In conversation with UK garage group Kachina after the release of their brand new EP, ‘Eyes Of March’

Kachina have been making waves for decades with their classic UK garage sounds, a key musical outfit in the underground UK electronic scene that never disappoints with their smooth beats. Formed by Rob Sparx, Zurcon and Wigz, Kachina have just released their brand new EP, ‘Eyes of March’, exclusively available via NexGen Music.

Sadly, earlier this year, Kachina member Zurcon passed away, after a battle with cancer. This tragedy didn’t stop Rob and Wigz from honouring Zurcon in the best way possible: releasing the new EP, which Zurcon himself was an indispensable part of. ‘Eyes Of March’ is a four-track triumph featuring infectious old-skool sounds merged with modern electronic flavour. Simultaneously laid-back and danceable, the EP is filled with grooves that have you head-boppin’ long after you’ve pressed pause. You can get the EP here.

Listen to ‘Waiting For You (Feat. Afua) by Kachina, taken from their new EP, below.

We sat down with Rob Sparx and Wigz of Kachina and chatted about being inspired by sound, using hardware and exciting releases set for 2019.

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

Why not? To some music is trivial but to us it’s pretty important.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

Wigz: Most of the time we would say it is the sound; as you’re going through presents or creating a new patch it’s usually the sound which inspires what direction that track will go in, whether that be the genre or mood of the song. Sometimes, however, it might be an idea or a riff that we have in our head that will inspire the melody or beat, so both really just depends on the day

Does your material feature any collaborations?

We have a number of singers who have been working with us since Affectionate Grooves was launched – Afua, Lyndsey Murray, Nikki Marie, Ama Zee and Dee Ellington. We regularly collaborate with other artists from the label and local scenes and we’ve just had ‘A Girl Like Me’ remixed by DJ Q, Osunlade and Miguel Migz.

What’s on your current playlist?

We mainly play our own music/bootlegs and in-house label artists Prangman/Boomdoc etc. but we like the sounds of El-B, Lowsteppa, Cause and Affect, Conducta, Mak, Champion, Tumble Audio, flava d, moad, d double e, not3s, mist, jaykae and UKG classics

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

We write some deep and soulful music but we’re not chinstrokers/purists – we keep things lively without compromising on the music and usually play with MCs.

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

Most of the basses on the existing releases were made with Serum, often with waveforms from the Moog Prodigy. Anyone UK-based who really wants to know about production, give us a shout via our socials to book a production session

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

Rob: No day is the same but for the next few weeks, bar a few days of recording vocalists, I’m going to be just mixing down/engineering about 12 tracks from the forthcoming NexGen vinyl album and finishing a track me and D.A (NexGen boss) started in Brooklyn in 2010.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, this is what I want to do?

When you play a long set in a club and the vibe is right and everyone is hyped up, having a great time – there’s no buzz like that from anything else in the world, it’s addictive!

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

Need a few drinks to keep the energy levels up.

Any emerging artists on your radar?

Wigz: Mind Of A Dragon is definitely one I’ve been looking out for, he’s got the 2-step vibe poppin’ which makes you get your feet moving. Also Pa Saluie, K dubz, Boomdoc and Prangman.

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Usually it’s a sound which will inspire us; when you get the right sounds the melodies write themselves.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

We use PC and Mac, DAW: Cubase, Ableton & Logic, VSTs: Serum, Massive, Arturia 6, Roland Cloud, Waves, UAD, Omnisphere, Trillian, Keyscape and plenty more. Synths include OB-6, Roland D-50, Jupiter 50/SE-02, Korg MS2000, Prophecy, Novation Bass Station, Supernova, Behringer Neutron and Moog Sub37.

Any side projects you’re working on?

We’ve both got plenty of other projects on the go producing dnb, house, hip hop, afro swing and grime projects, plus engineering for other artists on NexGen.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

Rob: Since the start of 2017 we have been using mainly hardware for synths which has made a huge difference to the sound, especially in the bass department. The quality of our music has basically evolved with the software and hardware we used, so when I was writing dnb back in 2004 on cubase sx1 using native EQs the sound quality was cold, grainy and harsh whereas now, with modern DAWs, a ton of hardware and UAD plugins and an Apollo Soundcard, the sound is rich, detailed and crispy clean. Also we regularly use live vocalists and musicians now, so most of our music is sample free whereas back in the day everything was not.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

To be honest, this has been a sad and quiet year for us as Zurcon passed away after a long battle with cancer back in April – RIP Ernest Payne a true legend and diamond geezer!
We’ve been spending most of our time working on a new opportunity which we can’t say anything about just yet, but all will be revealed soon enough. Right now our main focus is finishing a 4-vinyl NexGen album featuring the best music of all the label artists which will be released next year. We are also working on the next few releases on Migration and Affectionate Grooves which should be ready soon and we’re looking to run more UK nights next year – more info ASAP!

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