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Cashmere Cat Brings Experimental Beats to Float Fest

There are plenty of music festivals around America that give you a variety of experiences: that of the old-West frontiersman, that of the 1960s counterculture. But what about a festival that truly and definitively captures the experience of a perfect summer day? Float Fest, just outside of San Marcos, Texas, delivers on that promise, offering attendees a vast array of musical choices over two days, all while encouraging them to take to the river and, literally, float on tubes so they can enjoy or escape from the July heat. And few artists are better equipped to embody––and challenge–-that idyllic summer day than the Norwegian-born producer and DJ Cashmere Cat.

In just a handful of years stateside, the man born Magnus August Høiberg has established himself as one of the most daring instrumental artists in the world. He has deep roots: before he adopted his current stage name, Høiberg operated as DJ Final. It was under that moniker that the then-teenager began representing his native Norway in the DMC World DJ Championships. That competition is a reminder that DJing is an incredibly demanding, nearly athletic feat: from crate-digging to reading a room with almost telekinetic precision to defying physics with quick cuts, it reveals young upstarts like Høiberg as something like superhuman.

Impressive as his turntable chops were, Høiberg refused to rest on his DJing laurels. By the beginning of this decade, he was striking out as a musician in his own right, crafting an EP, Mirror Maru, under the Cashmere Cat name. That short record garnered critical praise and laid a blueprint for where his music would go, laying clear, often haunting melodies over percussion that tended toward the daring and experimental. Mirror Maru instantly made Cashmere Cat an in-demand figure in underground music.

Since that record came out at the end of 2012, Cashmere Cat’s career as a producer for others and a solo artist has exploded. A move to North America spawned a new EP, Wedding Bells, and his first charting single: “Adore,” which featured vocals from Ariana Grande. Not only was the song a massive success for Cashmere, but helped give depth to Grande, who was then a burgeoning pop star who had yet to approach instrumentals with that level of sophistication. At the same time, Cashmere was producing singles for the likes of Ty Dolla $ign, Tinashe, Miguel, Ryn Weaver, G-Eazy, and others.

Beginning in 2016, Cashmere Cat made another commercial leap. That year, he produced “Wolves,” the beloved song from Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo; he also began working with A-list pop stars like The Weeknd and legends like Britney Spears. What makes Cashmere Cat fascinating, though, is that he never capitulates to trends or to radio, instead leaving his music somewhere decidedly left of center, challenging but kinetic. His debut full-length album, last year’s 9, features a dizzying array of big-name talent, but is a uniquely personal effort.

While the act of floating is passive, it really isolates all your senses and allows you train them in a new direction: your body and mind, weightless, can zero in on the subtle changes in drum programming or on bone-chilling breaks in melody. Cashmere Cat at Float Fest is an irresistible offer: something deeply fun and just a little unsettling.