Kastra is a really interesting and intriguing artist who has an unique approach when it comes to song writing. He plays any new song he’s worked on next to one of his favourite tracks and if it’s not as good, then he scraps or improves it.
Here we speak exclusively to Kastra to discuss his writing process:
You have an innovative way of creating new music where you play a new song next to one of your favourite’s and if it’s not as good you scrap it, what made you take this approach?
Dance music is all about energy. The easiest way to tell if it has enough energy is to play it next to a song that you already know works in the club. If you play that peak time track and then yours immediately following it, you can tell if there’s a drop-off in energy. Also it helps you compare the mix of the song. I don’t usually scrap it unless the song really doesn’t hold up. Most times I just end up changing something in the song to give it the energy it needs to hold up next to the example track.
Have you worked differently in the past, or is this always the way you’ve chosen to create?
I’ve always kind of used this method as a quality check. If you flick back and forth between your track and the example track, you can kind of gauge whether or not you’re on to something.
When working on new music do you enjoy collaborating or are you focused solely on self creation?
It kind of depends. Sometimes I have a vision and I know exactly what I’m going for and how to get there. Other times I might hit a wall and ask someone to help me out. A good collaboration is one where you work together not against each other. Where both people are on the same page and you kind of fill in each others weaknesses. However, if you’re not on the same page the song can suffer and go in a direction you don’t want it to. In which case, you would have been better doing it alone.
Music is very much up for interpretation so do you feel you may have scrapped some songs that may have connected with listeners more than others?
Absolutely. However, I have to go with my gut and choose what I think the strongest material is for release. But I do admit sometimes I’ll revisit projects and wonder why something never got released or why I never finished it. Sometimes when you hear something too many times you lose the ability to look at it subjectively. You fall out of love with it and move on to something else. Or maybe the singer on the song just wasn’t right but you never got someone else to try to sing it. As small as it may seem, these minor things can allow a song to be forgotten. I try to go back to unfinished projects every once in a while and make sure I’m not overlooking something great that I can use.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to improve their songwriting?
Listen to different kinds of music. There is so much to learn from the brilliant songwriters who came before you in all genres of music. If you only listen to rap music, you might miss out on the beautiful vocal harmonies of country music. If you only listen to country music, you’ll miss out on the perfect simplicity of punk rock. Try to be a student of music and try to learn from everything you listen to. Keep an open mind and you’ll become a much more rounded songwriter regardless of the style of music you create.
When writing, where do you look to for inspiration?
I think its important to listen to everything. This is important for not just songwriting but every part of the music creation process. I might hear a Beatles record and think to use slap back delay on a vocal I have to give it a little more edge. Maybe I hear a drum fill in a reggae record that I think might fit what I’m working on. What makes your music unique is where you draw your inspiration. Keep your spectrum of influences wide enough and your music will be a lot more interesting.
Overall how would you describe your creative process?
I usually go in to the creative process with an idea but not so much a plan. I know I’ve got an idea for what I want to base the song around but not so much what I want it to sound like. Say I’ve got this great vocal hook… I can base the song around that. It’s very difficult to just look at a blank canvas and paint. But if you already have it started when you get there, it’s a lot easier to fill it out. Not to mention it’s incredibly discouraging if you just can’t get something going. I try to avoid that as much as possible because if you work on something for 3 hours then realize it’s trash you basically just wasted time that you could have been working on something else.
Make sure you follow Kastra on Twitter @KastraMusic to keep up to date with all his latest music and tour news!
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