Kassian are older than your average breakout house duo, but also wiser. The pair of Warren Cummings and Joe Danvers both had solo careers before they played the same night at Rye Wax in Peckham in 2017 and hit it off on a musical level. “We met for a beer, got in the studio and it all just carried on from there,” says Joe, adding that they spent the next year working on material before finally getting their first tunes out there.
In the couple of years since, they have honed a lush house sound on labels like Heist, Phonica and Groovence, as well as their own self-titled, vinyl-only edits label. A track off their debut EP, ‘The Premise’ was even nominated as Track Of The Year at Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Awards in 2018.
“We’re the same in a lot of ways and total opposites in others,” says Joe, who hails from Nottingham, but grew up on the South Coast, surrounded by music because his dad was in various bands. He’s been a drummer all his life and is generally the more technical of the two in the studio, where Warren is “more creative and experimental”. He’s also the son of a music-loving father, who ran a record shop in the soundsystem days and has always been a big influence.
“As time has progressed, we’ve learnt from each other’s strengths,” says Warren, while Joe explains that the pair have recently been restricting themselves. “We’ve been really into simplicity recently, and working with just a few core sounds to build really rich, layered tracks with a lot of audible depth.”
The result is a mature sound that draws you in deep and teases and pleases over the whole length of a track, rather than aiming to grab your attention with cheap hooks or drops from the outset. Their latest EP, ‘Crush’ on Shall Not Fade, is the best example of that yet, with five tracks of slick and sleek house that manage to be deep yet dynamic.
“We always try to make sure our tracks have a good progression and interesting moments all the way through,” says Joe, with Warren explaining that he’s more into details, textures and general sound design. “We both come from a soulful or dance-style production solo-wise, so I think that element of feeling, soul and groove plays a big part too.”
Kassian have a studio full of synths that lend their music its rich textures, but aren’t afraid to manipulate the right samples into something nice and distinctive when needed. Both admit to knowing some basic music theory, but for the most part “we just feel our way through chord progressions and melody, we know when it sounds right and when it doesn’t. We both listen to a lot of jazz, so it’s not surprising that the influence is making its way into our music.”
Right now they have been honing a remote working process because of the pandemic, as well as finding some therapy in going through old music and renovating their studio. When not working on perfecting their debut album or hosting their radio show on Balamii, Joe likes cycling and cooking, and Warren is a keen swimmer. They’re also launching their own new label this year, all while holding down day jobs — Joe as a product manager at DICE and Warren in safeguarding. “We just want to get to the point where we’re working full-time in music,” says Joe. On current form, and once the pandemic lifts, that dream will surely become a reality.