Heard A-Sides’ new album yet? Entitled Based Upon Bass, it’s the perfect picture of a happy addicted man wearing his sonic heart on his sleeve. A 12 track compendium of razor-sharp production and undiluted dancefloor havoc, it’s A-Sides at his best. What with it being called Based Upon Bass we thought we’d ask him for some bass insider-info. He’s come back with some really interesting production thoughts as well as his all-time three favourite basslines. What a dude.
He’s currently on tour down under at the moment, so we sent him some questions. He got back telling us he’d answered them on his iPad while flying over the Pacific. Lucky for some eh? And he wonders why Andy C calls him the ‘most travelled DJ’….
Mr A-Sides. Congrats on your album… Is there a feeling of satisfaction or relief once you’ve released a big project? Or is it straight back to the grindstone for you?
“After an album project is complete I get a feeling of satisfaction and achievement plus I feel like I have stepped up my profile as an artist. But the workflow never stops as I always have a bunch of projects on the go at the same time so it’s pretty much on with the next project for me.”
The album opens with a remix. This is a mad way to start an album. Unreal’s done your classic proud… Did you ever intend to open the album with it? Or was that a more organic thing?
“Keep Steppin’ has always been a special tune for me plus it is one of the most popular tracks on the album. It just seemed to be the right to open with it. I have tried to organise the track listing so that the album flows nice and is like a journey from start to finish and naturally the intro on Keep Steppin’ works perfectly to start out with.”
Worldwide in 2010, Mysterious Vibes in 2011, Based Upon Bass in 2013…. You’re stepping up to the album challenge almost every year. I take it you enjoy making them? What’s the most fulfilling part of the album process?
“I really do enjoy making albums. For me each time I get another album under my belt it’s a big sense of achievement and a big accomplishment for me personally. I think people tend to take you more serious if you are capable of writing full albums too. It helps to step up my profile as an artist and to keep me active as a touring DJ which is where producers make most of their income these days (if they can DJ!) Finally I have only been releasing my own music on Eastside over the recent years so it seems better for me to just release albums yearly rather than, say, six singles. Plus it’s a lot less label work too which gives me more time to focus on writing music and my tour schedule.”
And what’s the worst part?
“I have to say the online promotion and the admin you have to do to set up a digital release. Metadata forms etc. I would rather be making or playing music!”
You’ve got a rich repertoire of beats behind you (over 500 tracks!) What’s your all-time favourite/proudest moment?
“Obviously my first vinyl release was a proud moment but I would say some other key moments were signing tracks to Metalheadz and Valve back in the day, having my parents behind the decks when I DJ, and playing in these awesome places I would never get to go to if I didn’t do what I do.”
What’s the most inspiring thing about D&B that’s kept you in the game for all these years?
“Firstly I still have mad passion for the music. Tunes touch me and that keeps me focused and inspired on what I do. Also just seeing people react and enjoying themselves when I DJ at places that not many other people have had a chance to DJ. It’s a great feeling.”
And what’s next? Another album? Lots of touring?
“Yes and yes! The touring never stops. From now through to mid-March I am touring New Zealand then in March I’m back to the USA straight into Winter Music Conference for a bunch of shows then more US dates in April and May. I am making plans to tour Asia in June too so my tour schedule is on-going.
I am actually working on an album project with Makoto which I hope will be finished in 2013 Also maybe another A Sides album if time allows. This year I am also focusing on getting the whole Eastside and Fuze back catalogue available for online download and more releases on my US based co-lab label Basshead”.
Now let’s chat bass…. What percentage of your life genuinely is based on bass?
“I would say 75% at least. I’m a machine and a workhorse and when I am not sleeping most of my life is based around things that are Based Upon Bass… Either making music or arranging gigs and touring.”
Please give me the important ingredients all bass-heavy productions should contain to make them really stand out…
“If you want real bass then you have to go low. Way below 60hz. I would say for the best results layer this bass underneath a bass with more mid-range or definition. Also don’t be scared to use a low pass filter now and then. Three key bases in my life:
1. 808 bass – The classic from the Roland TR808. Round and very fat.
2. Sine Wave - Back in the day we used to use this as the main sub bass. It was a pre-set in most Akai samplers. Pitch it down to feel it. And if you want to get cheeky play two keys at once a semitone apart.
3. Reece Bass – Taken from an old Detroit Techno track by Kevin Saunderson and brought into drum & bass in a big way by Ray Keith on Terrorist. A very versatile bass. Distort it then apply a low pass filter. The staple of many big tracks!”
Now please tell us three basslines that kill it in every way. And why you love them.
Mantronix – Ladies
“I love the swing on this one. Classic 303 bass and a huge inspiration to me.”
LFO – LFO
“For me this is the first sub bass I had ever heard on an electronic record. When the bass came in on this track people used to go insane!”
Alex Reece – Pulp Fiction
“Minimal but next level – Nuff said!”
Finally please tell us something that you’ve never told anyone in an interview before!
“Andy C thinks I am the most travelled man in drum & bass. I disagree ”
Based Upon Bass is out now! Listen and download.