Sasha, a Welsh-born DJ-producer, perks up when our phone chat veers toward the subject of food. He loves the rare Amazonian vegetables found in Peruvian cuisine and has great admiration for the sushi chefs in Tokyo. Music is forever his first love, but food is his side piece. We bat around the authentic restaurants he would enjoy in Dallas. I suggest Ana’s Restaurant on Maple Avenue and their barbacoa taco plate. It’s a proper hole-in-the-wall BYOB taqueria, so low-key that they haven’t even claimed their Yelp profile.
“That sounds perfect. I’m gonna check it out when I get to Dallas,” the man born Alexander Coe says convincingly.
Sasha is coming to town to play Stereo Live on Saturday, Oct. 26. Sometimes he’s half of the Sasha & John Digweed duo, but this is a solo gig. No offense to Mr. Digweed, but Sasha handles the music-hungry crowds just fine on his own, and many of his solo sets have become collectibles in the sweat-and-hype-filled memoirs of dance music history.
Sasha's early days at The Haçienda in Manchester were like DJ boot camp, where he sharpened his DJ sword and earned more stripes than a sergeant major. The club was owned by English new wave legends New Order.
“[New Order] gave the door to one of the gangs in Manchester and that was when things got wild," Sasha recalls. “It was an edgy time. There was so much love and there was an edge — it was kind of exciting. And then it was too much, so in 1990 we took the Haçienda crowd an hour away to a club called Shelley's Laserdrome.”
Throughout the '90s, Sasha’s touring schedule escalated as he evolved as a producer. He was one of the first European DJs to tour in America. Compared with the lucrative European club rates at the time, Sasha took a pay cut when playing in the States, but he saw what he deemed a greater opportunity: to be part of the burgeoning dance music scene. Some of his first shows were at Club Firestone in Orlando.
“Kimball Collins was the resident at Firestone and he’d championed my music," Sasha says. "The first time I played Firestone was in 1996. It felt like a homecoming because when I dropped some of my own tracks, everyone on the dance floor knew the music.”
In the world of electronic music, there's a distinction between DJs and producers — Sasha’s both. He makes tracks, tests them in his sets, keeps the quality and trims the fat. His aim on the controls is to confuse the dance floor and create a wall of sound. He’s meticulous about his mixing, and strives for perfect seamless transitions. Sasha's upcoming Halloween-themed party will likely have moments of darkness — he is, after all, a brilliant storyteller with a knack for selection. His remix of “Sugarcoat” by Knives Out and his unreleased original “Comet Chaser” will likely make his set list. The track is included on Fabric’s 20th anniversary compilation album, which drops on Dec. 6.
Elite DJ-producers are often oblivious to the specificity of genres and more interested in quality sounds. Sasha’s legendary production “Xpander” is indeed quality. Created at 128 beats per minute, trance DJs speed it up and house DJs slow it down. So, what is it?
"Is Xpander a trance track?" we asked. Sasha replied: "I guess so."
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.