Whether you’re an avid fan or a bystander, nobody can deny Bassnectar, or Lorin Ashton, has managed to create one of the biggest followings in electronic music today. He’s made a name for himself and most people simply know him by his music, but, there’s a lot more to the story that you might have not known about. Here are a couple of Bassnectar facts that will surprise you and make you rethink electronic music as a whole.
While many factors come into play when determining the inspiration for creating his music; Bassnectar has attributed one of the most significant to have been an earthquake he was a part of as a child. That’s right, when Bassnectar was in the 6th grade the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake hit San Jose on October 17 at 5:04 p.m. While most people would consider being part of such an ordeal to be a traumatic experience, for Lorin, it was one of the first times he heard absolutely massive uncontrollable sub bass, which of course, he would strive to replicate and perfect in his music.
2)The Big Picture
Bassnectar isn’t just focused on replicating massive, overwhelming subbass, he considers his his music a platform for social change. His cause, if put into word, would be compassion. “In terms of the evolution of our species, our personalities are focused around self-serving mechanisms”. In the right context, that’s okay, you need to worry about your family and yourself and make sure the people you care about have food on their plates. The primal kind of greed that makes sure you stay alive quicly get’s out of control though. The best example of an excess of natural greed today being corporate injustice in the world.
Bassnectar’s end goal with his music is expanding the network of empathy in society and keeping the natural greed factor of personalities in check. He hopes he can help move the world forward into the right direction and plays each show with intent of moving a baby step toward the goal of complete and total peace and equality (gee what a great guy).
3) University of California Santa Cruz
It’s a little strange to imagine now, but back in the ‘90s Bassnectar was enrolled in UCSC. Surprisingly enough, he majored in Political Science. Not to say he wasn’t involved in music at all in college as his minor (appropriately) was electronic music. It was at UCSC where he fiddled with an old digital audio workstation called vision, which he used to create his earliest pieces.
4) 20 Years of Music Collections
Not only did Bassnectar start his journey into the world of electronic music at UCSC in 1995, he also began his collection of samples during that time. It might not seem like an impressive feat to be a huge hoarder of seemingly random noises and pieces of audible information, but ever since Bassnectar started his collection, he has continued to add to it. But he doesn’t just hoard these samples he actually uses them. That’s right, Bassnectar actually goes back through the decades, searching through his giant library just to find the right sample for a song he might put out today.
5) The Glow Stick War of 2010
While Bassnectar’s fans did not start a the glow stick wars, nor did they only happen in 2010, it was a common feature in his performances and this one in particular just had a great video. People would come to his shows armed to the gills with 10’s of thousands of glow sticks with the intention of throwing all of them up into the air and at everyone else at every bass drop. Eventually, it got out of hand pretty quickly, and Bassnectar personally requested that venues ban glow sticks at his performances simply because he was sick of getting hit in the face all the time. To show you what I mean by “out of hand” here’s a video (the fun starts around 50 seconds in, try not to mind the guy yelling into the mic the whole time)
6) Omnitempo Maximalism
While most people consider Bassnectar to be a dubstep artist, he thinks that kind of label is completely inaccurate in terms of representing his music as a whole. He doesn’t like to constrict himself to one genre, he dabbles around in every sense of the word, this was why he coined the term “Omnitempo Maximalism”. Pretty much a fancy way of saying “no rules, no limits, all speeds, all tempos, all styles”.
Very prominent in his live performances, he seems to seamlessly switch between musical polar opposites. He will go as far as he can with one extreme until he feels that extreme is so abrasive that he wants to go to the direct polar opposite. This means that he will play something so extremely beastial, preverse and hardcore and then he wants to go to something very melodic, with gentle undertones. There, he might go to hip-hop and continue to switch extremes. Essentially, in order to show what he’s all about he will “bounce back and forth like a maniac freak”.
One of the more unique aspects to a Bassnectar live show is that fact that he plays original songs he refuses to actually release. In particular, the most famous of these creations has been appropriately dubbed the “Frog Song”. More recently, Bassnectar has been using this song as an opener but that doesn’t mean it’s particularly new. It’s a creation he’s been perfecting to get just the right amount of ridiculous buckwild aura he feels is appropriate to get the audience in the mood.
