[Artist Profile] Ashley Casselle has been around the globe, from LA to Moscow, warehouse to beach-club, to share his gift of music. With multiple projects and obviously so many more to come, Ashley has proven his wide comprehension of music styles and production ability over the years. He has delved into the world of live bands, techno, and house, to name a few, and made a mark, to say the least, in each. Below, you will find our exlusive interview with Ashley Casselle and his brand new mix series called, ‘Dayrise Enterprise’ featured this month in DJ Mag.
Much of the techno and house on offer here sparkles and flickers with an attention to detail buried deep within the spacey grooves and blissed out dubs, music seemingly made as much for a comfy session on the sofa with your favourite space cadet as it is pumping out of a Funktion1 soundsystem in a club.
Interview with Ashley Casselle:
Where are you from and where do you live now?
‘I am originally from a small town in England called Hastings but I have lived in London for a while. Although recently I’ve moved from the slightly hip and eccentric Notting Hill to an area called Putney (south of the Thames) and I don’t really feel as if I’m in London anymore. There’s a castle like building, a stately home, lots of greenery, parakeets (rumour has it that they bred from escaped birds of Keith Moon’s), a high street much like any British town and lots and lots of people in simply the wrong jeans.’
How was the music scene growing up? How has it influenced your music and shaped you into the producer/dj you are today?
‘I do believe that what you listen to as you grow up kinda mixes and mutates in the mind and comes out as a grand melding of what you’ve been exposed to. As a kid I was as excited by Chic and Parliament as I was by Kraftwerk or The Smiths. I can remember being a little boy and literally screaming when Adam and the Ants came on tv. I think that passion about music, when it grabs you like that, is something you want to echo as a musician and producer later down the line. Of course when the electronic revolution took place in the UK years later I was all ears, I found my place on the dance floor and can easily say that hearing records like Ron Trent’s ‘Altered States’ changed my life and, in turn, the music I wanted to make at the time.’
How is the music scene where you live today?
‘London has always benefited from diverse and thriving music scenes and I’d say that you can find pretty much any kind of music, club, band or genre right here in the city. For a while, parts of East London have been enjoying the flourishing all day/night deep house and techno parties, you almost feel as if you’re tripping over yourself for top flight djs from Berlin, US or UK in these small, cool bustling and pumping warehouse-like locations.’
When did music production become a serious part of your life? When did you know that you were going to continue on doing this professionally?
‘I’d made a couple of tracks and EPs already and been djing for a short while, but it wasn’t until the tail end of the 90’s that I signed my Ashtrax alias to Deviant Records, a label run by a man called Rob Deacon with a good ear for cutting edge electronica, as well as more obvious stuff. There at the label I had a series of lucky breaks, one of them literally being my somewhat odd dubby breakbeat remix of (then labelmate) PVD’s ‘For an Angel’. It was a challenge to remix something so obviously large and commercial. This led to Van Dyk taking me on as his opening dj, getting me to play before him at his gargantuan gigs and exposing me to a lot of people, many of whom were more open than I expected to my deep techy grooves and spacey beats. Literally a couple of months prior to that I’d been playing a tiny deep house night for 150 people in West London, so it was culture shock in the extreme. And quite quickly after that I settled into the idea of me taking a box of records, my headphones and a bunch of clothes around the world, thanking my lucky stars I’d been given the chance to do this dream job at the start of the millennium.’
Do you prefer to work alone or do you like to do collaborations?
‘I always say I work best in a production partnership and sometimes three, when vocals etc are involved. I’ve worked with some amazing collaborators recently, Asad Rizvi is simply one of the most talented and diverse producers out there, we’ve built up a decent number of tracks and remixes together of which I am really proud. We touch on areas we might not have were we working alone, ie disco and weird wonky house for example. We push ourselves further down the experimental path, a bit like a couple of scientists delving deeper into our musical spectrum, giving each other confidence to go further and try harder. I’ve also been working with a guitarist and singer called Nato Stark, the act is called The Amourists and it’s inspired by my selfish desire to mix up The Cure, Kate Bush, B52’s and The Smiths. It has little to do with my house/techno music yet still has some of the elements taken from there, ie interesting beats, fx and dictaphone noises.’
How important is where one lives for a career in music production?
‘I think these days there’s less of a need to live slap bang in the middle of, say, London or New York if you want to make it in the music industry. Some of the best producers in the world are tucked away in the hills somewhere and probably make more music due to fewer distractions. And as we all know, the Internet provides the means in transporting and delivering the music, whether it be to a label for signing or just straight to the consumer. I also believe that where you make your records can have an effect on one’s output, I hear records from Scandinavia for example that just sound as if that’s where they’ve come from.’
What advice would you give to aspiring producers?
‘Don’t be scared to rifle through the past, be inspired by what you like, mix your influences up to make something new. Don’t just copy what is selling well this week on Beatport or Juno, or try and fit into some ‘current’ sound as you’ll be forever chasing your tail. Jamie Jones for instance sounds unique because he’s found a style he’s developed over time, mixing a vintage Chicago house feel with a cool modern oddity. I think too many people start to mimic this instead of following his example and looking for both old and new ideas to put into the pot’
Can you tell us one record or song that has changed your life?
‘The Smiths ‘This Night Has Opened My Eyes’. It has changed my life more than once, in ways I won’t go into now. The music in this record is exactly what the lyric says, ie it’s neither happy nor sad but rather that gorgeous ashen grey area in between, where all my favourite music sits.’
What are the best things about being on the road? Worst? Best moment on the road?
