I was so very pleasantly surprised upon listening to KOAN Sound & Asa’s new release on OWSLA, Sanctuary. The collaboration between KOAN Sound and Asa is genius; by coming together these guys were really able to reach an enhanced level of sound. These guys are taking steps in the right direction…. never before have I seen such a positive evolution from hard-hitting bass to softer, more melodic soundscapes.
When I first listened to Sanctuary pretty much sat there, mouth agape in wonder. I later listened again and soaked in the complexities and beauty of this album. The chill factor of this release is undeniable. It is masterfully produced with sophisticated sound design, exquisite melodies, and thoughtful sampling. You can tell that the album is inspired and from the heart; it tells a story and does indeed serve as a “sanctuary” from the grip of day-to-day life. Kick back and give this release a listen all the way through and notice the sensations and thoughts it evokes in you. The album artwork for this release is also stunning and very well done; it portrays the ethereal state, void of ego, that one may feel while allowing oneself to let go and free the mind.
Asa recently posted that he was looking for some blog support on an interview done over at the Greek Dubstepforum. I gave it a quick read and decided that I’d help him out. If you follow me on Facebook or some of my rants on this site I’m sure you’ll see why I agreed to this. It seems like the movement and attitude is spreading. Let’s not forget to mention genuinely being embraced by everyone with a free mind. This dude has a lot of passion behind what he says and isn’t afraid to speak his mind despite knowing it’s going against the ‘norm’. This is one of the reason I’m building a label right now. There aren’t enough outlets and places to get things like this pushed. That traditional dubstep sound is dying but that’s ok as long as it keeps evolving. The idea of 140bpm and heavy bass isn’t a formula to live by in dubstep. Hell if it was up to me forget about the bass lines and just fill it in with more melodic synth lines.
Here is the interview!
So who are you ?
My name is Asa, that is my birth name as well as my ‘alias’ or whatever you want to call it. I am a producer/songwriter from the UK, i am based in a small city on the south coast of the country, about half way between London and Bristol.
When did you started with producing and where does your style derive from?
I started ‘producing’ back in school, when i was about 15, i guess? but of course it was nothing serious, at the time my musical background was in choirs and i played piano – which has definitely contributed towards the way i write a lot of my music now. But in all honesty I’d say my production derives primarily from being sick and tired of hearing so many generic artists, i just wanted to hear something different. I make tunes for myself mostly, it’s like therapy, ya know? its personal and it’s intimate, well it’s intimate until it’s released anyway. then it’s the listeners property, which is the way it should be. For me, it just has to evoke an emotion in the listener, wherever that be on headphones in a dark room by themselves or it be on a huge sound system amongst thousands of other people – it’s got to induce some sort of emotional response. that’s the purpose of music, right? otherwise there is no point. In terms of dance music, I grew up listening to mostly garage, just a lot of 2-step and some dnb really, amongst a lot of other music of course. Bands like Sigur Ros & Incubus amongst plenty of others have as much influence on me as my contemporary ‘dubstep’ producers. But that is definitely where a lot of my rhythmic patterns stem from, for sure. The Skippy 2-step drum patterns, i love them. I still find my garage collection to be the most varied and interesting music i have, obviously there is a lot of nostalgia involved with my relationship to the tunes, but garage did get killed off and recycled into dubstep and grime pretty much. That’s the way this music works, there is this continuum of bass music in the UK that just keeps churning out new ideas. hence why i get so frustrated with generic production traits – it’s the downfall of scene’s in the context of this music, you HAVE to do your own thing, and i think that principle is where my style derives from. I do my own thing.
What do you respond to the whole thing about dubstep and heavy bass. Is it just a trend?
Well it’s just the ridiculous amount of mid range lfo abuse i hear. I mean, i mostly only hear it when residents are playing that stuff before me at bookings. But don’t get me wrong, the producers I’m closest with like KOAN Sound, Statix & Culprate – they make some of the hardest stuff around – but it’s so well executed, i get just as excited about a new Culprate tune as i do about a new Burial one, and that’s the way it should be i think. Good music is good music. But there definitely is a lot of poorly produced dubstep, i know that much. there is not enough space in the mix downs in most dubstep tunes now. No room for the sub frequencies to be the prominent focal point in the mix. Which was the only ‘rule’ in Dubstep in the first place, if you can even call it a rule. It had to be around 140bpm and have emphasis on sub bass, the rest was up to the producers individual creativity. That’s how it should be. Me and a few of my friends have all been writing music around 100bpm recently, after becoming somewhat disillusioned with what people think ‘dubstep’ is now, we have just reached a point where making music defined by one tempo just isn’t plausible. We don’t want to do that, as much as dubstep is and will continue to be the home for our music. There really has been a very notable divide in the scene over the last year or two; it’s clear to everyone involved on either side. A lot of people on one side hold a lot of animosity towards what is now commonly associated with the tag dubstep; as a result they are deliberately pushing further and further away from the cliché production techniques which is a positive creative drive for sure, but I for one am still more than happy for my music to be tagged as dubstep. I still think the best thing about the genre is its diversity, so if producers like me try and distance ourselves from dubstep, and then what hope does it have? Creating sub-genres is like pushing yourself into a corner, setting up more boundaries; it will only limit people’s creativity.
Your last release is ‘Sweeter Things EP” and let me tell you, we like it so much. whats next? are there unreleased or new tracks coming up?
