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Interview with Sasha

by Dave "the Wave" Dresden


Reprinted with permission from DJ Times

Imagine yourself in a loud New York City nightclub one morning at 6:00 am. The lights are just right, the vibe is all there; the music a dynamic blend of hard, European acid, trance and breakbeats with some drum 'n' bass and other musical oddities thrown in. Is this the sound of an untapped open-minded talent rocking the floor in one of the toughest cities to break new forms of dance music on a large scale? Or is it one of the most legendary DJs from the UK with a new idea on how to play beyond what is expected of him in one of the most legendary club spaces? Well, just look into the Twilo DJ booth on the last Friday of every month, and it could only be DJ Sasha (with partner John Digweed in tow) offering the often fickle New York clubbers his diverse mix of UK and American dance sounds.

Make no mistake about it, the UK's DJ Sasha (real name: Alexander Coe) is the biggest star in a land where club DJs are often pop stars in their own right. Known not only for his distinct trance sounds in his DJ sets, but also his productions and remixes which have essentially pioneered the scene known today as Epic House, led by such artists as B.T. (whose talent he 'discovered'), Blue Amazon, Paul Van Dyke as well as his own records, such as "Be As One" a tune which crashed the top 10 upon release last year and has even won kudos from several major radio staions over here as well.

In addition to the long hours in the studio as well as global travels with his best friend, the two have also recently become the first ever UK DJs to take up a monthly residency in a New York club, spinning the last Friday of every month at Twilo, the former Sound Factory space. DJ Times caught up with Sasha one day at B.T.'s house as they were fiddling around in the studio looking to make more musical history.

DJ TIMES: You've had quite an illustrious career thus far. When did it all begin?
SASHA: I started by DJing in 1989. I was living in North Wales, and the drive to Manchester was about an hour. Every weekend from the start of 1988, my best mate and I would drive up to Manchester and go hang out at the Hacienda. I recall a time when I didn't go for a couple of months, and then I went back and I walked in there and it hit me: ACID HOUSE HAD HIT MANCHESTER! smiley faces, bandanas, trance dancing and all that. I was just standing there saying to myself 'what the fuck happened here?'

DJ TIMES: What was the music like at the Hacineda before the acid house movement? More on the northern soul tip or on the New Order/Indie thing?
SASHA: No, it was house, sort of 'jack your body'-type stuff. It was more like people grooving in there and groups of people dancing and like, much more laid back -- a mixed-race dance club. [right then] I moved to Manchester and started hanging out, buying records and stuff. The local DJ was looking for some other DJs to play at his club, and I only had about thirty records and never had used a pair of decks or anything. I just blagged a gig off him, and paid my dues for a couple of years at ten pounds a night or something absurd like that. I ended up being in debt for buying far too many records.

DJ TIMES: How did you teach yourself how to beatmix?
SASHA: In my bedroom, really. Obviously, I was well influenced by the Hacienda DJs. That was the only club, it was like some kind of religious thing for me. I used to go every Wednesday with Jon Da Silva and Mike Pickering DJing and Friday with Graeme Parke. I think Jon DaSilva was probably the most influential DJ to me, because I moved into the same block of flats that he did, and we sort of hung out a lot together. He helped me get my first few gigs, like getting a guest spot spinning at the Hacienda. I owe him a shitload. He was like the only DJ back then who was doing key mixing, so he inspired me a lot there as well.

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