Kastle had built a musical identity for himself by swirling around the margins of convention. Somewhere between pop, hip-hop, dubstep, garage and soul, the Pennsylvania-raised, Los-Angeles based producer enjoyed a rapid ascent last year with a series of remixes, major festival appearances, the success of his label Symbols, and even an early MIXED BY for THUMP.
While 2014 was one of the most successful years in his career, Kastle says it was also one of his toughest. "I spent a lot of time trying to find myself," he tells THUMP. "I was feeling disconnected from some of the shows I was playing, where I was playing, and what people seemed to want me to play. I just wanted to push myself. I'm just, by nature, somebody who always like to evolve and change. I get an itch to do something new."
That something new is called Polytopia, a seven-track EP released on Symbols. "This EP is a lot about technology and the future of humanity, things like augmented reality, artificial intelligence, the combination of man and machine," says Kastle. "Polytopia is a new form for me. I approached the songwriting much differently. In the past, I was limiting myself by looking for vocals to set the basis for the story. With these tracks, they're more abstract [and] open to interpretation."
"Creativity should be an act of rebellion, to embrace chaos, to give birth to new realities," he goes on. "It's all part of enhancing our consciousness as humans. I hope Polytopia freaks people the fuck out. I want to shake things up. I want to challenge the status quo." In order to do this, Kastle says he's trying to embrace the "shadow side" of his creative endeavors—not just in the studio, but with the artists he's signing to the label, including Liar to Druid Cloak, Sweater Beats, and Lindsay Lowend. "In America, a lot of electronic music is very escapist, and it's not really rooted in reality," he explains. "I don't want to write music that's just about partying."
Symbols has always pushed experimental club music geared towards "people with active imaginations, people who don't need a build-up or a riser or bells and whistles, [and] people with active minds," Kastle says. "I'm so proud of our discography. Not much has really changed in our direction, just little details. Musically, we've embraced darkness."
With Polytopia, Kastle seems to have finally found his groove. "I'm completely aware that I've created my own anxiety," he laughs. "But I've been making electronic music for over 20 years now. With the stuff I'm doing now, I've never been happier about my output and direction. I feel like I've got a fresh start. Miles Davis, one of my favorite artists of all time, said: "Sometimes you have to play a long time to play like yourself."