Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.
Alexander Coe, better-known as U.K. DJ/producer Sasha (one-half of production outfit Sasha & Digweed), once did production work under the puzzling moniker BM:Ex, which Sasha says stood for "Barry Manilow Experience." "When I first got started as a DJ, a writer in the British press called me 'the Barry Manilow of house music,' because I played so many tracks with dramatic piano in them, Sasha explains with a laugh. "So, [with BM:Ex], I was just making a joke about myself, really."
Sasha's good nature is evident in many aspects of his career. In March, he punctured his eardrum in a car accident and was forced to cancel his appearances at the Winter Music Conference, the annual dance/electronic conference held in Miami. Instead of becoming angry, Sasha turned a negative into a positive. "After working on and off for a very long time on my solo album, I was forced to sit down and really focus on making songs," he offers.
"Music lifted me out of depression," he continues. "The accident turned out to be the catalyst that made me focus on the album after talking about it for six years." Sasha's solo debut, 'Airdrawndagger,' arrives Aug. 6 via Kinetic (available on CD and a triple-pack vinyl set).
Interestingly, "Airdrawndagger," steeped in moody and cinematic instrumentals, is not primed for the dancefloor. And tracks like "Immortal" and "Fundamental" are decidedly dark. "I don't think I'm moving away from the dancefloor. I'm just spreading my wings," Sasha explains. "I still love to DJ, I still love to play banging tracks, and I still love to see the response. But I just wanted to do something with more depth."
"Airdrawndagger" is a collaboration among tunesmith Charlie May, recording engineer Simon Wright, producer Tom Holkenborg (also known as Junkie XL), and Sasha, who says it was inspired by the abstract recordings of Leftfield, William Orbit, Jean-Michel Jarre, and the Future Sound of London.
Of the set's lack of vocals, Sasha offers: "I will eventually work with vocalists, but for now I wanted to be brave and make an instrumental album to develop my sound."
"It's not a who's who of guest vocalists," Kinetic president Steve Lau says. "Anyone who loves him and his music will understand the honesty that comes through in the music. He didn't make music to fit any format."
Kinetic will launch a special promotion with an as-yet-undetermined national retailer where fans who pre-order the album will receive a wristband to gain entry to that city's album launch party. Sasha will be on hand at 10 such parties in the U.S. A full-scale tour is planned with Junkie XL in the fall.
Perhaps more unique is Kinetic's partnering with Apple computers for a "remix contest," where participants will be able to download various "Sasha song parts" from the label's Web site (kineticrecords.com) to create something new. Twenty finalists will be chosen from all submissions. From this group, Sasha will hand-pick 10 people to each receive Apple iPods. One grand-prize winner will receive an iMac T4 processor and a trip to Europe, as well as have their "remix" featured as a B-side on an upcoming Sasha single.
Earlier this year Sasha & Digweed-helmed the Delta Heavy tour. Currently, Sasha's schedule has only two appearances confirmed, an Aug. 24 performance at the Creamfields festival in Liverpool, England, and an Aug. 31 stop at the Dublin version of the event.
Excerpted from the July 20, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com members section .
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