You have to put yourself out there and you have to put the groundwork in. Im involved in a couple of DJ agencies and I find it bizarre how quickly DJs go from being completely unknown to becoming stars. One minute theyll be playing for free and handing out free CDs, the next theyre demanding penthouses at the Four Seasons.
Speaking down the line from
People like myself and John (Digweed) and Carl Cox have put in years of playing for virtually no money, before things started to turn around, he continues, I guess a lot of people are getting into DJing not because of their passion for music, but because they see it as a vehicle to make money and become a celebrity quickly, so they want a piece of it.
Hes also got harsh words for money making ageing DJs refusing to step aside, suggesting a curious detachment from his own position of one of dance cultures highest paid and elevated celebrities of the last 20 years.
I really do believe that electronic music isnt going anywhere, it has to evolve to survive and there has to be new DJs coming through, there has to be 18 or 19 year old kids behind the decks at clubs and were still waiting for that next explosion of DJs to come through, he continues. It still seems like the big DJs are all the ones whove had a stranglehold on it for quite a while.
Superstar DJ talk aside, hes chatting to Skrufff today to promote his new mix CD Funadacion, an Abelton assisted collection hes uncharacteristically put together in just five days, in marked contrast to his usual practice.
Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): The fact that you mixed it all together in five days, was it an easy project?
Sasha: I just wanted to include the majority of the stuff that went down well at the residencies Ive been doing in
Skrufff: Now youre using Ableton, does that mean you dont make any mistakes? Is it possible to?
Sasha: Actually you can make many mistakes on that too if youre not concentrating on what you are doing. Any activity forwarding technology has aspects that will make the actual job easier, but others that will complicate things. Cell phones and the internet for example, were supposed to make our lives easier, instead I find that they are just complicating our lives now.
Skrufff: I often hear from DJs who insist on plying vinyl only or are really vinyl obsessive . .
Sasha: Anytime theres a leap forward in technology, youll find people wholl resist the changes. There are certain clubs that still only have vinyl decks. DC10 I think doesnt yet have a CD player. In the end, its just one way of playing music; its a tool, a way of manipulating sounds. I dont care if its coming from a computer, off a needle, or whatever.
Skrufff: The joke they always say is I dont want to look like Im checking my email, how do get round this?
Sasha: Ive built my own controller for Ableton. As a tool its very much hands on, and pretty much everything thats on the computer screen I can manipulate with a controller which looks very much like a DJ mixer, but its covered in buttons. I think anyone that sees me playing on it will realize that what Im doing involves quite a lot of work.
Skrufff: How do you find your tracks generally these days?
Sasha: I look in many different places, I have a ISP Server set up, people upload tracks on it, and I download them from the Internet. I try to find tracks wherever I can.
Skrufff: You are based in
Sasha: I have been for the first half of this year.
Skrufff: Do you go to record shops still?
Sasha: I still buy loads of vinyl. 70% of the music I buy is still on vinyl, but things are definitely changing in that direction because of the download sites available these days.
Skrufff: How many new records in a typical week are you picking up?
Sasha: Between fourteen and eighteen a week typically, though some weeks youre just bombarded with music. When I was putting this album together I seemed to be getting a hundred tracks a week, other weeks its more like thirty or forty. Since Ive started playing in a digital format, Im definitely turning through music at a much higher rate. When Im in airports or planes, I use that time to test things out on my laptop and play around with the tracks. Im much faster in organizing my music in this way, rather than when I was just using vinyl. With vinyl you need to get your boxes together, then go away and tour. Sometimes if you are away on tour and have a box of records sent out, you have to find a pair of decks, or borrow a pair of decks, or go to the club early and listen to music. Its definitely become a lot easier for me now that Ive actually got everything on a digital format.
Skrufff: So many people are moving to
Sasha: Not really. I dont feel an affiliation with
Skrufff: What made you choose
Sasha: Personal reasons (abruptly). Ive had a connection with
Skrufff: I know a lot of people see Twilo as representing the last golden era of
Sasha: I think
Skrufff: Wheres the golden club at the moment?
Sasha: Im not sure. Right now, one of my favourite places remains Fabric in
Skrufff: Almost all of you guys seem to be playing every single weekend, touring the world, playing two/three gigs a weekend .
Sasha: I try not to do that. I will do three or four shows a week when I have an album coming out or other promotion going on, as I need to be in many different markets in a short space of time, but its not my favourite way to do things. Im most comfortable doing a Friday and a Saturday night and I try not to do midweek shows. I also try not to pile my weekends up unless theres something very special happening. Sometimes, in the middle of summer, you might be offered three or four shows in the same week that all sound fantastic; maybe a festival on Sunday in
Skrufff: Youre playing Exit this year in
Sasha: Thats right, and Im really looking forward to it.
Skrufff: Do you see dance music/electronic music as being a genuine force for change? Do you see it as more than entertainment? The Exit festival has a very political subtext.
Sasha: There are definitely certain parts of the world where dance music its become huge because it has also been embraced as a cultural movement, like it happened in
Skrufff: Youre doing
Sasha: I had such a great time there last year, that Im really looking forward to it again. It was a beautiful day out in the sunshine, I was playing when the sun was going down and there was a great atmosphere. It was great for me personally to do a gig like that in
Skrufff: Bomb The Bass star Tim Simenon was recently acquitted of date rape charges, have you come across people trying to set you up or anything like that?
Sasha: God, I hope not. Ive never had to deal with anything like that. I dont think I am on the celebrity radar enough to warrant that kind of attention hopefully. If I walk into a nightclub, I guess anywhere in the world, people will recognize me and I would get attention, but its very rare that outside a club I get noticed or bothered. I like it like that to be honest, I couldnt possibly handle the whole C list celebrity bullshit that goes on in the
Skrufff: Do you meet many of these people doing gigs or being in a backstage area these days?
Sasha: To be honest, I dont know. In LA a lot of the English actors living out there will come down and hang out, but these days I dont. In
Skrufff: Do you see a point where you are going to step aside from DJing?
Sasha: Its difficult to say. I cant imagine touring the way I do when Ill be 40 or 45. Ill probably do what Danny Tenaglia did, find a city, settle and do regular things. Though traveling is something I really thrive on, I also find it quite exhausting. Having gigs back to back, when its airport, hotel, club, airport, hotel, club, airport, hotel, club, for weeks on end, it definitely sends you a bit insane. I cant imagine keeping that up in the future, but whether Ill stop DJing completely I dont know yet.
Fundacion is out now on Global Underground.
Sasha DJ Dates:
02 II Muretto,
09 Exit Festival,
15 Glade Festival,
16 Air GK,
28 Space ,
05 Dance Valley,
06 Dance Valley,
25 Space ,
28 Tribal Gathering,
Jonty Skrufff (Skrufff.com)