Sasha: It's time to deliver
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
has over the years done a lot of remixes and in 1998 he remixed Madonna
"Ray Of Light" and "Substitute For Love/ Drowned World".
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.
understand that you had a car accident earlier this year, are you fully
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.