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INTERVIEW                                                             08 dec 2021
A Monday night with Cabasa

Kevin has been releasing tracks as Cabasa for about five years. Spending his youth surrounded by musically inspired people and moving with his ambition for most of his life, has resulted in a healthy and balanced relationship with his own creative process, allowing him to uninhibitedly flourish and discover.

Een nieuwe paragraaf.

“ Music has never been a full time thing for me. I function best on short bursts of creativity. ”

It’s a cold and dark Monday evening when we join Kevin in the living room of his apartment in Anderlecht. In the background, some breaky club-music plays as we sit down for a glass of water. We’ve all barely recovered from the weekend, and Kevin just finished his courses for the day, studying electrical engineering through the week. “People that are pretty new to this stuff might struggle with it, but I’ve worked with principles like filters and EQ’s for some time already, so that gives me a good head start. Eventually, I’d love to be able to fix my own hardware, and maybe design some stuff myself.”

Right after graduating high school, Kevin studied Graphic Design. This study and skillset still informs some of the visual style of Eclipse Tribez, the label he runs together with Martin Botte, and allows him to deliver personal artwork to fellow labels such as his EP on Eddy Larkin. Coming back to the ‘hard science’ of electrical engineering after so much time in creative fields was not easy, but Kevin has found his footing, and likes the challenge. As much with music as with his studies, curiosity is his biggest motivator.

“Studying maths on this level took some time to get used to, but I really like to understand how a machine works, and I’ve always liked coding. When I was studying Graphic Design, it was difficult to focus on making music since they both require the same sort of energy, but now that balance has been restored in a way.”

Moving with the music

Kevin doesn’t shy away from new environments and unexplored places: In his 27 years, he moved around a lot, from his youth in Greece, Namur and Liège to Brussels, Birmingham, London and back to Brussels. Fearlessly following his interests, music has always been his lifeline.

“When I moved to the UK, I first moved to Birmingham to join a lot of internet friends that were part of the UK scene. However, the city itself had not that much to offer, so after going out a couple of times in London I decided to move there. I picked up a bartending job at Rye Wax and really enjoyed the scene there. I made some good friends and had a good time. But in the end I missed Belgium, even though I thought I wouldn’t. Looking at the collaborations and new venues popping up in Brussels, coming back sounded very exciting. Before I left for London, I didn’t feel like I could find my footing, musically, here in Belgium, but over time that changed a lot. There’s a real unity in Brussels, emanating to neighbouring cities as well, that wasn’t there a couple of years ago. This would never be possible in London, because it is so big.”

“ In the end I missed Belgium, even though I thought I wouldn’t. There’s a real unity in Brussels that wasn’t there a couple of years ago. ”

As our conversation moves towards music and his time in England, our focus shifts towards the musical centerpiece of Kevins living room: featuring prominently against one of the walls are his turntables, accompanied by a kallax with a selection of mostly club-ready records. Category tabs of the collection include a Belgian flag, “Electronic”, UK Club, but quickly the categories get more specific, though still mostly all over the map. “Back in London I sorted my records this way in a one-shot sorting session, and I haven’t changed it since. It allows me to quickly find the tracks I need when I go play out, and having this part of my collection all sorted together gets me in the right headspace, since I don’t get distracted by records that are not for this purpose.”

Methods and methodical madness

This method of partial compartmentalisation is a big part of Cabasas creative process. Rather than spending hours and hours sorting through all of his collection, Kevin sets his workflow up in a way that allows him to get results quickly, making the effort very focussed and efficient. The same principle applies when he produces: his hardware is set up in his bedroom, allowing him to dive into his process whenever he wants. When he does, he does it intensely and quickly, and all should be right.

“Awo Ojiji stayed with me the past weekend, and we planned on making some music together, but then we ended up going out every day, and waking up very late. I know some people can really get into a party and then come home and start on music, but me personally, I need to be focussed and well rested, otherwise I won’t be happy with the results. I’ve made the mistake in the past of worrying about how consistent my output needs to be, but at the moment, I’m happy if I get to send out some demo’s and do a couple of releases per year.”

In terms of inspiration, the past lockdown has been a big blow to Kevins workflow: “I've never really stopped producing, but I’ve only gone back to truly making new tracks recently, right after Horst. Being the first big event after lockdown, it really inspired me to make some club music again. That was a lot harder during lockdown, because I couldn’t get any creative input by going to events or listening to new music in a club environment. I feel like that, being able to truly experience club music as it is intended, is something crucial to me.”

“ LVN711 was a great way to round off an ambient period in my productions. Most of the tracks in a liveset remain rough ideas, but we agreed that this one would benefit a lot from a full track treatment. ”

Even though the music released under the Cabasa moniker is incredibly varied in tempo and genre, there are some red threads running through most of Kevins productions. For one, an obsession with rhythmic percussion and analog synthesis. Ever the explorer, Kevin seems to enjoy digging into different aspects of their potential with every release.

“I kind of work with phases, sometimes I’m really into ambient and melodic tracks, and later I’d try to do some more UK sounding tracks that are oriented towards the club. It really depends on my mood and my recent experiences. The track on nacht records came about while jamming for the ambient brunch. Most of these tracks remain rough ideas, but we agreed that this one would benefit a lot from a full track treatment. It was a great way to link the release to nacht as well. I like the fact that on the release there’s three completely different tracks, it really resembles nacht as an organisation in that way.

For me personally, it’s a great way to round off an ambient period in my productions. Now that I’ve been partying myself, I feel ready to finish some club tracks. These might see a release on Eclipse Tribez somewhere in the next year.”

words: Leendert Nijns

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