Lorin Ashton a.k.a Bassnectar is known far and wide within the EDM scene for his expert blend of dark, transcendent, hip hop and metal influenced bass heavy beats. His undeniably unique style and on-the-fringe take on electronic music has become so infectious that he’s managed to gather a massive cult-like legion of fans known as bassheads in all parts of the country. After coming off the tail of his latest album release, Noise Vs. Beauty, Bassnectar is preparing to embark on one of the most notable benchmarks in his career this Saturday, a show at the 18,000 person capacity Madison Square Garden stadium in New York City with Paper Diamond, Rusko and Big Gigantic.
As 37-year-old Lorin Ashton is getting geared up for his biggest show in his 15 year career, he sat down for an exclusive interview with Billboard to discuss the Madison Square Garden show, Noise Vs. Beauty and how he identifies with being this generation’s Grateful Dead.
When discussing the flashiness that comes with playing a giant stadium like Madison Square Garden, Ashton remarked, “I feel just as at home in the random hole-in-the-wall venues, and sometimes more at home in those places, so in a way, it’s like any other show. The night before we’ll play an old armory in Rochester and a couple nights later we’ll be in a 2,000 capacity joint in Maine. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited. I haven’t played a proper New York City show in a long time, and to have this big moment is awesome for the whole team. Everyone’s families are coming out for it.” He also added, “I’m amped about the music and I’m amped to play it in this massive contained environment where there isn’t tons of soundbleed like at outdoor festivals. It’s going to be heavy.” Bassnectar also managed to reveal a bit of his stage concept and what he has planned musically for his massive show. He described his stage as a recreation of “the spaceship-themed Red Rocks show but customized for the Garden” and disclosed that musically, concertgoers should anticipate many peaks and valleys in his set. Ashton described, “honestly, especially in an enclosed area, it’s the point between the peaks and the valleys. And actually, sometimes, it is the valleys. This is what I mean when I say I’m more like a band and less like a DJ. I’m not just playing beats to make people dance. It can’t all be peak. Sometimes, the best moments are when film scores from Inception or American Beauty play as softly as possible before unfolding into something unexpected. It’s not about, ‘where’s the drop, where’s the drop.’ It’s a musical experience.”
During the interview with Billboard, Bassnectar was asked if he feels like he identifies with the sentiment that he is this generation’s Grateful Dead. He replied by saying, “No! Yes! It’s weird. I know I’m a DJ, and I love the nineties rave scene in the nineties, but I do identify more with bands than EDM. I have no interest in EDM. Bands like Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine, Tool, Coldplay, they get to do what they want because their fans aren’t saying, ‘I’m a rock ‘n’ roll fan.’ No, they say, ‘I’m a Tool fan.’ It’s about the band, not an umbrella genre, and that’s the vibe I get from my fans. They like Bassnectar, and they may also like Lauryn Hill and gospel music and K-Pop. They appreciate eclectic music, which kind of feels like the opposite of the EDM thing, you know? And they’re super engaged. To see them compare and argue over setlists between shows, getting all heated, man. If there’s any pressure, it’s from them.” He then began discussing his latest album release, Noise Vs. Beauty, and the approach he took for the album by saying, “I’m very disenchanted by a lot of what I’m hearing in the larger pop and mainstream stuff. It just doesn’t grab me, pretty much at all. Noise Vs. Beauty was just me making sounds I liked and not caring what tempo they were or whether they’d fit into other DJs sets. That’s the future for me. I don’t know what’s going to happen to the mainstream douches up in f—in’ Vegas.”
For those bassheads who are lucky enough to blast off with Bassnectar on Saturday, be prepared. At the end of his interview with Billboard, he promised, “we’re bringing the f––ing ruckus, for sure.” And in true Bassnectar fashion, he described his Madison Square Garden show as drawing a community of people who love the whole “beat-of-your-own-drum thing.” He remarked that there’s a togetherness that is built on being yourself.
Photo Credit: Rukes