WhenTheSkyShimmers

I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know a lot of amazing artists during my time as a music writer, but I don’t think that I’ve been as impressed by someone in a broad sense—beyond just musical talent—as I was after talking with Stephen Kaplan, who you might know as Kaptain. In addition to creating some delightfully groovy electro-funk/glitch-hop beats, Kaplan manages to maintain a career as an engineer (he studied mechanical and nuclear engineering at UC Berkeley) and is one of the few artists I’ve come across that has hobbies and interests outside of music, yet he somehow manages to balance all of that with grace and humility to boot. On top of all that he is articulate, professional and honest in his caring for the electronic scene in general (he graciously hosts a Harm Reduction page full of great resources on his website). I think it goes without saying, but this guy is a soul in action.

It’s not easy but with a little bit of dedication it is totally manageable. Making little sacrifices here and there to make time for producing can add up to a lot of total studio time. Sometimes I skip social events or stay in all day on a Saturday instead of hanging around the city, or just keep the Netflix urges to a minimum. I’ll even open up my laptop on my commute to get 30 minutes of writing in, even if it’s just a one or two bar melody. There are more hours in the day to do the things you love than people think. It helps to have family, a girlfriend, and friends that support both of my careers – I am thankful for that.

– Stephen Kaplan, a.k.a. Kaptain

Like so many young adults, Kaplan fell hard into the electronic music scene as a fan first and artist second after one of those formative, eye-opening experiences that many of us have had and carry with us every time we go to a show. For him, he says it was a confluence of Daft Punk’s “Discovery” album, Deadmau5’s “Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff” and “Strobe,” a Rusko show, and his first festival that set him on a path to creating his own electronic beats, adding his newly discovered tastes to an already extensive background in music.

The farthest back I can remember listening to electronic music was halfway through high school. It was right after Daft Punk’s Alive 2007 tour…I had “Discovery” on repeat that year. Around the same time, Deadmau5 was just starting to become a household name – I remember hearing “Ghosts N’ Stuff” on a commercial for some MTV show, and I was like ‘I have to figure out what this is.’ The next Mau5 song I came across was “Strobe,” and you know how things go after hearing that track…so yeah, my intro to the music was pretty standard in terms of the beginning of the EDM boom in the US.

– Stephen Kaplan, a.k.a. Kaptain

 

Starting out, he began the Kaptain project by trying his hand at producing the flavor of month which, at the time, happened to be moombahton. After moombahton ran its course and Kaplan’s horizons were broadened as a result of bopping around the Haight-Ashbury, he eventually settled into the more electro-funk style he produces today—“Kaptain 2.0,” as he calls it—culminating in the release of his debut EP, “Cosmic Groove.” I could explain what it sounds like, but how about we let the music speak for itself?

I guess a lot of people and blogs have lumped me into the overarching “Pretty Lights Music/GRiZ/Future Funk” scene – and that’s cool with me. Those artists are massive influences on me and always have been. I definitely perceive my stuff as a bit more unique, though. I think one thing that represents my style is that you can’t always tell if it sounds more like a band or more like an electronically produced dance track. That kind of a vibe is by design – I employ a lot of different techniques and mix recorded instrumentation with computer stuff.

– Stephen Kaplan, a.k.a. Kaptain

 

As of late, when he isn’t working at his day job Kaplan has been working diligently on a brand new EP, “When the Sky Shimmers,” along with a cast of talented collaborators. Along with the new EP, he has been spending time developing his live setup which will hopefully lead to some bookings—hopefully here in our fine state—in the near future. But like anything worth doing, it’s worth taking some time and doing it well, so we will just have to be patient on that front.

I’ve learned to not force creativity. Sometimes I sit down to produce and what comes out really sucks. At that point I accept defeat and try to remind myself that the next time I sit down it will probably work out—and it usually does. It mostly requires patience. Also, it helps not to overthink it – my best producing sessions are when the music just kind of writes itself in my head and I have to race to keep up.

– Stephen Kaplan, a.k.a. Kaptain

In the meantime, check out the first two singles from “When The Sky Shimmers” in the header of this post, and keep your ears open for the official release coming soon. Stay in touch with all things Kaptain by following him on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud and his official website. Most importantly, enjoy the music and spread the word.

Flying-Under-Radar