Your ultimate student news site, Young Academic brings you the latest interview with the much anticipated Electro-Pop and Bollywood extraordinaire KASH. Signed with Big Life Management home to the likes of The Klaxons and La Roux, KASH emerges this summer as one of the hottest new artists, Sam Burke talks to him about his interesting and very different music style, ridiculously fabulous Prada platform brogues and life as an East London weirdo!
So KASH, tell me a bit about how it all started…
Ever since I can remember really I have been into music and singing. I suppose it really began to kick off when I was between 10 and 11. I would always imitate people singing along to Indian classics and Bollywood and I actually trained as a classical singer. I would say that growing up with eastern music from such a young age has definitely inspired me and come through in my music style and performance.
You have an eclectic and inspired fashion sense, would you say it is one of your passions?
Oh definitely! Fashion is an important part of what I do. My favourite artists have always been very visual, for instance Bowie and Prince. It’s about pushing boundaries and taking inspiration from visually stimulating things. My music strongly relates to my wardrobe and I incorporate that into my performances. It certainly inspires me. I dig the whole androgynous thing. It’s important to create your own unique image, be different!
So who’s hanging up in your closet right now?
I rate Dior as a classic, Thierry Mugler is one of my favourite designers right now along with Philip Lim and of course Givenchy. Muglers lines often seem eastern inspired and I love that, my style incorporates eastern looks, fabrics and jewellery. I love high fashion and it’s got to be tailoring on Saville Row.
I’m from South London but my family roots lie in Pakistan and India which has a massive bearing on my musical sound, although I would say my music is British pop through and through. Socially my roots lie in East London, Shoreditch, Hoxton, Hackney, Brick lane. That’s my scene. I go there to find creative people like me, it’s so diverse, no one same person and people are weirdo’s, also very much like me! There are a lot of particular art forms going on around these areas. There is so much to see and get inspired by it’s like its own creative culture. I especially like Brick lane because at one end you have the Asian culture, and at the other it’s a world of skinny jeans and john lennon glasses wearing weirdos which come together somewhere in the middle of Hanbury Street. It’s just a total melting pot! No one fixed identity, everyone’s different and I love that.
Have you ever studied at University?
I went to University in London, I studied English with Film at Kings. I did want to do Music but the particular course I was interested in wasn’t available. My studies in this field really did help me with my music though, film is very visual so I took inspiration from that.
Have you any memorable moments from your life as a student?
Yes! It’s quite sad really but funny at the same time. Because I had always wanted to study music but didn’t, I used to ask to sit in the classes just to listen in but the lecturers would never let me! Quite sad really! I would go back and ask and ask! That didn’t deter me though I would just sit outside the class and listen! So my advice to anyone wanting to sit in on any class is to just do it, but don’t say anything, don’t ask, just do! They will never notice!
What would you say to aspiring music students trying to break into the business?
Figure out who you are. Figure out your influences and always be true to who you are. Half the battle is figuring out how to be a unique artist and on that journey you will find out how you are different to everyone else. Most importantly don’t give up!
Have your family supported you in following your music career?
Initially my parents were a bit apprehensive of my pop career, they have always supported my music but from my move from classical Indian to pop, they couldn’t understand the switch. It was a valid concern. Now they know a little more about it they fully support me. The key is just to believe in yourself and just keep pushing and pushing for what you want.
I hear you’re a bit of a DJ? What’s your style?
Yeah I play a lot of house and disco and I love anything with strange and weird voices in a track, robot style! I DJ at a night called Shabba Dabba Do which moves around from place to place in London, I also DJ at a place called Cherry Jam.
Do you have a particular creative process with your music?
Everyone always asks me this question and all I can say is that there is no fixed way of doing it. Sometimes it can be a chord or even just a word that inspires me to write. The most successful songs or ideas have come to me when I’m in that state where your just falling asleep, nodding in and out. So I always find myself jumping out of bed and darting to the studio at like 4 in the morning just to get that idea down. I find they are stronger sounds that way. It’s weird but I guess I just go with it!
Have you any shows or gigs coming up in the near future?
Everything’s just being finalised at the moment, I’m just finishing up songs on the album so it will be another few months before any gigs but I have been rehearsing for potential gigs.
What are you going to spend your next big fat pay check on?
Latex, pearls and Mugler!
Is there anything you could not go without in life?
I am one of those people who absorbs everything, I don’t become part of any one thing so much as I do everything. I think if you get trapped in a pattern of depending on something it’s not healthy. But… saying that, probably my Prada platforms brogues, they are just too insane!
What’s on your ipod?
The friendly fires new album, Adele, Prince and Bowie.
Have you any other hobbies or interests other than music and fashion?
Anything visual really! I’m into graphic design and literature. Photography interests me. Anything visual! It just informs the way you see and hear music. I read a lot, trying to find out new ways of learning and looking at the world.
What are you reading now?
It’s called The Story of Art by E.H. Gombrich. It’s written in a non academic style of how art evolved over time and is still evolving, it’s really interesting!
Have you a personal motto or belief?
I don’t really have any beliefs, I’m not one for religion, I just don’t buy into it. But my motto would be to always follow your gut and create your own category. It is essential for me and my art to be different. Always fight for what you want.
What is the favourite part of your job?
I’m just lucky enough to have all of this, I love it all! I have a humble approach to it all.
And your favourite song to perform?
Swings and Roundabouts – for technical reasons. It was the first time I was able to combine contemporary beats with what you call Indian radaas, they are a musical scale or melody used in Indian music to express feeling and emotion and different seasons. It was amazing to combine my words with the raagas, sort of like ancient meets modern. It’s a truly Indian inspired song but also very british!
On the theme of ‘favourites’, have you got a favourite outfit?
Well like I mentioned before my Prada platform brogues are amazing, my friend bought me them for my birthday, they’re insane. I would also say my vintage leather jacket I managed to scour out in an all you can buy vintage street market in Brick Lane. You paid a fiver and got given a bag to fill with anything you could find and wanted, so mine was bulging. All in all I guess I paid about 20 pence for it given all the other stuff I had in that bag!
So we know your favourite designers, what are your fashion influences?
Everything for me stems from visual history, art and architecture. My favourite historical period where I take most of my inspiration from is the 17th and 18th century maharajas and Indian portraits. The head dresses are fascinating as are the fabrics and jewellery around that period. I like mixing more traditional looks but adding a futuristic twist.