Kasra Looks Back on 10 Years of Critical Music


To do anything consistently for ten years requires vision, determination and an unwavering belief in what you do. These three elements — combined with a discerning ear and eye for new talent — are part of what’s helped Kasra’s Critical Music forge a distinctive sound in the world of drum ‘n’ bass and help push the genre forward. Launched in the living room of his north London flat in 2002, Critical Music has fostered a who’s who of production including Enei, Break, Rockwell, Sabre, Stray, Cyantific, Marcus Intalex, S.P.Y, Calibre and Total Science. Having released of a steady stream of amazing records and established a global reputation for throwing great events, we asked Kasra (pictured above) to share ten of Critical’s standout moments.

I was asked to write ten key moments from the label’s history. This morphed into a piece about important things I feel have made the label what it is rather than a glamorous list of highs. Some of the things that have got us where we are don’t make for a fancy Facebook post but are vital all the same. Thanks for all the support, keep it Critical. — Kasra

1. ST Holdings
This may not be the most exciting way to start off a piece but when you first think about starting a label that’s going to sell physical product (records/CDs) you need distribution. Never underestimate the importance of this. We had a few false starts due to bad distro, when STHoldings approached us it gave the label the creative freedom and infrastructure we really needed to get going.

2. Signing a Calibre single
I’m really proud of the label’s early catalogue but when we signed a Calibre single for our ninth release it definitely helped put us on the map. For such a respected artist to sign to a fledgling imprint made people really take notice. Dom, we thank you!

calibre critical music

3. Less is more
At first I wanted to release as much music as possible, as time went on I realized the importance of not filling the schedule for the sake of it. Only release the music you really believe in, there’s so much out there why add to it with singles/EPs that you aren’t moving you how they should. This still remains my ethos today, if I don’t have something good enough to release I’ll wait.

4. Fabric residency
I’d always dreamed of having an amazing residency in my own city, and I tried for a couple of years to get Fabric to return my calls – luckily enough one day they did. Its been incredible for the label and all the artists – for us to be able to regularly showcase what we do on one of the best sound systems in the world is a real treat.

critical sound fabric

5. FabricLive 62
I was with George Dub Phizix when I got the call that Fabric wanted me to do a mix for the FabricLive series. He can vouch for me when I literally jumped up and down [laughs]. A real moment for me and real testament to the team at Fabric who push the music they believe in.


6. Enei
After a while you want to build a team around you establish a unit. The first artist to be signed exclusively to the label was Enei. His music just struck a chord with me — rugged, to the point drum ‘n’ bass yet with character and atmosphere unlike other producers around. I was very proud when we released his album last year and the reaction it received.

critical sound flyer

7. Critical Sound events
The events side of what we do has become key to the label and being able to showcase the artists alongside guests all over the world. I’m really pleased that the name and what we do has become synonymous with quality underground d’n’b. In 2013 we plan to step up our game. There is a lot more to come!

8. Sabre, Stray And Halogenix feat Frank Carter III- “Oblique

Sometimes big tunes aren’t the obvious ones; sometimes you hear a track and think. I don’t care if no one buys this — it’s incredible and I want to put it out. “Oblique” was one of those. In a scene full of “bangers” this made its mark by just being a fantastic piece of music. Was so happy to have signed this and what a way to kick off our tenth year.


9. Outlook – Boat Party
I had heard the rumors but hadn’t experienced it myself, until last year when we were invited to Outlook for the first time. We had traveled for about 12 hours to get to Pula, and I was hanging onto hope that the party would be as good as everyone says. It surpassed all my expectations, 300 people on a warm summers evening loving life. It’s cliche but it was incredible!

10. The future
There’s so much to be excited about: new music from the artists, events, festivals, studio time. It’s such an incredible adventure. Bring it on!

Critical X featuring tracks by Mathematics, Calibre, Breakage, Lomax and others is out now on Critical Music.

