Under the alias CASTANEA, Rising Appalachia’s own David Brown takes to the stage to remix and rework acoustic sounds with nods to the past and present tense prowess. As with bandmates Leah and Chloe, whose southern upbringing instilled love of both old-time music and hip-hop, Brown’s own musical journey had many legs, all of which come to the surface in CASTANEA. Along with the instruments for which he’s best known – the upright bass and baritone guitar – Brown’s skills cross over to turntables and beat making, through which a lush sound emerges that is both reminiscent of early trip hop classics but based in the soulful tones that arise from Appalachia.
“I’ve had the honor to record and play with many great musicians and producers since joining RA” says Brown, whose collaborators in the electronic vein include Human Experience, Dirtwire, Numatik, and others. “I’ve always heard something a bit different when it comes to the remix, though, something a little more akin to the beats that I grew up skating and scratching to.” The influence of East coast hip hop, as well as the trip-hop emerging from the UK in the early 90s is evident, but the pairing of these genres with the distinctive textures of Rising Appalachia seems both new and familiar. Clearly, the sound strikes a chord with others. After debuting the EP Remast in late 2018, CASTANEA’s music has reached far and wide, with a growing international following and spins on NPR’s All Things Considered. The live CASTANEA set premiered at Resonance Festival, and has been followed up with shows across the US, British Columbia, and others coalescing in South America and Europe. In addition to showcasing Brown’s own talents, each live set has been sprinkled with appearances by other members of Rising Appalachia. “I want to create a space where we can all cut loose and get down, on stage or off,” Brown says, cracking a smile, “but also present a side to the music that is different than what we do elsewhere.”
The name of the project, CASTANEA, like the music, has layers of depth and beauty. Derived from the name of the chestnut genus, it points to a tree that is slowly recovering from the brink of extinction in the eastern forests of North America (castanea dentata). Brown has dedicated proceeds from live sales of Remast towards replanting this tree, a step in ecological and cultural restoration work that gives literal roots to the name Rising Appalachia. The CASTANEA offshoot, with lush beats and a deep guiding vision, is laden with soulful fruit and entrancing potential.