Interview with John Askew

Welcome to Malaysia. So when did u arrive? And what u did today?

Erm, it’s all good.. and erm *thinks* a few days ago actually, was playing in Singapore. What’s the date today?

Its June 3 in Malaysia.

Oh yea June 3. It’s all heap. Checked in the hotel and was checking e-mails on my laptop. Fuck… hundreds of ‘em! And that’s what I did the whole day. Checking e-mails. Doin just that.

Hundred of e-mails, was it sweet?

No. Not at all! It’s all serious stuffs.

Right, how was Singapore that night? And u met up with those TR boys over there eh?

I did? Oh hell yea, I was too drunk, its always like that. Singapore was like…I mean the club, I see a few tables by the side and people were drinking. And the dancefloor on the middle of it *blank face*

Yes, it’s usually like that. Even in KL clubs, u will see tables around the dancefloors. Do you think asian crowd is a lil’ different from the one in the US and the UK?

Oh. I see and yea, different in a way, but they dance to my music. And that’s what I wanna see.

We know you play trance. But let’s define your music. Let’s make it official.

Tough and hard uplifting trance, kick drums and driving riffs, no vocals, a lil’ of techno and a bit of breaks and no cheese!

Btw we heard you didn’t start off as a DJ all along. You were a guitarist and you have your own band? Tell us.

*grin* Erm, it was in the early 90s. I was dedicated in a number of rock bands during my teens. I love bass, bass guitar.

Were u guys serious?

What. Were we serious?? Are you kidding me? I’ve always treat music seriously. I love to make music and that’s also the reason I decided to leave the bands and sell off my Les Paul guitar in exchange of my new path for music. I chose to DJ and am doing it as a whole.
Writing and performing music have always been my main passion in life. When I traded in my guitar for a set of decks, I think I was pretty serious. My new musical direction from contributing guitar rhythms in a band to producing material to play in clubs had transformed me. I prefer the latter! Having a crowd go mental to your tracks is just one massive credit. It adds up the spice when the tracks are especially written by me.

How did it all started?

Erm, one day, my friends brought me to a fuckin’ huge rave in Cornwall. I was very much blown away by the music and the people and they were serious music lovers. They know their stuffs.
It was during my rock bands time while I was still with my bands and stuffs. However after a few rave experiences, I decided to quit jamming and put my whole new experiences into use. That’s when I started. In the early ‘90s.

Do u still like the idea of jamming, rockshows and crowdsurfing?

Definitely. In fact *look excited* the last one [concert] I went to was Duran Duran. Fuck they rock! It was hard stuffs. I went to their concert in Wembley Arena, London some 4 months ago.

I remember them. Are they still around?

Fuck yea. They are huge! They still rock and they play real heavy stuffs. They freaking kick ass!

Very interesting ;-) Surely the last couple of years had been a roller coaster ride for you. How do you like your job and how long have you been involved in DJ-ing?

I dedicate all of me in my job. And it’s already been 14 years. I can’t choose between both [DJ-ing and producing]. But I must say, I wouldn’t DJ if I didn’t produce. *pause to think* no, it’s the other way around actually. I don’t think I’ll produce if I didn’t DJ first.

So many years, u saw different kinds of clubbers. What kinda crowd do you like to see? Do you like people come in clean or stoned?

Erm, a mixture, really. A little bit of clean and stoned. I mean I would like sober people to listen to my music, but most the times, some people had to be drunk and stoned and what they do next is just chilled and sleep everywhere with blasting music till maybe 5 or 7 in the morning. This reminds me of the Scandinavians.

Yea I do that too. Getting high and sleep with the loud music.

*laughs* Yea, it’s only natural!

I mean when you don’t play and do gigs. When you go to the club, do you tend to be stoned and do u do Es?

When I go to clubs, I will normally go for the music. But yea, it was long ago while I was a clubber when I do those “stuffs”. It’s not kewl *serious look* It’s not legal and dangerous to have substance in the club. You will have fighting and shits happen easily.

You were first noticed in year 2001 with your debut single “Vellum”. It was a huge success. Has it really changed your life? If not, what is.

Not really about Vellum. There were a lot of things that happened that brought me this far. In fact, before Vellum, I had long been doing my stuffs. I had start mixing and producing my materials way early in the 90s. And before that no one would actually notice me. You know, there are a lot of new talents that are really talented but not been noticed, probably not having the chance to unleash their music. Which I think is pretty sad. I was indeed just fortunate that Vellum was the one to make me known. And I know they are a few DJs which are standing tall right now that shouldn’t been called gifted at all. I wouldn’t name names here.
And that’s why my label Discover is doing the job. We look for new talents to push them up. And the recent one we had is Alex Morph. Real nice guy.

Right, your label, Discover Records is doing well with tracks like Skylab and Fuck Private Ryan. It also has alot of big names under its belt. Tell us about it.

2 labels actually.

And The Gallery?

Yea but I’m also starting my new label called Kompressed.

I know, Kompressed Recordings where you are the head of the A&R. Is it tough? What do you have to do?

It’s a privilege to A&R my own label and I am even luckier to work with such incredible team with the guys at Discover/Recoverworld who manage all of my music. Politics and heats are common in any business. It’s always busy. Pressure is there cos it’s like you gotta listen to 30, 40 CDs before deadlines. It’s not simple to make sure that each and every one of ‘em are in good quality shape. However, at Discover we all have a very honest relationship and above that a strong friendship based on what we had to do to work this label up. In terms of the artists signed to the label, we look after them as best we can. We are like a family now. We are so involved. Often times I’m not feeling the work pressure at all. Also, we have plans to produce and record live sets too. We are thinking of doing it in Malaysia. Hopefully coming back soon for this project. I like asia.

