by Jason and Sabrina Weil
Atlanta got rocked on Friday, May 14, 1999. International superstar Sasha played to an intimate crowd of hand-waving, name-screaming, autograph-seeking fans. After the raucous set at Loretta's, we caught up with him a few days later to find out what's behind the pretty face with no last name.
It's been a long day for Sasha. Hours of interviews and photo shoots in Los Angeles, and now a phone call around the dinner hour from Lunar Magazine. Is he tired or shy? We're surprised at how soft-spoken he is. His polite greeting abruptly turns into Muzak.
"I'm sorry about that," he apologizes as he returns from acidentally placing us on hold. Hotel phones can be a real bitch.
We ask how he felt about his set a few days earlier in Atlanta. He mentions the sound difficulties experienced briefly during the night, saying it could have "been a bit more kickin'." But he adds, "I loved it. I had a really good time."
And how does he feel about playing in Atlanta in general? "I love it. I had a really good time at Halloween. Yeah, I had a great time at Halloween, and I had a brilliant time on Friday. The vibe seemed pretty cool, and I was really enjoying myself in the dj box."
While Friday night at Loretta's was a smaller, more intimate club night, Halloween was a massive gathering of revelers at the Nike Pavilion. Does Sasha prefer one type of event over the other?
"I like 'em both, you know? It's really nice to have a small, intimate crowd, but at the same time it's great to play to those big crowds as well."
Whether it's a small club night or a mammoth warehouse party, you can be sure to find many people in the crowd who would name Sasha as one of their main musical influences. From his high-profile remixes to his crowd-moving dj sets, Sasha seems to have the Midas touch. But who influences the man who so many others look up to? One fan once mentioned, "I'd like to know who Sasha's favorite dj is and he can't say John Digweed."
Sasha says, "John's a constant influence to me. I guess outside of that, it's really difficult because I don't really get to hear a lot of dj's spin because I work so hard. I guess what Danny Tenaglia does, I really like. Carl Cox, Derrick Carter you know he's a great dj he just has a complete energy. Sven Vath from Germany is incredible...he has incredible energy. You know, Mr. C and the whole In Sound crew from London...they have a great sound. It's very difficult though; I don't actually get to hear them very often, so it's kind of difficult for me to be too objective on that."
Too busy working to hear other dj's, eh? Well, that hard work has paid off. The dynamic duo of Sasha and John Digweed landed an enviable residency at New York's Twilo, and the once-monthly Friday night only seems to be getting bigger and better. Garnering rave reviews from clubbers the country over, that's the night that makes a quick weekend jaunt to New York City seem like a really good idea.
Is America experiencing a British invasion of sorts all over again? In the weeks before Sasha's set at Loretta's, Atlanta had seen the likes of Dave Seaman, Paul Oakenfold, and John Digweed. Why are so many high caliber British dj's coming through the U.S. right now?
"John and I have been doing it for about five years and now it seems like everyone else is jumping on the bandwagon," Sasha smirks. "But it's cool. The scene in America is so great. I can understand why everyone wants to come out here. There's fantastic energy out here at the moment. But John and I have been playing out in the States since the early days of Florida...1992-93. It's a long time that we've been coming out here."
And it's time for Sasha to reap what he's sown. Creative collaborations with acclaimed producer BT in Peter Gabriel's Realworld studios are just part of what's been keeping Sasha too busy to hear other dj's.
"I just finished the music for a Playstation game. I've done five exclusive tracks for a game called Wipeout which is getting launched in August, so that's been quite fun. I just did [remix work for] the Chemical Brothers. Um, but that's not really finished...it's kind of a work in progress. The main thing that's obviously happening is the Northern Exposure that John and I have put out together and the Global Underground San Francisco."
With 1999 shaping up to be such a stellar year for Sasha, what are his plans for ringing in the year 2000?
"I'm going to be playing at home on New Year's Eve, and then I'm going to fly out and do New York on New Year's Day. We did that this year and it was fantastic."
The new millennium holds so many possibilities for electronic music and the masses. What direction does Sasha want to take with the projects he chooses to work on in the next few years?
"I'm still going to concentrate on dj'ing just as much but really try and focus a lot more on my own music and launching myself as an artist, with the music I write myself. That's the main thing. I've got lots of stuff coming out later on in the year. I really want to be taken seriously as an artist."
Judging from the response of fans and critics worldwide to his work thus far, Sasha's got the talent and dedication to make a real name for himself in the production world. Perhaps he'll share some of his self-written tracks with his fans in Atlanta.
"Oh, I'll be back," he states firmly. "I'll be back."
Northern Exposure III: Expeditions
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