As 'The Instrument' nears
ClashMusic DJ Mix Podcast - Suborno

This week's DJ Mix comes from Asheq Akhtar who's 'The Instrument' album, under the Suborno moniker, is released next week.

Inspired by the method acting techniques learnt during his involvement in Gillian Wearing's 'Self Made' film, 'The Instrument' revels in unreproducable tunings and random events truly capturing the moment of its creation. Out next week, you can listen to, and buy, 'The Instrument' HERE

We caught up with Ash for a chat about 'The Instrument' and his DJ Mix, read on...

'The Instrument' features unreproducible works thanks to some of the random elements included. That must have been a refreshing way of working?

Absolutely. I don’t think I’m cut out for the traditional approach to songwriting, but that’s not to say I haven’t tried. For years I was consciously attempting to emulate the sounds of my musical icons, meaning I wasn’t really using my own voice. It’s easy to hide behind music, but to actually reveal an aspect of yourself by using the form is simultaneously challenging and inspirating. I never envisaged ever having to replicate this in a live format, I didn’t bother learning anything I wrote. It just fell out of me. It was a great release.

This approach was inspired by your experiences as an actor, and the method acting school, can you tell us more?

That all started from being cast in Gillian Wearing’s first feature film, Self Made. That was when I met Sam Rumbelow, who’s a method-acting practitioner. The first thing he taught me was basic relaxation which is a technique created by Lee Strasberg. Basic relaxation is a very simple physical process that helps to unblock psychological tension manifested physically in the body (or, as an actor calls it, the instrument – hence the album title).

It sounds a bit New Age, but it can be spectacularly powerful if you are willing to really let go of your preconceptions and get involved with it. This active listening informs the core of the album. Beyond that, I used improvisation techniques that come after basic relaxation. The application of acting technique simply became a method to harness creativity.

Is 'Suborno' a one-off project? Or where do/can you take it next?

I didn’t think Suborno would be anything more than my own musical outlet, but I was unexpectedly approached by Running On Air Music who wanted to handle the release of it. Since then, I’ve had a daughter and it’s been hard to find the time to record much else, but I’m now involved in a really special forthcoming project with Hundred Acre Recordings.

It’s quite an honour considering that I really didn’t expect anything to come of this. But again, that is something that Sam teaches in his class: to be wary of expectations. Expecting certain outcomes within an artistic context is unlikely to produce good art.

Onto the Dj Mix, what's the theme behind the selection?

Coincidentally, I thought about this when I was making it. I thought ‘This sounds like someone flicking through my record collection.’ The selections go back to the late ‘60s and pass through every decade since. When I got into music as a kid, I was listening to pop, punk, hip-hop and metal. I like variety; and surely that’s what the word ‘mix’ implies. Listening to a turntablist like Q-Bert or a DJ like Jon Carter in the ‘90s, mashing a collage of tunes together was way more exciting to me than listening to four hours of Grooverider playing face melting drum n’ bass.

I think it takes more skill to cut different styles together, but that style was taken too far with the concept of ‘mash-ups’. Last time I went to a club, I heard Hendrix’s ‘If 6 was 9’ thrown in amongst some dubstep – that was the most inventive thing I’d heard out in years. A mix should say something about the DJ. Hopefully, listeners will get an idea of some of the music and musicians that have influenced me.

It's a vinyl only selection, what do you prefer about using vinyl?

I tried using CDs once, but there was something soulless about the experience. CDs present little value for money being such a disposable medium and it seems that the more technologically advanced we get, the more disposable music and the medium becomes. I rarely DJ live, so I don’t have to constantly carry backbreaking amounts of wax to a gig. I understand that it’s easier for DJs to use Scratch Live or Traktor or whatever, but it feels a little like cheating to me. If your BPM and waveforms are all cued up and ready to roll, what does it come down to? Instead of having lots of things to have to think about, DJs turn up with laptops, and it feels like most of the work is already done.

Something about that makes me think some aspect of the DJ has died. I know I sound like a curmudgeonly old man, and I probably am. I’m some kind of dinosaur where the tech is concerned these days. I can’t even afford Scratch Live! When I started DJing, it took me years to save up for a decent set of decks and a mixer. Add to that all the records, and an additional £400 on some software, and DJs better make sure they’re getting some paid gigs off the back of that investment!

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Listen to Suborno's mix for Clash above, download it for later enjoyment below, or grab on iTunes HERE.

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Suborno Tracklist

1) Drake - Marvin's Room
2) DJ Shadow - Best Foot Forward
3) Elzhi - Detroit State Of Mind
4) Beastie Boys - Sabotage
5) Death Grips - Guillotine
6) Musical Youth - Youth Of Today
7) The Torero Band - Eleanor Rigby
8) Billy Joel - Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)
9) Spider Harrison - Beautiful Day
10) Whitney Houston - It's not right but it's Okay
11) Alva Noto - uni dia
12) Aphex Twin - Flim
13) Burial - Stolen Dog
14) Actress - Faceless
15) Four Tet - Plastic People
16) Pantha du Prince - Asha
17) Siegfried Fink - Beat The Beat
18) DJ Food - Dark Lady
19) Audioweb - Policeman Skank
20) Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five - The Message
21) Jurassic 5 - Quality Control
22) The Specials - A Message To You Rudy

Check out the previous episodes of our Dj Mix Series on iTunes HERE or individually on HERE

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