So in general, BT worked with N’Sync and James Holden worked with Britney Spears. What about you?

*sips water* No thanks!

What about having female vocals into your mixing? Would that be your style?

*look agitated* Look, in mixing, there shouldn’t be much of vocals involved. We are not selling vocals. We are producing and making music. So in John Askew’s mix you won’t find vocals in any of ‘em. Especially not those of females. My music has to be those of hard trance, more of drums and beats and just basically beautiful blend of music.

Tell us briefly about your recent remixes and things you’re working on… *pass to him the list of John Askew’s discography*

Fuck you really did your research! Ok let me see. Referring to my production CDs, the 2004 CD should be called “John Askew – Blackout (Kompressed)” and not “Untitled”. About remixes … fuck, u had the entire list here.
OK, there are 3 current remixes that I did for 2004:
1) Unknown “Few Days” (John Askew Remix) (Kompressed)
2) Thomas Datt “2v2” (John Askew Remix) (Discover)
3) Empire State “Niagra” (John Askew Remix) (Lost Language)

Bedroom jocks look up to you for ideas and inspirations. You are their idol. Therefore, we are interested to find out about a big DJ/Producer like yourself, who has been your biggest influence and why?

I started by listening to music from rock bands. My favourite is this band called The Cult. You heard of them b4?

Yes I do… heavy music.

Yes! That’s what keep me going. Also, I do listen to DJs like Scott Bond and hell, Ashley Casselle too! I am very flexible for a DJ/Producer. In order to put variations into my materials, I have influences of both rock and dance music, maybe that is one reason why people are so receptive about music, if not, I’m just lucky that people like my style as they are. Anyway, I’ve always been a massive fan of The Cult and I still go to rock gigs like the last Duran Duran concert in Wembley Arena I told you about. I’m really into rock as well as dance.

Any plan of having collaboration? Who would you like to work with?

Er, I’m thinking of Chris Hampshire from The Tiesto Label, Black Hole Recording.

No more thinking of Slash, the ex-Guns & Roses?

Hell yea, that one too! That’d be great!

There’s a remix, which you did for Ministry called Malaysia. What’s the story? Has it been released?

No it had never been released. The Germany [MOS] Office was burnt down so it had to move to another place. We didn’t quite finish that, no. No political issue involved.

John Askew is really busy. You are currently the resident of the MOS, signed to The Gallery, and your own labels and you have toured a lot of countries. Do you consider yourself a superstar DJ now?

No of course not!

What is a superstar DJ?

A superstar DJ is someone who is extremely exhausted. Someone who had to deal with 8 bookings every weekend *laughs* I dun fuckin’ think I’m that and I definitely wouldn’t want that too. I certainly think no one could handle that too *shrugs*

Do you still need to work as hard now that you’re recognised?

Yes. I have been in this business too long to take sit back and relax. In fact, ever since I’m with Kompressed, I need to work extra. Schedules are running wild. I would never say that my materials, or any other materials on my labels are better than anyone else’s’, but I personally think there is an amount of shit music being released and so managing my own labels enables me to gather the exact sound that I see fit. I’m working, hard.

Are you bored of travelling? Being away from your family and friends?

*laughs* Actually this is the reason I’m doing this. I mean this is the excitement of being a DJ. You get to see places and faces. My family and friends, they are back home. And the place that I live in is called Arborfield, London, at the countryside. It is the most quiet place where you can actually hear someone drops his pen on the floor. That is one thing lovely about it. It’s a total peaceful time I need with my gf and my 2 dogs. You know, when you get to travel to cities like KL with all the cars and people on the rush, lights brightly on almost 24/7, I mean it’s just..


Yea but.. you don’t get this in where I live. Don’t get me wrong, I love city life but at the end of the day, I would just prefer to have my own quite time at the countryside. And that’s when I look forward to go home and just chill.

So does your girlfriend travels with you?

No, she had to take care of the dogs. She will tag along at a rare occasion.

So, you have your own show with London’s prestigious Kiss 100FM. And it was to replace Graham Gold’s show. How did you take the news when you were first told about that?

*laughs* Nah.. it wasn’t to replace Graham Gold at all. Actually when I was first told about having my show over Graham’s, they had to change their plan anyways. I told them, Graham Gold is such huge name. He had been around for years now. They felt bad about that so they keep both Graham and my show together. My show kick first at 11pm to 1am followed by Graham’s at 2am to 4am. So, that pretty much work out the stitched. Phew… so there’s no replacement at all.

Do you think you have achieved enough in life? When do you think you can retire?

Wow, I’ve never had enough of music. So I won’t stop doing my work now. And retire u said? Are you kidding me? Music is all that I care of so there’s no one strong reason to quit.

What quality makes a good club?

Music, sound system, good lightings and the crowd.

Do me a favor. List for me your top 5 tracks at the moment?

Sure thing!
1) The Well Paid Scientists “The Gander” (Cast Aneda Mix) (Kompressed)
2) Invisible Inc. “Stars” (Ambient Mix) (Somsonic)
3) Unknown “Marakesh” (Alex Morph Mix) (CDR)
4) Above & Beyond “No One On Earth” (Gabriel & Dresden dub) (Anjuna Beats)
5) John Askew “Luna Child” (White)

What has been your career highlight?

Getting the high profile that comes along good offers with handsome money.

Being a British, do you like football?

I didn’t have time for that really.

Your personal opinion, any good quality female DJ around?

Sister Bliss.

So what will you play for us tomorrow night? What should we expect?

Vocal garage *laughs* nah just kidding! Expect some techno trance, drums and basically thumping mix.

Thanks John for your time. We appreciate it.

Thank you *hugs*

Newsletter Signup