After-dark inquiry: Sasha

The clubland kingpin plays an intimate set at Cielo.

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He's one of the world's original clubland superstars, but even after two decades, Sasha is showing no signs of letting up. On Sunday, February 19, the Bangor, Wales--born spinner—who now splits his time between London and NYC—will play an intimate set at Cielo for the crew.

Besides traveling the world to DJ, what have you been up to lately?

I've been quite busy working on the third installment of the Involver series, actually. So far, its sound is closer to the first one than the second one

For those who aren't familiar with what Involver is all about, can you give a bit of explanation?

It's just my take on the evolution of the DJ compilation. For the first one [in 2004] I had signed a deal to do a compilation, but I felt like I needed to do something more than just mix a few tracks together and make a good mix. So instead, I got the parts, the stems, of the songs I wanted to use, and kind of remixed and reedited them, and turned the whole thing into a hybrid of a DJ compilation, a remix album and an album of my own productions. And the first two were received very well; people constantly were asking me if I was going to do another one. So when it came around tothinking of what I wanted to do this year, a new one seemed like the logical choice.

I had the feeling back when that first Involver came out that people almost seemed to be taking you for granted, and its release reminded people of how good you were and why they liked you in the first place.

When you've been around for a while, people tend to forget about you. They're always looking for the youngest, newest, brightest talent. So it's good to remind people every once in a while that I'm still here. [Laughs]

Yeah, you have been doing this for well over two decades now, haven't you?

Yes, and that's a lot of gigs!

Speaking of gigs, I happened to catch you at last fall's Amsterdam Dance Event playing with your old cohorts from the Tyrant days, Craig Richards and Lee Burridge.

That was a tough gig. I had the worst day of travel that day; it had taken me 14 hours to get from Moscow to Amsterdam, and I was absolutely shattered. I left the Moscow gig at 6am, headed to the airport, got stuck in five hours of traffic, the plane got cancelled...I got to Amsterdam at midnight and headed straight to the club.

I saw you as you walked in, and you did look a bit tired

Yeah, I was fucked. It was the very end of my summer touring schedule, so I was tired anyway, but that was the gig that broke the camel's back. I still enjoyed playing, but I have to admit my energy level was a little bit low for that one.

It was a good party nonetheless. As will be, I'm guessing, this party that you're spinning at Cielo, which is a rather intimate venue.

It's a lovely, intimate venue.

With the exception of one date at Pacha, all of your New York gigs in recent years have been at smaller venues. Is there a reason for that?

Yeah, I've done a Brooklyn warehouse here, a boat party there.... I just haven't found a larger room in New York where I'd like to do a residency or anything, so I've been doing lots of little one-off parties. I booked the Cielo gig specifically because I knew I was going to be in the middle of all the Involver stuff, and I figured this would be a good opportunity to test some things out that I've been working on in the studio. And what better room to test things out than Cielo? It's an intimate environment, the sound system is fantastic and there'll be no pressure on me to be playing anthems. And at Cielo, I'll be able to see how the mixes are connecting with the floor.

You almost can't avoid seeing how your music works when you play Cielo.

Yeah, you're virtually out on the dance floor, aren't you? And the sound system will let you know if you haven't got the balance of the kick drum right or your basslines right. I already know what will happen: I'll play a load of stuff on Sunday, go back in on Monday and change loads of stuff around. I'll also be playing a few new things that we have coming up on the new label, Last Night on Earth.

Yes, I was going to ask you about that. I remember reading about close to a year ago that you were starting the label, but I didn't hear very much after that.

Well, the first track ["Cut Me Down" featuring Krister Linder] came out right around the time of the Ibiza Music Summit, which would have been last May. Then the next track didn't come for a while. It's just taken us a bit of time to get our ducks in a row, but it's all taking shape now. We're having a lot of people coming to us with music from the kind of artists that we want to be associated with, the kind of sound that we want. There are a couple of tracks I've done with James Teej, for instance, which I'll be testing out at the gig. We've even got an album project in the pipeline from a band called Ghosting Season. So from here onwards, you can expect to hear a lot from the label. Most of the releases are going to be full releases, with vinyl, but we'll be doing digital stuff as well.

Speaking as a bit of a Luddite, I'm glad to hear about the vinyl.

We've got an amazing design company, Cure Studio, which is doing such beautiful artwork for the vinyl releases.

You picked a Scuba track, "Never," as one of your top tunes of 2011, and you've also given props to Maceo Plex.

Yeah, they were my two favorite artists from last year,

Are there any other relatively new artists that you're particularly enjoying right now?

Well, James Teej, of course, and a lot of My Favorite Robot stuff has been really fantastic. We've actually signed a track of theirs for the label. Who else? Hmm, I should know, I've been deejaying all this stuff! Oh, this isn't on a club tip, but I really like Holy Other; it's this really tripped-out ambient stuff.

Do you have time to listen to much non-dance music?

I try to, but sometimes you get overwhelmed. I probably get sent 150 tracks a week. If I don't stay on top of it—like if I take a little time off to work in the studio—I'll have like 600 tracks to search through when I'm looking for music for my gigs. So sometimes there just isn't the time to just have music on for enjoyment; I'm constantly in processing mode. I do try, at least a little, to have music on when I'm at home, and then it's not necessarily club stuff—but it's still usually electronic stuff. I guess I'm really always looking for tracks to remix, for people to collaborate with...just for ideas.

After all this time, how do you keep going?

To be honest, I don't know what else what I would do! I kind of dropped out of school to pursue deejaying, but I had no idea it was going to turn into a career. This is really all I've done for 20 years. And retiring really isn't an option.

You're too young for that, anyway.

Oh, absolutely.

Sasha plays . at Cielo Sunday, Feb 19, with Blkmarket Membership's Taimur & Fahad opening up.

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