Big Shot Guest Mix: Rene LaVice

Is this the year of the Ram? We’re asking because in just a few months the venerable UK-based drum ‘n’ bass imprint has become the new home for Calyx & TeeBee (check their Big Shot Guest Mix here) and Toronto’s Rene LaVice. One of the hottest DJs on the North American scene, LaVice recently turned heads when he dropped his Dimensions 5 EP. This week LaVice upped the ante by releasing his Absolute Monster EP on Ram, a release that features four dance floor monsters. On his exclusive 36-track Big Shot Guest Mix, LaVice crafts an unforgettable 36-track session featuring his new tunes as well as rollers from Calyx & Teebee, DC Breaks, Total Science, Delta Heavy (check their Big Shot Guest mix here) and Noisia. Download and enjoy.

Big Shot Guest Mix: Rene LaVice by Big Shot Magazine on Mixcloud

Big Shot Guest Mix: Rene LaVice

1. Loadstar / “Second Skin”
2. TC / “Tap Ho” (Taxman Remix)
3. Noisia / “Dustup”
4. Mind Vortex / “Hotbox”
5. Need For Mirrors / “Lofar”
6. M&F / “Wreck The Noise” (Cold Blooded Dub)
7. Calyx & Teebee / “Elevate This Sound”
8. identi-Fi Wickaman & RV / “Final Crisp”
9. Loadstar / “Terror Drone”
10. DC Breaks / “Era”
11. Culture Shock / “Trogladyte”
12. Rene LaVice / “Dank”
13. Total Science / “ Jungle Jungle”
14. Optv & BTK / “Don’t Need You”
15. S.P.Y / “Love & Hate”
16. Chase & Status / “Time” ft Delilah Enei Remix
17. Meow v12 – Mastered
18. Rene LaVice_/ “Save_Me” (VIP_vocal)
19. Artifice / “Hands Up”
20. Rene LaVice / “Dungeon”
21. Dillinja / “Time Out” (Original Mix)
22. TC / “No One”
23. Delta Heavy / “Get By” (Delta 174 Mix)
24. Foreign Concept & Bringa / “Cemetery”
25. DJ Fresh & Sigma / “Cylon”
26. Major Lazer / “Get Free” (Andy C Remix)
27. Jubei & S.P.Y / “Project 1”
28. Culture Shock / “I Remember”
29. Rene LaVice / “Absolute Monster”
30. Noisia / “Friendly Intentions”
31. Wilkinson / “Tonight” (Original Mix)
32. Rene LaVice / “Regrets”
33. Rene LaVice – ???
34. Friction / “Someone” (The Prototypes Remix)
35. Rene LaVice / “Headlock v11 VIP”
36. Seven Lions / “Below Us” ft. Shaz Sparks (Smooth’s DnB Remix)

Big Shot Guest Mix: Calyx & TeeBee

Well established in the drum ‘n’ bass scene for over 15 years, London’s Calyx & TeeBee are taking their music to the next level in 2012, signing with the mighty Ram Records and working on the followup to their acclaimed 2005 full-length, Anatomy. The pair just dropped a hot double single, “Scavenger” / “Stepping Stones,” and they’re hard at work on their sophomore full-length. You can hear the pair’s latest tracks on their phenomenal Big Shot Guest Mix, featuring as-yet unreleased bangers from label mates Culture Shock, Hamilton and DC Breaks as well as cuts and remixes from Gridlok, Alix Perez and Ulterior Motive & Hybris. Download and enjoy.

