Dallas is one of only 10 stops DJ Sasha made in the U.S. and Canada. His North American tour ends this March in Miami. The last time Dallas fans experienced the Grammy-nominated set smasher’s sound was five years ago. It’s the quality of a visit that counts, however -- not necessarily the number of times a performer pops onto the scene.
Sasha’s Fall North American tour promoting Invol2ver -- featuring exclusive mixes of Telefon Tel Aviv,Adam Parker, Ladytron, Thom Yorke, Home Video,Engineers, Rone and Ray Lamontagne -- is a short jaunt stateside meant to remind clubbees that Alexander Coe, aka DJ Sasha, is still pushing the boundaries of a style of music he is instrumental in creating. Like a true pro, Sasha remains au courant, ushering in “a new era” with Invol2ver.
“A lot of changes have happened in the last three years since the last Involver that have changed the direction of the music,” he says. “Many producers that were important and relevant four years ago are no longer around. I kind of feel the end of a certain era happened at some point between this record and the last one, and a new one has been ushered in with the huge influences of the Berlin club scene and all the producers coming out of there.”
Though heavily influenced by all the music that’s coming out of Germany, Sasha says he still wanted to make a record that sounded inherently like his work. Despite the sound on Invol2ver starting off on a dark, minimal root, the direction of the album changed dramatically last spring when Sasha started receiving an influx of beautiful melodic records. The sounds on the tracks struck a cord with the intuitive DJ.
“I think melody is something that’s been missing quite a lot from the deeper end of club music and techno. People were almost afraid of putting melody into their music. And last year, in getting ready for the music conference, I started getting sent all these really warm sounding records, and that really inspired the direction of the album,” he says. “I think it was time for a change, and people were tired of listening to stuff that was too glitchy and minimal and wanted stuff that was a bit more warm sounding and melodic and … involving.”
Fans can expect to hear 13 tracks on Invol2ver, featuring Sasha’s distinct re-workings of musical leviathans such as American folk singer Ray Lamontagne, Radioheads’ Thom Yorke and electronic artists Ladytron and Apparat. But when it came to Sasha’s live performances stateside, fans enjoyed classic Sasha -- as in a ‘Twilo-back-in-the-day’ way. That’s right. All Sasha needs is his custom-built controller, or MAVEN and a computer, and he’s ready to build a set. Building a set is something Sasha says he learned from going to the The Haçienda a couple decades ago.
He used to get to the club as soon as the doors opened because his favorite part of the night was listening as the DJ began to build his set for two to three hours before midnight where from midnight on, he would play the big records.
“I always loved getting there and listening to the music the DJ played from 9 ’til 12, because that’s when I heard the more experimental sounds,” he admits. “That’s something that I had drummed into me at a very early age, that that was the right way to build a DJ set and it’s still ingrained in my head.”
Now that Sasha has revealed what’s in his head, let’s explore what he likes to put in his belly. The punctual and progressive DJ is still basking in the aperitive afterglow of home-cooked Sri Lankan food
when he speaks to me from London
. He says he prefers Sri Lankan to typical Indian fare because it’s much lighter, healthier and not quite so spicy.
Sasha brings the heat in the kitchen just like he cooks up new tracks in the studio.
“We did a beetroot curry
and cashew nut
curry,” Sasha says of his previous night’s dinner. “Then we cooked these amazing chickens in green herbs, where everything was green because of the mint coriander
and green chilies added. We marinated the chicken thighs in the herbs and chilies mixture, then poured yogurt over them to tenderize the meat as it roasted it in the oven. That’s a really colorful plate to look at.”
East Indian cravings aside, however, Sasha’s favorite dish is roast chicken, true to his North Wales
“If you walk into a house and someone’s cooking a roast chicken
, it’s one of the most welcoming smells you can possibly imagine. It smells like home, and since I spend most of my life on the road, getting to smell that is quite a luxury,” the DJ says.
When asked if all the globetrotting is worth it, Sasha’s replies quickly, “It is
worth it. And, to be honest, food is one of the things that keeps me going. My father is a chef, and he taught me how to cook. One of my favorite things to do when I get into a new city is to research the restaurants and really find the local street food. I did that in Vietnam
, where the street food is really unbelievable. We spent a month in Vietnam
eating street foods -- fresh and wonderful from these amazing markets, with live bugs
and things like that. I didn’t have any problems with my belly [laughs] until the end of the trip when we stayed at an American brand hotel in Bejing, and I ended up getting food poisoning.”
Inspired by Anthony Bourdain,
Sasha admits he’s a bit obsessive when it comes to organizing his fridge. Thus, with the same precision that he slices tracks, he makes certain different food types aren’t touching others and all the jars are turned in the same direction.
“I can’t have my mustard and marmalade
on the same shelf -- it freaks me out,” he says.
Everyone has their quirks, but at the end of day Sasha’s complexities as an artist is matched by the simplicity of his approach to enjoying life.
“After a trip to Southern Portugal,”
he says, “one of my favorite things I did was go down to the fisherman’s market, sit at a spit-and-sawdust
and enjoyed an open beer and a plateful of grilled sardines
with the locals. I was the happiest man on the planet.”
Published at 3:30 PM CST on Feb 23, 2009