Why Denver is a better place for an EDM star to live than L.A. (it's not just the weed)
Gary Caspa, or simply Caspa as he's known in the music world, has just transplanted himself, along with his wife, in Denver, Colorado. Could it be because Denver is the mecca of dance music and progressive thinking -- two things that seem to go hand in hand these days? Or could it be because it's the near-center of the country and makes touring easier? On the week he released Dubstep Sessions 2014, we asked him these questions, plus some more, and he filled us in on why he, a leader in the worldwide dubstep community, would up and leave his home across the pond to land in what some refer to as a lonely cow-town.
Westword: Welcome to Denver! Is this a permanent move?
Caspa: I don't know. I've been playing out here since 2009, and I love this place and I love coming back. I've got a good relationship with [Nicole Cacciavillano] from Sub.Mission. And I love just love playing here. Last year I spent a couple months here, and really enjoyed it. So, this year I decided to move out here, or at least base myself out of here and see how it goes. I'm loving it so far.
What is the process for moving here? Is that a visa, or how does that work?
I've got a work visa, so I can be here as much as I want and go back and forth. It's sort of legit.
You mentioned Nicole, who I've watched really push the scene in Denver. What are your thoughts coming here in regard to the music?
That's one of the reasons that attracted me to move here. Taking dubstep and putting that aside, the music in general, whether it's hip-hop, or rock, or electronic form of band, or jazz... my misses -- my wife -- she's a jazz singer. It's the fact that Denver just has such good music and people don't really realize it. People say "Oh, America? Where are you living? Los Angeles?"
That's the first thing they say to me. I'm like 'No." They ask me where I'm living and I say "Denver."
Then it's "Why are you living in Denver?" and I'm like "Have you ever been to Denver?" and they're like "Well, no, not really."
Well, how the fuck do you know what it's like if you've never been there? The mentality is so terrible. I tell 'em to go. I prefer it to L.A. They say "Well, if you live, I suppose it must be good." And it is. The music is great. The arts and culture is great. I think it's more liberal than California. I think overall there is a lot do here and a lot to build upon. The music here, too, is just great. The people are way nice, too. It's a lot like London in that fact. I think that's what attracted me to it.
Do you have any touring coming up? Will that be put on hold while you are here? I know you have experience touring around America, but now that you're here relatively full-time it seems like it might change it up.
To be honest, it's made me a lot more accessible, and that's another reason I wanted to come here. If Denver could've been anywhere, I would've moved there. The fact is it's centered about everything in America. It's only two to three hours to get anywhere. And the airport is international, so I can fly home directly when I need to. The plan is to play shows here. What's made it easier is that when you route a tour, you have to start on the East coast and then work your way around to the West coast.
The fact that I'm based in Denver means that I can do shows that I wouldn't normally do. I can do Knoxville. I can do Springfield, Illinois. I can play Victoria, British Columbia. I can fly out and do the weekend shows and just come back. When you are on tour, you have to route it, so I always end up skipping all these towns that deserve good music. It's actually made it great that I can do these cities.
Does that have any effect on your booking? It seems like the costs to get you to come stateside change drastically now.
To be honest, a lot of the financial situation side of things; when you come here on tour, you have to pay for your flight out of the fee you are getting paid, so it's no different, but as it were, it does save me money on the flights. But I do live here, so I have to pay rent. It's not about that. There are certain places that can't afford to pay me the money that I get in Los Angeles, or New York, but that's fine. I want to work and I want to play places that couldn't necessarily afford me when I'm on tour. It's important for someone in my position who is looked upon as a leader of what we are doing to play shows, and show them what this sounds like. I am coming to your town. I am taking less than what I could normally get. But that's fine. I'm here to build something.
It seems like that was your mantra from the beginning: To push something you truly believe in.
It's always been my philosophy. It's something that I love and something that I want show people in its truest form. For someone in my position, it doesn't get any better than that. It's all part of the plan. I could end up buying something here and living between here and London. That's how much I love this place.