Big Shot Guest Mix: Calyx & TeeBee by Big Shot Magazine on Mixcloud

Big Shot Guest Mix: Calyx & TeeBee

1. DJ Shadow feat. Little Dragon / “Scale It Back”(Calyx & TeeBee RMX) (Ninja Tune)
2. Ulterior Motive feat. Lenzman / “Catharsis” (Subtitles UK DUB)
3. Mark Knight feat. Skin / “Nothing Matters” (Noisia RMX) (Toolroom Records DUB)
4. Hybris / “Lair” (Revolution Records)
—-> Hamilton / “Brainstorm” (RAM Records)
5. Culture Shock / “Troglodyte” (RAM Records)
—-> Gridlok / “Insecticide” (P51)
6. Hybris / “Agent” (Subtitles UK DUB)
7. Apex / “Inner space” (Subtitles UK)
—>Cutlture Shock “Machine” (RAM Records)
8. Ulterior Motive & Hybris / “Bring out” (Subtitles UK DUB)
—> Culture Shock / “Protection” (RAM Records)
9. Submotion Orchestra / “It’s Not Me It’s You” (Alix Perez RMX) (white label)
10. Break / “Something New”(Xtrah RMX) (Symmetry DUB)
11. Calyx & TeeBee / “Stepping Stones” (RAM Records)
—> Wilkinson / “Overdose” (RAM Records)
12. Chris S.U. feat. Mira / “Higher” (Subtitles UK DUB)
—> DC Breaks / “Creeper” (RAM Records)
13. SPY & Kasra / “Surface Tension VIP” (Critical)
14. Calyx & TeeBee / “Scavenger” (RAM Records)

Adam F Talks Dubstep and Fusing Genres

As Adam F heads to Miami’s Winter Music Conference and ponders his next studio move, the British DJ/producer/actor says he’s planning to build off the recent successes he’s had with harder acts he’s worked with, like Nero, The Prodigy and Pendulum.

“I’ve spent a lot of time on the label (Breakbeat KAOS) for quite a few years, developing a few acts that we’re real excited about who are now part of the worldwide scene,” he tells Big Shot. “It’s time for me to get back in the studio myself.”

With some prime slots at WMC, and a looming U.S. tour with Caspa later this year, Adam F has given fans a taste of where he might be headed, musically, with his latest single, “When the Rain Is Gone,” a pop-laced, dubstep jaunt, driven by a euphoric hook.

But as the indie mogul who signed Nero and released Pendulum’s first platinum album, Hold Your Colour, he admits a deep dedication to the EDM’s harder, more rock-oriented edge.

“It’s just a different part of me,” he explains. “I like that epic sound — that really edgy, in your face, raw sound, like The Prodigy. It gives me a chance to be less organized within the music. It’s more free to go left with it when you work with people like Prodigy, which is exciting. And obviously people like The Prodigy, they’ve got such a big influence on the dance scene, that you feel you have to step up to the plate to deliver.”

“That’s what dubstep has done. It’s regenerated people’s minds to want to work together. It’s created this new bass music where everything is fused together.”

Adam has also worked with some of hip-hop’s top acts as well — from Redman to Pharaoh Monche to De La Soul to L.L. Cool J.

The L.L. Cool J collaboration, which was on LL’s 2000 smash, G.O.A.T. (The Greatest of All Time), was a true partnership in every sense. Adam not only produced the track, but did backing vocals and spent extensive time in the studio in New York with the rap icon, even rounding up girls from the streets to sing backup.

“That was fucking crazy,” he recalls of the experience. “I grew up with those guys, went to see them. I remember when Def Jam did that tour with Run-DMC, LL, The Beastie Boys. I went to that. So to work with him, that was an amazing experience.”

The hip-hop and rock influence has always made its presence felt in Adam’s music. With dubstep blurring the genre lines even further, he’s heading back into the studio, where he says he’ll toss convention aside and meld several styles into what he hopes will be a new electronic masterpiece.

“The new generation of music lovers and club goers have been less genre-specific than ever before. I’m excited now that so many new genres are fusing together,” he says. “And unlike any other time in club music history, people are going into clubs and hearing such a cross-genre of styles.”

“That’s what dubstep has done. It’s regenerated people’s minds to want to work together. It’s created this new bass music where everything is fused together,” he continues. “That’s why for me, it’s a good time to come back in to make music as Adam F, because it’s quite open now.”