Fans of the electronic music scene in New Zealand probably have at least heard the name of BASSMENT, the collective that a heavy chunk of the artists guest DJing at clubs and keeping the music going at a couple of the festivals in recent years. While things aren’t going off in town, Level 3/Level 4 is a perfect opportunity to get online and see the offerings from the artists available to stream, so this week, Nexus are talking to the man behind the powerhouse, KATANA, and seeing what BASSMENT is really all about.
Tell me who you are, and what Bassment is all about:
My name is KATANA, DJ/Producer/Creative based in Auckland. I’m originally from Japan and moved to New Zealand 21 years ago. I started working as a DJ about 18 years ago and I’ve been in this industry since.
Bassment is my music community brand/conceptual platform that I started about 4 years ago. I’ve always wanted to give back to the community I grew up in, which is NZ music/art/creative scene. Back when I started in the local creative scene, people around me were very supportive and welcoming, so I’ve been trying to build the same platform for new generations.
How do you go about finding the artists you want to bring into the collective? Is there a certain sound or aesthetic that helps define Bassment?
To me, personality is a really important part of finding an artist because we support people more than their music. One of the core ideas that I have for Bassment was to build an inclusive community for the people who feel like they don’t have a place to fit in within the club music industry. The idea of exclusivity has become the norm these days, making nothing exclusive anymore. I believe that exclusivity kills culture. My idea was to totally go against that concept of exclusivity and welcome anyone who has a good heart and is passionate about music.
In terms of the music style, I use the broad term ‘Bass Music’ to describe our sounds, but our sounds could be anything. Bassment is focusing on supporting artist creativity more than the growth of the music business. Authenticity is something I personally care about the most. I want to be open-minded, listen to people in the community and communicate with the scene to understand where the community is heading. Our job is to let them be who they want to be, free to express their creativity in music.
Genre-less, gender-less, age-less, race-less community is the goal of Bassment. I want to make Bassment a ‘sustainable/supportive’ brand than ‘Cool’. We do not only do shows but other activities like Beats Sessions, Radio submissions, Sample packs, Beat Cypher, etc that everyone can easily access and get involved in. I’m opening doors to help everyone be a part of the culture, and in turn, that helps me access undiscovered local talents as well.
In 2018, Bassment artists went to RnV, and then this last summer you went up to Northern Bass. What was it like to help push artists forward and to help them get these opportunities?
It’s awesome to see all the Bassment family & friends on the big festival lineup. Bassment didn’t give them a direct opportunity to perform at those festivals as such, we just grew up together as a community and it was simply each person’s hard work paying off to get to that point. I have noticed each year I saw more people wearing Bassment merch and I feel very grateful that Bassment became the brand that represents the local bass music scene.
Where do you guys pull inspiration for the sorta edgy merch Bassment has bringing out the last couple of years?
Frankly, I have just been making stuff that is important to me. While I was studying Art & Design at University back in 2005, I use to design T-shirts and sell them at a few stores. That kinda opened the way to get into the streetwear industry. In my creative process, I’ve been using my conceptual art experience and I believe that helped me create strong products. My inspiration comes from my life experience, I just research a lot, make an effort to go to see people and talk. I stay away from fashion blogs, instead, I prefer to analyze and learn the history of good design. This is my creative outlet, and I design most of the merch and designs, except for my collaboration with GUCCIMAZE. Most importantly, I don’t make things that don’t have any message behind the product or don’t align with the Bassment values.
Following the release of a free-to-download sample pack recently, it just continues to show that everyone at Bassment are really keen on helping would-be and up-and-coming artists find their feet in the music world. Do you have any advice for those who want to get into producing themselves?
Just do it! There are tons of resources out there to learn music production and we have many amazing local artists to look up to. There are no rules, so be creative and have fun! We will keep doing stuff that will encourage people to create so hopefully we can stay in touch!
What can listeners expect to see or hear coming soon from Bassment while they’re home during the lockdown?
We’ve done our first ever online beats session last week and it went really well. I’m just amazed by the number of quality submissions! We are planning to do a few more projects during the lockdown so keep checking out our social media. Also, we are going to drop new merch as soon as the alert level is lowered so stay tuned.
KATANA and the BASSMENT crew have new music coming out all the time on SoundCloud, check out KATANA’s latest below, as well as a selection of BASSMENT’s fat ass tunes on Spotify:
Interview by Dylan Todd