Sasha, a name that almost all of us have grown up listening to. The legend who has been shaping the electronic dance music world with his impeccable productions and his seamless DJ'ing for decades. Everyone who listened to electronic music back in the 90s will remember Sasha and the revolution he brought to the scene. While he continued pushing the envelope in the electronic space, Sasha also introduced the world to the more raw, neo-classical rendition of his music under his re-Fracted project. After touring the world and playing at some of the biggest festivals and clubs in India, Sasha still remains someone whom we look up to. Recently the legend toured India for a 2-city tour which took him to Block 22 in Hyderabad and SulaFest in Nashik.
We caught up with Sasha (although we were lost for words when we met him) and invited him for a Sit-Down with us. We spoke about how he has managed to stay on top of the game for so many years, his label's upcoming compilation, his friendship with John Digweed and more. Read the full interview below.
Hello Sasha, it’s an honour to have you over at CME. We’ve been fans and admirers of your music since we can remember. How are you doing and how excited are you to play here at Sula Fest next week? How was your gig last night at Block 22 in Hyderabad?
Thank You! It's nice to be here. The gig in Hyderabad was great. Block 22 has a really nice sound system and the crowd there was amazing. I am happy that I am getting to do a club gig and a festival set as well on this tour. It feels great to be back in India after a long time and I am enjoying it.
It’s been almost a decade since you teamed up with John Digweed for the famous Delta Heavy tour of USA. The dance music community was treated with what is one of the most crafty partnership. What are some of the changes you have seen in the clubbing community since then?
That was the first time anyone did a full production tour of DJs in the States on such a massive scale. We had our own tour buses, sound system and top notch production which was great. Obviously the electronic dance music scene in US has exploded since then, the commercial side has got huge and there are festivals everywhere. Back then the places that we took the tour to had never heard such music on such amazing sound systems so the response was phenomenal. It felt kind of good to be leading the way. And my relationship with John just goes from strength to strength. We had a little break from touring and the last couple of years we are again doing shows together and our relationship is stronger than ever.
One of the most iconic record ever produced in dance music, XPANDER, tell us about how the idea was conceived.
The track actually just came into being pretty organically. We named it after the Oberheim Xpander Synthesizer which has been used in the track. Charlie May had written the RIFF but didn’t know what to do with it and then I had the idea to develop it for the club sound. That is how Xpander was conceived.
When we heard the Refracted version, it’s such a surreal take on the original through the orchestral rendition. How did you ideate the entire Refracted concept which eventually became a Sold out event?
Refracted came together after I did a record for Late Night Tales called Scene Delete. They loved the record and asked me if I wanted to do any live performances. They then invited me to the Barbican to watch Nils Frahm play with a live orchestra. I saw him blend electronic music with instruments. And I thought to myself ‘Okay, let’s try it!’ I sat down with my team and we brainstormed to see if we could pull it off. It was an incredible amount of work. It took a lot of preparation; I had to relearn how to play the piano as I had not played in a long time. And after all the efforts that went in, it still remains one of the best gigs of my life.
Back in 2011, the CUT ME DOWN remix contest stirred up quite a storm and you eventually picked 10-11 rework. And when we look at the present, you have someone like Yotto releasing a remix of your track. What evolution have you observed between the 2 generations of young producers and their approach towards dance music?
I don’t think there is much of a difference honestly. It is always exciting to work with young talent. In the remix competition there was a guy called ThermalBear who was one of the winners and since then he has gone on to become my production partners. I have worked with him in the studio since that competition so it definitely provides a great platform for young talent. We have got a really nice lineup for the current remix compilation as well and I am looking forward to see how it does.
There is a constant conflict between the 2 school of thoughts which makes it tough to choose between the art of DJing and Production. Young talents are usually very worked up on this front. With the rage of social media and short attention span of audience, it’s an added pressure. How would you guide the new league of artists who find it tough to maintain that perfect balance?
All I can say is that it is not easy. One of the constant battles in my career has been balancing studio time with touring time. If you put a record out there your name can get all over the world but if you are just DJ’ing it can be a very long slow curve in your career. So I feel it is necessary to put your name out there and obviously doing remixes and production is the quickest way to do that. I still struggle with it so it is definitely difficult. Give it time and be patient.
Last Night On Earth is celebrating it’s 100th release with a remix compilation. Which are some of the remixes that are your favourites from the compilation?
I really love the Radio Slave remix and the Nicole Moudaber remix.