Bassnectar works with Lupe Fiasco on VaVa Voom, performing in St. Louis with Zeds Dead

This California DJ explains to MOVE why his act is unlike any other.


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When: 6 p.m. Saturday Where: Chaifetz Arena at Saint Louis University

Lorin Ashton's stage name is Bassnectar. It sounds intense, and, as many festivalgoers can attest, his shows are too. If you and a car-owning friend can spare a Saturday, gas money and a game day, a road trip to St. Louis to see Zeds Dead and Bassnectar will not disappoint.

[MOVE]: What makes your shows unique?

[Lorin Ashton]: Anything below 20 hertz is not sound -- it's like weight. Just like the force of an earthquake ... I try to pay as much attention to that lower frequency band as the other ones, and sometimes even more in the context of a show to make it a physical experience as opposed to strictly an auditory experience.

[M]: What are some of your main influences?

[LA]: Well, I wasn't so much influenced by bands as much as I was influenced by scenes. In high school, it was the DIY punk scene in California and the death metal scene. I liked them for their heaviness and their rawness of the sound, but I also liked it because everyone in the scene was involved even if the scenes were small, because they were very fringe and left-field and kind of hardcore-sounding.

That continued when I went to college and got into the underground electronic music world and the world of raves and whatnot, because I was making an event happen with my friends for my friends. That helped me really get behind the scenes and understand the nuances of making events special and making them intimate and preserving the magic.

[M]: It sounds like you've continued that sense of collaboration. For example, in your recent album Vava Voom, you worked with rapper Lupe Fiasco. How would you describe your sound?

[LA]: Freestyle. That's the word I can come up with right now. It's just like as open-ended, free of rules and restrictions and limitations and free of expectations and just a very honest, almost gleeful combination of my favorite aspects and attributes from all different directions. That could be country music. It could be gangsta rap. It could be death metal. It could be dubstep. It could be anything that I hear and love in a movie soundtrack.

[M]: How do you discover all of these sounds? Pandora Radio?

[LA]: This is maybe the sad point of the interview where I admit that I have no life. I work all of the time. It's pretty absurd. (Laughs) Like, I went down to Australia in the winter and then to South America in the spring and then a few trips to Europe in the summer, and I think the normal person would have gone out sight-seeing and living life. I just worked the whole time and did so joyously.

[M]: Freestyle is also the name of your album coming out Oct. 16. What should fans expect?

[LA]: It's really an intense balance of classic and cutting-edge for me ... going back to my roots and a lot of innovation, carrying it with me to each city.

[M]: How do you maintain your show's characteristic high energy atmosphere? What keeps you going?

[LA]: I try to be as physically healthy as I can. I value mental clarity and physical health more than pretty much anything else in the world. So I love sleep. I love exercise. I love a good diet. I don't take drugs. It's really important to me to treat my nervous system like it really is an irreplaceable piece of treasure.

[M]: You mentioned drugs. What are your thoughts about drug use amongst fans in the electronic dance music community?

[LA]: Human beings have a lot to be grateful for when it comes to the fact that they're alive -- that one particular sperm and that one particular egg made it through the ultimate trial, and became a human being, and that human being has a finite amount of time here on this magical and mysterious earth. And that human being is born with these gifts, and the biggest gift of all is the nervous system and the brain and the functions that come with that. Treasuring that, and trying to avoid anything that can bring that nervous system into harm's way, is the way that I recommend everyone that I know. That means anything from wearing earplugs into concerts to being careful with recreational drug use and not giving into peer pressure. Everyone needs to learn growing up how to make tough choices. I've seen a lot of beautiful things come of experimental drug use, but I've seen a lot of bad things too. I've seen a lot of friends' lives go down the drains, literally.

[M]: Bassnectar doesn't sound like a childhood nickname. Where'd it come from?

[LA]: (Laughs) No it's not. It's a word that my friend made up a long time ago. And, for me, it's centered around the concept that bass is magnetic. And that music is magnetic. It can really be a gathering force for positivity in people's lives.

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