‘The things I like best about touring, djing etc are what others seem to dislike the most. I enjoy airports, just arriving early gives me a thrill and puts me in an excellent mood. The worst experience was possibly djing during an earthquake in the Philippines a few years back, the Technics 1210s only jumped twice which is amazing considering it was 8 on the richter scale! Another bad experience was having my weekend’s dj fees removed from me by airport officials in Kiev Ukraine, I was REALLY pissed off about that. Best moments, there have been so many. I love playing at The Standard rooftop parties in LA, always a treat. Playing at Womb in Japan, again a complete marvel and joy. And spinning to 3000 Brazilians at an open air club near Florinopolis overlooking the sea should get mention too, I think.’
Is there anything special coming up here in the near future that people should know about?
‘I have been working hard on that most glorious thing, the mix cd, recently. I’ve been developing a sound which is one avenue of my more housey tech music. I call it headphone house, Guillaume (of Cotu Dumonts fame) might call it bedroom house (laughs), but one thing is for certain, it does sound as perfect coming from your i-pod as it does from a Funktion 1 soundsystem in a club somewhere. Textured and a bit trippy, yet accessible too. The mix is called ‘Dayrise Enterprise’ and after putting on a couple of daytime parties under this banner with the likes of Bill Brewster, Stuart Patterson and Asad at Shoreditch’s East Village (and the occasional obscure Eastern European radio broadcast!) I thought I’d make the sound my own, it’s truly what I’m about as a dj and if I’m totally honest, where I’ve been heading all along. I’ll be doing a regular radio slot based around this music too.’
We’ve been hearing some of your new productions in playlists and podcasts (Autobrennt for example) recently such as ‘Ceefox’, tell us about these?
‘I’ve been working on some tracks, got them to a decent stage that I’m happy with and now they’re starting to filter through into the playlists of certain djs. I really hate that ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ notion of dance music in general, the sheer volume of tracks coming out in all genres is quite overwhelming. I like to think I make music that lasts a while longer, often the most exciting thing for me is when just a handful of djs have your tune and they’re building it up over a period of time, before it’s signed or indeed comes out. ‘Ceefox’ is a track I wrote with Asad Rizvi and is proving quite popular with djs such as Andrew Weatherall and Inxec, which excites me no end. It’s just a tight groove, bouncy bass with a kind of 70’s string sound, it’s on the Dayrise Enterprise mix and really of sums up where my head is at for that lush housey techno sound at the moment.’
And what is Ashmachine?
‘Ashmachine is a live dj mix series I’ve started, I’ve been archiving my live dj mixes. I’ve been recording and collecting my dj sets from around the globe for a while now and I’m releasing them as a series in those usual places, such as Soundcloud. I like to review what I’ve done and only the best get through the net! I’ve never been one of these djs who just floods the internet with mix after mix, it becomes kinda routine and I think it can be counter productive. I want everything that goes out to be of only the highest quality, otherwise I feel like I’d be cheating myself and those who listen to the music.’
What is your drink of choice?
‘At the moment I’d say strong coffee over anything alcoholic, although I love a pint of lager like the next man. I think coffee helps me more, though anyone who has worked with me after the third cup might disagree.’
Tell us about your ‘Dayrise Enterprise’ mix.
”Dayrise Enterprise 01′ contains a couple of my latest tracks, collaborations with Asad and a new co-producer/edit fiend Pawel J. I’ve chosen tracks/remixes by Ryan Crosson, Yakine, Dan Curtin and Jimpster which all slide together nicely. I love working on ‘studio’ dj mixes as the world does rapidly become your oyster, everything tends to get edited, tweaked and remoulded and then hey presto you have one hour long track! It took about two months on and off, which is almost tantamount to madness if you consider that when you’re djing live it’s there, ready mixed and done, goodnight. But I’ve enjoyed making it and it’s possibly the best thing I’ve done in a while. And I’ve been lucky to be approached by DJ Mag to officially release it in their ‘DJ Mag Presents’ series, it’ll be up on their DJ Mag Facebook page on December 3rd. I feel it’s quite a bold move for me, considering the amount of fans the page has and also how many of those might either love or hate it. But then I’ve never worried about that, I just have to be honest in my own music and be true to my own choice of sounds. Anything after that is considered a bonus.’
Tracklisting Dayrise Enterprise 01:
1. Pat Metheny Group – ‘Dismantling Utopia’ (Ashley Casselle and Pawel J re-edit)
2. Casselle Asad and Pawel J – ‘Learning2Swim’
3. James Kumo – ‘Space Dancer’ (Dan Curtin’s Planetary remix)
4. Ashley Casselle and Asad Rizvi – ‘Ceefox’
5. Ryan Crossan – ‘Look no Further’
6. Guillaume and the Cocteau Dumonts – ‘Ubiquitous Gaze’
7. Nina Kraviz -‘Pain In the Ass’ – (Alexkid Remix)
8. Ryan Crossan – ‘Gotham Road’ – (Deepa Biri remix)
9. Yakine ‘Captor of Sin’
10. ME- ‘Empire State’
11. Sheharzad – ‘Yalla Yalla’ (Henrik Schwarz remix, Casselle and Pawel J re-edit)
12. Patrice Baumel ‘Lovers’
13. Jimpster ‘Alsace and Loraine’
14. Jimpster ‘Alsace and Loraine’ (Josh Wink Interpretation #2)
15. Pat Metheny Group – ‘Dismantling Utopia’ (Ashley Casselle and Pawel J reprise)