Q+A: 5 minutes with HAELIUM and Kasztan

Let’s introduce HAELIUM and Kasztan, two French producers who each have their own unique story to tell. They have taken their individual offerings and weaved them into a singular symphonic patchwork of electronica. Their latest collaborative single ‘DOR’ spearheads the launch of Kasztan’s new record label Stemina Recordings.

Stream / Download: HAELIUM x Kasztan – ‘DOR’

Muffled vocals recede, setting the right conditions for a flood of pristine percussions to swell, building to a pulsating mass of brilliant colour and endless texture. With so many working parts, it’s a miracle the complex arrangement holds itself together, no thanks to the chemistry that emerged from the two producer’s efforts. We had questions, and HAELIUM and Kasztan answered them.

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

HAELIUM: It’s the way I like to express feelings and things. I love its infinite possibilities and the way it constantly evolves.

Kasztan: Arts are the ultimate form of freedom for me. It’s the place where I completely feel myself.

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

HAELIUM: The idea.

Kasztan: The idea!

Does your material feature any collaborations?

HAELIUM: Yes, I already did a collab with PALLADIAN. I also like remixing other artists that I like.

Kasztan: I have worked with other french acts like Ouai Stéphane, Amaurie and VAPA. We did an ambient collab track together during a residency in Sopot, Poland last year.

What’s on your current playlist?

HAELIUM: Moderat, Jon Hopkins, Overmono, Tourist’s latest album, Bonobo, Max Cooper…

Kasztan: The new Mount Kimbie album and some Overmono, TSHA, Rival Consoles, Hudson Mohawke…

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

HAELIUM: I tend to mix classical instrumentation (especially the piano and vocals) with electronic stuff and gear. It’s all about getting what I love from both worlds and something deeply emotional in the end.

Kasztan: I haven’t played enough shows as Kasztan, yet I’d love to watch people getting emotional while dancing to my music.

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

HAELIUM: A lot of stuff. I love to get different sources for textures and drums. I also like to repeatedly resample stuff I played so that it turns out to be something completely different at the end.

Kasztan: I’ve found myself super excited about working with Effectrix to tweak some drums. I also love working on transients. I like using resonators and shifter FX to glitch my sound.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

HAELIUM: I never start with the same instruments: sometimes it could be synths or the piano, sometimes drums. Then when I find a nice idea, I add layers (vocals sometimes) and start constructing something. A lot of stuff is not finished as I don’t find it good enough. However, it’s a good process that helps me to stay creative.

Kasztan: My mind is usually boiling, so I always put way too many instruments at the beginning of a project. I mostly start with beats. When I feel I’ve got a good structure, I start deleting non-essential layers to keep the essential sound that makes it good and catchy to me.

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

HAELIUM: When I understood that nothing else I could do would make me happier.

Kasztan: Yes, Christmas 2003, when I listened to Sigur Rós for the first time; I realised I wanted to become a musician.

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

HAELIUM: I want to invite people to travel through the musical universe I tend to create.

Kasztan: Enjoying myself so that people can enjoy themselves.

Any emerging artists on your radar?

HAELIUM: Kasztan.

Kasztan: Definitely HAELIUM.

What gets your creative juices flowing?

HAELIUM: The goosebumps you get when you find something you like that will become a new track!

Kasztan: Tons of coffee!

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

HAELIUM: I have a Nord Electro that I use a lot. I started to cook my first keyboards’ sounds there. A Microkorg, a Roland FP10 as I love to play the piano (I also have an acoustic one), and a bunch of MIDI controllers like the MPD/MPK. I work on Ableton, and lately, I’ve been using a lot of the Spitfire Labs plugins, which sound fantastic!

Kasztan: I’ve got a Novation Bass Station 2, a small iRig that I take everywhere, and an old Fender Telecaster. I work on Ableton Live, and I love using software like Spitfire Audio, Native Instrument’s Massive or Serum. Effectrix by Sugar Bites is very fun for bringing some spice to your productions.

Any side projects you’re working on?

HAELIUM: Not at the moment, but we’ll see.

Kasztan: I’ve just launched my own imprint Stemina Recordings.

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

HAELIUM: I guess I’ve got some new influences I discovered. However, I keep it real and still do the music I want to do.

Kasztan: I learnt a lot moving from a post-rock background to a mostly electronic project, so yes, every day brings its new influences. But in the end, staying true to yourself is the only key to success and, above all, happiness. It’s all about sincerity.

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

HAELIUM: Lots of new stuff is coming, including a remix and some new collaborations.

Kasztan: Two more singles before the end of the year and some collaborations for 2023.

Famous last words?

HAELIUM: Carpe Diem.

Kasztan: Issa Nissa.

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Image credit: SERGINSKI