We go underground with Kastis Torrau

Lithuanian resident Kastis Torrau is one producer that has been causing some serious waves in the progressive genre over the last couple of years. He has rocketed from playing small gigs in his home country to playing sell out festivals and venues such as Exit, Sun Dance Music Festival and Pacha Vilnius. Playing such events has seen Kastis grace the decks alongside artists such as Steve Lawler, Lee BUrridge, Sasha, John Digweed and Hernan Cattaneo to name but a few. Kastis is will renowned for being a quality DJ as well as a producer and he firmly believes “the success of the evening is always determined by the crowd – hence my aim is to create a very special mood, distil a perfect sound and impressive overall effect. Always”.

In 2006 Kastis was asked to be resident DJ in Lithuania for the well known clubbing trademark, Global Underground. His music is depicted by distinctive and powerful base lines, versatility of original samples and unforgettable vocals all mixed by a creative hand.

Besides his DJing ability Kastis is probably more well known in the UK and Western Europe for his production talents. A huge moment in Kastis’ production history was being crowned winner of Sasha’s Burn Studios competition to remix “Cut Me Down”. Since then Kastis has gone on to release a string of successful productions alongside production partners Arnas D and Donatello on labels such like Stripped Recordings, Perspectives Digital, Last Night On Earth and Pro-B-Tech Records. He has also released a number of solo productions on Hope Recordings and Stripped Recordings.

I was very lucky to catch up with Kastis in June to discuss his musical past, production techniques and his superb new release on Stripped Recordings.

Hi Kastis. I would like to thank you for spending the time to speak to me today. What have you been up to of late?
A simple answer would be – creating music. More and more time spent in the studio. Seems like 2014 will be a busy year. 4 tracks have already been released and much more to come.

Lithuania is well known for its vibrant underground scene. Can you tell us what it was like growing up in Lithuania?
Good question that reminds me of the times with nostalgia. The scene is vibrant and still here but I think that it is a bit different. Late nineties, start of 2000 was the real underground when you could see the passion for music from the crowd. I mean the honest passion. As for the artists I think it was also quite a challenging time simply because they were seen as something very new and sometime not approved by the conservative people. But as I said – these were the good times and I always remember them to be the ones that gave me the best emotions.

What made you decide to get into music? Did you have a career before music?
No, there was no specific career with a solid foundation. I was quite young when I started buying vinyl records and listening to them at home. At that time there was no plan to become a DJ. I met couple of local Djs and they recommended me to try to learn some mixing skills. That was the moment when it all started, and when I played for crowd for the first time I realised that it is what I want to do all my life. Now, while DJing I still have a regular job which has nothing to do with music. But music is the passion of my life and I do this with the same mood for 14 years already.

Lets move onto production. In 2011 you won Sasha’s Burn Studios competition when you remixed his track “Cut Me Down”. What made you enter the competition and how did you feel when you had been crowned the winner?
Back at that time I was already producing quite a few tracks and felt that it is a suitable time to test myself in a wider arena. I trust in what I do and I felt really confident with this contest. And as we now know – it was a successful attempt to show what we’re capable of. I felt excited, without a doubt. Also appreciated for all those years of passionate work and hours spent in the studio. It was like a cherry on a pie and became a great motivation to continue my work.

Since winning the Burn Studios competition you have gone on to have a string of successful releases with Donatello and Arnas D. How did you come to work with the two producers?
My relationship with Donatello has lasted more than ten years. We met back in those above mentioned years of proper underground times. Great parties together playing back to back developed into a strong friendship. As for Arnas D I met the young and talented producer a bit more than five years ago to work on one project. Shared ideas & understood that we’re in the same boat. This led to some great releases. And as you know we’re still working together.

You recently had two tracks included on Nick Warren’s XV release on Hope Recordings. How did you feel when Nick wanted to release your music on his label?
Simply amazing. I have lots of sympathy for Nick as an artist and as a person who has seen a lot more when talking about music than I have. There is tons to learn from guys like Nick. At the same time it confirmed that I am doing the right thing and boosted my confidence to another level.

Having worked as solo and non solo based projects can you tell us which you prefer and why? Can you also tell us a little about your studio setup and some of your favourite gadgets?
I always love working with people who feel same emotions and satisfaction from creating music. But at the time it’s also a pleasant feeling when you get a perfect result from your own ideas. Today in the studio we have quite ordinary setup for creating music with software and some things to have good acoustics.

When you begin producing a track is there a particulate process you go through?
The first thing is to find the appropriate kick and bass. After listening to so many tracks, these parts are very important for me.

