Swedish Mixtape

Cazzette dishes on Ash Pournouri, Spotify and niche genres

Sebastian Furrer and Alexander Björklund—the Swedish production duo better known as Cazzette—form the second brainchild of super-manager Ash Pournouri, who first guided Avicii’s remarkable rise. Cazzette’s remixes for Avicii, Adele, Kanye West and Jay-Z have garnered attention for their special blends of dub-y bass and melodic house. The duo cleverly dropped a three-part streaming-only album, Eject, on Spotify—a move that fueled their hype even further. Catch the Wynn Resorts residents’ next performance July 31 at Surrender.

You and Avicii both sing Pournouri’s praises—I’ve never heard producers honor a manager so much. You even use his initials in your song titles. What’s his secret sauce?

Björklund: He’s special because he’s involved 100 percent in what we do. He’s not like typical management, where you just sort stuff. He’s involved in the music, too, so everything goes through him, and we bounce ideas back and forth every time until all three of us are satisfied. And I think as a producer it is really important to have an external source that you trust. It’s great that we’re his second signing, because he’s already succeeded with Avicii. So we feel comfortable, and listen to what he says.

Sometimes I’ve seen Pournouri credited as an executive producer. What’s his role in those cases?

Furrer: Well, there’s a difference between executive producers and producers. I think in this [executive producer] case, Ash is feedback-ing. He’s not technical; he doesn’t produce. He can write melodies, he can listen and hear something in his head and write it down. He doesn’t know the software that we’re using, but he’s feed backing all the time. He has ideas for remixes, arrangements—just more like that.

Together, you guys decided to launch your Eject album exclusively streaming on Spotify. What was the backstory there?

Björklund: Of course Ash handled that for us, and that’s the way we work together. We focus on the music and playing live, and the rest is sorted by him and At Night [Management]. It was cool because it was never done before. That was the main thing we were going for, to be inventive and try something that’s never been done before.

By going direct to streaming, you give up some short-term sales. What were the considerations that made this worthwhile?

Björklund: Even if you give up some short-term sales, in the long run people will remember what we did and all the press that we got. We’re big fans of Spotify ourselves; that’s also why it happened.

Apart from streaming and press exposure, were there any nontraditional benefits to the Spotify launch?

Björklund: Since we chose to release the album in three parts, we could actually get feedback from our fans on Part 1, and bring it into Part 2, and likewise for Part 3. So up until the actual release, we could change the whole thing. Also we had our own app within Spotify, which also is unique. We could share our playlists, what we’re listening to when we’re touring, you could watch video—you could get a whole mini Cazzette experience within the program, and that’s also unusual for a release of a CD.

You created a genre called “dub house,” but you’ve said that’s just where you started. Where’d that come from, and where are you headed sonically?

Furrer: At the time we started out with dub house, dubstep was huge, but no one tried adding house music to it. When we met Ash, we already had done some tracks with dubstep sounds in our house music tracks—dubstep breaks, house-ier drops and different stuff like that. But we never wanted to just do that. The whole meaning with Cazzette is like when you did your own mixtape cassettes back in the day; you put all your favorite songs on it. That’s what we do. We do our favorite kinds of music that we want to make and we put it up on the Cazzette.

The remix you guys did for Avicii’s “Alcoholic” sort of gets you into the trap space. Can we expect more of this house/trap sound from you?

Furrer: You never know, but it would be in the way of hip-hop instead of trap. Because trap is more about energetic drops and in the future we’ll be more into doing real old-school hip-hop, because we’re huge fans of hip-hop. We did that track a long time ago, before trap was getting popular, before “Harlem Shake.” When trap got popular we were like, “We might as well just release it and see how it goes.”

I dig your niche approach to music. Does the term “EDM” bother you?

Björklund: We’re not the biggest fans of that honestly, because it’s not really fair to the genres. It is electronic dance music, but in a way you can’t compare. For instance, like trap and deep tech house, if you call those EDM, it doesn’t make sense.

Furrer: The problem is that America is getting into this music the last four-five years a lot. So, when you ask college people and young people what music they listen to, it’s “EDM,” because of the blogs and social media. So then they think EDM is a genre when it’s not. EDM is a collection of electronic music. I don’t think people get it, because we talk with people and see it on Twitter and they’re like, “This song is so EDM!” So they consider house music and dubstep like the same thing, and it’s not.

The first single, “Beam Me Up,” is great. The video, too. And then it evolved into a Star Trek promo. What’s the story with that track?

Furrer: From the beginning, we didn’t even have vocals in mind. It was very hard and raw and we even called it “Kill Mode” because of the raw vibe of it. Then we got the vocal from Ash. We loved it and we re-did the whole thing. We’re really happy. It’s something we like. Some people might say, “Oh, it’s too commercial.” But we don’t mind because we like the song.


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