Are there any places in particular that you've been able to check out?
I'm always into my food, man. Last time I was here in Denver I didn't really the chance to explore the food side of it. That's something I was lacking knowledge in. I found so many good places. There is a place called Sushi Den that does great sushi. There is a place called The Crawling Crab that does crayfish, prawns, king crab, and that sort of southern thing. I'm a big seafood fan. I could never find in Denver before, and now that I have time to explore... you can get steaks anywhere, but seafood is my thing. I found it here.
What about your wife? What is she doing? Is she just sort of trusting you, or, is she seeking out some opportunities as well?
She is a jazz singer, so she wants to get more based in the jazz scene and see if there are any opportunities. Back home she sang in two bands, and doing things on weekends. Obviously she is taking a break to come out here, but she is looking for places to hang out and meet people. We've had the past month to sort of relax, so she is on that music as well. It's a musical family.
What are your thoughts on the legalization of marijuana in Denver?
I smoke. It's great. I think it's just - it's just liberal. That's another side of Denver. It's a very forward thinking state. Like, people are against, but it's a great thing. The money is going to great things, and as long as it's controlled right, it will stay that way. For me it's great because I can go into shops now. I can walk in and buy an eighth of weed. I can explore it without feeling a bit sleezy, like, "oh, can you get me some weed?" It's more comfortable for me. As long as I smoke in my private situation. Luckily, no one has spotted me going into shops or anything, maybe because I wear my hat and sunglasses. They ask me what I do, and I just say "I'm here on business." When I go into shops, I'm just Gary; no one sees me as Caspa. I think it's great. I'm enjoying that, as well. It's not the reason I moved here, but it makes it easier.
Have you talked to anyone back home to try and get them to come check it out?
One of my friends is here at the moment. He flew out last weekend for my show in Detroit. He stayed with me in Denver. He had never been to Denver. He had been to Los Angeles and New York, so he only has a perspective like that from what America is. He was like "Wow, man. I would never come here on holiday." He thinks it's a sick spot. I should work for the tourist board of Denver the way I'm building it up. He wants to come back. He loves the music. He loves the food. He thinks the weed is cool. It's the whole culture. It's somewhere he never would've come, and now he wants to come back. My wife would much rather stay here than in Los Angeles, so it's all bonus.
Are you going to be doing any sort of residency with Sub.Mission?
No, I don't think so. I don't want to overkill it. I still want it to be special when I play here. I don't want to play every month. I have a show booked with them on April 24. It's myself and Gentleman's Club, which is 50 Carrot and those guys. I go down to Electronic Tuesday's at Cervantes, and I'm going to check out Funtcase at Beta, but other than that, just playing, I'm going to keep it like how when I lived in the UK. I don't want to oversaturate it.
Few people are interested, or know, that I moved to Denver. I drove to SXSW and drove back, and I was like "geez, that was a long journey, but I'm glad to be back home." Some people were like "What the fuck? Why do youlive in Denver?" It's, like, people don't know. It's frustrating because people don't know.
How do your friends and associates view Denver?
Honestly mate, I think people take it as the Midwest, and they think it's cowboy country and it's just land and ranches and horses. That's just what people think. It's crazy. They just need to go here. There is so much more going on. It's like when I came here on tour and said I was from England and people would be like, "Ahh, have you met the queen?" I'm like, "have you ever met the fucking president?" It's just the way people think. They don't know. It's just intrigue. It's just what they know. I tell 'em to come check it out, check out the food, the music... and now I live here and hopefully people will come check it. I sort of raised the flag a little bit.
I think it speaks to the whole culture that is in Denver.
It's just exciting times. Don't get me wrong. I love other places in America, but would I live in them? No. I think Denver is one of the most exciting places to live in America.
• BACKBEAT'S GREATEST HITS •
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.