The Melting Pot on 10/16/12
THE MELTING POT Fall Membership Special 10.16.2012 BASSNECTAR
We will be featuring the music of BASSNECTAR this week on THE MELTING POT. Blending and Refreaking Originals, Remixes and Rarities live in the KBOO studios Tuesday 10.16.12 8-10pm. We will have Cds & Tickets as to various shows around town including Bassnectar, EOTO, Polish Ambassador & CONVERGENCE 10.19.2012 at Refuge ft/ Minnesota, Zion I, Vocab Company and more. Peep the video and more info below...
Bassnectar is one of the longest standing and most respected artists in American electronic dance music, often referred to simply as the EDM scene. He is the original long hair behind the tables, having been in the game well before most of his contemporaries and amassing an epic fan base with over 250k tickets sold to his solo shows alone in 2011. His art brazenly oversteps the bounds of contemporary EDM, pulling from a dynamic array of source material and attracting lovers of all genres, from dubstep to metal, punk rock, hip hop, and all forms of EDM (drum & bass, trip hop, etc.) and beyond. His art is more than just an auditory experience; it serves to evoke all human senses with live shows that feature unparalleled light shows and awe-inspiring visual queues. Bassnectar intends to not only foster its own community of loyal Bass Heads, but also contribute to the global community at large through charity and social change.
Bassnectar is the brainchild of Lorin Ashton, a San Francisco-based DJ, producer and artist. Lorin, who released his first album in 2001, began the project as an open-sourced musical experiment exploring the interplay between music and community. His music covers any genre imaginable and fuses everything into an electro-synthesis of intense bass lines and hypnotic soundscapes. Coming from a background in death metal, Ashton was not intent on approaching EDM from the traditional standpoint and it was a very natural and unique progression. It is this openness to exploring new ways of creating dance music that has attracted droves of loyal fans to Bassnectar’s recordings and live performances. Being purposely limitless, Bassnectar is as diverse as it is heavy, as raw as it is meticulous, and as fierce as it is imaginary. Growing up in a Bay Area commune, Ashton initially identified with visual arts rather than music, creating movies with his dad’s camera at the age of ten. As his interest in all things creative grew, he bought a guitar and taught himself to play cover songs and merge them- an early version of what came to be known as the “mash up”. During his first year of high school, Ashton honed his mastery of beats on a set of homemade drums and began incorporating the complex rhythm of Brazilian samba into his repertoire. This explorative take on music led to a deep involvement in the death metal scene of the nineties. He started a band called Pale Existence and began playing and promoting underground shows as well as organizing a local battle of the bands that inspired insane amounts of fun energy and crazy mosh pits. In this pre-internet age, Ashton had gone from a commune to high school (where he earned straight A’s) to his first musical community.
In 1995 Ashton went to his first rave and was instantaneously switched on to electronic music and its culture. In the following years, he became exceedingly more involved in the scene, promoting shows, distributing food and assistance to concertgoers, buying records and eventually learning to DJ after studying electronic music production. Lorin equated the turntables to drumming and could match beats immediately in an almost savant-like way. He started to throw parties in venues ranging from dorm buildings and warehouses to beaches and artichoke fields, where he spun psychedelic trance (which was most similar to the familiar death metal in his opinion). As he entered college, Ashton began to refine his skills as a producer, combining guitar and his voice, splicing up a wide array of music and experimenting with old school synthesizers. Taking cues from his metal background, Ashton decidedly kept all of his musical workings strictly underground, a sentiment that he has continued to foster throughout his career. As time progressed Lorin garnered more and more notoriety and started to play larger parties, first in the Bay Area and then eventually nationally and internationally. All this hype led to appearances at large scale festivals in the early 2000s, including Burning Man and Shambala. Always a very hands-on artist, Ashton climbed the rungs of the EDM ladder on his own, starting proudly from his own unique standpoint.
Ashton went on to found and be the head-producer of Amorphous Music and has utilized his label as a launching pad for a series of groundbreaking releases, including 2010’s Wildstyle, 2011’s Divergent Spectrum (reached #3 on the main iTunes chart as well as #1 on the electronic chart for months) and 2012’s Vava Voom featuring the self titled single featuring Lupe Fiasco. Through his self-run Bassnectar Labs studio, he has collaborated with the likes of KRS-One, Perry Farrell, Gogol Bordello, Fever Ray, Spearhead and STS9, and has worked on remix projects with the likes of esteemed producers Z-trip, Diplo, BT, 6Blocc, DJ Vadim, and RJD2. In particular, his remix of Ellie Goulding’s “Lights” was a major hit (was in the top 10 on iTunes Electronic chart for 28 weeks straight and at #1 for 12 weeks) and helped to expand his fan base into the global realm of indie-pop lovers.
