Bassnectar on dubstep, Skrillex and haircuts

Categories: DJ Q&A
Bassnectar_Dave_Eckblad.jpg
Photo by Dave Eckblad
Bassnectar in Minneapolis
"It was a much different world back then," Bassnectar (a.k.a. Lorin Ashton) says over the phone in our second conversation about dance music since 2006. This was before dubstep was the sound of choice in high schools across the country and and when it's obscure first iterations were either heavily ragga influenced or ethereal. One thing that's remained the same since then though is Lorin's incredible popularity among the more, shall we say, "free spirit" dance fans (Lorin himself was raised in a commune), and the fact that he hasn't had a haircut in more than a decade. Ordinarily this would be kind of gross, but it's become almost a stage prop at this point.  

See Also:
Bassnectar at the Varsity / Photos
Bassnectar at Epic: Halloween Costumes and craziness

bassnectar-eckblad.jpg
Photo by Dave Eckblad
Here's more from our interview previewing his show at the Target Center Saturday.

How do you think dubstep's origin pushed you to the forefront of EDM?

I think it was the perfect storm of a lot of things. It had to do with building a strong background collectively in the Bay Area rave scene and before that the death metal scene, growing steadily and slowly to be at a point to exp[lode. At that time, I had a really loyal fanbase and a packed touring schedule -- as well as a really unique take on electronic dance music. I have a classic understanding of where the music came from and its foundations. I've always been kind of off the typical beaten path from the standard club or rave DJ, but I was intoxicated by this music before it was even called that.

What's your reaction to dubstep's rise?

It was old news to me when it exploded into popularity. I think it's an exceptionally powerful and catchy and unique sound, so it was more just like, "Oh yeah, that makes sense." I was impressed and surprised at the appeal and the intensity to such a large audience. To watch young college and late high school kids freak out to this stuff was not really something I'd anticipated, but when that began, it was like, "Oh! Great, then I have a special treat for you."

MPLS has become a big dupstep city but is very segmented by age. Is it like that everywhere?

No, I know that's true for the Skrillexes and stuff, for me though that crowd is really well mixed. You've got old school bassheads and everyone in between. To have older and younger people is really fantastic -- I'm honored that they're coming out. I'm interested in helping younger people know where the scene came from and what the values are. It's really not about drugs for me, it's about music and connecting with people through interactive elements.

Is this EP teasing something bigger?

The real simple answer is -- I don't and haven't created albums the way a normal band would, I never take a break,tour, and then re-emerge with a new body of work. I tour full time and have for over a decade and full time means I'm usually only home for only a month a year. It's been that way for over 10 years without exception. I'm writing all the time, I'm on the road running around throughout the week. What I'm creating isn't music I'd want to submit for a Grammy or for press for comment. I write it because i love it and I hope my fanbase will love it. I'm basically creating music for the tour and a lot of the times that material is simply reworking old material and remixing old records that used to bang in like 2003. I will usually put out a release before touring.

How would you describe your shows to someone who has never been to one?

 It's like the beauty and the beast. I love playing with energy and intensity that feels explosive but also in the context of a friendly and safe environment amongst friends. It's really an interactive experience of bringing people and music together but with an extreme heaviness and intensity.

What's a standout element of your show?

The tour crew that I'm on the road with right now is made of 20 veterans and I've literally never heard a better sound system than the one in my show. It's thick but not too loud. We don't spare a single dollar or minute of our free time to bring people the best experience possible.

What city would you play if you had to pick only one forever?

If it was for the rest of my life I guess I'd choose whatever city I was living in. I really don't like the thought of that! There is so much excitement and diversity in different cities and collections of people. I don't like to pick favorites. I love the major citites and the boondock towns. I love the massiveness and the tiny rooms -- I love it all.

Quick-fire word association time. Tell me what word or phrase comes to mind.

Vinyl: Old.
Social Media Trolls: Heinous.
Pasties at raves: I don't notice them.
Burning Man: Hot.
Haircuts. 15 years ago.
Skrillex: Deserves all the love he gets
Energy drinks: Love green tea.
Travel essential: A device that creates a sound that helps me sleep.
Home: A distant memory
Barack Obama: Could be better but definitely better than Romney.


Bassnectar plays the Target Center Saturday, November 3. All ages. Tickets $36/General Admission.



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