explanation for the reasons behind a pandemic. Certainly, incompetence and idiocy are far better predicting factors. Sorry this can’t seem more evident to more people, many of them good friends.
Q6: What else can we expect from you over the next year?
I’m working on Percebes’ up-coming releases from other artists. I’ve prepared some debutants, and a second volume of our yearly “best friends” compilation called Produto Interno Bruto (Gross Domestic Product) , which features people from around the world and local talent as well.
As a producer, I’m making another album for Midnight Shift, which will be quite a surprise to some, it’s not going to be a “dance” album in the typical sense… more like a “roots” album, and I’ll leave it at that. I am loving getting that done.
I also got a new MPC One -having fun getting into that. Want to get back into DJing for people, parties and clubs, miss that a lot, but I’m happy keeping all this up, I hope it doesn’t sound too bad, but I’ll try to be an interesting guy to follow if you take some time to check out what I’m doing!
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