Casika Releases Debut EP With Do As You Please
Do As You Please is a musical imprint that has expanded far and wide since its recent inception, now acting as a label, mix series and record store which has been inspired by the thriving music scene in the city of Manchester. The artwork on their debut is courtesy of Trevor Johnson & John Walsh, previous Hacienda and FAC51 graphic designers, shining a light on the labels intrinsic link to the currents coursing through the late-‘80s of Acid House and Techno, operating to their own internal logic, their sound is a deviant offshoot that masterfully merges two musical eras into one.
Their second offering comes in the form of a single courtesy of Leeds mainstay Casika, his stand-out debut release Awon Ilu boasts a plethora of genres, cascading from Acid, Breakbeat, Electro, Techno and Deep House. It might be possible to hear all these genres in one DJ Set, but it’s relatively rare for an independent label to shine a light on such a wide range of music. This EP, accompanied by a previous debut release from label founder Niall Roche have both been warmly received, all tracks unique in their sound and fundamentally open-ended, inviting you to make something of it, to tether it to a time, person or a place in your life before letting it fully unfurl.
The first time I meet the people behind the label is at Distrikt in Leeds for the launch of their upcoming EP. Upon arriving I’m immediately welcomed by label owner Niall Roche, who then proceeds to give me a hand-signed record that reads ‘THANKS 4 COMING DAYP, U R A WINNER”. The whole atmosphere of the night was just so profoundly down to earth, it felt miles away from a scene that can often feel so unnecessarily cliquey. That night the label welcomed in their beautifully bizarre musical renegade of believers, lovers and movers, who despite difficulties surrounding Covid had travelled from far and near to show their support.
The underground bar starts to fill out as the night goes on, with a flock of faces new and old for to the Do As You Please crew. The line-up for the night perfectly flaunts their ever-growing roster: Rhod Parry, Sundae Sudz & Casika. When talking about the decision behind the label’s signings so far Roche answers, “to put it bluntly I want music with some bollocks. I’m always looking for music that has character and longevity. There are thousands of tracks that’ll get Beatport charts which is obviously a great place to be, but a lot are so quickly forgotten about. In an artist, specifically just somebody that’s hard working and genuine. Somebody with a story and something interesting to say through their music and the music I put out on the label”.
As the conversation continues around the label, Roche stresses how uncalculated everything related to Do As You Please has been. And yet, looking back over a modest but immense roster and catalogue of music founded for less than a year, it seems so perfectly considered. The striking artwork for the releases, the limited press of just 300 records, the effort to give me a hand-signed record. If a lack of aesthetic is also an aesthetic choice, then Roche has mastered it with his modest demeanour and down to earth approach with Do As You Please.
There isn’t a beginner’s guide to running a label during a lockdown, but if there was Do As You Please would certainly be contenders to be the authors. Lockdown has seen the newly turned label go from strength to strength, with a constant string of announcements in regards to releases, mixes and events. “It’s been amazing to get stuck into it but it’s been bloody hard work. I’ve been running Do As You Please full time, alongside trying to adapt to the current climate in other aspects of my work. There’s an awful lot that goes into a release which you don’t realise at first but each release so far has gotten stronger and stronger.”
The aim of improving with every release has without a doubt been achieved, with Casika’s latest release being perhaps the labels most impressive to date. The artists debut release ‘Awon Ilu,’ is a direct translation from Nigerian to “The Drums”. The title is used for first of four tracks, a delightfully pungent opener that is a truly unique take on afro inspired electronic dance, prepare to be taken on a soulful journey delivered flawlessly with hypnotic chants and a hard-hitting rhythm. There’s no room to dwell at this speed, no space between the beats for unwanted thoughts to creep in, the tracks candidly poised timings and transitions only add to it’s hard-hitting effect and tribal sound. There’s a tangible intensity to the track, a sense of rage, but Casika is level-headed and clear cut in his timings and production.
Casika is a discerning crate digger, you can hear it even in the wide breadth of this EP. The sound of Haç Club massively differs to that of Awon Ilu, with twitches of acid house over a standout vocal sample. The insanely infection effort is underpinned by erratic twinges of acid lead lines and a beautifully shambolic drum arrangement. The voice samples seem tailored to fracture the minds of addled ravers, it’s easy to picture people hearing the sinister vocals over the acid backdrop and being sent into a state of outright euphoria on the dance floor.
In this increasingly claustrophobic time of our lives many of us may have forgotten how important it is to dance, this EP is that reminder. It’s the musical equivalent of a war cry, a boisterous collection of adrenaline fuelled compositions that are impossible to listen to without not wanting to break out into interment frenzies of dance, nothing communicates this more than the track ‘Havana’. Everything is so perfectly over the top, so over driven, a reminder to let go and give in to the more primal side of music. The track sees Casika wielding chaos in the palm of his hands, delivering a blistering track littered with moments of darkness.
Tami Yami closes of what is a quite remarkable story, it sees Casika make a U-turn and deliver an ethereal breakbeat track. It feels like the artist has earned this sentimental moment, the introspective offering toys with unearthly energies and is a reminder of life’s silver linings.
Do As You Please are creating a discography that’s not just about cool songs, or even self-expression – it’s a document of who they are, and what that means in this moment in history. It’s what makes it both so personal and exceptionally universal. To Casika, Niall and the other wonderful people behind this label, we salute you. You are some of the most humble and hardworking people we’ve met music and we wish you nothing but the best. Ladies and Gentlemen Do As You Fucking Please.