Individually they are amongst the biggest and best DJs in the world. Together no-one can even come close to touching them.
Sasha’s DJing career started at the seminal Manchester club The Haçienda before he went on to make a name for himself with a residency at the renowned and much loved Shelley’s in Stoke. From there he moved to Renaissance, and it was here that he met John Digweed. The two instantly hit it off and so began the partnership that would define them both as DJs.
A crucial part of the process by which they became the world’s biggest DJ duo was Renaissance The Mix Collection Volume 1, the compilation the pair mixed in 1994. It was a groundbreaking selection, mixing Leftfield with Digweed’s own productions as Bedrock, Italian techno with vocals, Moby with trance (before trance was a dirty word). It’s still one of the best compilations ever committed to record - hugely varied and far-reaching – and it’s hard to believe that it’s a decade old. It’s certainly because of The Mix Collection Volume 1 that Sasha and Digweed were offered one of the most coveted residencies of all time – at the Twilo club in New York.
Whilst Sasha and Digweed never exactly went their separate ways demand necessitated that they become more independent, Sasha taking time off to make his Airdrawndagger album, Digweed concentrating on Bedrock. Indeed, it’s a long time – six months, in fact – since they DJ-ed together. It’s a lot longer since they played at Renaissance, making their appearance alongside each other at Wild In The Country something of a spiritual homecoming, not to mention one of the essential club dates of the summer.
In 1989 De La Soul sang that ‘three is the magic number’. They were wrong: it’s two. Like ying and yang, you need two halves to complete the whole.
How was the Miami Winter Music Conference this year?
“I really enjoyed it. John Digweed and I played a party at this club called Mansion in Miami. It was the first time we’d played together for about six months. We were talking about how we’re looking forward to Wild In The Country because it’s been so long since we played at Renaissance together.”
How does it feel to be playing Renaissance, the club where you defined your sound, again?
“It feels good because it’s been ten years since we mixed Renaissance The Mix Collection Volume 1. Along with Shelley’s it’s the club that has had the most influence on me.”
How have you changed musically since mixing Renaissance The Mix Collection Volume 1 in ’94?
“Well it was ten years ago and dance music has moved on. Back then it was just like throwing records together in an eclectic way. About four or five years ago it went to this really dark place. But recently I’ve been listening back to sets like that, that we used to play, and it’s given me the confidence to play vocals and eclectic records again. It’s given me the confidence to be less purist.”
What does Renaissance mean to you?
“It’s a huge part of my heritage. It’s one of the places where I formulated my sound. And, of course, it’s the place I met John.”
What keeps you DJing?
“The idea of keeping the music moving forward. That, and taking the sound around the world.”
Who are the hottest new producers/DJs coming through?
“I was a bit burnt out a year or so ago, but I’m really into music again at the moment. There’s loads of great music out there. James Zabiela is really going places and production-wise James Holborn is going from strength to strength.”
What’s the best record in your box at the moment?
“The Tiefschwarz mix of Kinda New by Spektrum. That was the record of Miami for me. Tiefschwarz are great producers. I really like that punk house sound, It’s got loads of energy and it’s really dirty.”
Who else will you be checking out at Wild In The Country?
“Audio Bullys: I’ve never seen them play. James Zabiela of course. And Infusion. Everything they did in Miami got a great reception.”
Why do you make such a good team?
“It just feels right when were in the DJ booth together. We respect and trust each other and that gives us this comfort zone. I find it very hard to analyse either John or myself without sounding like a twat. But I will say this: there’s something that John does that’s pure science. He build energy by mixing tracks that nobody’s heard. Which is great because when I go I can throw a curve ball and go off in a different direction.”
Sasha will be playing an extended set with John Digweed in the Main arena at Renaissance present Wild In The Country at the Shugborough Hall in May. You can find out more about this event using the links below.