Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sasha interview

I interviewed Sasha a few weeks ago to talk about his new Invol2ver album. The transcript of the interview is below. You can also listen to it here. The audio file contains the interview with tracks from Invol2ver and the emFire collection mixed underneath. Sasha is touring North America this fall and will be at the Guvernment in Toronto on November 8.

Philip Downey: Your new Invol2ver album is out, and it fits in between artist album, remix project and DJ mix. Can you explain a bit more about it?

Sasha: The new Invol2ver album is a sort of hybrid album, between a compilation album and artist album. There's about five original tracks on the album and all the others have been remixed by us as well. It's all about trying to find the elements to create a perfect 70-minute mix compilation. It's what I've always tried to do. But now, with the technology I can get in the studio and pull people's records apart, and rebuild them in things like Ableton, and it means you can get each moment perfect on the record. Or you try too, anyway.

Philip: Most of the tracks you selected, came from the last two or three years of releases?

Sasha: Right.

Philip: Some of the tracks I already knew, like Telefon Tel Aviv and Apparat. To me it's not like you just added beats to them, they were real reconstructions.

Sasha: Yes, we remixed all the songs. Some we took further away from the originals than others. Some of the songs, the original parts are so good we just put sounds behind them and let the original parts come through, but then other mixes, like the Ladytron track for example, we just used a snippet of the vocal and really built our own track beneath it. So it just depends, each track is different.

Philip: In the studio, this was you, Charlie May and others?

Sasha: Yes, Charlie May, Duncan Forbes, the guys from Spooky, they're old friends of mine, then Barry Jamieson, who engineered the album used to be in a band called Evolution, and then just lots of other people. A guy called Leo Leite who did a lot of the drum programming. We just had people come in and help on certain aspects. It was definitely a collaborative team project.


Philip: And was it a month of hard work or was it spread over a long time?

Sasha: God, I wish it took a month! No, it was like six months of work. If I could muck out an album like this in a month's time I'd be a very rich man.

Philip: What have you heard from fellow DJs and artists about this release?

Sasha: It's been really positive, the sales have been great considering the state of the music industry. It was #1 in the UK and U.S. iTunes dance charts. Critically too, a lot of the reviews have been really strong, so I think it's been received really well. I think in general, people have really been into it. It's great, I'm used to having my records received with a fairly lukewarm attitude, but a few months down the line people start to say how much they like it. Usually it doesn't happen right away that people say they like it.

Philip: So it's instantly grabbed a lot of people?

Sasha: Yes, I think it's a bit different from everything else that's out there at the moment. As well, I think most DJ mix compilations have gone down a certain route the last couple of years. I guess it's different from what else is available, so people really warmed to it.

Philip: You mentioned Ableton was a big part of making this album, it's also for your live sets as well, is that something you're continuing with?

Sasha: Yes, that's definitely become my favourite. It's great to have the same format that I use to play out live as the same format in my studio. There's definitely a lot of times on the album where I set my computer up just as if DJing, and I just started jamming ideas over the top of some of the tracks we were working on, when we were struggling sometime.

Philip: It's a program I've used as well and it really is so easy to change things around.

Sasha: Yes, it's a very flexible program.

Philip: I think I remember hearing during your spring tour of North America, that your Maven controller died. Is it back in action?

Sasha: In Miami, there was some kind of short circuit within it – that was the end of that. There was something inside that got loose and shorted out. It got sent, it got fixed and double-checked, so that's not going to happen again. It's the only problem I've ever had with this one.

Philip: I'm near Toronto, and we missed you this spring. Something happened, you didn't get there.

Sasha: Yes, disaster, my passport went missing. I don't know if it was stolen or I misplaced it, but somewhere between Miami and driving up to Canada it went missing. It had all my work visa stuff in it so I couldn't cross the border. I had to fly home. They basically dropped me off in the middle of nowhere, because we only realized about 30 miles away from the border what was happening. So they dropped me off in the middle of nowhere and I had to make my way back to Detroit, and basically I had to catch a flight back to England and go to the embassy and get a new passport and get my visas worked out and then get back to Seattle for the tuesday night. It was a real mess.

Philip: That's a lot to manage, crossing oceans and getting to gigs.

Sasha: It was a week away from the end of the tour, so I was pretty exhausted already. It definitely made the last few days of the tour a little difficult for me.

Philip: How did this summer's Ibiza season go?

Sasha: It was really good for me. I mean, the opening of Space was one of the best parties I've done in Ibiza for a long time and there were some great events – Amnesia, Space, just a really good summer for me, the music, the kind of music I play, it's been a really good year for me.

Philip: You're married and have a son now, is that correct?

Sasha: Yes.

Philip: How has that changed your touring and artistic outlook?

Sasha: It hasn't.

Philip: No? So you're still getting out the same amount?

Sasha: Yes. Obviously I took time off when that was happening, but I've had the busiest year I've had in a long time.

Philip: What are you looking forward to for this fall tour through North America?

Sasha: It's going to be good to get back to the States after a really great summer in Europe, and I'm feeling inspired. Of course, I missed the Toronto show, so I'm looking forward to coming there and reconnecting with the crowd. After the release of the album people are going to know that music now, and it's going to be fun to come to the States and drop some of those tracks off the Invol2ver record.

Philip: So you're still using them, you haven't put them away. I'll be looking forward to the Toronto show. In the spring I wanted to hear Coma really loud, live.

Sasha: Yes, we've got some new mixes of that done so I'll be playing some of that on the tour for sure.

Philip: I'll be looking forward to that in November. Thank you very much.

Sasha: Thanks for your support.

- Philip Downey, October 2, 2008