Ahhh that’s awesome, i am glad you like the EP – i was a bit hesitant about it, i mean, it’s music i make for me and a few close friends to listen to and I know it’s not what most people are used to hearing. So it’s really good to know that some people have picked up on it and get the point of the tunes, that sort of thing is really cool. I really appreciate it whenever anyone tries to connect on a personal level and say that they like the tunes, that sort of thing really means the world to me. As for new releases myself & KOAN Sound just done a remix for Kito & Reija Lee’s EP on Mad Decent, which has been getting huge support and a great response recently which we are really happy with. Right now I have a whole bunch of remixes due for release – the list is so long i wouldn’t even know where to start. The same applies to collaborations, I’m still working with my core group of friends more than anyone, mostly KOAN Sound, but I’m now getting to work with some of my favorite artist’s, which is something i am really happy about. I apologize about being so vague and not mentioning artist’ names, but i have realized recently that it is good to keep such things under the radar until they are completely finished and on top of that I’m simply just not allowed to talk about things until certain dates etc. I write music all day, everyday. So there is no shortage of new music, it’s just an odd period for me and my friends at the moment – a lot of decisions being made with labels and all that kind of stuff, so a lot of our tunes are in a state of limbo at the moment.
Where do u see dubstep/step/future garage going? *just another trend like minimal techno
I really do not agree with the whole genre branding thing, as I’ve said. To me – ‘Future Garage’ is one of the most ridiculous tags i have ever come across. I could sit here for hours and moan about why i disagree with it, but it’s not worth it. i just don’t agree with it. It’s dubstep, don’t call it anything else. there is something in it for everyone – that has been the whole point of this music from day one, it was the main principle that attracted me to it, ya know? The scene is thriving, regardless. There is so much good music consistently being put out. that’s all that counts – it is not a ‘fad’ or ‘trend’. its just another part of this constantly evolving bass music continuum that we are so lucky to have in the UK. Creativity is thriving, the underground really is glowing…
What u know about Greek Dubstep in Greece in general and if u have any thoughts to play here?
I have a dear friend of mine who guys by the name of ‘Skru’, he goes by other alias’s also, but he is a great soul and has so much passion for the music. He has always supported my stuff since i started, but other than that i know very little about the scene in Greece. I hear about events occasionally from my friend, but that is about it. it is obviously a place i would love to come and play, meeting people and traveling is one of the best things about music – it is what I am most thankful for out of all of it. I hope i am lucky enough to have a Greek promoter want to book me someday!
Tell us some of your favorite source for sounds. VST plugin’s , DWA’s, hardware…
I don’t like to talk about production methods so much, for a lot of reasons really… I think sharing knowledge about production and such things is one of the most important things, no doubt. But i prefer to do it on a one to one basis – I would happily teach or show anyone how i go about putting this sort of music together if they were willing to just sit there and learn. Making tunes brings people together, the people I value the most in my life are the ones I have met through music. the whole networking side of it so important. Production tutorials and things like that seem to be a bit too ‘paint by numbers’ for me, it cuts of that human experience of writing music. The fun and the vibe you can get from working on music with someone who approaches it in a completely different way is one of the most exciting things for me. Sitting around with KOAN Sound and just working on tunes have been some of the most beneficial moments of my life. Do you know what I mean? i will say this though – i record all my own foley sounds, i have my own production palette. Well, i hope i do anyway..
“I made this for you” , i have to admit that was my first ‘contact’ with ur music, its one of my fav mix’s and i have the question if the title and the hole mix is ‘personal’ to you. maybe a girl ?
Well, i really don’t know if i should talk about these things… but it’s ok i guess. i mean, I am personally invested in it all for so many reasons. But they are not going to be the same reasons for the listeners, if that makes sense? I really don’t want to come across as pretentious. I just like making tunes, that all. so yeah, Essentially, a lot of the music i have made in the past was as a result of a very messy, break up from a long term relationship –a lot of it is about telling stories for me. It’s like therapy, it really is. That situation is well in the past now of course. so in regards to the mix entitled ‘I Made This For You’, it is in relation to another person… the key is in one of the first track names, that is all i will say. she knows who she is and that is all that matters
Asa is a dj and producer out of Southampton, UK. I’d say that he is probably my favorite producer right now when it comes to the chill side of glitch and dubstep music. The detail that he uses in his production is absolutely mind blowing and the composition is stunningly beautiful. When I’m having a stressful day, I’ll throw on my headphones and listen to Asa’s music and it instantly calms me and puts a smile on my face. His upcoming “Sweeter Things ep” is due out March 14 via all major online download sites. Here’s previews of the tracks and you can pre order the release now via i-tunes: Sweeter Things ep – pre order
He has a few amazing remixes that he is working on too. Here’s a preview of his Adele remix:
And, here’s a preview of his Garden Walls remix which he says will be a ten minute long piece when it’s finished:
Make sure to follow Asa on his facebook too as he is constantly posting updates on his various projects and even music from other producers that he has worked with or is a fan of.
There are a couple of full version previews of tracks from the album up now at his bandcamp page and he will be uploading more leading up to the release date.
Asa is a dj and producer out of Southampton, UK. His style of sound is similar to that of Burial and explores the chill side of dubstep and glitch music. I definitely recommend listening to this mix with your headphones on and just appreciate how beautiful the composition is. Check out his other tunes and grab a free download of this mix at soundcloud.com/asadubstep. His upcoming 6 track “Sweeter Things ep” will be out March 14 and I’ll have a review of that album up very soon.
Make sure to keep up to date with what Asa is up to on his facebook.