You had the opportunity to work alongside Sasha on the track “Smoke Cone” that was released on his Last Night On Earth imprint. What was it like working with Sasha in the studio?
Sasha is one of those DJs/Producers whom I admired since I’ve started my career so it was really great time sharing ideas with the man himself. Enjoyed seeing his approach to music producing solutions, the vision and added some weight to my personal experience bag.

There has been much take about your track with Amber Long that recently got release on Stripped Recordings. It has been a firm favourite in the This Is Progressive office and huge for DJs like John Digweed and Nick Warren. Can you tell us how the track came about and what is was like to work with a gifted vocalist like Amber?
That instrumental was made two years ago. When I showed it to Norman H from Stripped Recordings he said that we definitely have to release it. Then we went for the vocal and Amber gave us a perfect version of her interpretation for that song. It is such a joy to work with quality singers that can give you vocal takes that fits right away to your instrumental. Also an honour for me to have a remix from Matt (King Unique). I know him since he started visiting our parties in Lithuania back in 2006. He is the person that I would love to see all my tracks remixed by.

You have worked alongside TILT on a couple of occasions now with releases “Kiss Magnetic” and “The Hurt” that were both released on Pro-B-Tech Records. How did the opportunity arise to work with TILT?
TILT guys got hooked into our production and gave me an opportunity to remix their track “Here Is Not Now” with Sam Mollison’s vocals. That track went massive straight away at all the gigs where I was playing and got lots of great respond from all around the world. After that we had collaboration with them on the track called “Kiss Magnetic” and then this latest release with Sam Mollison’s vocal called “The Hurt” & our remix for this track came out.

A mix compilation called “Reset:Devide” of Pro-B-Tech will also soon see the daylight. It is a mix of already released tracks on which we with Arnas were working on. Lots of great stuff happened with TILT and their team.Pleasure to work with such talented and respected producers. It gives a push in the ass.

If you could remix or produce a track with one person who would it be and why?
Without a doubt it would be mister Maceo Plex. I would love to work on his other darker side of sounding as Maetrik which I see more promising and closer to my heart. Love his innovations of producing and his approach to all music trends. Everything that he touches turns into gold and I would be the happiest man if I could get a chance to be part of that mystery. It is one of my dreams that I’m reaching for at the moment.

In todays dance music world as lot of DJs have broken in to the scene via their productions. Do you feel a DJ can make it by his DJing skills alone?
I really doubt that a DJ can be wanted badly only because of his/her DJing skills. Well, miracles happen but having in mind all the examples around I haven’t heard lately that one has broke through and became well known worldwide only because he can mix. Times have changed. Mixing is a lot easier and requires less human skills with all the software out there. Interesting thing is that back in the old days if you were creating music you had to have a scene to play and show what you have. In nowadays it is totally the different way because of the online world. If you create, more people will hear you and get to know that you exist in the music world.

Is there any advice you can give to any up and coming DJs and producers out there?
Be yourself but at the same time very creative and never let an opportunity away!

What was the best party you have played in 2013/14?
There were quite a few of them but I think it was the party with Maceo Plex in spring of 2013. The vibe was simply amazing! Real underground!

Can you tell us about any up coming artists you know of that our readers should be taking notice of?
Lately I love what Shall Ocin and AFFKT are doing. For me these guys are off the hook right now. Every track they release is in my bag. Love those dirty effects they’re using and massiveness that their tracks bring to the dance floor. Highly recommended!

Lastly is there anything else you can tell us about that you have planned for 2014?
I’m seeking for an international DJ career and am pretty sure that I can only reach this by the help of music production. So during 2014 I’m 100% focused into improvement of my production skills and discovering a unique style of my sound. I’ve already started to work on music with a bit different sounding that I also love and want to show under my new alias.

Track list

01 Nicolas Hannig – Millionaire (Dan Caster Sunrise Mix)
02 Michael & Levan and Stiven Rivic – The Puppet Master (Kastis Torrau & Arnas D Remix)
03 Arnas D – The Edge feat. Gemma (Original Mix)
04 Matt Darey – Sum Of All Fears (Kastis Torrau & Arnas D Remix)
05 Arnas D – I Got You (Original Mix)
06 Quivver – Aint Nothin Goin on but the Rent(Feat. Angel Hart) (Quivver Dub)
07 Kastis Torrau – Menace (Original Mix)
08 Wehbba – Opalescence (Raxon Remix)
09 GusGus – Crossfade (Maceo Plex Mix)
10 Mind Against – Several Times

About the Author

Director and DJ, Ian French (Naif) is passionate about many genres of music from Breakbeat and Drum & Bass to Techno and Electronica. A man that lives in a world of bass and beats, Ian is an obsessive collector of music and a true geek at heart, with many years spent in application design.