The dubstep pioneer had some thoughts on the subject of "fandom" to share. So he came to the first magazine that ever put him on the cover…
I’m Caspa. You already know that. But long before I started making dubstep, I was Gary, a straight-up music fan. I was that kid who tried to get every 12-inch on True Playaz, every record LTJ Bukem put out, every Rawkus Records release and every Brockie & Det tape I could get my hands on. I was obsessed with music and the people who made it. I still am now. First and foremost, before anything else, I am an unashamed music fan and always will be – and I think fans are the foundation of our scene.
That’s what I’m here to talk about. For some artists, calling people who support your music ‘fans’ is like saying a filthy word. Or you’re selling out, it’s not considered being cool. I get that, but I disagree big time. When you think about it, we are all fans of someone or something; if you buy or stream a song of an artist, or you pay for a ticket for a show or their merch, you are doing it because you’re into their art. You want to support them. You are a fan! It’s probably one of the most honest, no-bullshit interactions you will find in this game.
Fans can enable you to do everything you want that comes with the music industry – like touring, creating new music, making merchandise, starting new projects and so much more. I am honoured to have fans and that’s why I’m here. iDJ were the first magazine to put me on their front cover back in 2009 – now, in 2021, I want to say thank you to everyone who considers themselves a Caspa fan via their platform.
I think about this a lot and have done especially since 2014, when dubstep kinda imploded and a whole load of the scene departed. I stayed true to the sound, grafted like I’d never grafted before, and took things back to the roots. It wasn’t easy. I won’t lie, at points it was a battle. But, besides my love for the music, the stronghold of fans who have continued to support me, pay to come to the shows, send me positive messages on social media have helped to keep me going and gave me focus.
It’s crazy sometimes: I get pretty deep messages from people telling me how my music has got them through certain times in life whether that be good or bad. How they meet the love of their life at one of my show or their first dance was to my music. Things like this always humble me, it blows my mind to read or hear anything like that. I know the vibe because it’s exactly how I feel when I think about music that has had the same effect or importance to me.
Seriously. Even now, after almost 20 years in the game, I get highly gassed if I meet someone who’s inspired me. A few years ago at Hospitality In The Park I was backstage chatting to Mala (who I am also a fan of) and in the corner of my eye I saw LTJ Bukem chatting to GQ and thought, ‘Shit! I got to chat to this man!’ As soon as I could, I went over to Bukem and slipped my way into the conversation. I just wanted to be able to tell him – artist to artist – how much of an impression his music and his label Good Looking had made on me. Even after all these years in music, this was the first time I’d get a chance to shake him by the hand, look him in the eye and tell him that. So I did. And it was a huge buzz.
Actually working with people who’ve inspired you is even more of a buzz. I don’t know who said "you should never meet your heroes", maybe they had a bad experience, but I’ve never been let down when I’ve met mine. Whether it’s touring with artists like Carl Cox or having Andy C come and check out my set or being the support DJ for The Prodigy and writing music with Keith Flint. Mate, I would have paid them for the opportunity. That’s The Prodigy! The most influential rave pioneers in this game full stop, a band I’d grown up listening to and put on a top tier in my head. And they’ve invited me to work with them! That’s an incredibly humbling experience for any artist, but even more from the point of view of a fan. And it’s shit like that that keeps me grounded and reminds me to treat people the way I want to be treated.
And it’s how I always want to treat my fans. I rarely do meet and greets at my shows: I find them to be awkward with that planned, unnatural feel. I would rather just jump down and come into the crowd after my set to capture a natural vibe with the fans – like a meet and rave! I’ve met so many amazing people this way being on the same level, especially when I’m thousands of miles away from home on tour. People treat me like family or one of their crew, the banter and honesty is great. That’s an honour and it’s also why I try and get back to every message I’m sent or why I answered every single question on my Reddit AMA last year. I think if someone has made the effort to write a message or get in touch with me, the least I can do is acknowledge that.
I've been really embracing the time and space lockdown has given me to refresh and connect with the foundational important things in life. I invested a lot of energy into my new label Ghost Town, writing more tracks than ever and creating new project ideas. I was so inspired during those first nine months and got to spend more time with my family and more time in the studio than I ever have. It also gave me an opportunity to explore things like my ticketed online Secret Stream events.
I can’t lie: I tried to grab every positive silver lining from the situation. When 2021 hit I found things a bit harder: I haven’t played a set in a club or venue for over a year now and there have been more and more things happening. I found myself getting frustrated with the constant ‘’SYSTEM FAILURE”. Then I’d get a message from a fan or a notification that someone from a country thousands of miles away has bought some merch, and those things drive me and help me turn my day around and push harder.
That’s why I can’t thank my fans enough. I haven’t got millions of them – I’d say my fanbase is very small in the grand scheme of things, but that’s how I like it. It’s like my favourite type of club: low capacity, underground and intense. Every single person on that dancefloor wants to be there. That’s like my fanbase – fiercely supportive. The very fact I have been able to sell tickets to see me DJ via stream during lockdown humbles me and has enabled me to continue with my art, not having to worry quite so much about the future. This has helped me to navigate life during the hardest times most of us will ever know. And I want everyone to know that. Calling the people who invest in your art and support your FANS should be normalised, it is cool and for me it’s the utmost respectful thing to do.
Finally I must outro with a shout to my biggest fans – the team, management, my agents and content creator who help drive the vision new and old. My parents, my brothers, my friendship group that is now family, my amazing wife and beautiful children.
These words are an appreciation from the bottom of my heart not just from Caspa but from Gary, a fellow fan. One love.
Words: Gary 'Caspa' McCann