By McCray Sutherlin
Lorin Ashton, better known by the moniker Bassnectar, is famous for his rowdy live performances, intensive light shows, and bass heavy music that is worshipped by many an EDM fan.
Nowadays, Bassnectar sells out stadiums all around the country. However, he comes from humble beginnings.
“There was a pretty seamless transition from my musical life in high school and college to underground metal and raves,” he said in an exclusive interview with DIG. “I was very DIY, inspired by the punk rock scene in the Bay Area. It was a small amount of people who cared about the music. It was about getting together with as many people as we could. We rented out a recording studio with three bands, and we would throw free shows in that studio. In college, we got more into experimental rave music. It was really about collecting enthusiasts of the music and playing shit really loud. It was never really a business. I’ve always cared less about my musical identity as an artist, and cared more about the people as a whole.”
Community involvement is something that has stuck with Ashton throughout his career, developing a large following that refer to themselves as “Bass Heads,” a spin-off of Grateful Dead followers that were called “Dead Heads.”
(Get tickets to Bassnectar in Baton Rouge, presented by Huka Entertainment).
A few years into Bassnectar’s DJing career, he became a frequent performer at Burning Man, a life festival that occurs yearly in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.
“I would do five sets a night, seven days in a row,” he said. “Sometimes more. It’s just a 24-hour party for two weeks out in the desert. It was really at the time one of the only real large-scale arenas that I had to play with that diverse of an audience from around the world. Now shit has exploded out so far that you can go to them rather than them come to you.”
“One of the things that’s neat about Baton Rouge is that there’s so much frenzy around sports; people have that loyalty or allegiance. I felt like the show was like being inside the stadium of a big game… It’s my one and only chance to feel like a quarterback.”
Despite his rapid ascendance to the top of the EDM world, Ashton still pours his heart into every set he performs, as if he were back in the Bay doing small settings instead of spinning in front of packed houses.
“Bassnectar for me has been my response to the world to reflect what I love most,” he said. “I put the same intensity and creativity into every set. We’re taking over the room and bringing in the doorway to another world for a small amount of time. It really is creating a temporarily immersive environment and that ethos has stuck with me.”
Drawing on influences such as Megadeth, Nirvana and Metallica, Bassnectar developed his own unique style of EDM that incorporates elements of breakbeat, dub-step, trap, and glitch hop. He was even recently quoted as saying he has no interest in EDM, preferring to style his own sound in the mold of genre-transcenders like Tool, Rage Against the Machine, and Nine Inch Nails.
Over the years, the arenas have continued to grown larger, and his performances have become more and more grandiose. On tour supporting his 10th album, Noise vs. Beauty, Bassnectar will stop in The Red Stick for a night at the Baton Rouge River Center in a show presented by Huka Entertainment.
“I played there several years ago. One of the things that’s neat about Baton Rouge is that there’s so much frenzy around sports; people have that loyalty or allegiance. I felt like the show was like being inside the stadium of a big game. It didn’t feel like a normal show, it felt like a wild game along with a musical experience. I love hearing that crowd noise. It’s my one and only chance to feel like a quarterback.”