We’re talking scale, Electricept and Asa Carson, or simply ASA by production alias, breaking the ice on what would become an extensive interview. The raw scale of that conversation was massive, here excerpted to touch on a little of everything from the digital new media paradigm, to heroes and villains, and his oft overlooked history of production among the creatives who inhabit Bristol, England where he flats with longtime friends and fellow producers KOAN Sound.
Asa- I understand. Everything is on another scale in the United States. Comparatively England is smaller than Florida, it’s tiny. We’re just this little Island off the west coast of Europe. But yeah… I assume you have questions.
I had beamed in to Bristol via Skype for our chat, a diplomatic outreach for both parties, the Electricept Journal, and reclusive Asa. Our exchange had established after an article I wrote detailing his ongoing Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, which will support the first Asa album project- an expensive endeavor structured around live instrumental recording and performance.
Today, we had finally reconciled the Eastern Standard/Bristol Standard time difference to a reasonable hour and I caught him before he sat down to watch Interstellar with his flatmates. I urged Asa to abandon the notion of appreciating such a trashy film (one starring Mathew McConaughney no less), but he insisted on the viewing, allotting me a few hours of conversation and a follow up to elucidate or expound upon key elements from our discussion.
EC- Let me get just get my voice recorder thing going.
Asa- Ok, here’s my situation, I live with the KOAN Sound guys, and we went and got Interstellar today on blu-ray… so that’s uh, what we’re doing tonight.
EC- Brilliant. Just a warning about Interstellar–
Asa- I’ve seen it, we went to the cinema and saw it.
EC- I felt it was one of those movies with beautiful cinematography but zero story, which is almost a genre in itself now. The script aspires to be mind-bending but functions on flawed logistics that only achieve confusion and nonsense, except with people who can’t admit the story just doesn’t make sense.
Asa- You could tell they were really trying hard with the science, of course it had a somewhat generic story. I mean, I loved the film all in all… the ending was a little unnecessary, but lets not talk about spoilers right?’
EC- No doubt.
Asa- As you said, I appreciate it for the production value more than anything.
EC- I cant’ stand Matthew McConaughey, either.
Asa- Matthew McConaughey, how odd, he used to be a sort of generic heartthrob, sort of a cheesy actor?
EC- Edtv? Failure to Launch, with Sarah Jessica Parker? Don’t get me wrong though, I love me some Sarah Jessica.
Asa- Yeah, right.
EC- We should talk about music a little bit though, I don’t want to go on and cut into movie night with the boys. Interstellar is three hours, you’ve got to commit.
Asa- Great. I understand.
EC- Look man, let me begin by saying that speaking with artists is the best part my job. Conversation really describes things as editorial journalism can’t. The language of hypertext is in essence social, really lends itself to conversation, so many strong linkages are created when producers contribute.
Asa- I understand, speaking with the artists is a personal insight you otherwise would never have had. Relating that is a challenge with new, social media. Most “blogs” are just regurgitating, its sort of an incestuous pool.
EC- These days, if you visit a given three “blogs” in a single day they’ll have posted cuts of the same material; the really great ones have all been bought up by larger media aggregates. Do Androids Dance was the last to go, bought by Complex.
Asa- Really? I thought I still saw them online, definitely posting me and KOAN Sound’s stuff, DAD, people even know about them in the UK, it was a reputable name. Complex though, really?
EC- Yeah. That was a real encouraging factor for us to step up as the “next wave”. But enough about Electricept, as I said, I’ve been following you guys for some time now, I just wanted to even the playing field with a bit of background.
Asa- Oh no, it’s really not a problem. You mentioned you’d spoken to Oscar (Oscar Davey-Wraight, Opiuo) in the past?
EC- Ha, indeed, he keeps us busy.
Asa- Yeah, he stays here sometimes- he and Will, (Will Weeks, KOAN Sound) they started a couple tracks together last time, and never got around to finishing them, unfortunately… but yeah Oscar is salt-of-the earth, really love the guy.
EC- I just did a bit about the promotional video he’s released for the Opiuo Band, inciting a comparison between you guys in the basement, sort of closeting yourselves in, and he, well he’s never been shy about discussing his music.
Asa- Some guys just have the transparency thing down. If you have a following that’s really invested in you and has been for years, that transparent insight is huge. I like being transparent whenever I can.
EC- Can you give us a little insight into growing up in the UK for starters? As in, what styles and genres you were exposed to on the homefront?
Asa- Growing up in the UK, well, we grew up on garage, grime, and drum and bass – they were & still are a big part of the culture. When we were just young kids we caught it from our older brothers. Will especially learned how to produce by seeing his older brother work on tunes, for me it was also my older brothers that from an early age exposed me to alot of garage, drum and bass, then grime, then dubstep became the thing when we were 15 or 16, which is like 9 years ago now. Yeah, dubstep was the thing back then.
EC- It’s strange. In the U.S. our trends are completely different, exist on a different timeline, and drum and bass has never really caught on, though its always hung around the underground.
Asa- I think it’s the tempo, more than anything, but that is sort of ingrained in the culture here. Terms like “EDM” or “electronic music” are not really used, and because the music is ingrained in the culture, there’s no need to distinguish it so much. We do have a different timeline from the U.S. and it’s interesting that our tiny little island has produced so many good ideas or seeds that have spread over there and elsewhere around the world… but yeah, that’s a whole other conversation.
EC- Actually, it’s not, it’s actually where my “interview” begins, I’ve got some real questions in that line, written down, so I can hit all my points here.
Asa- Oh, wicked. Cool. If there’s anything you want me to elaborate on, just say straightaway.
EC- Just a bit more about on your personal musical background, that is, how did you begin as a musician, when did you discover you were more than just a listener, and what were your first forays into music and recording like?
Asa- I was a choir boy originally, we used to travel around and sing in the cathedrals of Europe. Otherwise, you could say I’ve been producing full-time since I was 16, and only a kind of self-employed “musician” for the last year, year and a half now? I’ve been above board, properly. I graduated from university about two years ago, and from the time I started there I’d been playing gigs, so , so for five years I’ve been doing alright money wise. When I say that, it means I can pay bills and keep making music, and, uh, I’m fine. In terms of us, KOAN Sound are 23, I’m 24-
EC- I’m 23 as well, actually, I turn 24 tomorrow.
Asa- Oh yeah? So we we would’ve been in the same form… uh, year group at school. I turned 24 a few weeks ago. KOAN Sound have always been a year younger than me, we both started at 13-14, and our first vinyl release was a few years after, 16-17, tune called “Hesitation”.