Sasha & John Digweed on Belfast debut at Custom House Square
Superstar DJ duo Sasha and John Digweed make their Belfast debut on Saturday at Custom House Square. David Roy quizzed Sasha, AKA Alexander Paul Coe, about bringing the recently re-united pair's Resistance tour to town
HI SASHA, are you looking forward to playing in Belfast again? Have you played any particularly memorable shows/sets here in Ireland over the years?
For years, mainly my shows in Northern Ireland were at Kelly’s at Lush in Portrush; I’ve actually only played in Belfast itself a handful of times and they’ve always been amazing parties.
In fact, John and I have never played in Belfast together before – so it will be a pretty special debut for us!
How has the Resistance tour been going so far, have there been any highlights/surprises?
It’s been great getting back together again after a bit of a break, the reaction’s been fantastic, we’ve done these incredible Resistance shows around the world.
Nic Fanciulli’s Social Festival was the first place we got back together properly and the reaction was just phenomenal. It’s just been so great to have that reaction, especially from the British crowd, they’ve been superb.
What made you decide that the time was right to reunite with Mr Digweed?
It just felt like the right time, we never intended on having a huge long break it just turned out that way. The interest was there to reunite, and we tested out playing together at Minstry of Sound in London on one of John’s nights and it just went so seamlessly; it just felt musically we were both in a good place together. The timing was right.
Did you keep tabs on each other’s musical activities during your ‘separation’?
It wasn’t really a separation as such, but John and I had stayed in touch and kept an eye on what each other had been up to!
Does the set tend to change much from night to night how much discussion goes on before/during the night?
We don’t really prepare, we go on what new music is out there, and we let the crowd dictate to us where the set is going, you see immediately what kind of tracks are having a reaction.
We always do it spontaneously, and always have done. We never really discuss what we’re going to do with our sets beforehand, it’s something we like to just feel out.
What’s the biggest tune you’re playing out to people at the moment?
The Radioslave remix of Charlotte Gainsbourg Sylvia Says is definitely part of our sets at the moment. I’m also loving Ellen Allien Call Me (Gerd Janson Remix) which I’ve been playing out a lot, it’s getting a great reaction from the crowd.
Is it hard to manage a busy touring schedule with getting enough studio time for new projects/remixes?
Yeah, it’s definitely hard to get the balance right. You might spend a little too much time in the studio, and not be on the road enough or vice versa.
Once you get out on the road it’s hard to get studio time, but a lot of time when I’m jet lagged or travelling I work on ideas on my laptop and then go into the studio for a long period of time and get as much done as possible.
I’m in the middle of a writing session right now and we’re getting loads done but a lot of it is stuff I’ve just had on my laptop for the last 18 months.
Studio time is hard to fit in around touring, but it’s going well at the moment.
You’ve been doing your Last Night on Earth podcasts (Soundcloud.com/last-night-on-earth) for about three years now, how important are they to you?
It’s really important to me to get those podcasts out every month. I really feel that I can’t be on the road constantly as I do want to spend time in the studio, so the podcast allows me to reach out to a lot more people than I could possibly physically DJ to every month, and the feedback for each one is really positive, so it’s something I’m going to continue doing.
Are you looking forward to doing your own Refracted: Live shows later this year?
Yeah, we’re working on some new music for the shows at the moment, it’s going to be a different kind of show because we’re at Brixton and it’s a very different kind of venue to the Barbican [where the Refracted show debuted in May last year], so we’re busy reworking the show.
As well as Brixton on December 14, we’re at the Apollo Manchester on the 15th and Glasgow’s Barrowland on the 16th. There’ll definitely be some stuff that’s in the previous shows, but also a lot of new music, so watch this space!
Finally, you've recently been re-learning the piano for the first time in years – how’s your playing coming along?
It’s OK, during my summer touring period its hard for me to get regular practice, and getting access to a piano is difficult – but when I get back to having a bit more of a routine in September, October I’ll be having regular three or four lessons a week getting me up to speed for the new shows.
I do it in bursts, where I’ll have a month of really intense lessons and practice. And in-between when I’m touring, whenever I see a piano I try to exercise the fingers!
:: Sasha & John Digweed, with Nic Fanciulli and Psycatron, Saturday August 18, Custom House Square, Belfast. Tickets £30 via Customhousesquare.com