Born Alexander Paul Coe on September 4, 1969, in Bangor, Wales. Addresses: Record company--Deconstruction Records, c/o BMG, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036. Website--Sasha Official Website: http://www.djsasha.com.
Sasha is a high-octane disc jockey who lives to the hilt, a fact that is reflected in his music. This jet-setting artist has been known to hold down standing gigs simultaneously on the East and West Coasts of the United States, often, since 1992, partnered with John Digweed to form the duo Sasha + Digweed. Among the most popular disc jockeys, Sasha has earned praise for his many talents, from creative mixing to seamless track juxtaposition. His distinctive dance mishmash offers energy and melody backed by an unmistakable beat; his music transcends techno and belies its electronic roots.
Sasha, born Alexander Paul Coe on September 4, 1969, in Bangor, Wales, studied classical piano as a youngster. His stage name, Sasha, is a Russian form of his given name and a nickname that he came by naturally because of his father's affinity for the Russian language. When he was a teenager in the late 1980s, Sasha's disc jockey sessions became a staple at Manchester's Hacienda Club. He went on to appear at a club called Shelly's, a gig that turned into a stepping stone to a residency at Renaissance--the venue where his charisma was fully unleashed. At the time of his arrival there, his reputation had preceded him; soon afterward he was an international sensation and a pioneer of electronica mix recording. He hooked up with John Digweed of Hastings in 1992 after hearing Digweed's demo tape; together the pair undertook a decade-long conquest as club disc jockeys worldwide.
Sasha embarked on a recording career in 1994 with the album Qat Collection: Version 2, featuring "Animal," "Vegetable," and "Minimal Qat" tracks along with three "Magic" mixes and two versions of "Higher Ground." After signing with the Ministry of Sound record label in 1996, Sasha began a collaboration with Digweed on their highly successful Northern Exposure albums--a series of three recordings including an original plus a two-part sequel consisting of East and West Coast versions. The release of the original Northern Exposure album in 1996 led to an extended intercontinental tour with stops in Africa, Asia, and Australia. Two albums later, after touring five continents, Sasha became one of the most respected names in deejay mixing, having moved into the American marketplace with the distribution of Northern Exposure through Moonshine Records. Soon afterward, with the release of two different versions of Northern Exposure 2, Sasha secured a standing monthly appearance with Digweed on the bill at Twilo's in New York City, where their marathon mixing sessions--lasting eight to ten hours--became legendary.
In spite of his international success, Sasha has tried to retain his anonymity. He assumes the role of a rebel in the music business and rejects genre-based labeling by those who wish to compartmentalize him as a trance disc jockey or as a progressive mixer. His determination to remain in the shadows of the music underground as a turntable troubadour proved to be an unrealistic goal, and ironically it was his very reluctance to be in the spotlight that contributed to his mainstream popularity. He drew accolades as a behind-the-scenes genius and was credited among others with the Chemical Brothers' "Out of Control" remix. He achieved success on the Billboard charts after pop diva Madonna commissioned his nonconformist remixes for her "Ray of Light" and "Substitute for Love/Drowned World" tracks in 1998.
Near the close of the 1990s Sasha spent long hours mixing a solo album in his London studio, temporarily foregoing his live-show spinning, the primary source of his professional satisfaction. His solo recorded debut, Global Underground: San Francisco, appeared in the United Kingdom in January of 1999. The recording features 27 non-original, tried and tested tracks spread across two discs. A 26-track international edition was issued on Thrive in February of that year.
Around that time he left his London residence, moving his home base to the more pristine countryside of Henley-on-Thames, an area outside the city. With virtually no diversion beyond his pet cats and infinite volumes of fresh air, he introduced his own label in April of 1999, with a mix called Sasha Presents Excession Recordings. He then produced an EP, entitled Xpander, in collaboration with Charlie May. The original British release of Xpander in July of 1999 had been widely anticipated, due in part to the release of the disc's title cut one month prior. Xpander features a series of homegrown hits, including "Rabbitweed," named for a computer program, and the highly personal "Baja," written in Australia after a diving trip to the Great Barrier Reef. Sasha released a 14-track disc, Global Underground: Ibiza, in September of that year. Although largely a solo endeavor, the album is full of high-energy remix and includes productions by Christian Smith and John Selway along with original Sasha material from Xpander. Another single release in 1999, a duet called "Be As One" featuring Sasha with Maria Naylor, was a top-20 hit and exposed still more of Sasha's previously unexplored stylistic talent.
As Sasha made progress toward the release of his first full-length album of original material in 2000, an auto accident in Britain left him with a perforated eardrum, an ailment that required two months of absolute rest from all noise. The injury forced him to take time off from live spinning and to create more original compositions, though the recuperation prevented him from attending a farewell performance at Twilo's just before the club was forcibly shuttered by municipal law enforcement in 2001. The shutdown, due to lack of operating permits, came despite the popularity of the Sasha + Digweed residency.
After nearly a decade of regular appearances at the club, Sasha greeted its closure with disappointment. He then set out on a tour of extended live performances that consisted of eight-hour all-out sets, a format favored by his audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. That year he toured as a duo with Digweed in progressive sets around the United States and performed internationally at exotic venues in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and in Spanish Ibiza. Loyal fans have come to anticipate Sasha's perennial appearances at such United Kingdom festivals as V and Liverpool's Creamfields. Additionally, Sasha's musical direction is heard on Sony's popular video game, Wipeout 3.
Sasha inevitably returned to the recording studio to continue work on a solo album of original material, which remained under construction during his recuperation and purportedly drew inspiration from the traumatic experience of his accident. That release, called Airdrawndagger, came out in August of 2002 on Kinetic Records. Earlier that year, in the spring of 2002, Sasha embarked on a tour of 32 cities, generating tremendous excitement from his fans as he unleashed his sounds through speakers that required a 60-foot bus of their own for transport.
by Gloria Cooksey
Appeared as disc jockey at Manchester Club and in residence at Shelly's, late 1980s; in residence at Renaissance, early 1990s; signed with Ministry of Sound Records, 1996; founded Excession Recordings and Excession: The Agency, 1998.
- Selected discography
- The Qat Collection: Version 2 , Deconstruction, 1994.
- (With John Digweed) Northern Exposure, Vol. 1 , Ministry of Sound/Ultra Records (U.K.), Moonshine Records (U.S.), 1996.
- (With John Digweed) Northern Exposure, Vol. 2: East Coast Edition , Ministry of Sound/Ultra Records (U.K.), Moonshine Records (U.S.), 1997.
- (With John Digweed) Northern Exposure, Vol. 2: West Coast Edition , Ministry of Sound/Ultra Records (U.K.), Moonshine Records, (U.S.), 1997.
- Global Underground: Ibiza , Global, 1999.
- Global Underground: San Francisco , Thrive, 1999.
- Airdrawndagger , Kinetic, 2002.
- Boston Globe, November 23, 2001, p. C17.
- Observer (London, England), April 7, 1996, p. 4.
- Orange County Register (Orange County, CA), January 23, 1998, p. F43.
- "Musik Makes the People Come Together," New Musical Express, http://www.nme.com/news/45605.htm (September 29, 2002).
- "Sasha," Hip Online, http://www.hiponline.com/artist/music/s/sasha (September 29, 2002).
- "Sasha," RollingStone.com, http://www.rollingstone.com (July 9, 2002).
- "Sasha: Biography," Excession, http://www.excession.co.uk/index1.html (September 12, 2002).
- Sasha Official Website, http://www.djsasha.com/ (September 12, 2002).