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The low-end nihilist known as Bassnectar started in the underground death-metal scene, influenced by the likes of Metallica, Megadeath and Nirvana, before moving on to the rave scene in the mid-'90s. He has spent the past 13 years escalating his electronic music career, blurring the lines between breakbeats, dubstep and glitch to create his own wobbling bass lines.
Similar to the dedicated community centered on the Grateful Dead, a swath of fans inspired by Bassnectar (born Lorin Ashton) travel to all his live shows and help to spread his music and ideas. With the recent release of Vava Voom, he has doubled, sometimes tripled the attendance on tour, selling out shows during the past three years. We talked with the freeform artist, who returns to OC for a highly anticipated set at this year's Lightning In a Bottle Festival, about his introduction to the world of EDM, his crazy touring schedule and what we can look forward to during this weekend's performance.
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OC Weekly: What influenced you to make the switch from underground death metal and punk rock to electronic music?
Bassnectar: The underground rave scene had a friendlier community of people getting together for a similar music experience. It's a resurgence of multiple scenes that have come together. There were not a lot of rules with electronic music at the time, so I was able to combine lots of styles and sounds.
How would you describe your approach to producing music that is not confined to one electronic genre?
Bassnectar is a combination of sounds and styles that I enjoy mixed into a heavier format. I combine metal, punk rock, hip-hop and electronic music, creating a seamless journey of all my favorite sonic moments. I do this with impeccable volume, yet I am not limited to what you can hear, but what you can feel, as well. I make music as heavy as I can to fill everyone's bodies with bass.
What are your thoughts on incorporating live aspects into your shows?
Ableton is an amazing instrument. It's like an infinite amount of samples on which you can layer things immediately to become some kind of live remix journey. I used to try to go out of my way to figure out what people like and create live aspects into my sets, but I don't think people care as much as they used to. Today, we are all so buried in our computers and cell phones that people just want to dance and immerse themselves in music at a show.
How has touring in 2012 been so far in support of Vava Voom?
The album was released in April, and we kicked off the Spring 2012 tour at Ultra Music Festival in Miami. I had to pass on Coachella this year to play Lollapalooza in South America, which was incredible. Then we hit about 20,000 fans per week at all the states in the Southeast before sweeping the Northwest, ending with Bass Center IV in Seattle. Every show has been completely packed, and the energy was been beautifully insane.
What can we expect from your show at Lightning In a Bottle over Memorial Day Weekend?
I have worked with the Do LaB a lot before, and I bring the same sound that I bring to all the other cities. Lots of people come [from other countries] for this festival because it combines many aspects of cultures. It's a very immersive, four-day camping experience. There is not as much of a commercial enterprise at Lightning In a Bottle. I would say it's one of the friendliest festivals out there by artists for artists. The crowds who turn out to this are a very special combination of people. It's exciting, as an artist, to perform there.
This article appeared in print as "Low End, High Times: Freeform EDM artist Bassnectar catches Lightning In a Bottle."