Together Again



After a year apart, Sasha & Digweed rejoin to bring the club experience to America's arenas

By Robin Sommers

Sasha and John Digweed are the DJs that people who donít know about DJs know about. They were MTVís first pick to spin at a post-New Yearís soiree. Theyíre prominent in mainstream music media, even ranking in Spinís Top 40 in 2000. And they manage to maintain fervent devotion in the underground, having toured the world, and created legendary nights out of their monthly residency at New Yorkís famously defunct Twilo. While it seemed that their early success would render them inextricably linked, 2001 proved different. Sasha fell off the DJ-ing circuit to produce an album. And Digweed seemed to take the world over, remaining at the helm of his massively successful Bedrock label, releasing single after single and compilation after compilation, and taking DJ magazineís coveted DJ of the Year crown, knocking none other than Sasha into the second spot. But at the close of the year, the two felt it was time to regroup. They kicked off their first US tour together in years at San Diegoís 4th&B.

I enter the hotel room just two hours before showtime. Apparently, Iíve just missed room service. Sasha greets me with a kind smile as he leads me to his dinner table, which contains asparagus and a hearty, blood-red steak. As I watch him eat and we talk, Iím somewhat surprised at how relaxed he is. It would only be an hour after my departure that he and the quieter Digweed would take to the 4th&B stage. As the two are electronic music pioneers, we discuss where the music was, where it is, and where itís going, with the clubs of the world as a backdrop.

How is it that youíve managed to achieve such staying power in an industry where everybody and their mother is becoming a DJ? Can fame dilute passion?

Sasha: Ha! I donít think fame dilutes passion, I think overworking sometimes can. You can get burned out a little bit when youíve just been touring and touring and touring. Itís very rare that happens though. Most of the time, as soon as you walk into a club and everyoneís going nuts, you get that buzz. I think that the fact that both myself and John have been in it for as long as we have, there are probably some things that have given us staying power: the fact weíve always chosen our own route with the music, tried to push our own sound, really believed in what we were doing with our sound, stuck to our guns really. We didnít cheese out. Iíd have no idea what to do in my life if I wasnít doing this Ė so you know, itís not about having staying power. Itís about, ďThis is my life!Ē I donít have any other options, really.

John: I guess itís just that we started before it was ever really so fashionable. Iím in it because of love. Iíve always wanted to be a DJ; always loved the crowd.

With all of our talent stateside, America still seems to always lag behind when it comes to electronic music. You started the American touring DJ set.

Sasha: Yeah, itís interesting. You know, house music came from Chicago, and underground clubs in New York, but Europe, and Britain especially, the countries that really embraced it, had built a culture surrounding it. A whole acid house, dance music culture. Yeah, it did take a few years for that culture to come back to America, and I guess it was something to do with DJís coming back to America with their interpretations of what dance music was, bringing it back to the states for that to happen.

John: Everyone always thinks that the grass is greener on the other side. Perhaps there is just greater enthusiasm [in other places].

Where do you find the best parties and scenes today?

Sasha: The [Winter Music] Conference is fun, but I think itís over-subscribed. Itís just really hard for everyone to get into the clubs and see the DJs you want to see. There are so many people there; thereís just not enough room in the clubs on South Beach. I think thatís definitely a problem. It is a great week. Itís a good chance to see a lot of people. With the whole industry coming together, I get to see a lot of DJís I donít get to see for the rest of the year. I really miss playing at Twilo. You know, LA has really blossomed in the last three or four years. Itís turned into a really great clubbing capital. Outside of there, South America is absolutely blowing up at the moment. Buenos Aires, Uruguay, Puenta del Este, Costa Rica, Lima, Peru. So I think thatís a market thatís really going to get fun over the next few years.

Speaking of Twilo, how do you feel about the closing? And now that it has, will you continue to seek out big venues, or are you going to stick to the smaller, more intimate venues such as those of this tour?

John: Iím real sad. It was one of the best clubs in the world. I have lots of special memories from there, with some very special people.

Sasha: This tour, Iíve been out of the loop for so long, I just wanted to get back involved in the clubs. Next spring weíre gonna be doing a lot of big venues. I really miss playing those big rooms. Twilo really inspired a certain kind of music to come out of me and John. There were certain records that just really worked in that big room. I really do miss having that outlet for the music. And to play for eight hours at a time! Weíre basically intending this tour to be a kind of teaser, an intro to the tour weíll be doing next spring. Itís gonna be big Ė arenas. Hopefully it will bring the Twilo experience to the rest of America.

Youíve accomplished so much. With the superstar designation youíve been awarded, maybe once this gets printed, based on your word, South America could blow up even more. How does that feel? Are there still things you strive to achieve?

John: I would think our goals to be similar to any regular bandís.

Sasha: Yeah. To be honest, this year, Iíve had to put my DJ-ing to the back of my mind, working on an original artist album. Thatís my immediate goal, but once that happens I donít know where it will take me, possible to another area? I donít know. But once my record is finished, Iím looking forward to actually being able to go back on the road and use all that energy that Iíve been devoting to writing music and spending time in the studio. I want to devote that energy back to DJ-ing again. I feel that Iíve had to let my DJ-ing take a bit of a backseat this year, and Iím really looking forward next year to just being on the road. I canít wait to get back to South America, back to the Far East, to be in America on a regular basis. You know, this album has just really pulled me away from DJ-ing, but itís been a great experience.

What do you like about playing in a duo, and what is gained or lost versus playing solo?

John: I enjoy vibing off of each other; the buzz. We really enjoy challenging each other with the different mixes.

Sasha: Itís just a great experience DJ-ing with John. We have a trust and a respect and a comfort with each other that we donít really have to worry about where each otherís heads are at. It just feels right. The same way that sometimes Iíll DJ with somebody, even though itís the same kind of music, it might not flow. With John it just flows, even when we havenít DJ-ed with each other for months and months. We get on the decks and it just works. We support each other. I canít really put it into words. Thereís just something there.

Copyright 2002 Club Systems International Magazine
Copyright 2002 TESTA Communications