Bassnectar on Remixing Black Sabbath and What's Next for EDM

DJ also set to perform at Metallica's Orion Festival

Bassnectar
Mark Davis/Getty Images for Coachella
Bassnectar performs in Indio, California.
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As he sat backstage in his trailer on the first day of Coachella, gearing up to headline the famed Sahara Tent, Bassnectar felt "euphoric."

"I'm unusually excited. I always have different forms of excitement, but tonight is a big one for me, partly just for the chance to headline such a wicked tent at such a wicked festival," the DJ, whose real name is Lorin Ashton, told Rolling Stone. "But also, I'm just fresh out of a vacation and also a very incubative studio season and prepping for tour. I left my house yesterday for seven weeks."

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As part of that prolific studio spree, he's been on what he describes as a "remix warpath." As he explains, "It's me hitting up my old heroes and being like, 'Please get me the track.' It's trying to get tracks from the Sex Pistols. I just did the official remix for 'Here Come the Bastards' for Primus' release and working on the new Black Sabbath album – just shit that I love."

While Ashton wanted to tackle the sacred "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath, he has instead been given "carte blanche" to work on whatever he wants from the upcoming Sabbath album, 13. To be given free reign on the first Black Sabbath album to include Ozzy Osbourne in more than three decades is a high compliment indeed, and one Ashton says his teenage self would not believe.

"The 14-year-old in me is just going nuts. It was Les Claypool texting me, going, 'Hey, little fella, love the remix. Can I come on the road?' And then I got Lars [Ulrich] asking to have me play the Metallica festival and I'm like, 'This is so cool. I love this shit,'" he said.  

While he spoke directly to those artists for those tracks, Ashton also has some material he's working on to bring into his live shows. "I've got a whole folder called 'Reinforce' right now and it's hundreds of projects. [I'm] writing new parts to it and having this killer exclusive remix that I'm just gonna play at my show," he said. "I've been fucking with shit by the Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar and all kinds of stuff. It's not official; I'm not trying to release it. I've got this magic spell for the show."

To Ashton, that range of diverse artists answers a common conversational prompt. "The question people keep asking me is, 'What's next for EDM?' I have no idea what's up with EDM; I don't even feel like a part of it. It's a thing that's cool, but I think electronic music is just existing in every genre; every genre is produced electronically," he said. "I think that kind of fusion is just gonna continue. I think the human need for there to retain some sort of relatable organic-ness to their music is why the live shows happen in such force, why every festival is sold out. I think as everything becomes digital and so easily replicatable and bootleg-able, the one thing you can't fake is this grueling heat."

As one could guess from his views, Ashton sees himself as a live artist first, and that's where fans will get to hear him debut new music. "I don't honestly think I've created an album in maybe six or seven years. I more end up with collections: 'Whoa, I've got 16 songs, that's an album' or 'I've got five songs, that's an EP.' And it's that right now because everything that I'm writing is end-goal for my live shows," he said. "If I could just make music, play rad sets and put it up for free for listening, it's just a lot more fun."