Beyond the music, Bassnectar encourages social impact with his art, whether it arises from remixing, collaborating, writing, DJing or performing. According to Ashton, “Bassnectar is a reflection of that opportunity to give back; the motion of my cells bouncing back at the world.” Bassnectar intends to not only foster the ever-expanding community of loyal Bass Heads, but also contribute to the global community at large through charity and social change.
Bassnectar is particularly infamous for incomparably raucous live shows that feature state of the art lightshows and enough bass to work crowds into palpable frenzies. His performances are so successful and sought out that in 2011 he made the top 3 hard ticket sales along with fellow EDM artists Deadmau5 and Tiesto. The Bassnectar tour, which travels with its own custom sound rig, has headlined stops at some of the most noted venues and festivals in the country and always attracts massive sold-out crowds, some numbering over 10,000 for non-festival solo show dates. In addition to celebrated sets at Coachella, Lollapalooza, ACL, Bonnaroo, and Ultra Music Festival, Ashton has inaugurated his own daylong extravaganza for EDM lovers of all ages. Dubbed the Bass Center, this sonic celebration has completely sold out in its first two years, 2010 and 2011, and has featured the likes of Brother Ali, Glitch Mob, Wolfgang Gartner, That 1 Guy and Dan Deacon and will feature electro house superstar A-Trak in 2012.
Can you tell us a little bit about the Noam Chomsky and Mumia Abu Jamal samples and how those came about?
I'm very politically involved and very politically interested. I wouldn’t even identify myself as a DJ and maybe not even as a musical artist. I’m more of a participant in the global community, and music is just one vehicle that I am riding on in an attempt to affect social change and network with my community. I am a huge fan, and almost a disciple, of Noam Chomsky and as well as many others; Howard Zinn, Helen Caldecott, Saul Williams, almost anyone on KPFA, Michael Moore, Mumia Abu Jamal, Michael Ruppert. I spend a lot of time on the Internet listening to speeches.
One thing about Noam Chomsky -- who I think for some reason or another is my favorite -- reading him is very dense but very understandable. Listening to him is very dense but sometimes hard to understand, because he’s got such a low rumble of a voice and he says "uh" a lot. And you can hear when he says "uh," it’s like his RAM scanning, trying to catch up, because he’s just a fucking fact vessel.
I get into this drone when I’m listening to him, and it’s like an hour has passed, and I don’t really understand what I heard even though I remember feeling outraged and inspired at different points. One thing I was doing, just for my friends, was editing his speeches just to take out his "uhs" and really trying to communicate -- like, concisify -- his speeches. If you go to my website you can download "So Butterfly" and that’s like, I think, an 11 minute track. The last 7 minutes of it is just a musical patch playing and just one of his speeches about Republicans and war crimes and things like that.
Has Noam Chomsky heard it?
Yeah. I sent him that and contacted his manager. They were amazingly helpful and made it very easy for me to license and get out [the track] there.
[On the second disc of Mesmerizing], I just used him as the intro and he’s talking about freedom. He says, "It’s really important to remember that a lot of people whose names we’ve completely forgotten are responsible for the freedoms we have. And it’s not a gift that is given to us by Bush and Cheney. It’s something that is built in. It’s a legacy that is left to us. It’s constantly trying to be snatched away and taken and is only going to remain as long as we defend it." That was kind of the battle cry opening of Diverse System of Throb.
I think there’s kind of a stereotype of the dance music community that it’s very hedonistic -- that when you go into the club scene, even in a fairly progressive city like San Francisco, it’s all about the drugs and hooking up. Do you perceive some of that, in that you’re actually educating people -- or do you think that’s a misconception and that the dance music community actually is more politically aware?
In terms of the dance music scene, I don’t really aim to educate as much as inspire and live by example and be someone who is coming up and involved but who is also educated and speaking their mind and addressing important issues. I don’t assume that I have a lot of facts that I need to distribute to the dance scene because I think they’re pretty much open-minded people. It’s more that I’m just kind of putting things in their face and really maintaining my political integrity in my music.
But then, outside of the dance scene, with the downtempo, listening music that I’m making, that’s the kind of stuff where I think there’s the potential for actual education or eye-opening. In the club scene, yeah, it can be hedonistic and can also just be party, party. A lot of times in the rave scene, it was very positive and all about love -- almost to an extreme. It wasn’t within specifics. Love is not the worst things you can promote, it’s one of the best things you can promote. But I think that at this point I’m also into promoting sacrifice and responsibility, and activism and consciousness and direct action. Another Noam Chomsky quote that I love says, "Freedom confers responsibility." That is a life motto for me. We’re so fucking saturated with luxury over here in America and in the first world. And to the degree that we’re well off, I think it’s the degree that we’re responsible to use those blessings to empower other people and to help those other folks who aren’t in [the first world]. I think it’s kind of an offense to everyone else if we don’t make use of that.