"I had a very slow and steady development from the ground up, with no intention of getting famous," declares Bassnectar. "To this day I have no interest in it."
As a performer who shares festival stages with the many spotlight-seeking, champagne-spraying acts of EDM, Bassnectar is an outlier for his indifference to the trappings of DJ fame. Still, it hasn't stopped him from playing the biggest festivals, selling out his own headlining tours, and leading a cult-like following that gives jam band groupies a run for their money.
Stream "Hold On feat. TURSI" off Bassnectar's forthcoming album Noise vs. Beauty exclusively here on THUMP
Bassnectar, aka Lorin Ashton, strolled into THUMP at the VICE Brooklyn office a few weeks ago accompanied by a refreshingly small posse of one, wearing a black t-shirt and ripped shorts like he usually wears on stage, his waist-length mane tied in a tasteful topknot. He was all-business: focused, eager and as interested in me, my story and musical tastes as I was in his.
"The terrain was so different when I was starting," Ashton says. "The definition of a DJ was changing. I was in college training to be a guidance counselor or possible high school teacher and I began throwing free raves out in the woods and in warehouses."
The 36-year-old Bay Area-bred producer and performer has spent 14 years engineering his deadly blend of heavy dubstep, breakbeat, glitch, and hip-hop—and now there's nobody who sounds quite like him. On June 24, he unleashes his tenth studio album, Noise vs. Beauty. A further evolution in the Bassnectar sound, and a finished product that he refers to as "his most musical album ever." The fifteen track release features a whopping nine collaborations and travels the windy roads between vocal heavy 808 jams, hypnotic bass mind-benders and even some dashes of hip-hop flavor, a trend he's played with with ever since his 2012 collab with Lupe Fiasco, "Vava Voom."