Renowned DJ Sasha on electronic dance music
D J Sasha knows the value of the local. “Getting international DJs to come and play is fine, but it is very important to nurture home-grown talent,” he says. It's been a two-decade-long relationship with electronic dance music, being introduced to it at The Hacienda in Manchester, way back in 1988, before gang violence around the club made him change pastures. Since then, he's brought out several albums, remixed Madonna's “Ray of Light” (“I have to say I was jumping up and down the bed, when I got a call from Madonna”), earned a Grammy nomination for his remix of Felix da Housecat's ‘Watching Cars Go By', composed scores for PlayStation and television ( C.S.I., for example) and toured more than 30 countries.
It's back to basics for the DJ, at least for now. “I'm just having fun using CDs for a while. The main reason I switched was that the control I had built on Ableton died on me,” he confesses.
Sasha has been associated with spontaneity. A distinguishing factor , especially in live performances where there's a direct connect with the audience, but a source of uncertainty in things a little more formatted — like an album. This has mostly been the case with Sasha's albums too, such as ‘Involver' and ‘Airdrawndagger', where critics have been unable to pin down a peculiar style or character — which they say are the albums' biggest fault. He explains: “Every time I work on a mix compilation, the 74 minutes you're stuck on a CD becomes a trying process. Having a limitation becomes an art on the CD. Getting a 74-minute mix perfect is quite a challenge, and one I relish.”
A DJ's playground are the clubs, more so in the case of Sasha, who calls The Room in Tokyo, Cielo in New York, Avalon in Los Angeles and La Mania in Romania his favourites. Electronic has a deep bond with technology. Will there be a point where technology is unable to keep pace with human creativity? As Sasha would tell you, an electronic dance music DJ is still more of a musician than a technician. “Technology leads innovation in music. It leads to something new, and makes the job easier,” he says. “You don't have to use the latest cutting-edge tools. One of my best music (pieces) was made on drum machines. ”SHALINI SHAH