DJ, Label Manager, A&R, Compiler, Event Producer, Music Licensing - these are just some of the things Naasko has done during his time with Interchill. Usually he is behind the scenes but we managed to persuade him to step into the spotlight as we get set to release his new compilation Subtextures.
Your first compilation with Interchill was Arcana (ICHILLCD023) - more than half a lifetime ago for the label. In terms of what you DJ, what were you playing then and what sounds are you playing out now?
That was 9 years ago - hard to believe really! Back then I took a bit of a hiatus from DJ'ing and only played a small handful of gigs that year which ranged from the downtempo styles - dub, trip hop, world fusion and techy electronica - to the uptempo world of techno, tech house and progressive psy trance. These days, I tend to play more of a selection of deep dubstep, smoked out dub and atmospheric d'n'b but occasionally have the opportunity to play 4/4 tech sets.
With Subtextures what do you see being the ideal location and time for playing these tunes? What were you aiming for with this compilation?
There's such a diverse mix of vibes and styles on Subtextures that there's something there for almost any sort of time or place. Some tracks are well suited to an open minded, mid-tempo dance floor while others are more geared towards a listening environment whether that be at home, on highways or in headphones. The aim I started with stays fairly close to the mark though it pleasantly detoured in several places as the tracks started rolling in. Originally I was hoping to have a more uptempo collection of deeper dubstep tracks oriented towards the dance floor but as it turned out, we ended up with a collection that had an arc to it which is cool. As with any compilation there's diversity and, as a compiler, you're left with the choice of drawing somewhat of a coherent thread through a fairly broad range of tunes that get submitted. I think that continuity is apparent with the tracks on this album. A lot of the deeper dubstep tunes that I've heard over the years seemed to fit within the open stylistic parameters of Interchill's downtempo ethos and I'm happy to see that what we pulled together reflects that 'Interchill' quality across a relatively new genre for the label.
Where / when did you first get into electronic music?
Entry level began with hip hop in the mid 80s and carried on into the rave days of the early 90s in Vancouver. With time spent in the UK in '95 I spent more time in record stores than I did in class. Probably spent more money on music than I did on tuition too….
What are your 3 most memorable sets that you’ve played, and why?
- Shambhala 2006 @ The Portal playing a ridiculous psy-trance set after Simon Posford/Hallucinogen. I was fresh off the plane from Portugal and in some kind of blur after the dusty mayhem of 6 weeks at Boom Festival. Things hit a peak that night for whatever reason with the music, crowd and vibe.
- Boom Festival 2012 @ The Alchemy Circle stage. I was the first DJ on opening night and people had been waiting a day for the music to start. I couldn't believe how hyped they were! It was incredible to play in front of such an up-for-it international crowd like that.
- Exodus 2005 @ the hacienda in the Australian bush outside of Byron Bay. I was playing a morning trance set after all the main acts and, in the middle of it, someone handed me this old S.U.N Project CD with a request to play a track on it as a tribute to a friend of theirs who died tragically just a few days before. The disc was coated in surf wax and was scratched like it had been sitting on the floor of this dude's car for a season but track 7 was the deceased's favourite and apparently this was 'the moment' when all of his friends there would have a dance for him. The guy was pretty high, though very sincere and quite convincing, so I agreed and took the chance with the CD despite any discerning DJ's better judgement. When the tune came on, people knew what was up. It was emotional. Suffice to say the track played for a bit then starting skipping about half way through and there was this collective 'holy shit!' moment in the place. Somehow, by utter chance only, a quick tap on the scan forward button brought the track back and people flipped out in the best possible way. It was cool to see that level of randomness in action with such a positive and significant outcome for everyone.
Tell us about your plans for In:Sight in Nelson this Fall?
I'm working on bringing the visionary artists Alex Grey and his wife, Allyson, to town. They're making their first public appearance in western Canada and will be in Nelson from Oct. 8-10th. We've set up an event series for them that includes a day long visionary art workshop, a feature presentation at the local theatre, a book signing event and then finally a multi-media show at Shambhala's new venue 'Bloom'. I'm still working on the details for the multi-media showcase so I can't say too much yet but expect there to be a top notch music headliner playing alongside a live painting installation by Alex and Allyson complete with VJs, lasers, lights and good vibes.
More info can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1540781466168686/
What do you like best about living in the Kootenays, and what makes the area different from the rest of BC?
The inspiring geography, seasonal variations, excellent water, clean air and above all else, the sense of community. There's a high concentration of interesting and unique folk out this way which never ceases to intrigue.
OK it is desert island discs time - give us 10 albums you’d choose to take with you.
Leftfield - Release The Pressure
LTJ Bukem - Logical Progression
Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique
Pitch Black - Future Proof
Happy Mondays - Pills, Thrills & Bellyaches
Hariprasad Chaurasia and Zakir Hussain - Venu
V/A - Bioluminescence
Ooze - Where The Fields Never End
Gaudi - Dub Qawwali
The cover of Subtextures features work from Andrew Jones - where/when did you guys meet and where / when did you first get involved with / fall in love with psychedelic art?
His work is incredible! We met in Tokyo in 2007 when we were both there to perform, along with a bunch of others, for a multi-media night called Crossroads. I'd been into visionary art since I first saw Alex Grey's paintings in '97 and I started to get more familiar with it through my work at Boom Festival in Portugal from 2002 - 2008. Andrew's take on visionary art took things to a new level though - particularly because of his use of the digital platform to express his ideas.
Tell us about your project IMRSV?
It's an informal studio project that my friend Jason Job and I recently started. Over the winter and spring of this year we got into making a couple of tracks together, the first of which made it onto Subtextures. Jason's been a closet producer for many years and is a talented one at that. I'm learning via osmosis as we go. We don't have any big picture plans and just want to jam when we can with sounds that strike a chord. Our second tune is up on Soundcloud at: www.soundcloud.com/imrsvmusic
You’ve done some stage management at festivals - which ones? What do you think makes a good stage manager?
Regularly at Basscoast & Shambhala but I've also done stage management at In:Vision ('03 & '04), Symbiosis ('06 & '07), Emerg'N'See ('07), Glade Festival ('07 & '08), Waveform Project ('09), Gaian Mind ('09) and Boom (2012).
First off, a stage manager should never be wasted on the job. Nor be overly distracted by any of the usual trappings that come with the position. Finding that right balance between casual and focused is an art. Beyond that, a good stage manager should be make a performer feel welcome, respected and that they're in capable hands - that if anything should happen to go sideways, technically or with the stage, crowd, etc., then the stage manager and crew will be able to sort it out quickly and professionally. Clear communication skills are important. One should always be in touch with the sound, lighting and power crews as well with security, first aid and central production and will know how to contact any of them if needed. Attention to detail and an ability to trouble shoot on the fly are key. Say, for example, you have a crowd of 1000+ at 1am and a guy jumps on stage, pulls down his pants in full exhibitionist revelry and proceeds to bend over, stick a dollar bill up his arse and light it on fire for the crowd. Security is elsewhere and you're the only one around to deal with it - what are you going to do?
A) Pull him off stage and risk a bigger public spectacle than the one at hand?
B) Push him off the stage and subject those unfortunate enough to be at the front to the unpleasant likelihood of handling his junk and burning themselves in the process?
C) Rush to get the fire extinguisher while calling on the radio for security?
D) Let him finish making his statement and hope that he leaves of his own accord?
E) Ask the DJ to stop playing and roll out the giant gong that's stashed backstage?
A good stage manager would keep all of these options open.
[true story !]