For a dj known to many as a headliner in many of the world's top clubs, it may come as some surprise that Ashley Casselle has recently traversed into the twilight world of afterparties, warehouse raves and heady gatherings in cities such as LA, Moscow and London. Finding his place in dark dj booths on hotel rooftops and in sweaty basements pursuing his own brand of 'housey techno, technoey house' for hours at a time, Ashley's gained a reputation for taking people to the outer limits of his record collection while keeping it all accessible and entertaining. He's got back to the very heart of the scene he adores.
'Dayrise Enterprise', his current project, is a series of podcasts and tracks created to bridge the gap between his club and afterhours experiences. Much of this new material is co-written with a crop of his favourite artists such as Berlin's Future Beat Alliance and regular collaborator Asadinho, leading up to a new ep on UK imprint Murge Recordings later this year.
A listen to the bouncy depths of forthcoming single 'Ceefox' highlights a fresh yet oddly familiar take on house music, melodic basslines complimenting grainy string arrangements and atmospherics, working as well in your headphones as it does booming from a soundsystem at 3am. Upon hearing djs Andrew Weatherall, Laurent Garnier and Francois K (plus newer talents Shane Watcha and Darius Syrosian) had been spotted playing his new tracks in their playlists recently, Ashley responded in a traditionally humble manner: 'I enjoy plotting my own musical path and never follow trends. That's what these great djs have done themselves in their own way - it's amazing to get support from the artists who inspire me.'
Since being singled out by Mixmag in 2001 as a 'future deck hero' Casselle's name has become synonymous with quality electronic records. Releases on Deviant, Junior Boys Own, MFS and Global Underground labels scaled club charts, bringing rave reviews and a loyal fanbase, ushering him along on a steady rise to international dj status. Finding himself the favoured opening act for many of the world's biggest djs (Carl Cox, Richie Hawtin, Paul van Dyk and Junior Vasquez all hailed his warm up skills), Ashley developed a djing technique which he describes as 'build-twist-lift', serving him well to this day. Perhaps this goes some way to explain the hypnotic effect he has on a dancefloor with his unique take on the music, a rich seamless brew of dubby house, percussive techno and hyper funk which always define his appearances in clubland . Securing guest spots and residencies in many of the world's best clubs such as Vinyl New York, Heaven London, Zouk Singapore, Warung Brazil, Bedrock UK, Womb Japan, Amnesia Ibiza, Issst London and Pyramidia Russia (yes, a pyramid shaped club no less) led to his own headline slots. Clocking up a good deal of airmiles in the process, he was living the dj lifestyle he'd only ever dreamt of. Sliding into the DJ MAG Top 100 DJs poll sealed the popular vote, pushing him onto front pages of monthly dance mags, giving crucial radio exposure to his eps and remixes (as Ashtrax). 'Digital Reason' arguably remains the perfect example for his vision of 'a club record that sounds as good at home', lauded by critics and fans alike for its skippy 2 step beats forged to hazy iced synths and hip hop samples.
A brave attempt to straddle the divide between dance and rock in 2006 saw him arrive into the American i-tunes top 20 with an artist album, 'Too Low To Miss', under mysterious alias The Remote alongside co-producer James Christopher and singer Ben Lost. The longplayer introduced an experimental blend of indie vocals, dark disco and 80's infused electronics to listeners perhaps more attuned to his dancefloor friendly Ashtrax output. Extensive touring of the States helped push he and his records even further around the globe, eventually flying home to London (after playing to a million people at the Berlin Love Parade with Pete Tong!) to find his picture on display in the National Portrait Gallery as part of a Dj coffee table book exhibition.
'That's when I looked at it all and wondered where my place in it was. I wanted to get back to the dirty warehouses, the parties where all that matters is the music and a continuous connection with people on the dancefloor. I am very lucky to play at clubs like that now - having this platform is something that I love.' Just recently he's played at SuperFreq in LA (the legendary dj Mr.C's clubnight) and East London's shuffling rave paradise Cargo. His own Wet Paint clubnights have attracted a loyal party crowd for the past year whenever their quirky artwork pops up around London boasting their cool underground lineups. These days the likes of Mixmag have dubbed him 'This Charming Deejay', perhaps as much to do with an ongoing passion for all things Smiths/Morrissey related than for his deck-side manner.
A nod to the indie music scene often persists in his music too, most recently on the trippy remix of rocktronica band Public Service Broadcasting. The 'Spitfire' single (remixed with Wet Paint jock Justin Steel) was the first to be released from their Top 20 album 'Inform, Educate, Entertain'. August 2013 also saw Ashley djing alongside Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich at the Lepallooza festival in Cornwall, as he swiftly showed the Atoms for Peace stars around a CDJ 2000 in under 60 seconds before the start of their dj set, another surreal snapshot from his varied career.
With a catalogue of productions and remixes and an ever evolving dj sound (reflected in a soon to be released collection of archived global club mixes wittily titled 'Ashmachine: live') plus one very good Radio1 Essential Mix under his belt, he's been working on remixes and tracks for legendary Paper Recordings and Wall of Sound labels. With an album of new material and previously unreleased tracks scheduled for the new alliance with Murge in 2014 it seems we'll be hearing a lot more from him in the future.
'Thankfully the English weather is as grey and wet as people expect, so I'm not worried about the vast amounts of time I've been spending in the studio' Ashley says.
Then let's hope the rains continue to fall so that his new album may bring us some sunshine next year.