To give you a reference, here’s an early video of him using it back in 2008
Compared to what he’s transformed it to more recently.
8) Subconscious Creativity
Bassnectar’s music seems to take on a very strange style. Maybe that’s because he actually thinks of melodies in his dreams. No joke, he will actually subconsciously come up with musical arrangements, quickly wake up, call his own voicemail, and hum the melody into his mailbox so he can remember the next day. I guess it’s a pretty good way of taking it out of his head and putting it out into the world.
9) Family Photos
A unique aspect to Bassnectar’s live shows that he has consistently carried out is the famous “family photo”. Although his online gallery only goes back to 2010, he’s been carrying out these photos as long as he’s been performing. This is just another unique aspect to Bassnectar shows that truly adds to the idea of a empathetic collective.
10) Pins on Deck
Trading lapel pins is nothing new. People have been using them in fashion for hundreds of years, but a new scene almost directly parallel to the Grateful Dead era has started emerging in the Electronic Music world. Fans of artists have started making their own pins with the hopes of somehow emulating the experience they felt during a live performance of some sort, or sharing their visual take on a favorite song of theirs.
Why does this matter at all? Why should anybody care? What does this have to do with Bassnectar? Creating and selling these pins has become big business, closely resembling the baseball card trading industry. Some of these pin crafter have even made full-time jobs by doing exactly this. Bassnectar is involved because he has taken up the role of the most popular topic of choice for pin crafters with the most valuable and sought after bassnectar pin fetching up to $400 in online auctions (featured below).
11) Ying Yang
Prominent in most things Bassnectar does is his logo (featured above), and for quite some time, nobody really knew what it meant, or if it meant anything at all. In recent years, he finally explained his interpretation, but made sure to explicitly state that didn’t mean it was the correct one. “The whole concept of the bassnectar…icon…is kind of a play on duality, in reference to the balance of positive/negative forces in the universe, and the relative aspects of these forces…. I always took it to be kind of my own ‘yin yang’ interpretation, with an open end that flows out endlessly. Depending on the color/contrast, there is one image that is ugly, looks insectlike, or like claws…it is sharp, cold, almost ruthless…or maybe just creepy. Or maybe just ALIEN and strange. The flipside imagery is beautiful, circular, curved elegantly, sweeping, almost flowerlike…”
Bassnectar is coming up on 40 years of age right now. He isn’t a recent up-and-coming artist, he’s been at it for 20 years after all, perfecting his art. He didn’t get to where he is now by simply making a one-hit wonder. He was involved in the electronic music industry a decade before it could have been considered mainstream. That’s right, Bassnectar has been putting out music almost as long as Daft Punk.
13) He’s Sober
There’s no doubt that Bassnectar is inexplicably oriented with rave culture, and there’s few who don’t know nowadays that rave culture, has and always will be a microculture rooted in heavy drug use. There have been improvements in recents years, but with any party based culture drugs will inevitably follow. Most electronic artists will admit to indulging in a substance or two. However, while Bassnectar is heavily rooted in psychedelic culture, he has actually been completely sober since 1995. He has not touched a single drug since then.
Here’s a quote:
“Every person has had their time experimenting with drugs… after my first couple parties in ‘95, I completely stopped everything and was sober after that…I’d always be that guy who people would ask where he got all his energy from and I’d simply reply the music and the people that I surround myself with.”
14) Net Worth
Bassnectar has come a long way since his start, and it’s almost rare to find a major music festival nowadays without his involvement. He’s stuck to his roots, and it’s gotten him pretty far. It’s estimated that he’s made approximately $22,000,000 in personal revenue, not counting all the money he has helped raise in it’s entirety. While money isn’t everything, it’s a pretty good quantitative indicator as to how far he’s come as an artist in the current socio economic structure that is capitalism. To that we say: keep doing what you do Lorin.
Similar to growing out long hair, you don’t really notice that it’s very long until you see a picture of your self in the past. So here’s a clip from 15 years ago to show what Bassnectar used to be and what Lorin is now.