Drawing influences from the likes of Girl Talk and RJD2, freshman Anthony Kasper, aka “Kasper,” started mixing, sampling and being a disc jockey only a few years ago. But he’s already turning heads in an industry where only the highly technical and skilled can thrive.
Between mixing since 2005, scratching since 2006 and self-educating himself in the art of mixing by watching pros through YouTube videos, Kasper has already made great strides in getting his name on the airwaves from Miami to Liverpool, England.
After completing a few mastered tracks he was happy with, Kasper sent a few songs to DJs on an online radio station – Bassdrive.com – with the hopes of getting just some words of wisdom, if anything, from some of his DJ idols. But instead of pointers, Kasper was given praise.
“I got in contact with a few DJs, Kasio, Methodist and Flaco,” he said. “And I sent them my stuff more on the grounds that maybe I would get some feedback and what I do to improve it. But they liked it and, low and behold, my stuff is getting played.
“Kasio is playing a show, and he is going to be playing my song and that’s really hard to believe for me. Right now [DJ-ing] is mainly just for exposure, so it’s cool just to know that they say, ‘Kasper did this bootleg.’ It’s cool hearing that.”
Currently, Kasper said he has 15 original tracks he is “proud of” and that for now, DJ-ing is just a hobby while in school. But with the recent attention, things are getting more serious.
Gaining popularity on YouTube
“I do take it more seriously now. Instead of playing ‘Call of Duty’ for four hours, I’ll go mix and produce something,” he said. “Most of them are remixes. I’ve tried to fuse hip-hop and drum and bass to get my friends to listen to it more. My YouTube has some crazy views on it, 15,000 [views] on my ‘Going Back to Cali’ remix. I didn’t really expect that.”
Nic Bonewell, Kasper’s roommate and friend since their freshman year of high school, said that he’s used to his roommate DJ-ing and mixing. Although Bonewell personally enjoys country music and mainstream rap, Bonewell said he is coming around to Kasper’s drum and bass.
“The music is usually good,” Bonewell said. “I’m not really so into the drum and bass, but I’m getting used to it. I have no problem listening to it. It’s just new.”
Kasper has also experienced the best rush for any DJ – the live show. He has been the DJ for house parties, a nightclub show and recently was picked up for a wedding. All of the shows have been paid gigs, but Kasper said the most rewarding thing is getting the dance floor moving.
“I’m pretty good at tune selection,” Kasper said. “I think in terms of what song should come next and what flows well,” he said. “It’s kind of a guessing game a lot, but it’s fun to see that reaction on the dance floor.”
Turning dust into gold
For DJs and producers, especially those like Kasper who use “old time” samples for filler in their songs, there is nothing like rummaging through boxes of vintage vinyl to find the perfect diamond in the rough.
“I’ll go to my grandma’s house and put records on the turntable and listen to the most random polka music and say, ‘Hey, this might sound cool,’” he said. “Vinyl has the best sound for scratching, so it can’t be beat.”
Like most DJs in the game right now, Kasper’s set-up incorporates both new and old forms of DJ-ing. He uses an “old school” Numark TT1910 turntable for scratching, while his Numark IDJ2 mixer is equipped with an MP3 slot that allows him to play and mix songs off his iPod.
Kasper has a collection of about 100 vinyl records, but he said it pales in comparison to the “walls of records” most DJs have. Although he believes MP3s are more economical in today’s electronic world, he said there is nothing better than vinyl.
Securing a signature sound
Looking at Kasper’s musical past, it may seem strange that his heart was set on the art of electronic music.
His earliest musical experience came in the classical tradition. He played violin for five years and piano for several more before his ear was more in-tune with the hip-hop culture.
Although he has yet to fully incorporate his classical experience into his producing, he said he uses it minimally but would like to do more of it in the future.
Kasper cites several hip-hop and mash-up artists as influences in his mixing, but said Europe’s drum and bass form of DJ-ing is what has caught his eye recently.
“Recently I’ve been real big on the ‘liquid’ side of drum and bass, which is more of the chill kind of jazz meets Breakbeat,” he said. “Guys like London Electricity and New Tone over in Europe – that really does it for me.”
Working with PULSE
Kasper is also the DJ for PULSE, the performing arts club on campus. PULSE co-president Jazz Hampton, who went to the same high school as Kasper, knew using a live DJ would be a great opportunity.
“It was a pretty unique opportunity,” Hampton said. “Once I heard he was coming here I thought I’d call him to come and fill gaps at our shows. He has a great selection of music and digs and finds very good music. I know that he is dedicated to that and just has a love for music and comes out especially when he’s scratching.”
Although Kasper is content playing at the occasional house party, wedding and with PULSE, he said there are big dreams that come with the added exposure.
“My life dream was to sign one song to any label,” he said. “In terms of right now that’s seeming like it could possibly happen with the exposure I’ve been getting. But it’s still a long ways off.”
Matt Linden can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org