Sasha: It's time to deliver

 The sounds of pulsating rhythms and melodic melodies fill the room and the audiences are going wild when Sasha is doing his magic. His style is "Progressive Trance" with a touch of house and break beat elements.  

Sasha (Alexander Coe) has over the years done a lot of remixes and in 1998 he remixed Madonna "Ray Of Light" and "Substitute For Love/ Drowned World". He also did the first ever UK DJ mix album Renaissance "The Mix Collection" together with John Digweed back in 1994. Over the years Sasha and John have played together all over the world and have mixed the “Communicate” and three "Northern Exposure" albums that have sold over 1 million copies worldwide. Sasha has also released two very successful compilations on Global Underground. Sasha and John had a monthly residency at the now closed  "Twilo" club in New York and this has reached cult status in New York. Sasha is today a household name at Space in Ibiza and other big venues around the world and is today one of the biggest DJ’s on the Progressive House scene. 

 I understand that you had a car accident earlier this year, are you fully recovered?

- As well as I can be, I probably have a weak spot in my ear now, which hopefully I won’t damage again, an eardrum is so sensitive and at the same time the human body is an amazing thing. Oh my god a perforated eardrum – that’s it. My ear was ringing, when I went to bed at night, the ringing in my ear was so loud, I was really worried. I knew that my eardrum would heal, I have read on the Internet and in books, that perforated ears are quite common, and they will grow back. What I was worried about was the ringing in my ear - was it going to be permanent? I just woke up one morning and the ringing had gone. Thank god for that – It was really loud.

 So you don’t have any after-effects from it now?

- This ear definitely feels different from the other one. When you pop your ears, this one is always a millisecond in difference.

 But that is nothing that hinders you in producing tracks?

- No that was always all right, the doctor said to me I could listen to music at a normal level. I just couldn’t stick my head between two big speakers for 6 hours, or get on a plane, and stuff like that, that could aggravate it. So I have to cancel New York, Miami (Miami Wither Conference 2001) and all those gigs.

 So how has the year been for you – besides the accident?

- I have had a very quiet year, I have hardly done any gigs and interviews, nobody hasn’t really heard from me. It is so weird that I am nominated in the British magazine Muzik as the “DJ of the year” (he won - editor). In the last 18 month I have done so few gigs, and then this thing with my ear - six month off. For the first time in 12 years I had to stop, I had to sit at home for six month, I was running every day, eating good food, looking after myself, and it is probably one of the best things that has ever happen to me in terms on getting my record done - it really got me focused. I sad at home with my laptop on top of my piano and wrote tracks. When everybody went to Miami, the phone didn’t ring for 10 days and I wrote 3 tracks and they are all going on the album. I guess something inside my head said that the thing with my ear - I am not letting this fuck my head up. I was really depressed about not going to Miami, we had spent a month on organizing special parties, and to be told a week before that you can’t go…. is …… One of my friends rang me up from the dance floor during Danny Tegnagilla’s set and I could hear the crowd going mental – oooohhhh fuck.

 What can we expect on the album – tracks like Xpander and Scorchio?

- There are a couple of tracks there are similar to the Xpander EP, there are a lot of break beat tracks, different tempos, there is a lot of melodic stuff on it, it is going to be a real e-album, an album you listen to when get home from the club. There are some really beautiful melodies on the album; at the moment it is all completely instrumental music, so there are no vocals on it. It would be nice to have couple of vocal tracks, but I am actually terrified writing songs, I am not a songwriter. I just know what sounds good and many vocal records don’t do it for me, so that is mainly why I play instrumental music. A song is so personal. I feel out of my depth when I start trying writing vocals, melodies I am fine with, it is lyrics that I have a hard time with. Some of the best songs that are already written have the cheesiest and silliest lyrics, but when you try to write them down yourself you can’t do it. Good songwriters are in their own right, there aren’t many produces that can write great songs as well, like BT and William Orbit, there is a few out there.

 Are you working together with you producer partner – Charlie May?

- I am working with a lot of people, Charlie is very involved in the whole album and there are some programmers and engineers I have been working with. Tom from Junkie XL is helping me getting the last 10 % of the record finished. I get a lot of help, I am doing a lot of directing of the show.

 You have also worked with BT (Brain Transeau) in Peter Gabriel’s Real World studio on some tracks?

- That was some 3 years ago. What happens was that I would finish the Real World album after I have done my own album. We did some great stuff down there. One day I would love to go back and work with Peter and BT, we had such a good time there. Until I have my own album out, my debut album, I can’t think on doing anything else, incl. remixes, the last one I did was Chemical Brothers “Out Of Control”, I don’t want to waist any time. Unfortunately I open my big mouth and started talking about it years ago, before I had the knowledge on how to do an album. I have up till then done a lot of remixes with a big team of people. But I had never written tracks on my own, I thought it would come together in a year, but it has taken about five years. Once I have done it the next record will only take me 6 months, it is just this first one that is taking a long time on coming together.

 What experience have you got from the process on doing your album?

