I caught up with Caspa and Riko a few weeks ago for Clash Music who were only able to put a condensed version live. You can check that here: http://www.clashmusic.com/news/mad-men-caspa-x-riko-chat-to-clash
I thought I'd put the full transcript live for those who might want to read more - enjoy!
Caspa and Riko are an unlikely pairing on paper but their meeting of minds on new collaborative track 'Mad Man' is a stand out feature on Dub Police's forthcoming 45-track compilation 'Past, Present, Future'. Minimal and stripped back but with bags of dance floor potential, it seems to represent the past brought up to speed and captures the same energy and excitement that characterised dubstep's early beginnings. With this in mind and after it featured as our track of the day on Monday, we managed to catch up with them both on the origins of the track, the success of crossover sounds and what we can expect in 2014..
'Mad Man' features on the new Dub Police 'Past, Present, Future' compilation - can you tell us a bit about it? How did it come about?
Caspa: The original track was called 'Madness' and we did that in late 2009, maybe early 2010. He got the track and everything sounded okay but I felt it needed something else, it wasn't quite good enough so we left it for a bit. I think he thought it was all done and dusted at the time..
Riko: Yeah I thought it was done to be honest but I didn't hear anything until I got a call a few months ago to say Caspa had used the vocal and re-made the track. It just sounded like a completely new tune, but I was really happy with it.
Caspa: I wanted to take the tune back to basics, no compromises you know? I was looking through a lot of old vocal packs on my computer one day, found Riko's and put it over the intro to what I'd been working on - it sounded sick, like it was always meant to be for that tune. We'd called the old tune 'Madness' so I wanted to work that into the new one and we came up with 'Mad Man'. For me, I love it because I didn't have to think about it too much, I didn't try to do anything other than what I've always done. I think that's why people are into it.
Riko: When I heard it for the first time, I said to Caspa, 'Do you need a hook?' but he just said 'Nah' (laughs). I think the whole structure of it, the way it's just a verse then a drop rather than being built around a chorus really works man.
Could you tell us a little bit more about the compilation itself?
C: We've had over 500 releases on the label over the last 10 years or so, it'll be 10 years next year actually. It's a chance for us to put together a compilation to showcase everything we think has defined and will hopefully continue to define the scene. It's also us making a stand point; we've been there from the get go. When times are bit flakey and different like they are now, we're showing that we're putting the music first, everything else comes afterwards. It's also a way to showcase the different styles of music we've put out too.
How does 'Mad Man' compare to what you'd normally vocal? What made the track stand out for you?
R: The original track was sick so I just thought, 'Yeah, I'll spit to this' and so I got a few 16s down and whatever. I normally get just grime or bashment stuff sent to me so it was new, but it's probably closer to bashment, it's on a similar wave. In that sense, it just felt like my cup of tea straight away.
Was Riko someone you'd always wanted to work with?
C: Gary at Dub Police was linked in with a lot of guys from back in the day and I first asked about Riko a long time ago. The thing is, I didn't wanna just put a tune out for the sake of it, it had to be right - it wasn't good for either of us to do it any other way. The fact that we've got it right now just makes it something to be extra proud of. I want to work with him on more stuff in the future as well..
R: There's a lesson there to all young musicians and people in the music game too - if it's not right, just be patient and wait. We left it so long I actually forgot those lyrics but i remember them now so when I go to bookings I've got a few extra 16s to squeeze off (laughs).
Why do you think the dubstep/grime crossover sound works so well?
C: It's all London basically. Everything was together here back in the garage days and over time new sounds have developed but eventually everything was always gonna cross paths again. I think grime and dubstep have both done that. They're both pretty similar in terms of tempo and style as well..
R: Yeah I agree but even then, the fact they're still similar but manage to sound proper different is deep.
C: As soon as I hear 'Mad Man', I hear London. It's got the grime element, the dancehall element, the dubstep vibe. It's just a London tune, it couldn't be made in any other city.
It's also worth noting that if fits on the 'Future' disc - can we expect more along similar lines looking to the future?
C: I think a lot of people have taken it in different ways. The future for me is taking it back to my roots, focusing on the kinda tunes I an make with my eyes closed, that's what I should have been doing all along. I want to get back to that sound but push it forward. It's really down to how you perceive future - my future is definitely going back, before going forward.
Where do you think dubstep stands at the moment?
C: For the last ten years it's been on a constant rise but the bubble's burst a little bit.
R: From an outsider perspective, it does still seem massive though..
C: Yeah it still is. When any sound goes commercial though, it pops and people jump off but i've never cared about those people anyway. It's the people who've stuck with it and carry on doing it that keep it moving. It's one hundred percent not dead, all the shit's just been filtered out I guess - sometimes you need a good cleanse. The good labels stay, the good artists stay and the good nights stay - we just build back from that. I think even more so as well, because stuff's not on radio like it used to be, people think it's not as big anymore. When you can make something not for the radio and radio play it, that's it, you've smacked it again. We didn't even try with 'Mad Man' and it's been played everywhere, it feels like we're back starting out again. It's the most exciting when it's like that.
Looking forward, following the compilation, Dub Police have a North American tour starting at the end of the month. How do American audiences compare to the UK?
C: America's been really good since 2008 for me. I first played there in 2006 but it's got better and better - I'm actually bigger there than I am here weirdly enough. It's still a very strong scene but I have noticed that recently American's have come to a point where they're cautious about spending their money. It feels like you've got to be showing them something new to get them out now so i'm conscious of keeping things moving and not relying on the past. The internet makes everything so immediate and current, nothing's new for very long anymore so I think as a label and as an artist, I'm trying to stay ahead of the game a little bit. i think the tour will be killer though. I actually want to spend a few months out there next year and plant a few seeds in the towns and cities I've not had chance to visit yet.
As for 2014, what can we expect from you both?
C: To keep putting stuff out that I'm really into. I'm focusing on working with people i respect and want to work on tunes that change the game a bit you know? Aside from that, ever since I started, I've always just wanted to make music and play it out so if I can carry on doing that then that's, as cheesy as it sounds, still the dream. I have got an album coming out on New State and Dub Police called 'Dubstep Sessions' in January and I want to have my next album finished. We could maybe do something for that mate?
R: Yeah, definitely man.
C: I'm also gonna do a remix album for my LP 'Alpha Omega' which isn't going to be just based around dubstep. There'll be some drum 'n bass and a few garage style mixes too hopefully. There's just a lot going on basically.
R: I've just done the 'Rise Of The Farda' mix CD so there'll be another one of those next year probably. I recorded a tune with Chase and Status too and that's just come out on their latest album. More of the same really though man, I'm just trying to stay relevant. If you're not doing anything right now, you quickly become forgotten about so it's important to stay busy.