Interview by Michael Walkusky
We got to catch up with Barrett Richards a.k.a. Kastle before his show in San Diego this Friday. Here what he had to say about influences on his new album, favorite Korean spa in California & favorite producers of the moment:
What was the creative process like for Reflections?
It was just all about letting go and letting my instincts guide me. Through meditation before every studio session, I looked to create a dialogue with my subconscious and to just let that communication become involved in the album writing process.
How does Reflections differ from your past music?
I wouldn’t say it really differs at all in regards to the style. I’ve always been inspired by the same timeless sounds of garage, jungle, footwork, bass music, etc. I’d say what is mostly different is the production values and that the songs are slightly more open to interpretation than some of my past pop-leaning works.
When did you start meditating, and how has meditation influenced your music?
It’s something I’ve been interested in and aware of since high school really. I began studying eastern philosophies and mysticism when I was 16. Taoism was the philosophy that really resonated with me. The inner/mystical depths is no easy area to navigate and at 34 I’m still learning so much more and after all the years more and more dots connect. You just keep peeling back the layers of the veil. You encounter forces within yourself that are not always helpful, but when you overcome them you become more empowered by that energy. I just feel like in the past year I’ve had some significant breakthroughs that have allowed me to be more open about my experience and share it in the form of an album.
What do you enjoy most about running your record label Symbols?
It’s a combination of my love for music, pushing boundaries and helping other artists. It’s great to be a part of something bigger than myself and I hope that we can contribute to culture for the greater good.
Who are your favorite producers at the moment?
I’ve got a pretty diverse rotation on lately with artists like Kid Smpl, Lil Yachty, DVA, Gaika, S4U, Kassel Mosse, my.head, SURVIVE, 2814, Dark0 and Jacques Greene.
Which producers have influenced you the most throughout your career?
Three artists that have had a tremendous impact on me at different stages of my life are Moby, Aphex Twin and Burial.
What have been the most transformational musical experiences of your career?
I’d say launching Symbols in 2012 and putting out my debut album in 2013 were really huge for me. Because I have such an independent drive so it felt incredible taking that step. This new album is another extension of that. Also festival sets at Lightning In A Bottle, Shambhala and Coachella were very transformational for me.
What have been the most transformational cultural experiences from tour?
I’d say just the culmination of touring and the experience of travel. Learning that no matter race, religious affiliation, geographical location, etc, at the end of the day, we are all the same. Seeing that first hand is crucial, and I wish more people in rural America (where I grew up) had the ability to travel more. There are so many people in America who never have real conversations with people different than them and therein lies the disconnect.
Speaking of cultural experiences, I read in another interview that your manager sent you to a Korean spa after you released Reflections. As someone who married into a Korean family, I've become a big fan of Korean spas. Do you have a favorite spa in Koreatown or OC?
"I Spa" in Irvine! It’s dope, I didn’t want to leave.