Daily Discovery is a feature that will highlight a new or recently discovered artist that we’re excited about. See the rest of our Daily Discoveries here.
As someone who has lived in Washington, D.C. for the past four years, it’s safe to say that the music scene in the nation’s capital is severely underrated. D.C.’s reputation is practically non-existent in comparison to literally any other major city, and especially in comparison to other national capitals. It’s amazing how many artists will casually forget to book a show in the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) when they go on tour. For electronic music, U Street Music Hall is as good as it gets—it’s the one space that DJs strive to perform at and it’s the venue where I discovered Dirty Chocolate, a local producer from Gaithersburg, MD.
I did a little digging, and discovered that Dirty Chocolate is part of a collective called Moving Castle. After listening to their compilation Volume III and getting lost in a dream-like trance for the rest of the day, I realized that what I had found was too good to keep to myself. Here was a group of up-and-coming producers from two major cities that are often forgotten in the bigger musical picture, and they were barely getting any wider attention despite their growing following on the Internet.
Founded by Robokid (DJ/Producer/Art Director), AObeats (DJ/Producer/A&R/Manager), Hunt for the Breeze (DJ/producer/art director), and Manila Killa (DJ/Producer/A&R/Manager), Moving Castle reps the Internet as its hometown, but individually they are actually based between Boston, Massachusetts and the DMV. The logo is written in Japanese, which ties in with what the collective’s influences: Japanese film, culture and music.
The Moving Castle roster contains 12 other artists (Vices, Mark Johns, WRLD, Yung Wall St, Dugong Jr., Kappa Kavi, Jailo, Ba-Kuura, Dirty Chocolate, Strehlow, Bamfranging) between the ages of 17 and 30. Not only does this demographic explain the high levels of energy within this collective, but it makes sense of a pattern that we’re starting to see more and more of these days—young creatives coming together and building their own bridge to connect their passions with a reality.
Read our interview with Manila Killa, AObeats, and Robokid, the three founding members of Moving Castle, below.
So what were you guys doing before Moving Castle?
Before Moving Castle, all three of us were separately pursuing our music careers. AObeats and Manila Killa had done a few collaborations before the idea of forming Moving Castle was talked about.
What are your backgrounds in music? How did you get involved in this field?
Robokid took piano lessons for 10 years starting when he was four… he was involved music throughout high school and it kinda all clicked when he started producing electronic music. Like most of these guys, he started production when he was in high school and everything else kinda fell into place.
Manila Killa played the cello from 3rd to 8th grade, and took up guitar and drums as a hobby from 9th to 10th grade. He began producing electronic music in 10th grade (which was in 2009) when his friend introduced him to FL Studio, and has been producing ever since.
AObeats started playing violin when he was four, continuing up through high school, picking up viola and Saxophone along the way. He began producing hip-hop beats in high school and from there kept going, getting into electronic music, and incorporating his backgrounds and interests.
In your own words, what exactly is Moving Castle?
Moving Castle is an assembled group of kids from the Internet who discuss everything from memes to music samples to fashion. We have come together to create a platform that will allow us to push out content and support each other and other like-minded people who surround us. We don’t really like to call ourselves a label, although we are kind of heading in that direction. In addition to our musical content, we have taken steps into clothing and fashion as another lane of putting out creative content. People involved with Moving Castle have had age ranges from 16-30 years old, and we come from all over the world, from all over the United States, as well as the UK, Australia, and Netherlands. Our shirts say Moving Castle Worldwide on the sleeve, in part as a reflection of our diversity and the idea that we are almost like a local scene that exists from the internet as opposed to a single location.
When did Moving Castle officially get established?
It officially started in like winter 2013… We had tossed around the idea before the, but the facebook group was started in 2013. We knew each other prior to the collective, having met through mutual friends and locations. Robokid and AObeats went to the same school, and Manila Killa and AObeats met through a mutual friend at an internship, and Manila Killa also met Hunt for the Breeze at a studio session in Washington D.C..
Around October 2013, Robokid texted AObeats, who texted Manila Killa, who texted Hunt For the Breeze and then we all hit up some of our other producer friends from soundcloud. We had been talking online A couple months later, we put out our first compilation. The original compilation members like Vices, Ba-kuura Kappa Kavi, Jailo, and Dirty Chocolate were all people we had become friends with online prior to the creation of Moving Castle and have all become integral parts of the group.
How did you all come up with the idea to create Moving Castle? Who initiated it and how did everything fall into place?
