It’s 34 degrees outside, but a big 37 up in our studio. Kasien arrives on a white racing bike. After our shoot, we head to the back room (where it’s a bit cooler) to sit and discuss his journey so far. Kas tells us what life after lockdown has been like and how the past year has really transformed him for the better. Oh and his debut EP, “I Found Paradise in Hell”.
Jake: ‘I Found Paradise in Hell’ – talk to me briefly about how this name came to you?
Kas: I’ve always kind of looked at the Earth as if it’s Hell, based on all the personal things I’ve gone through. I’ve always tried to find a little bubble in that and stay positive, like I’m very optimistic in everyday life so it was always a playing title that I worked with, but not necessarily that. I remember when I wanted to do my first EP a few years ago, I wanted to call it ‘Pretty Nightmare’ which is basically the same thing right? But when I was in lockdown, I felt that again I needed to find some sort of ‘Paradise in Hell’, something to keep me good in the madness. So it kinda just made sense for the EP to be called that and it kinda reflects the time.
Jake: The situation enabled you to be enlightened.
Kas: Yeah for real man.
Jake: Coming into your second project, how have you approached this one differently from the last? I guess the progression you as a person as well as an artist has allowed you to see life a lot differently now.
Kas: When me and KRASH made K2, I wasn’t getting any shows – he was working on Rocky’s stuff. But more time I was just in London and we weren’t making it with any pressure, like wanting people’s attention – we were just having fun, what we wanted to do at the time. In between the time of making K2 and this one, people are watching now, like supporting Thai and Bakar. I’ve seen good friends of mine do it on a bigger scale and it opened my eyes that like rah this is real, we really doing this! I’m just more aware of who I am, more aware of what message I’m putting out to people. Working with more producers, I worked a lot with Cadenza on this one – we built our relationship from the time I supported Thai in New York and we’ve been making tunes ever since, so building other relationships with other producers too brings new sounds.
I would say when I was making K2 I was really really really frustrated, like man was super duper broke, not saying I’m not now but man was like in a mental mad state and I didnt think anyone would care so the music was really intense. But now I would say the songs on this are not as intense, but more what I see for myself in the near future and talking about what I’ve gone through personally in the past year since K2. A lot has changed.
Jake: Name three themes in this EP that you address? The things that stand out to you the most.
Kas: I would say heartbreak in general, not necessarily from a breakup but the general heartbreak, I’ve got this song ‘Oh my Gosh’ where I’m talking about all this madness i’ve gone through. Like I’m looking at myself in a mirror, and everything I’ve gone through that’s disappointed me – whether it was family members or myself or certain situations that I thought would have come to pass but didn’t. Then going through a relationship break up and how you can be down, and then how you gotta slap yourself in the face and be a boss and move on.
Another topic would be understanding who I am. People who know me know I’m not an arrogant guy, I’m more of an observer and I don’t mean to come across humble. I don’t toot my own horn, but a lot of the tunes on here I was definitely feeling myself more than usual and more than I was on K2.
The third one would be optimism man. Like I got a more optimistic attitude now, it’s not as dark as previous tracks when man was talking about how I am doing drugs and my card being declined and not knowing where to go, but more like now i’ve been through that, i’m having fun now and looking forward to the future.
Jake: With music being the centerpiece to your life, when the lockdown came in, For that month when everyone thought shit we are all going to die, how did you deal with that? Like what we do didn’t matter at that point, at that point we all had to realise there’s a real world still out there and we all had to realise how caught up we are constantly…
Kas: I started working on myself, I noticed because of the fast life, you’re out all the time, drinking all the time, smoking all the time, doing whatever on the weekends. I kinda took it to a place where I went cold turkey from everything. I started working out everyday, I didn’t know when we would come out of this but I knew when we did I wanted to be a better version of myself. Kasien 2.0. Like remember in Dragonball Z they would go into the hyperbolic time chamber in King Kai’s world, but like he’s in there for like years, but in our world it’s only been like three months but for him he’s training for like two years so I was like cool I wanna come out of this 2.0 Kas and that make sure that my body and mind is in check. I bought a bike and ride around and eat more healthy, I bought a Nutribullet, like shit like that, to work on myself more. Everything was always lit, but I never really looked after myself.
I got my shed set up, I set up my home studio and two of the songs on the EP are recorded in that shed, Wishlist and Cloud 9 and they’re good as well haha.
Jake: So are you still Kas 2.0 now we’re back to some sort of normality?
Kas: 100. This EP is the final chapter of the old Kas, like this marks the beginning but also the end. Saying bye to that era of Kas and definitely after this, OK cool, I got my foundation to let people know what I’ve been on and the people who have travelled with me so far, you guys understand this then the next one will be a complete switch up.
Jake: You mention in a recent interview that you are from a hip hop household but grew up inspired by heavy metal, what was it that you enjoyed about Heavy that differed from hip hop but also inspires you today?
Kas: I went to a school called Honeywell in Clapham Junction – our school was the hippy school. We were the only school in the ends that didn’t wear uniforms. It was literally some Recess shit, so many different people. I went through a stage when you’re trying to find yourself as a kid and mixing with different people. My group of friends wasn’t just like roadmen, I was chilling with all sorts of different groups like the skaters. I remember on Sky, I would randomly go on Kerrang or the NME channel and the tunes were hard and spoke to me in a way when I was frustrated. Also around that time, my parents had split, so I felt like I needed an outlet – the only outlet that sonically was making me feel something was like System of a Down, Slipknot, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, all that type of shit, That new wave punk.
Those lines were all blurred, like Limp Bizkit – they were making songs with cuts like Funkmaster Flex, they had tunes with Method Man, so they were blurring lines between the Hip Hop and Grunge worlds at that time, so for me it was an OK I’m fucking with it. Hearing shit like “I’m gonna grab the chainsaw!”- I was like this is energy.
Jake: I feel like it’s the same today, and a lot of people had this phase in there lives and have gone on to build this “Emo/Rap” or whatever you want to call it today – like the Juicewrld’s, the Xxxtentacion’s it’s the same thing. It’s blurred lines taking massive influences from both Hip Hop and Rap as well as Metal and Punk.
Kas: If you mute a Korn video, they look like Bone Thugs n Harmony, it was crazy. Without that era, there would be none of this wave today.
Jake: When I listen to a lot of your tracks I get the same feeling, it’s hard to define you to a category which I think is brilliant.
Kas: I feel like as we put out more music, people really start understanding. Like when you first start making music it’s hard because you get pigeon holed. But like all the artists I look up to, the Kanye’s and Cudi’s just showed me you can make whatever the fuck you want, like today I can make an album like this and tomorrow I could change my whole look and do that. That’s why Kanye, Madonna, Prince, all these people are the best because every album it was a different version of them, different images and looks for each album. Like fuck that box – its just them being them at that time. People are scared, like oh you’re this person and conforming, but fuck that. If I say ‘Graduation’, If I say ‘808’s and Heartbreaks’ you can see it but it’s completely different people, those people and artists are the best. Even the Beatles – one album is super psychedelic the other is melodic you know what I mean, that’s how people grow.