Bassnectar is the moniker of Lorin Ashton, a renowned American electronic musician, record producer, and DJ celebrated for his captivating live performances, stunning light shows, and strong community engagement. Within the American electronic dance music (EDM) scene, he stands as one of the most enduring and respected artists, having paved the way long before many of his contemporaries. In 2011 alone, his solo shows sold over 250,000 tickets, attesting to his massive fan base.
Bassnectar's art boldly defies the confines of contemporary EDM, drawing inspiration from a diverse range of musical sources and attracting fans from various genres, including dubstep, metal, punk rock, hip-hop, and all forms of EDM, from drum & bass to trip-hop and beyond. His creations are not limited to an auditory experience; his live performances are known for their unparalleled light shows and awe-inspiring visual elements. Beyond the music, Bassnectar is committed to nurturing a loyal community of fans, known as "Bass Heads," and contributing to global charities and social change. In 2011, he donated one dollar from every ticket sold to a non-profit, resulting in a generous donation of over $200,000 to Air Traffic Control (ATC), an organization that assists artists in making positive social change.
Lorin Ashton, the mastermind behind Bassnectar, is a San Francisco-based artist who embarked on his musical journey in 2001. He initiated the project as an open-sourced experiment to explore the dynamic interplay between music and community. His music transcends genre boundaries, blending diverse elements into an electrifying fusion of intense basslines and mesmerizing soundscapes. Hailing from a background in death metal, Ashton was never confined by traditional EDM conventions; instead, he embraced a natural and distinctive progression. His artistic expression is deliberately boundless, reflecting diversity, intensity, rawness, and imagination.
Raised in a Bay Area commune, Ashton's initial passion was in visual arts, where he began creating films with his father's camera at the tender age of ten. As his creative interests expanded, he acquired a guitar, self-taught to play, and began merging cover songs, essentially creating early versions of "mash-ups." During his high school years, he honed his drumming skills on a set of homemade drums, incorporating the intricate rhythms of Brazilian samba into his repertoire. This exploratory approach to music led him to immerse himself in the death metal scene of the 1990s. He formed a band called Pale Existence, organized underground shows, and even orchestrated a local battle of the bands, which became synonymous with high-energy fun and exhilarating mosh pits.
In 1995, Ashton attended his first rave, and it marked an immediate transition to electronic music and its vibrant culture. Over the following years, he became increasingly involved in the scene, promoting shows, distributing food and assistance to fellow partygoers, collecting records, and ultimately learning to DJ after studying electronic music production. Lorin equated working the turntables to his experience as a drummer, enabling him to match beats instantaneously in an almost savant-like manner. He began organizing parties in various venues, from dorm buildings and warehouses to beaches and artichoke fields, where he spun psychedelic trance, a genre that resonated most closely with his prior experience in death metal. As he entered college, Ashton began refining his skills as a producer, blending guitar and vocals, remixing a wide array of music, and experimenting with old-school synthesizers.
Drawing inspiration from his background in metal, Ashton deliberately maintained all his musical endeavors underground, a sentiment he has upheld throughout his career. As time passed, Lorin gained notoriety and began performing at larger events, first within the Bay Area, and then nationally and internationally. This growing acclaim led to appearances at prominent festivals in the early 2000s, including Burning Man and Shambala. As an entirely hands-on artist, Ashton climbed the ranks of the EDM world from his unique vantage point.
Lorin went on to establish and serve as the head producer of Amorphous Music. He used his label as a platform for numerous groundbreaking releases, such as "Wildstyle" in 2010, "Divergent Spectrum" in 2011 (which reached #3 on the main iTunes chart and #1 on the electronic chart for months), and "Vava Voom" in 2012, featuring the eponymous single with Lupe Fiasco. Through his self-operated Bassnectar Labs studio, he collaborated with a diverse array of artists, including KRS-One, Perry Farrell, Gogol Bordello, Fever Ray, Spearhead, and STS9. He also worked on remix projects with esteemed producers such as Z-trip, Diplo, BT, 6Blocc, DJ Vadim, and RJD2. Notably, his remix of Ellie Goulding's "Lights" was a significant hit, maintaining a top 10 position on iTunes Electronic chart for 28 weeks and topping the chart for 12 weeks, expanding his fan base into the global realm of indie-pop enthusiasts.
Bassnectar's art transcends music; it is a vehicle for social impact and change. According to Ashton, "Bassnectar is a reflection of that opportunity to give back; the motion of my cells bouncing back at the world." His live shows are renowned for their raucous energy, state-of-the-art light displays, and bass-heavy performances capable of whipping audiences into palpable frenzies. His performances are so sought after that, in 2011, he ranked among the top 3 in hard ticket sales, alongside fellow EDM artists Deadmau5 and Tiesto. The Bassnectar tour, which travels with its custom sound rig, has headlined at some of the most iconic venues and festivals in the United States, consistently attracting sold-out crowds, some exceeding 10,000 attendees during non-festival solo shows. In addition to headlining major events like Coachella, Lollapalooza, ACL, Bonnaroo, and Ultra Music Festival, Ashton introduced his own daylong extravaganza for EDM fans of all ages—the Bass Center. This event completely sold out in its first two years, featuring a lineup that included Brother Ali, Glitch Mob, Wolfgang Gartner, That 1 Guy, Dan Deacon, and, in 2012, electro-house superstar A-Trak.
2001 Freakbeat for the Beatfreaks
2002 Beatfreak Bohemia
2003 Motions of Mutation
2004 Diverse Systems of Throb
2005 Mesmerizing The Ultra
2007 Underground Communication
2009 Cozza Frenzy
2011 Divergent Spectrum
2012 Vava Voom