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Jeff Bratton of Cascine / Interview

• The Cascine Label is the american counterpart of Service, which is situated in Sweden. First off, we’d like to know how the idea for Cascine originated. What’s its story? What’s behind the brand?

⁃ Cascine is an attempt to collect, package and present the sounds and ideas that move us as people. Music has played such a major role in our lives and we needed to do more with it than just be fans. Cascine is a public park in Florence, Italy, where my mother lives, but it’s pronounced differently there. Last winter I was on a sabbatical from my job in the states and rented an apartment in Florence. During the days, I’d write and read and run. I was listening to ambient music almost exclusively and spending a lot of time in the park. It was there that the idea for Cascine started to take shape.      

• How many persons are involved in the project? What’s the workflow like, considering that the two labels work in tandem most of the time.

⁃ Cascine is four people - Sandra Croft in London, Jason Romanelli and myself in New York, and Jason Kapiskosky in DC. And actually, the labels - Service and Cascine - operate independently of each other. The connection is that I also work for Service, but the relationship between labels is more of a handshake, a philosophical thing. 

• Cascine’s style is perfectly defined, as all of the bands that work within the label have points in common between them. How would you describe it?

⁃ Cascine tries to capture a feeling, the feeling of discovering music that instantly ignites us. More than a specific type of sound, we’re after a sensation.  I read an interview with Kode9 recently where he talks about great new music feeling like the touch of a 9 volt battery to your tongue, which I think describes it perfectly.     

• One cannot deny the influence Service has on the Cascine sound. How did your interest with nordic culture come about?

⁃ I’ve always gravitated towards music that’s clean and bright and warm. Music that’s set against broken beats and incorporates electronic programming. It typically turns out being stuff done in major keys and whole notes. Scandinavian pop has always seemed to define that sound for me. And with Service, there’s a certain playfulness amongst those bands, while also having a dark undertone which is hard to identify. There’s a lot of juxtaposition in Service. It’s a precious thing, really. 

• We know Shine 2009 was the first act to sign with Cascine. How did the rest of the bands come about? Selebrities, Evan Voytas & Chad Valley to name a few.

⁃ Shine 2009 will always hold a special place in the collective Cascine heart, given that they were one of the first bands to believe in us. It was Sandra that discovered them, and then emailed me the files with exclamation points and smiley faces in the description. It was instant love. I was living in LA then and those tracks came to define my summer. Selebs are amazing and those kids are some of our favorites. I also manage them, so there’s a deep level of personal investment there. Chad Valley we approached via email, and were beyond excited when he agreed to do the project with us. Hugo’s an absolute prince of a young man, and I can’t say enough about him as a person. Evan is one of LA’s brightest lights in my opinion, and our other acts are brilliant too - Jensen Sportag, Southern Shores, Wintercoats, World Tour. I could write paragraphs about each of them.

• How hard is it to lead a record label in today’s market, with the physical formats being succeeded by their digital counterparts?

⁃ It’s hard, I’m not gonna lie. Physicals sell, but they take time, and digitals don’t make much money after distributors and retailers take their cut. It’s a licensing game these days. But there are definitely labels out there selling content and making real money. For us, we’re in it because we love the music.  

• We can tell that Jeff Bratton is a total music connoisseur, as the label is a reflection on your musical taste. What’s your take on the new genres, like chillwave, balearic, synth pop and the like?

⁃ Chillwave gets a bad rap, and somehow “balearic” became a four letter word a few years ago. Frankly, I like both of those genres and am not sure why they became so passe. The balearic thing has become a lot more abstract in the last year or so - a lot more toned down and artistic. Sincerely Yours is the benchmark. Electro pop will always be a sweet spot for me, but I feel like Morr Music is the rightful owner of that genre. Hopefully there will be more from Morr in the future that takes us back to their glory days. Ambient electronic music has been an incredibly rich type of music for years, but is only now getting the attention it deserves. And I still think there’s life left in the Italo-disco refresh that was done so masterfully by Italians Do It Better. Those dudes need to get back to work, the world is still very interested in what they were doing in ‘09 and ‘10. 

• Most of Cascine acts are keen on nostalgia, with a modern twist. What were the actual musical influences that made your passion for music grow? What new bands have caught your attention?

⁃ Early influences = New Order, The Cure, Stone Roses, Another Sunny Day, Field Mice, Chameleons UK, and then people like Janet Jackson, Ah-ha, Jane’s Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ministry, etc. My early music listening was a pretty eccentric affair, but I still hear mixtapes I made in my teens and love everything on them. I ran around on a skateboard for years, where music was a major part of the lifestyle. I’ve always had a pop heart, though. And new bands = RxGibbs, Palpitation, Two Bicycles, Jesse Ruins, Com Truise, Craft Spells, Beat Connection, Young Athletes League, When Saints Go Machine, io echo, Keep Shelly in Athens, Vondelpark, Zola Jesus, and more.

• Shine 2009 releases its debut album on the first days of May. Selebrities, a few weeks later. Chad Valley, in june. Why did you choose to release all this new material with virtually no time in between? What can we expect from Cascine in the near future?

⁃ Haha. There’s not much method to that, man. Release dates are slippery little things. Once the tracks are complete and mastered we start the manufacturing and marketing process, which takes months. There’s typically a lot of dialogue with our artists about the music before we finalize the release. We’re a pretty hands-on label. In addition to Shine 2009 and Selebrities full-lengths in May, and then a new Chad Valley EP in June, we have projects by Southern Shores, World Tour and Wintercoats on the calendar for summertime.  

• Speaking of new releases, Paula Abdul makes a collaboration in Shine 2009’s first single, So Free. How did the relationship come about? Who’s idea was it to contact her?

⁃ Paula’s a close personal friend, and she’s been a supporter of the label since the beginning. In fact, she was one of the first people I raised the idea of Cascine with. She’s a gem of a woman and I can’t say enough about her as an individual. As far as ‘So Free’ is concerned - she really liked what Sami and Mikko did with Associates (their first EP), and when Sami approached me about having her guest on the single, she agreed to get involved. 

• The Cascine label is growing in size and reputation. What does the future hold for it? What bands would you like to work & sign to become a part of the Cascine family?

⁃ Once we get through our summer releases, all effort is on the Jensen Sportag full-length, which is guaranteed to be a banger. Those kids are talented as hell, they’re also total jokers. They’re a pretty special act to us. And as far as bands we’d like to work with are concerned, we kind of kicked around the idea of approaching CSLSX, Saharan Gazelle Boy, and Purity Ring, but those ideas faded. We love The Weeknd, but so does everyone else at  this point. And I was secretly hoping Marcus was going to give us the Korallreven LP, but Acephale stepped back in to handle that. Honestly, we’re not into the idea of working with bands that already have a release history. Breaking new artists is what’s exciting to us.    

• Tours are in line for most of the bands in the Cascine label; are there any plans to visit Latinamerica?

Yes, yes, yes. We have every intention of making it down there. We’re just trying to line up the right bookers and get our artists on the road. 

Thank you so much for your time.

Spanish version here

Credits: Benjamín García - Martín Semilla