Profile Finding Focus with Daniela Cast
Forging records playful yet intricate, Daniela Cast has added a welcome splash of colour to Barcelona’s guerilla house scene. We found out what led her here.
It was at a house party where Daniela Cast first saw a set of turntables. More specifically, it was Jacksonville, 2000. At the time, DJ Culture was turning itself inside out at the dawn of a new millennium. The hurried rise of the internet had created cult-like disc jockey enthusiast groups whilst newly introduced ‘DJ battles’ gave the industry a competitive flare. The industry also became increasingly concerned with the atmosphere that went along with performance, not only did the DJs of America 2000 deal with music and mixing but also the lights, effects and spectacle that went with it. The city itself had started a new journey, authorising The Better Jacksonville Plan promoted as ‘a blueprint for the city’s future’. “That’s when it all started,” Daniela begins. “That was my first contact with DJing.”
Now, Daniela is the one on the other side of two turntables and a crossfader mixer in Reckon Barcelona, where she has been made a resident performer. But the journey in between hasn’t been as polished as A to B. A longing for hearing and sharing music has brought her here, as it did in Jacksonville. “I couldn’t get in the clubs because I was underage so I went to the house parties,” she tells me. Aside from getting through school, friends and languages, it was this party’s electronic playlist that runs through Cast’s mind to this day.
She moved to the US aged 15, when her family emigrated from the coastal Argentine city Puerto Madryn, meaning the electronic scene of her homeland was something she was completely unaware of. “I was too young, I was listening to rock, other things. I think there was a scene but I wasn’t in Argentina so I don’t know what was going on. I was in the States.” When Daniela eventually returned to Argentina in 2004, she decided it was time she turn the curiosity into a career. “I started a dedication, professionally.” Not just an in-house party DJ, Cast would go on to forge a portfolio of Dance tracks. 2012 saw the release of Emotive, a three track EP on Gee Spot Records. Though by no means topping end-of-year shortlists, the release was an intriguing debut and helped establish Daniela not just as a mixer but as a creator. With all three tracks running over the 6 minute mark, Cast wasn’t trying to make snappy dance numbers, but fleshed out ideas with concept, structure and space. A video released by Gee Spot citing Cast’s influences as ‘punk, rock, hip-hop, rap, pop, reggae dub and downtempo’ had a clear message: Daniela is here to explore.
Daniela Cast: 'Ola Rusa' (Drumma)
As well as working on her musical output, Cast’s time in Argentina was primarily spent in EMBA: Escuela de Música de Buenos Aires. “I had a crazy thing going with the piano since I was 6 because I played by heart but I didn’t study.” Studying music production and theory, Daniela explains she was striving for “a deeper idea of music so I can create, have a more open vision about everything and allow me to create, more and more.” Cast is quick to tell me learning the rulebook was key for her songwriting process. “it affected it in a good way because the more you know, the further you can go.” Yet what she learnt hinged on methodology research, “besides all the techniques and the studying that you can do, to me producing has more to do with passion, creativity... you don’t really need to study but it’s up to you, it’s up to anybody.”
Daniela also took this time home to pursue a love for art and started to do freelance design, devising flyers for her parties, whilst working on branding and logos. “It’s all connected… art and music,” she assures me. The two passions collided when Cast started ‘Rockin Grooves’, a party series in Buenos Aires in 2011. In a year of big moves, the series was something of an embodiment of Cast as an initiator. “It was a concept of art and music. We had a graffiti artists painting; as people were coming in the party they would see people painting big graffiti outside … I was creating something where people could go no matter who was gonna play, they were just gonna listen to good music and have a great time.” For someone previously unenlightened about the electronic scenery of her country, Rockin’ Grooves was Cast giving back to Argentina, in a way that could fully establish herself as a creator.
Tracking the party’s influence is tricky. “I don’t really know [the impact] as I’m not there but of what I know from my friends, what I’ve seen on Facebook and the videos and everything… it was getting bigger and bigger when I was there so I’m pretty sure it got bigger and bigger now.” The project was discontinued when Cast relocated to Europe in 2013. ‘That’s when it stopped... I came to Barcelona to start what I’m doing now.’
Daniela’s output since has been wide-ranging if anything. Her Soundcloud page is a timeline of sporadic singles appearing on compilations by labels Astelagüel, Drumma and Get Slow. You’ll also find stripped-down loosies like “Sweet Journey”, podcasts, mixes and even a set from one of Rockin Grooves’ last shows. The songs are animated, tapping more into house’s rosy, playful influences like Giorgio Moroder and Cerrone as opposed to acid house’s uninviting squelch or Detroit techno’s paranoid percussion.
Amongst the songs are ‘Dieciocho’ and ‘Daace’, two collaborations with Chile-based producer Felipe Venegas. Something vital to Cast’s creative process: co-producing and collaborating features heavily in her work. “I love focusing on my own work because you can do what you want... but I also love sharing and collaborating with others. You can share your feelings, ideas, moods and put them into one song… that can be powerful.” Her relationship with Venegas is one Daniela describes as natural, “we just share our sounds… that’s the most beautiful thing.” Four years after Emotive and hot off the heels of 2015’s trilogy of singles, 2016’s the year Daniela’s ready to get back in that action. “I’m working very hard in the studio every Winter. I will for sure come up with some surprises for this year… You will know when you have to know.”
After multiple singles, sets at Piknic Elektronic and Las Leñas, Cast has come a long way from the DIY spirit of Rockin’ Grooves, but that doesn’t halt a loyalty to the series that melded her influences together. “It’s a project I have in mind for sure, with a renewed concept but mas adelante (later). Not too far in the future but not now… maybe it’s gonna be this year… maybe the next”. It’s a testament to Cast as a person with many priorities, throughout our talk she’s cautious not to slip unconfirmed data, deals or deadlines. Vague on the details but impassioned, like the memory of the Floridean high school party, what’s clear in Daniela’s head is the music.
Photos by Carlos Carrillo / Words by Reuben Tasker