Kastle may or may not owe us money. We sat down with the bassmaker to chat about his label Symbols Recordings, which just celebrated its two-year anniversary, and we ended up talking about feelings at length. While it was nice to get in touch with our inner emotions, we kinda felt like therapists afterward.
But as Kastle explains, his music, and that of his Symbols roster, is steered by feelings. So much so, that his overall artistic concept, and the label’s ethos, is powered by the idea of feelings as a genre. That notion is amplified on the newly released Parables Volume Two compilation.
Two years in, Kastle lets his feelings, and his music, do the talking.
Congrats! Your label Symbols Recordings just turned two years old. How did the idea for Symbols come about?
I started Symbols in June 2012. I was at a point where I was finding it hard to place my music. A lot of labels didn’t understand what I was doing; maybe I was just doing weird stuff. It became the home for a lot of artists that sit outside of the normal genres.
We came up with the concept: The feeling is a genre. Whenever I sign music to Symbols, I have to feel a certain way. It’s not like I’m looking for a specific type of music, which I think is great because it can grow naturally based on a feeling, rather than what’s the latest genre or what’s the current trend.
Let me get this straight. You’re saying your feelings dictate your music tastes more than the actual sound?
Yes, because I want to create an overall aesthetic for the label that’s timeless and that’s very personable to me. People connect with it better that way.
When I finish something, if I don’t feel a certain way about it, then it’s just not done yet.
You’re open to any sound as long as it fits your aesthetic. And your feelings.
I am. I think my music is very soulful and very deep, but I’m still able to play festivals. It’s cool to push people in a slightly new direction. It’s a challenge for me.
Is there a specific range of feelings Symbols represents?
The thing about feelings is: Everyone experiences them differently. I’ve definitely come to know that when I feel a certain way, I know somebody is going to feel another certain way about it. When you feel in tune with something, that’s the feeling.
Symbols gives artists the freedom to express their feelings via music, and that gives fans the freedom to experience Symbols through feelings.
When artists are honest, people respond to that.
What is the mission statement of Symbols?
We have this understanding: We follow our dreams, and we do what we want to do. It’s a blessing that we’re able to get as far as we have being truthful to ourselves. That’s what a lot of music is missing these days. That’s our mission statement: Be truthful to yourself.
In a way, you’re creating a new path by simply being truthful to yourself.
A lot of artists see what has worked, and they follow trends. It’s a trend for a reason. I just have decided not to follow that path, but it’s not to say that path is wrong.
How does Symbols break away from or set new trends?
I don’t think we have to break away or set anything because we just do what we do. We’re in our own lane. We’re not trying to make new trends.
Symbols celebrated its two-year anniversary with the second edition of the Parables compilation. How does Parables Volume Two represent Symbols?
Parables is a perfect introduction to the label. People can go back and check out the first volume, but the second one is even more diverse where it reaches the full dynamic. It all goes back to “the feeling is a genre” because the compilation definitely has a feeling to it.
How do listeners feel at the end of Parables Volume Two?
I hope they feel good and feel loved and happy about their place in the universe.
Where do you see Symbols in five to 10 years?
I was listening to the new Hyperdub 10-year compilation, and if I could release timeless music as they have, I would be happy. We’re just going to keep following our feelings and writing truthful music. I hope to be continually pushing forward and releasing forward-thinking music.