An interview with Sasha and John Digweed
I had a chance to sit down with Sasha and John Digweed this past April during the early portion of their US Spring Tour which kicked off during WMC. They gave us some insight into Involver 2, upcoming releases on Bedrock, their hectic touring plans for the year, and much more.
I´m here with John Digweed and Sasha. We are doing an interview for Progressive-Sounds on the Detroit date of their US Spring Tour in 2008.
Any highlights from the tour so far? How has it been going generally?
John: Everywhere has been really good, direction from the crowd has been great. The highlights have probably been DC and New York, those were the two standout ones, but every one has been really good so it´s hard to say ones better then the other.
Sasha: Yeah, I think it´s the best show we´ve done together in New York for quite a while.
- Progressive-Sounds: How has it been performing in these smaller venues? You are probably more used to playing night clubs and arenas when you go on tour, but you chose to stick to smaller venues on this tour, so how has that been?
Sasha: It´s been fun, I mean ya know, the weekend shows we are doing in larger venues. It´s just that during the week we are doing smaller venues, like Boston was 750, Nashville was probably 800 people, and Columbus last night was probably about 1000 people maybe.
John: It´s still decent size rooms.
Sasha: It´s still decent size for mid-week shows, they´re pretty good. It´s an intimate vibe, for those mid-week shows you want to be a bit closer to the people that come out.
"...for those mid-week shows you want to be a bit closer to the people that come out"
- Progressive-Sounds: I wanted to ask each of you some individual questions about your own projects. Sasha, I know that you are in midst of working on Involver 2 right now. What stage of the process are you at with that?
Sasha: We are about a week away from delivering it, so all the mixes are done, we are just tweaking things, re-balancing some of the mixes. Ya know, I´ve been playing some stuff out, so as soon as I play something out I give the guys in the studio some comments, if there´s not enough bass on a particular track. It´s just minor tweaking right now and putting the final thing together.
- Progressive-Sounds:Progressive Sounds: Have you been working with the same usual production partners, Charlie May and Duncan Forbes at all?
Sasha: Yeah, Charlie, Duncan, Barry Jamieson, and a guy named Leo Leite who works out in New York. It´s been a really good team, everyone´s been really focused.
- Progressive-Sounds: Would you say it´s different from the first one in any particular way? How would you describe it?
Sasha: I guess the artists are maybe more eclectic. But the actual sound of the record is much more pure I think. It´s a very pure sounding record. We have Telefon Tel Aviv, M83, The Engineers, Thom Yorke, Ladytron. There´s a really quite diverse cross-section of artists on there, but the sound of the record is much purer I think then the last one. Ya know, the last one had guitars and kinda tempo changes and stuff, this album is very much more like four to the floor, and just kind of builds and grooves along and stays that way throughout the whole record.
- Progressive-Sounds: John, this is Volume 4 of your Transitions series on Renaissance that you´re about to release. According to the press release this is the end of the first chapter of the series, so where do you see it going from here?
John: That´s something we´re in talks with at the moment with Renaissance to see what the next stage to do with the series. The reaction from the first three volumes has been great, the feedback and everything, so how we move forward with the series, that´s something we´re going to talk about this summer. But this is the last one for this year, so next year there´ll be another project out but we´re not quite sure how we´re going to put it together yet.
- Progressive-Sounds: Do you have any plans for the rest of 2008 once you finish touring in support of the album?
John: Yeah, I´m just going to be touring some more.
Sasha: Yeah, we´re both getting ready, after this tour ends we pretty much go straight into our silly season of summer. Festivals, Ibiza, all that stuff. We don´t really stop until the end of September. We both got pretty busy years mapped out I think.
John: I´ve got, on the Bedrock label, the first release for 2008 which is Guy J, and that´s followed up by his album, probably coming out around July time. He´s just delivered that which is really good.
- Progressive-Sounds: This is a question for the both of you. The two of you have been mentors and helped launch the careers of certain DJs like Desyn Masiello, Luke Fair, and James Zabiela. Is there anybody that you have your eyes on right now as good up-and-coming DJs?
Sasha: Well we are looking actually, there´s about two or three 18 year old kids that have been sending, real bedroom DJs, that have been sending mixes through to me that I´ve been so blown away by. So, we haven´t taken it to the level of where we´ve taken them onto the roster yet, but I´ve definitely been sent some exciting mixes by some very young talent. But it´s early days, the chances of one of those turning into, having the same kind of story that James Zabiela´s had is very [rare], he´s one of a kind. He had a lot of support and love around him from the music magazines, the bedroom bedlam competition, he had so much support from that magazine, and also the way that he took to... Ya know, it´s one thing putting together an amazing mix in your bedroom, but then going up in front 5000 people and rocking the house is a big leap, and he took that leap. But yeah, I´ve got my eye on a few young DJs, but whether they´re going to turn into the next James Zabiela is a whole other question.
- Progressive-Sounds: Anyone for you John?
John: Not at the moment, I´ve just been traveling so much, haven´t really...
- Progressive-Sounds: What did you guys think about WMC this year? And also, I just wanted to say that the boat party was amazing, I had the most incredible time.
John: It´s amazing what all those free drinks do for everyone.
Sasha: The boat party is always the most fun party. You get to play records that don´t normally make up your set. You get to wear shorts and look like a tourist...
- Progressive-Sounds: You had quite an interesting outfit on this year, I have to say...
Sasha: I like to make an effort. I usually wear black, so it just doesn´t look right on the boat.
- Progressive-Sounds: Given your historic partnership, having been DJing together for a very long time, have you ever considered producing together?
Sasha: We tried it once and it scared the crap out of us, it was a disaster. A total disaster.
John: We´ll stick to DJing.
- Progressive-Sounds: Over the years you have been associated with different genres including trance and progressive house. If you had to put a name to it, how would you describe the current sound you´re playing?
Sasha: It is honestly quite impossible to put a label to it, but what I will say is that the sound that has come together on this tour... just last weekend I really felt our sounds kind of locked into each other, especially for the New York and DC shows. There´s definitely a darker element to it, and there´s maybe a little throwback of Twilo sounds in there somewhere. Quite driving and dark, I think is kind of how we´re playing. But really, I don´t know how to put a label on it.
John: That´s why I don´t do reviews in magazines. If I don´t even know what I´m playing, how can I describe someone else´s music?
Sasha: All I know is that whenever I look at a Beatport progressive house chart there´s nothing in there that I play. So it´s impossible to put a label on it. But I definitely think the tour has taken on a sound and our sets have really locked in together.
"Any studio albums for either of you in the works or consideration stages right now?"
- Progressive-Sounds: Any studio albums for either of you in the works or consideration stages right now?
Sasha: I just finished one so i have no intentions of starting another one for a while.
John: There´s a couple of tracks I´ve been working with Nick Muir on which need to be finished off. So as I said I´ve been on the road since the tail-end of last year, so when i get back I´m not going on any mad tours ´til later on in the year, so i´ll be able to get in the studio with Nick and finish those off.