Napoli based techno DJ and producer Sasha Carassi is a man that he left his imprint on the techno world over the past few years. Since his first release way back in 2003 on Guidance records he has seen his music appear on labels such as Harthouse, Drumcode, FLASH and Sleaze, as well as his own labels Phobiq and Globox. His sound definitely edges to the darker side of techno and his production talents have seen him work alongside and remix the likes of Tom Hades, Mauro Picotto, Slam, Umek, Spektre, The Advent, Sian and Florian Meindl. Sasha’s music has also gained support from all the big names including the likes of Adam Beyer, Joseph Capriati, Richie Hawtin, and John Digweed. His track ‘Tale Of Memories’ was also featured on John Digweed’s latest ‘Underground Sound of Ibiza’ CD compilation.
Sasha’s faultless dark edged techno and DJing abilities have seen him play some of the world’s most prestigious festivals and clubs worldwide. We were very lucky to catch up with the man in between his very busy schedule to talk about his roots, his music and what he has planned for the remainder of 2014.
Hi Sasha, thank you for taking the time to speak to us here at Decoded Magazine. What have you been up to so far today?
Hi, it’s a pleasure to speak with you. I’m just back in the studio after a busy summer spent around the world, but with my base mostly in Ibiza. I feel good and full of inspiration.
Can you tell us a little about what it was like growing up in your home town, Napoli?
Naples is a hotbed of art. There are a lot of huge events and cool club nights I have to say, but also a lot of “mafia” and compromise, and I was never part of one or the other. I’ve simply spent more time, but you can say I did it all alone! I managed to tread a stage here in Naples only when I decided to produce a party by myself. The compromise of selling the tickets, sticking posters of parties on the streets for years, licking a bit here and a little there was not for me. I just wanted to be a DJ! What is certain and definitely positive is that the Neapolitan crowd. They are the warmest and most critical in the world, and I’m really satisfied with the relationship that I have with them today, and of the much love they show me every time.
Personally I feel Italian cuisine is amongst the best, if not the best in the world. What are some of your favourite Italian dishes when you get the chance to sit and enjoy a good meal? Can you recommend any restaurants to visit?
Oh man! You touch a touchy subject there haha! I’m a lover of good food and at the table. Obviously in Italy, and especially in Naples, we have the best and the healthiest food in the world, but I have to say I’m also a fan of Japanese food. Favorite dishes? A lot… from the pizza (exclusively Neapolitan) that you can enjoy in the legendary pizzerias in the heart of Naples such as Starita, Sorbillo or Da Michele, to the excellent dishes of pasta with seafood!
Naples has a very strong tradition when it comes to techno exports with the likes of Marco Carola, Joseph Capriati, Luigi Madonna, Rino Cerrone and Phunk Investigation all hailing from the region. Why do you feel Naples has such a good output of quality techno producers and DJs?
I don’t know, could be the pizza! Haha! Seriously, I think, and I have always said, the Neapolitans have a higher gear in the music, and in the arts in generally. Perhaps this is also dependent by the fact that our people, submitted by the various dominations as the Spanish and French, have always had the extraordinary ability to fend, to invent thousands of jobs, and to transmit good mood in the most dramatic situations too. So I think our ancestors have given us this special creativity…as we say here “who kills us?” Hahaha
Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
I grew up with Pink Floyd, Queen, and the Doors but I’m also a collector of Funk music, 70’s / 80’s, and obviously of House Music. I can say I have always been inspired by a mix of Disco, Funk, House and Rock.
Your sound is very distinctive and it definitely edges to the darker, more industrial sound of techno. How long did it take for you to discover ‘your’ sound and what tips do you have for any newcomers out there looking to break into the techno scene?
The music is the mirror of the soul! I’ve always tried to convey my mood through the music that I composed, it wasn’t a forced process but completely natural. I can also advise not to try to imitate others but to always do very “personal” things. This is the only way to be original and not trivial!
Due to your busy gig schedule, you spend a lot of time travelling. Do you produce any of your music on the road or are your productions mainly studio based?
Well lately I slowed my production compared to a few years back because I have more gigs, and because of the management of my label Phobiq too. I always try to find the time to produce during my travels but obviously everything is finalised in my studio, here in Naples.
Can you talk us through your studio at home and some of your favourite tools?
Mostly I work in digital format with Ableton Live and many plugins. I also use Native Instruments Maschine and a Micro Korg XL. One of my favourite plugins is Arturia Analog Lab which emulates the best and legendary analogue synths.
The first release on your label Globox was with fellow Napoli based producer, Jospeh Capriati in 2007. What made you decide to start your own record label?
Yeah nice memories! At that time it was very hard to get consideration from the big Labels and so we thought we should start our own label to be able to release what we produced. It was also a source of income and, as I didn’t play as much as I do now, it was comfortable for me.
In 2009 your second label, Phobiq was introduced to the world with a release by CLR man Brian Sanhaji named ‘Charleston’. Why did you start your second label, Phobiq, and what is the difference between your two labels?
Phobiq was born from my desire to change. Being the son of the house music ,Globox had more classic roots while Phobiq is the evidence of my approach to the Techno sound. Today Phobiq is my principal Label on which I love releasing everything I like proposing around the clubs.
Can you talk us through some of the up and coming releases on your labels, Phobiq in the coming months?
Here are some names: Skober, Layton Giordani, Tom Hades, Highestpoint, Loco & Jam, Exploit, Francesco Bergomie, Simone Zino, Alex Costa, Rafa Barrios and of course myself.
Your latest release, ‘Drop The Soul’ is now available on your Phobiq imprint. How do you approach a new production? Do you have an idea at the start of a project or do you just jam until you find something you like?
Usually I have nothing planned; I love to lose myself in the sounds and the grooves. A fundamental thing to me is to still be a clubber. I love to party especially in Ibiza and I get inspiration from the dance floor. I think is very important to understand personally what people want.
You recently had to miss playing your scheduled gig at Atmosphere Festival due to flight delays. As a global DJ how do you personally find the constant travelling, and what do you do to occupy your time when long delays are incurred?
Oh god good question! Well I try to make some music on my laptop, but most of the time without success because one of the things I hate most is waiting; I always get nervous.
I hear that you are a huge fan of collecting vinyl. Do you still spin vinyl in clubs or are you now fully digital?
Sad to say but full digital! I still love vinyl of course but to be honest traveling so much with that weight is really uncomfortable, plus it’s very hard to find perfect decks in the clubs today.
What is your current setup when DJing?
Traktor with CDJ 2000s, timecode controllers, and one external delay.
You recently played at Space, Ibiza at the Elrow party and some of the pictures looked like it was an insane party. Can you talk us through some of the highlights of your set and the night?
Elorw is always a circus! Hahaha. I love playing with them because I feel like I am at home. The great thing is the interaction between dancers and crowd,it’s a very special thing to see. In my opinion it’s the most funny party in Ibiza!
Finally is there anything you want to tell us about that you have planned for the remainder of 2014?
Many things thanks god… Circus Nation festival in Granada, CLICK ADE, Westerunie, in Amsterdam, my extended session in Naples, MAYDAY Poland, Palazzo, Bingen, Germany and Winterworld in Frankfurt to name a few.
Thanks for having me on your website, it was a pleasure to talk with you. See you soon Ciao.