Maybe You Went to E-Zoo, But I Talked To Bassnectar About Barack Obama

“I don’t really listen to music,” Lorin Ashton AKA Bassnectar told me over the phone last week. “I guess if I’m going to be a listening environment, I’ll be listening to music from the 20s or 30s, or anything that gives me a strange cultural experience. I mean, I’m working constantly, I’m constantly using my ears—so I’m definitely not listening to electronic music right now.”

It’s not that surprising. I imagined that as a producer and DJ who’s constantly running around the world, performing at festivals, he might not talk about music the way that his fans experience his music. “I work for 90 hours a week, “ he went on. “One of my jobs is full-time making music, and the other is behind the scenes, interfacing with the team, and all the moving parts.”

How does he do it all? He laughed, and shared his secret—”Well, I love sleep and exercise.”

I told him that I’d originally planned to address his role in the resurgence of mainstream music festivals, but my boyfriend had admonished me, saying my idea was extremely boring. On one hand, he was right—Lorin must constantly experience questions similar to this, in similar situations, while speaking to similar people. But on the other hand, the Bassnectar effect has actually been a phenomenon worth discussing.

“I can’t anonymously dance for 8 or 9 hours and really lose my mind anymore.”

“One thing that really makes Bassnectar a project that I’m kind of in awe of and surprised by, it’s been kind of a grassroots, DIY phenomenon for over 15 years.” He said. “It wasn’t like a market thing, or a pop music thing. There wasn’t really a scene at the time—there wasn’t really a touring scene for DJs. It would be inaccurate to take too much credit from the renegade-free parties in the 80s, and that progression through fringe festivals, but in 2005, or 2006, even if I was playing in Austin, Texas, I had to convert people.”
“Was that hard?” I asked,”And did you always love festivals?”

“I’ve always loved concerts. I started out as a kid super into heavy metal, you know? But I don’t really experience concerts from that end anymore. I can’t anonymously dance for 8 or 9 hours and really lose my mind anymore. But it’s fun to be on the giving end of that musical interaction, instead of the receiving end. I interact with events as though they’re an art form in themselves, especially as I try to develop my interactive sets on a technological level.”

I changed the subject.  “Tell me—where were you when Obama won the presidency in 2008?”

“Oh man,” he paused. “We did a free show that was a vote rally, and all friends of mine that were hanging out with me at the time happened to all be African-American. I was the only white guy in the room. And the room blew up in such a deeply emotional way. We were up on the 10th floor of some building, and it was flooded with people, and it was just such a victorious moment. Of course, Obama has turned out be less than what we hoped for in a candidate, but there was something overcome in our country. I was in a state of awe and euphoria, amazed by all the potential for hope.”

I prompted him to address his disappointment in Obama. “Well, at the same time, there’s been an organized cock blocking by the Republic Congress, which I understand. It’s hard for him to stand up and say what he really wants. But I don’t really appreciate that lack of conviction. He’s definitely forced to be a gentleman about the situation, but if I was him, I would have stood up a lot more publicly.”

Who will Bassnectar vote for in 2016?

“I definitely like the mentality of Bernie Sanders, but I don’t expect to see him as a winning candidate. It’d be wonderful if he did! He appears to be someone that really does care about his values. Most other people that I’ve heard, have really shit values, or don’t really care too much or use vague political statements. They’re more behind a typical corporate agenda. I think politics are such a distracting circus in our country, and when candidates speak, it’s seldom critical, and doesn’t reflect what they tend to do. I like that Bernie has some conviction.”

Keep up with Bassnectar’s stage politics (tour) updates here, and stream his new album, Into The Sun, below:

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