Ashley Beedle has been involved in more projects than a US building marshal. His style is as diverse as his hometown’s cultural crucible (London) and his productions have been championed by artists ranging from Danny Tenaglia to Fabio and Grooverider as well as Gilles Peterson to John Digweed. Where do we start in doing this man’s career justice in so few words? He brought house music to Notting Hill Carnival (with Shock Soundsystem), he produced one of the first British garage tunes and his initial production as Black Science Orchestra on Junior Boys Own broke him internationally. X-Press 2’s massive hit, “Lazy”, an inspired collaboration with former Talking Head David Byrne, and other number one hits has meant X-Press 2’s albums have traveled the globe and at the time of writing this they are currently number one on the US Billboard Club Breakouts chart, again. dAshley’s remixes have ranged from pop and rock bands, little house labels; hip hop mixes, house mixes; as a solo remixer, and as part of X-Press 2. There really are too many to mention, though Elton John’s number one hit “Are You Ready for Love?” and Bob Marley’s “Get Up Stand Up” spring to mind.
Can you remember the first songs which made you fall in love with music?
This town ain’t big enough for the both of us by Sparks was the first record I bought with my pocket money. Roxy Music’s Pyjamarama was when I discovered Brian Eno and what a discovery that was! Here comes my baby by the Tremeloes is a family favourite.
Can you remember your first clubbing experience?
1976 at the Co-op Disco above the funeral parlour by Harrow and Wealdstone station. The sound system was called Channel 1 and run by Dave who was very knowledgeable about black music. The tune that reminds me of the night is Paul Davidson’s version of Duane Allman’s Midnight Rider.
How did you end up making the leap from the dancefloor to the studio?
By total default! From Shock Sound System’s (SSS) Give me back your love for Jack Trax, 1989. Dean Zepherin and Paul Denton from SSS put it together and co-produced by Byron Burke from 10 City and Marshall Jefferson. It’s probably the first British new jack style dance record.
You’re well known for remixing/re-editng – what elements are needed for the perfect re-edit?
A bloody good song and melody is where it all begins. Check the mathematics. That’s all you need to make an edit. It’s not about cutting up drums. It’s all about knowing the song inside out and feeling it. There’s got to be a message in the music!
How do you approach the creative process when writing song?
I always go into the studio with strong ideas, but once you’re in there, music is in the air and I pull it down. This shit is spiritual – end of story.
Despite the variety of the music that you produce and play, could you put a finger on what aspect of music it is that interests or inspires you?
I think, for me… I’m not a noise man. It’s pretty well documented that I do love Hüsker Dü, they’re one of my favourite bands, but even within their noise, there’s melody, there’s something going down there which has attracted me to it. For me, there’s got to be a strong melodic input into whatever track I’m playing, really. And I do love playing a good song as well, if it’s got some decent meaning to it. I think that’s what’s important, a strong melodic input, and a good bassline, a very good bassline. I do love my bass.
How do you approach using those influences while still doing something that is new?
I don’t know… for me personally, when I’m in the studio, I don’t look back in some ways. I know that the records are classic, and if I’m gonna use something, a line or a melody from an old tune, I tend to replay it these days. I don’t use many samples, as such. They’re just a great basis for informing your music, you know. I use Logic, and the sounds that you can get now, you can twist things up anyway. So you’re using the element to create something new, by not necessarily just taking the bassline and looping it up. I always feel now, it’s just better to replay it, or do an interpolation of it, if you like.
How do you judge who you want to collaborate with, who you think you’ll be able to work with?
They’ve just got to be on the same planet as me. A lot of it comes from just conversation. We tend to usually like the same stuff, even maybe if musically they’re over there and I’m over here, that doesn’t really matter, there is some common ground we’ve found to want to work together.
A few years back you collaborated with Horace Andy and this year you had that Warbox 7” for Record Store Day where you reworked some reggae classics. Has reggae been something that’s always figured into your musical background?
It’s interesting, because there’s a side of me which people don’t pick up on, i.e. the reggae aspect. I come from reggae soundsystem culture, and I’m quite heavily involved in production. I work with Dave Hill, who used to be in The Ballistic Brothers, and me and him work on a lot of reggae projects together. We did The Wailers’ ‘Get Up Stand Up’, and we’ve done done a new track for Cornell Campbell on Strut. They’re all very much out and out reggae records. But I suppose there’s not enough time in the day to publicise every part of what I do and the fact that I produce reggae music, I just get it out there. But the nice thing is that a lot of people will pick up on it at a later date and I’ll get a nice e-mail or a text saying “Oh I didn’t realise you worked on that record”.
Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring dance music producers?
Listen and learn from the elders but forge your own style. We need to keep this music for the love of dancing and club culture.