Daniel Fahey caught up with celebrated DJ Sasha to talk about his V_rtrek show at Glastonbury, his upcoming Creamfields slot, the state of Ibiza and the changing face of the London clubbing scene.
As Glastonbury Festival celebrated its 40th anniversary, all the talk was on U2 pulling out, Kylie mucking in and Michael Eavis bleating out ‘Happy Birthday’ with Stevie Wonder. But, as always, away from the mainstream masses and the BBC-covered stages there were many other treats to be unearthed including the debut of the V_rtek Show by Welsh wunderkind Sasha.
The visual and audio extravaganza had been months in the making before finally being unleashed at the Glade stage on the Friday. “I’d done something like it before at the Big Day Out festival in Australia and I had the VJ playing live over the top of my set,” the Grammy-nominated producer tells Virtual Festivals from his hotel in Ibiza, “The V_rtek thing we did at Glastonbury was the first time we’ve actually synchronised everything up. So every kind of snare drum, every kick drum had a visual link to it and it was completely synchronised and I think it took it to another level. It was the first time we’ve done it like that and from now on we’re going to develop it and refine it.”
At times he’s like the Heston Blumenthal of electronic music, pushing the boundaries on what he can achieve both sonically and optically, reinventing his own sound and his own scene numerous times over the years. His current project had been over six months in the making, he told us: “It’s definitely something I’ve been working towards for a while. I’ve always felt that just turning up at a festival and DJing I felt that I hadn’t been putting on quite enough of a show. So it’s the first time I’ve turned up at a festival feeling really confident and really walking out on a stage and think ‘we’ve got this really nailed tonight.’ Obviously it depends on how the crowd reaction was but everything seemed to go really well.”
Following the success of his Glastonbury performance, the star now has Creamfields in his sights. Not able to quite reproduce the V_trek show entirely, the former Renaissance resident still isn’t resting on his laurels: “I’m playing in a tent that already has huge production in it anyway, so it’s not like I’m going to be doing something that stands out on my own. But we will be putting on our own visuals into that tent and making it synchronise into what they’re doing as much as possible.”
Revered by his contemporaries and admired by many a critic, Sasha still admits that he gets hints of nerves, especially when playing at a dance music festival compared to something as musically encompassing as Glastonbury. “If you’re playing after a string of DJs, the pressure is on to deliver something,” says the DJ, real name Alexander Coe, “every one seems to play their biggest records at festivals. So you definitely have to deliver a big sounding set at festivals.”
DJs aren’t the only ones that have the onus of delivering memorable performances in the live arena these days. In recent months artists like Florence and the Machine have echoed the point that onstage is now the way to make decent money from music. It’s something that Sasha sees happening with DJs too: “People aren’t really making money off of selling records or mix CDs anymore. People are much more into giving stuff away and building the vibe around themselves. So it’s really important, the live side of things, making sure that you’re booked out and you have loads of gigs lined up. Unless you’re someone like David Guetta and you manage to get a number one in America.”
But not everyone can be David Guetta. And despite DJing for over 20 years and reaching the same magical birthday as Glastonbury, Sasha is finding that he’s still as in demand as ever. “I think this year has been one of my busiest years so far, not just in terms of how many gigs I’m doing but the big gigs I’m doing,” he says, admitting that he’s “had some monstrous gigs.
“I still try and keep it very tidy. I think if I do three gigs in a weekend, that’s about my limit. If I hit a fourth gig I just don’t think I can give 100%. Sometimes when the festival shows where you’re playing early, like in Los Angeles I was playing 9.30 until 11 o’clock at night – it’s easy. If you’re doing some of the late European festival slots where you’re playing to three or four in the morning, it’s hard to do three or four of them on the trot.”?
His festival shows and big gigs may be keeping him busy, but he concedes that Ibiza is still a major marker in his summer schedule. “It will always be the epicentre unless they really change the laws ridiculously. But then again, things that are massive [in Ibiza] don’t necessarily translate to the rest of the world but I think in terms of music it is right on the cusp, it’s right at the forefront, it’s where music boundaries are pushed, it’s where all the DJs come and play their best sets and it’s the most exciting place to be. I think people have written it off so many times but I think everyone is in agreement now that coming to Ibiza with a good group of friends and having a great week here is probably one of the top experiences of clubbing in your life.”?
So with Ibiza still in good nick, how about the London clubbing scene, especially with murmurs of trouble for staple hotspot Fabric, the end of The End and the closing of Matter? "Fabric has had some trouble but I think they’re out of administration. There are some rumours of some new places opening up and there are warehouse parties happening – it’s vibrant. The superclub era of Gatecrasher and Cream - and all those giant clubs that people used to travel all over the country to go to – that’s changed now. I think that has been replaced by the events that people like Deadmau5 and 2ManyDJs and those guys put on and people coming to those events. But I think the clubbing scene is alive and kicking.”
Sasha will perform at this year’s Creamfields 2010 alongside David Guetta, Tiesto, Deadmau5, Paul van Dyk and many more when it heads to 28-29 August.
?Creamfields tickets are on sale now for £110 for the weekend with camping, hospitality and day tickets are also available.??
Click here to buy Creamfields festival tickets.
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