We wanted a way to push musical content to the public in one simple package, and so we developed our brand, created multiple social media outlets, and connected with the right people to make this happen. AObeats, Manila Killa, and Brett Blackman (our Public Relations Officer) were the ones who really organized everything to make sure the first compilation was released properly. That’s when everything started to really fall into place—we gained attention from the masses and eventually grew to what we are now. What has been great and still is great about Moving Castle, is that we are a very close group of both producers and friends, and everyone involved contributes in some aspect.
What is the vision behind Moving Castle?
The vision of Moving Castle is to push a brand that everyone can learn from. We want to help people appreciate different cultures and artistry, not only through the medium of music, but through fashion, graphic design, and more. We just find that it’s important to be open-minded and to step out of one’s comfort zone in order to grow as a person—we’re there to help through providing unique music that people may have not stumbled upon on their own. What we’ve tried to do so far is to create a platform to help promote the people around us and allow us to support each other and continue putting out the best content we can under a unified brand. We hope to venture further into each creative aspect of the group, potentially forming a label, or even delving deeper into fashion, but we are still just taking it one step at a time.
You say that your hometown is the Internet, but where is the collective primarily based?
It is primarily based online. We do 99% of communication over Facebook chat… It’s kind of dumb… We all wish we lived near each other but most of us are still in school. The first time a bunch of us met was in NYC at one of the first Moving Castle showcases. It’s awesome that Jailo, who’s originally from the Netherlands, is touring with Vices right now throughout the USA. We feel like these people are our best friends and we wouldn’t have met half these kids in real life if it weren’t for Moving Castle.
Since you guys mostly interact on the Internet, has everyone ever met up IRL?
A number of us have met each other a few times. Our first “showcase” was in NYC in July 2013, where we had AObeats, Robokid, Manila Killa, and Mark Johns perform. Shortly after, we had a showcase in Philadelphia in August 2013, where we had Vices, AObeats, Manila Killa, Mark Johns, and Dirty Chocolate meet up too. This past December we also had two great showcases in LA and NYC, which were really cool to see because people were coming out for the music and it showed us that the internet really was translating into real people. There was also a showcase with Jailo, Kappa Kavi, and WRLD, in Amsterdam at Amsterdam Dance Event. Jailo also just flew in from the Netherlands to join Vices on tour, and we have a few more shows planned with several Moving Castle members on the lineup. Eventually we want to all meet, but that will come in due time.
Which artist was first on the Moving Castle roster?
AObeats was the first artist on the roster because he is the first person Robokid contacted about starting a collective. Robokid wanted to sign AObeats but he had no label to do so, so he thought that a collective was the next best option.
Where do you all usually discover new music? How do you find new artists?
We discover new artists through Soundcloud and Twitter. Robokid finds new artists primarily just trolling through his feed or checking out his favorite labels. We have ongoing group chats and we always send each other stuff and talk about our favorite artists… there isn’t really a criteria for Moving Castle. We aren’t looking for a specific sound. Manila Killa follows a similar way of finding new artists. He’ll look through Soundcloud or some of his favorite blogs to find new, exciting artists. AObeats spend a large portion of his free time on Soundcloud, often getting into never ending Soundcloud rabbit holes. One nice thing too is that we also get lots of great music sent to us every day.
How can artists thrive on the Internet? What do you recommend?
There is no simple answer to this. It depends on your definition of what “thriving” is. To some, thriving may mean gaining a certain amount of followers on social media, to some it may mean creating music that provokes an emotional response, regardless of how many plays the song gets. In our case, a lot of of us are trying to eventually pursue a music career therefore we take certain steps to make that happen. We recommend open communication between your friends, other artists, bloggers, and anyone else you are in contact with. The Internet is an awful way to communicate, because people can interpret something different to your intention, which is probably why we wished that we lived near each other.
What is the Moving Castle criteria for selecting a new artist to join the team?
There is no concrete criteria for selecting a new artist to join the team. All it really is is that the artist has to be an honest person who makes honest, dope, music.
What do your artists have to say about Moving Castle? Why do you think they decided to join your fam?
We’d like to think that everyone is gaining something out of Moving Castle which is why they’re sticking around. They decided to join us to fill a void that was lacking in their artistic pursuits, whether it be friendship, an outlet for expressing one’s artistry, or a way to reach new fan bases.
From day one, what has been the main goal for this collective?
From day one our goal was to unite friends and spread our music. That’s pretty much it. Everything else is an added bonus.
What’s the next step for Moving Castle?
We have a lot of things coming up. We have our SXSW showcase on March 18, Volume 4 coming out shortly before that, and we’re working on a shirt release with one of our favorite labels. There’s a lot of other things that we have planned, but we can’t reveal too much of that yet.