- I had so much to learn, five years ago I didn’t know how to turn on the computer, now I have leant so much, it has been a fantastic learning experience for me, I really fell like I have learnt my trade now, as a producer and as a musician. Some years ago when I was asked to work with Madonna I was so out on my depth, because I didn’t have the knowledge. There is a difference between doing you own track and a remix, your are giving the master tape, with all the William Orbit sounds, and the song is already written, it is already great and you do a remix, that is one thing. Writing songs like that or producing an album or producing artist of her statue is another task completely.

 Some years ago you also did the music for the Wipeout 3 Playstation game, what happened to that?

- I did 5 tracks for that, and we delivered these 2 minutes edits of the tracks. I wanted to go into the studio and mix down the tracks and do club mixes. There were two or three of the Wipeout tracks that had great sounds and really cool melodies in them and I wanted to do the finishing mixes of them, but unfortunately my computer died and we lost everything. So the only record I have of them is on the actually Wipeout game – we lost everything. It was one of those things, it wasn’t meant to be. We did really well on the Wipeout game, it was a good thing financially to do, and unfortunately we never got to finish it properly. It was fun, we did all that stuff in one month. I had spend all that time working on my album, spending 3-4 months on one track, so when we got that job it has to be in one month, so we went in the studio and delivered. I work so much better when I have the pressure on. I think that the last six month I definitely had the pressure on. I had said so many times that I am going to do this album, and it is time to deliver.

 How many records do you have?

- I have just data based my whole record collection from a to z – about 25.000 records and only a few duplicates of my favourite records. Thank god that I had the foresight to buy two copies, because the one I play are now covered in footprints and beer stains.

 How do you see the compilation marked?

- It is very hard to compile a CD at the moment, there are so many people making them, when we did Northern Exposure nobody was really doing mix CD’s and now the record shops are full of them, you are competing with 4 or 5 other DJ’s the same month and everybody is fighting on getting exclusive rights on the tracks for the compilation – it is definitely harder now.

 You and John Digweed have over the years made some very successful compilation mix albums - do you always agree on what to put on them and what is the process in doing them?

- Every time we have done a mix album it is different. On some albums I come with a lot of ideas and we build the album on that. There have been albums where I didn’t have a clue on what we wanted to do and John came with the ideas and we had gone with that. The whole process is a two-way thing, we sit down in a room with our record boxes and play records for each other for a week and start mixing it together and it takes shape. Usually we go away for a week and come back and pull it apart again, and then we have an idea where we are going. Northern Exposure 1 and 2 we wanted to build these perfect DJ journeys where you sat at home and you are ready to go out to the club at the end of the album. That was the thought process on Northern Exposure 2 and on Northern Exposure 1 we had a lot of classic records we loved, I felt that a lot of the Guerilla and Rabbit in The Moon records shaped the whole progressive house scene, and I felt that a lot of the kids that listened to the music, didn’t know the older records. We are now working on another compilation - I have no idea in which direction it is going.

Words and live photos: Christian Almind

Published: Clubbing Magazine Nov-Dec 2001

More live pictures of Sasha at BIPATH photo gallery

 

SASHA - DEBUT ALBUM TO BE RELEASED ON AUGUST 5TH

Sasha, one of the most famous and revered DJs in the world is set to release his debut artist album on August 5th.

Sasha's long awaited debut album 'Airdrawndagger' takes the nose for the dancefloor's g-spot and combines it with the ears for a heartstring strumming melody, a smile inducing hook and dirty great b-lines to create a 69 minute symphony that sounds as wistfully enchanting doing the hoovering at home as it does reaching for the lasers on Saturday night. Like the best Sasha DJ set you ever heard, it has melancholy mixed with euphoria, downtempo introspection mixed with jump n' shout excitement.

"Recording this album is the hardest thing I've ever done," says Sasha. "The people I've worked with, like Tom from Junkie XL and Charlie May, I feel like my learning curve has gone through the roof. I feel as if I've been at university for the last year! I'm a bit of a perfectionist, but it has been worth all the time."

Thankfully, unlike most albums by hybrid DJ/producer/artists there are no half-hearted collaborations with pop stars, whether faded or up-and-coming, no hamfisted record company attempts to sell the Sasha brand to the general public via cred-hungry indie frontmen or ageing rappers in search of a wider demographic. "I haven't felt the need to have any massive collaborations with guest singers and other artists on this album - it's an album that's true to me and true to all the people who have heard me DJ or bought my mix albums over the years. This album is for them."

With Sasha what you see (or hear) really is what you get - the fact he so transparently believes in the music he's trying to push could well be one reason he incites such devotion in his legions of fans across the globe.

Across the 11 tracks, there's the time and space to reflect his love for music that rarely gets the chance to shine in clubs, whether that's punishingly gnarly breakbeats or glittering modern classical film scores. It's a symphony for all ravers that grew up but never grew out of chasing that buzz.

In March this year Sasha held a boat party at the Miami Music Conference. As dusk began to fall, Sasha took to the decks to debut some tracks from 'Airdrawndagger'. As its breakbeats and sub-bass kicked in and the wistful melodies drew the crowd of cynical industry heads towards the decks, hands edging into the air. 'Airdrawndagger' has passed its first dancefloor litmus test. The home listening exam follows soon. No revision necessary.

(C) Copyright Clubbing Magazine 2001-2002