During production of his latest epic compilation, Frans Æmbient found some time to create a mix for EDWIN that fuses lo-fi rock oddities, handsome pop wave, abstract electronics and synth-pop classics by current artists like Blod & Miljö from Sweden, XVARR from London and YL Hooi from Australia as well as sung and unsung heroes from the past such as The Human League, Orfeón Gagarin, Bronx Irish Catholics and primitive synth punker Tom Fazzini.
Since 2013, Berlin-based producer and DJ, Frans Æmbient has been shaping the musical world with his hard to pigeonhole label, Kashual Plastik. In its early years, the imprint focused on edgy electronics that shook the dancefloor with tricky rhythms.
Since the release of 'Exotic & Tropic' and 'No Urtext, No Ursituation', (both produced by the US-American duo, Georgia), the label has shifted its focus to more experimental, mind-expanding music.
Kashual Plastik compilations like 'A Weird State Of Experimental Experience' and 'No Order In Destiny' present exceptional contemporary music by artists like Robert Bergmann, Bear Bones, Lay Low, Keller Crackers, Brannten Schnüre, Steve Pepe, Lamusa II and Nar without belonging to one specific genre.
If that wasn't enough, keep your eyes peeled for another future collectable on the Kashual Plastik label under the name 'Respect the Unexpected - In the Age of Sci-Fi'.
Before, during or after your listening experience, make sure you check out our interview below with the man himself, shining a light on his multidimensional work while handing out some nice bar, food and relaxation suggestions for anyone heading to Berlin in the near future. Enjoy.
Q. Hey Frans, when and how did your love affair with music start?
A. It started when I was a kid and I was confronted with the traditional folk music that my grandparents and uncle used to play. That’s maybe where my strange taste for rhythms comes from… :D
Q. What was the initial idea behind starting your label Kashual Plastik in 2013 and has it changed over the years?
A. I started my first Label Lofile around 2010, together with my friend Dirk aka Marbod. After three years I felt stuck in a loop, as we were releasing only club-related music. I wanted to open up to a brighter and more experimental spectrum of different genres. As for how I like to run the label, nothing much has changed, but the concept has become stronger.
Q. How did you come up with the name Kashual Palstik and what does it represent to you?
A. It’s about releasing music in a casual way, not trying to create a big buzz or whatever. I think it’s important not to take the project or yourself too seriously, especially in a capitalist sense. Just go with your feelings and taste, listen to your instincts and you won’t go wrong.
Q. How important is the “party” in the music you release? And do you generally think music needs to be functional to be important?
A. The music on Kashual Plastik is certainly not functional, but I’m not sure it’s important either hehe. So, I wouldn’t say “the party” is important, but it is always welcome!
Q. How do you search for the music you release? What process do you follow for finding new, contemporary artists?
A. I find a lot of new artists and music from digging in record shops. Two of my favourites are Low Company in London and Discreet Music in Gothenburg. In particular, the team at Low Company – Sanjay, Carla and Kenny – have a really broad and unique taste that I admire. I’m also lucky to be part of a great music community in Berlin and abroad, so I constantly get inspiration from my friends and friends of friends.
Q. How important are the non-musical components of your releases, i.e. packaging, album art? It looks like packaging is very important to Kashual Plastik!
A. Yes, sleeve design is important to Kashual Plastik. Of course, the music informs the artwork, but also vice versa. There is no fixed process for a release, it’s pretty spontaneous… Sometimes I start with a picture, graphic or font, which gives me an idea of how the music could sound and which artists to invite to participate. Sometimes the music comes first. Art/design-wise I’ve always been inspired by the DIY charm of the ‘80s. This is my contribution to the physical releases, so I want the packaging to show how much I respect the music and artists on my imprint.
Q. Do you have a "wish list" of old or contemporary musicians you'd like to see on Kashual Plastik?
A. Actually, I’m really happy with the current label roster. It’s hard to say how it could change, I follow my intuition when it comes to releasing music, so that’s not something I can easily predict. There might be an imaginary list somewhere in the back of my mind, but it’s pretty floaty.
