Aashton is the new alias of Brighton based DJ and producer Dominic Ashton, former lead singer of the band Kinema and one-half of House duo Aashton & Swift. In early 2012, following the relocation of its various members, Kinema split and finding himself increasingly making straight up club music Dominic decided to join forces with Bristolian Mike Swift under the name Aashton & Swift.
Released on Body Work (Waze & Odyssey/LPZ/Semedo) the debut A&S EP, ‘Holy House’ was an instant hit supported by a wide range of DJs from Horse Meat Disco to Sister Bliss, featured in DJ Mag and on sites such as XLR8R and Data Transmission and named one of Bleep.com’s ‘Tracks of 2012’. Following an amicable parting of the ways though Dominic has now gone solo and hit the ground running in December 2013 with an acclaimed remix for Australian band Clubfeet and the free to download introductory ‘EP1’. We recently chatted with Aashton and he also contributed a dope podcast for us.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Before venturing into the world of house music, you were the lead singer of the band Kinema. What brought about the change from being behind the mic to behind the decks?
My pleasure. Well Kinema was always a production project really, but because I was singing on all the tunes it felt natural at the time to do it as a band in a live setting. While we had an absolute blast doing that, I do regret not making it a straight-up disco production/DJ project. I think it would have suited that better and found the right audience that way. I spent most of those years preparing for live shows and as a result my song-writing and production didn’t improve that much, so, yeah, I’m really enjoying the conversion to House music where there is no pressure to perform anything live. House was actually my first love – in my late teens I was at The Bomb club in Nottingham every week at nights like Tyrant and I didn’t get into disco and pop music until a few years later – so its kind of a natural change for me.
Have you ever or are there any plans, to provide some vocals yourself for any of your tracks?
Yes for sure. I’m not convinced I have the right voice to sing on club tracks but I’m working on some tunes that I would call kind of ‘headphone-house’ at the minute. I’ll probably stop short of making them ‘songs’, but there will be some vocals on them for sure.
‘Headphone-house’ – we are going to start using that one! You first hit our radar, when John Power sent us your edit of Craig David (which we still cant get enough of) that is now available on your soundcloud EP1 a) how did you come about the idea to use this Craig David sample? It’s genius! b) how did you link up with the great Mr. Power?
Actually I wanted to do a Craig David cover with Kinema but realised I just wasn’t good enough to do any of his tunes justice. That’s when I realised just how good a singer he was. So yeah, John had the idea to put out a free EP to get the aashton project going and I liked the idea because it meant I could be a bit more relaxed about the sampling and have some fun. It’s a touch more subtle than Craig, but the a-side of that EP01 ‘All U Need’ actually samples Korn, Vampire Weekend, The Flaming Lips, Beck, Adina Howard etc – a lot of well-known stuff that I normally wouldn’t go anywhere near.
I’ve now known John for some time. I think we met properly when he booked Kinema to play one of the shows he was promoting at Cargo in London. I think I’d been hounding him with loads of demos for a few months by that point though. Its amazing to have someone who is so passionate and knowledgeable about music repping you – I’d be lost and miserable without him.
We would be pretty miserable without him as well…. We understand that EP2 is in the works. What can expect in this package?
A 2 tune package. Probably the two things, of everything I’ve done, that I like the most. The only tracks of mine that I play in pretty much every DJ set. They are called ‘I’ve Had Enough’ and ‘Status Aint Crooked’ and again they are being put out as free downloads. I really like the immediacy of putting stuff out for free – I like people to hear the tracks while they are still fresh and I’m still into them. Though, obviously it’s not making me rich or anything.
Your ‘Show You’ EP is another one that has been rocking for us. Specifically Dom’s remix. This definitely takes us back to some old school US garage. What was the influence for this EP?
I’m not sure I can remember! This EP was hit by a lot of delays. The first mix of Show You was actually the Night Dubbing version and I made that maybe 18 months ago. What actually ending up being the a-side was a remix I made with Mike Swift who I used to collaborate with. It was originally called Show You (aashton & swift mix) but maybe the label thought that was too confusing as a name. But yeah, when we were making that version I definitely remember there being talk of making a really crisp peak-time tune because that wasn’t something we’d really attempted at that point.
Next up is ‘I Can’t Shake It’ on the massive Sccucci Manucci label. Tell us a bit about this one.
This is a track I’ve had on the go for months. I think the version being released is something like the 7th different mix I’ve done of it – at some point I’d like to put out one or two of the alternative mixes, especially the major-key disco-y one. Everyone seems to agree that the one being released is the one though. I’m really stoked that’s it being put out by Sccucci, I like a lot of their catalogue and they’ve also got their shit together which is something I look out for now.
Aside from being in the studio, how would you describe your DJ style?
Oh damn this is hard to answer. Obviously these days producers are expected to DJ, and vice-versa, but often I feel like the two things are slightly at odds with each other. As a producer I really like tunes that don’t sound like anything you’ve heard before, that make you sit there for a few hours trying to work out how someone has put them together, but my favourite DJs are usually the guys that play the tunes that put a big grin on your face. So I’m constantly trying to find this balance between playing my favourite tracks to listen to and my favourite tracks to dance to, and they will include a lot of disparate sounds so it’s not always possible to get them in the same set. I really like the idea of having a really strong identity – just making and playing tracks from a really narrow band of tasteful House music, but I like so many different styles I can never settle on one. The last couple of mixes I’ve done I’ve kept quite tight but the one I’ve done for you guys has a range of styles. I normally wouldn’t cover that much ground in an hour. Ideally the mix would be 2 or 3 hours so I could make it a smoother ride but no one has the time to sit and listen to a 3 hour mix. This mix is a good example of what I’m saying though. It starts with that Admin track because I’m just in love with those hi-hats at the start of the tune. I don’t know if it’s a recording they’ve done or whether it’s a sample but they’ve got that natural ‘room’ sound on them that you just can’t get from digital reverb. The vocal snippets are really nice as well, but as a track its not gonna set a club on fire at peak-time, so you’ve got to be careful when you play it. On the other hand the Montero tune, for instance, its not gonna win any awards for originality, but when I hear it being played in a club I just have to get my head down!
This mix is great!
Last month you tweeted a photo of your french bulldog puppy – please share more!