45hzMIX011 – Asa
July 22, 2011 § Leave a comment
Asa is from the South West and its pretty hard to pin him down musically. This mix is one of the longest and most diverse we’ve hosted to date on here. From purple, grime riddims to tear out dubstep, folk and two step, Asa stepped up to the plate big time. We talk Foley techniques, scene division and how not to screw your ears up.
Easy man, how are things?
Hey, things are all right. I’ve got a mountain of production work weighing down on me and I’m in the process of recovering from a perforated ear drum at the moment but other than that I’m all good.
Could you give a little introduction on how you got into production and music in general? Is it something that’s been there since you were a young lad, or was it your formative teen years that had the biggest impact on you musically? Was it always electronic music that moved you?
Well I guess it was pretty straight forward, I took on a lot of influences from family members. I was the youngest of three brothers so in the house sometimes it was as if there were five rooms playing five different types of music from varying time periods; it all contributes towards your influences whether you are aware of it or not. There were no other ‘musicians’ in the house really, though my mum could sing well. I ended up spending time in choirs and all that sort of thing at school, taught myself piano and then discovered sequencing. So yeah, I got exposed to a bit of everything. It really was a balanced upbringing in that respect, being simultaneously influenced by a lot of folk sounding stuff, metal bands, and a lot of garage & grime amongst whatever else my brothers were listening to at the same time. It was definitely a good thing in hindsight. Consciously or sub-consciously it has definitely influenced me, all of it has.
Your use of sampling and layering reminds me a lot of Burial and Zomby in places, making your tunes have that emotional depth that so many seem to fail miserably at. Would you say this is something you set out to achieve?
Ahhh, being mentioned in the same sentence as those guys is a bit daunting. But yeah, a lot of the time the bulk of the music I write is about telling little stories, or approaching things from a much more ‘songwriting’ perspective. But I don’t want to be pigeon holed as the sort of producer who only has that ‘one sound’, that’s the main thing. I realised recently that I wanted to make sure that people knew I write a lot of different types of music altogether, I can certainly appreciate anything when it’s done well. As long as the production value is of a very high level or the producers’ music is so unique, I can always appreciate it. I don’t have many other friends who make music with the same intention of having that real ’emotional depth’ all the time, it’s hard to explain without sounding pretentious but you can always tell well someone’s music comes is just an extension of their personality – when it’s really honest, something like that anyway.
The people I know and work with most tend to be known for their work as being some of the heavyweights in dubstep, where as I just like to do my own thing and bounce off of their creativity. I am completely against the whole segregation and setting up of “sub genre’s”. I mean “future garage”, now you can’t tell me that’s one of the most stupid tags you have ever come across? I don’t want to be associated with that, do people put on “Future Garage” events? I find it funny to be honest; but not to go off on a tangent or anything…
As I said, I do my own thing. Me and all my friends do. We inspire each other creatively on such a regular basis, because we are normally all working on such contrasting projects to one another which is a really positive thing.
The use of foley techniques seems to be prevalent through most of your tunes too, could you ever see yourself going down that route in the future? Sound designing for films and videogames and such like?
Well really creative sound design and such things are just a natural progression for any producer, I should hope so anyway. I certainly don’t see the point in always using these ‘traditional’ drum samples. I mean, there is no right or wrong way of going about making music. But yeah I guess the foley stuff is a distinguishing part of my process, you have to find a good balance of course. There is no point using pots and pans for ALL percussion work that’s for sure. But why does say, a snare, actually have to be a sample of a snare drum someone has picked out of a sample pack they found on a torrent? Even if you just invest in a half decent microphone and start recording your own sounds, it will do you the world of good in the long run. I don’t see how anyone could create their own ‘production palette’ without doing so. That’s the best way I can explain it. I’d choose my clattering cutlery recordings over a hi hat any day of the week. So yeah, for sure. That is definitely a route me and the producers I work with are exploring in terms of long term goals at least.
You just did a mix for DINmag, your choice of tunes is slightly different for this mix you did for us. When you DJ, do you base your sets on the feel of the crowd and the room, or do you go into them sort of knowing where you want to take things?
Well it’s always dependant on the context of the event, so it’s all down to the crowds reaction for sure, but I just try to ensure that everything is in key and I only really play my tunes and my friends’ tunes. That is the best thing really, I can play more or less a set of all my own music wherever if it’s a laid back environment with an open minded crowd or if it’s a room full of amphetamine fuelled teenagers. Which is a good thing I think.
I don’t actively seek out any new music any more because there is so much going on around me that I have a consistent supply of music from ridiculously talented and innovative producers. A really cool by-product of getting a bit more exposure is that we are lucky to have some very talented new producers approach us these days. it’s just the cycle of music between friends, the community side of it is still strong in our camp and more & more producers are upping there game – it’s all really productive and most importantly it’s still really exciting still!
For this mix I wanted to restore a bit of faith in the the ‘heavier’ side of dubstep to some extent, or something like that anyway. As always I’m kind of sitting on the next few months worth of projects and such things, there are always things you’re just not allowed to play until certain dates and all this kind of thing. This is just a mix of some recent bits and previews of a couple of upcoming releases. I think the only side of my music I didn’t bring out in this mix is all the 100bpm stuff.
With what you said about sub-genres, can you see the same happening to dubstep as what happened to jungle and drum and bass? Where it splinters off to the point no-one really cares any more and the scene sort of dies because there are too many little communities where all the artists sound the same?
I’ve been asked this question a fair few times before, sub genre’s and such things have reached a pretty ridiculous point these days in a lot of communities. It just pushes producers into a corner and by definition it pretty much kills off creativity. That’s just my opinion. Though, it will be a very sad day when people start calling themselves ‘liquid dubstep producers’ or ‘jump up’ ones. Can you imagine someone saying ‘Yeah fam, I write neuro-funk dubstep’. That would suck if people started tagging things like that. This ‘Future Garage’ term seems to be the most ridiculous one I have seen so far.
The perforated ear drum is something a lot of producers suffer from at some point in their careers. What sort of signs should people be looking out for so they don’t end up suffering from it themselves?
INVEST IN MOULDED EAR PLUGS!
This is my first experience with these problems. I forgot to bring any ear plugs to an event with me in the Netherlands not so long ago. That coupled with simply just working on music too much caused my right ear to pretty much just give up about 6 weeks or so ago. Its only been the last couple of weeks that I have been able to start listening to music at low levels again. It sucks, it really does. If you’re a producer then your ears are everything. Buying some good moulded ear plugs with frequency valves is like taking out life insurance for a DJ or a Producer. For any musician in fact. Tinnitus isn’t fun kids.
I think we can call it a day there, is there anyone you’d like to thank or shout out?
The usual suspects of course – KOAN Sound, Eleven8, Culprate, Satatix, Kito, Kahn, With Joyful Lips, Stumbleine, Tropics, Reso, M.I.K., Nowan. I could go on all day haha. Have to mention all the Screwloose family, and of course Tom Riley deserves endless thanks for helping get me and my friends the opportunities in music that we are so lucky to have, he works tirelessly for us. So, thank you TJ! Oh and my wonderful violinist Alicia!
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