Q. What’s next on the label?
A. The next release is quite a big compilation, a 2LP with 19 tracks and a bonus CD with extra material. The title is 'respect the unexpected - in the age of sci-fi' and it’s kind of an ironic homage to ‘80s science fiction movies… back when 2020 was the future! The tracks are all made by contemporary artists, so we can hear what the future sounds like now. Next, after that comes Kashual Plastik no. 10 – a folky / weirdo pop / experimental singer-songwriter compilation. Then no. 11 will feature some dancefloor-ready electro. I’m also working on a tape with some artists from Vienna… and then there are some other projects in the early stages, but I’ve said too much already.
Q. Can you name us the most obscure record you have in your collection and why?
A. There are many… but Richard Earl “The Egg Store Ilk” from 1981 on Pilot Records comes to mind. At the moment I’m listening to a lot of noise, drone and amateur garage rock, and the Richard Earl record combines those sounds with some percussive African rhythms. With the weird lyrics on top, you’ve got yourself a spicy omelette.
Q. What are the two albums that you'll never get tired of listening to?
A. Brannten Schnüre: Erinnerungen An Gesichter (Low Company 2019) / The Kiwi Animal: Music Media (Massage Records 1984)
Q. What labels do you follow these days?
A. Low Company / Förlag för fri Musik / Ever/never / I Dischi del Barone
Q. What’s your favourite Kashual Plastik rumour?
A. That HOV is an act from the 80‘s.
Q. You are closely linked to the Berlin-based bar/club Arkaoda. What makes you work there special and how do you see the future of Arkaoda in Covid-19 times?
A. Yes, I do the booking and graphic design for Arkaoda. I’m also a resident DJ there, but there’s not much of that happening these days, for obvious reasons. Lockdown forced us to rethink a bit, so we recently reopened our kitchen with a new chef Ruben who serves a delicious mix of Russian and Israeli cuisine. But music is still the most important element – we ran a weekly live stream project called “Real II Reel” while we were closed, now we have DJs in the bar every night and we’re working on new ways of showcasing live acts while complying with the evolving capacity rules and health and safety guidelines. The future is still pretty unclear when it comes to club and concert nights, but obviously we’re looking forward to getting that started again. The list of interesting artists to book just keeps getting longer! I’m very thankful to be a part of Arkaoda – the wide variety of music there gives me the opportunity to evolve and improve my own taste, and we have a great team full of interesting characters… I guess we’re kind of like the Addams family of the local music scene :)
Q. Can you name us your favourite places in Berlin and tell us what makes them special?
A. Arkaoda for sure. The programming makes it the most inviting place for me to hang out. Mirko’s Imbiss am Richardplatz – best Currywurst in town. And the Cornelius Garden in Rixdorf it’s a pretty nice garden in the middle of Neukölln. Good place for strolling, sitting, reading, and enjoying a bit of nature in the neighbourhood. Sound Metaphors record shop. The guys have a good selection of experimental and contemporary electronic music – not so easy to find in Berlin, surprisingly. And there is O Tannenbaum is my favourite spot for bar DJing. Great crowd and staff. Hope to see you somewhere soon!
YL Hooi - Stranger (Love Joys)
Tom Fazzini - Dean Martin Sleeping
Neutral - Musik Brut
XVARR - Unveiled
Years on Earth - Saving Faces
Rich And Famous – Neutron Star
Die Krupps - Für Einen Augenblick
Bronx Irish Catholics - Ulster Defense
The Human League - Being Boiled
Dhana Moray - Schwarze Augenringe Nur Von Dir
Orfeón Gagarin - Eucarystics
Delta-Sleep-Inducing Peptide - Take Care Dear!
La 1919 - Progetti Di Grandi Città Con Terrazze
Blod & Miljö – A-Side
Richard Youngs- The Future Is So Different Today
Blod & Miljö – B-Side