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BASSNECTAR INTERVIEW: Getting Personal With The Man Behind Noise Vs. Beauty

After a six month break from touring, the king of the sound is back at it again with his newest creation, a complex and genre-busting album titled Noise vs. Beauty. Based on the music that Bassnectar has been producing up to this point, it seems that a break was much needed for him to get back his inspirational flow and rekindle his knack for creating really diverse and captivating music. I for one have been really excited to see what kind of music he produced during the break, and if it took a different direction.

Lorin Ashton has always been fascinated by the intersection of heavy, chest-throbbing bass with the beauty of more intricate, delicate sounds, and the diversity of his discography speaks to that. He’s explored everything from Middle Eastern hip hop and trap to more experimental bass music, and most of what he produces simply can’t be categorized. This album was a way for him to play with that interaction, and see how the two contrasting sounds reacted.

Because I’m accustomed to his older style, I approach every new release with some skepticism and hesitance. That being said, I’ve tried to steer clear of all social media leaks to make sure I go into this review tabula rasa, and ready to get my face melted. So here goes. After a two year hiatus, I’m diving back in to the world of Bassnectar.

My first thoughts with the album’s intro “F U N” were that the breakdown reminds me of the darkness and power behind songs like “Open Your Eyes.” An almost cinematic piano intro gives way to the deep and heavy driving basslines typical of some of his earlier music. It does get my hyped and intrigued to see what the rest of the album will be like. There were a couple misses on the album, namely “Now ft. Rye Rye” and “Don’t Hate The 808.” I know lots of people are hyped for the whole trap fad, but I for one feel disappointed that Lorin is catering to “what’s trending”and I have no problem being vocal about it. Say what you will about him experimenting with all genres, but to me his trap-style music feels forced and disingenuine. Some of my favorites on the release are the senseless, dirty “Loco Ono,” the lighter, more ethereal “You & Me ft. W Darling,” “Gnar,” “Flashback”… alright, I’m admittedly loving all of it. It’s a pretty complex album that jumps genres and pushes the limit between heavy bass and delicate vocals, just like the name promised.

I do want to highlight “Mystery Song ft. BEGINNERS.” (listen below) It was one of those moments where I was confused about what album I was listening to, but I actually think this song is pretty cool. Very alternative, but with a darker edge. It almost doesn’t sound like Bassnectar at all, more like a party anthem gone rogue. I like the fact that he’s experimenting with other genres that we haven’t really seen from him in the past. Diggin’ the weirdness. [soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/155271628″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

I had a chance to sit down and chat with the King himself, so I picked his brain on what’s been going on in his world lately, the inspiration behind his collabs on this album, and his favorite metal albums of all time.

1. How do you decide when to break from nonstop touring to focus on production? Is it hard to switch mindsets? it wasn’t something i had ever done before…i’ve been obsessed with nonstop touring and nonstop working since I started, but taking that time to really get creative and go deep into the collaborative process and experiment with new directions and new techniques was…. special 🙂

2. Everyone seems to love Nectar now. How have you personally felt your fanbase evolve over the years? Haha, not everyone I am sure. To each their own, i’m glad if i can make other people happy 🙂

3. Besides making music, what else have you done in your down time?  I did get some good time to chill, relax in the sunshine, go hiking, watch movies, ride my bike, visit with family, catch up with friends…just nice, normal stuff.

4. How did the collabs for this album come about? They were all different, and there were so many of them. Every single song on the album has different kinds of collaboration. On “You & Me” that guitar work from Jade really helped set the tone and the mood for Hayley to sing…and Hayley’s approach is really strange because she doesn’t want to rehearse or even hear the song until she is recording. So we got her set up without listening to anything, and when she was ready we just hit play and record at the same time and she just sang gibberish and fake words and stuff until we had like an hour of ideas. Then we sat and listened through and made notes and stuff. We went back and forth, and kept recording new ideas and reworking stuff until the melodies were perfecto…then we wrote lyrics 🙂The song “Noise” was a total clusterfuck for me, because I had the 808 beats which I worked on with Chuck Inglish (Cool Kids) and Donnis, as well as a few other MCs…and that was it’s own piece…then I had that “baseline drop” section, which I had worked on with the “Make Some Noise” sample for eons. I got an MC named Mayor Apeshit to recreate the noise vocal sample, and we put together that rap at the end just kind of as an after thought…. Then there was the build up part which I worked on with Busta Rhymes and essentially ended up with like 3 completely different songs. At the very end I hacked through it and just let everything gel together…I took out the really narrative stuff (which usually I would have gravitated to) and just gutted Donnis’s song for that hook which I chopped up like mad…I wanted the song to feel like multiple personalities colliding, and almost feel like an instrumental, but use the words as an instrument. 

5. Are the lyrics in “Noise” dedicated to the haters or fans calling you a sell out? I’ve gotta say that’s a pretty powerful statement.  No, those lyrics are about doing what you want creatively, expressing what you want, and following your own rules… not being swayed by other people’s opinions who don’t understand you or have no idea who you really are or where you are coming from… It’s empowering to basically dismiss all the feedback, dismiss all the expectation, and let everyone duke it out amongst themselves…. and just exit out the backdoor while everyone can make a bunch of noise about what they think you meant or what you should have done, or what you didn’t do, or what they wish you would do more of, and while the dust clears you’re having fun outside in the sun…

6. What are your top 3 favorite metal albums? Well, I really love extreme black metal stuff like Mayhem, Burzum, Absu, Dark Throne (although a lot of black metal lyrics can be ignorant or whack… i like the sounds and the atmosphere)

I love grind core and filthy death metal like Exhumed, Hemdale, Cannibal Corpse, etc and I love heavy, crushing doom metal like My Dying Bride, Winter, Disembowelment, etc…

all very fucking heavy 🙂 I was listening to that stuff in high school, because I just enjoyed the intensity, the raw power and emotion, and how fucking fierce it was. I liked that it was offensive and that it was just totally insane. But when I discovered the rave scene everything changed because I found music that was just as powerful, but it felt more connected and enchanting and deeply warm… I like that vibration a lot.

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