SPIN Sets Presents: ASW
exclusive DJ sets + Q&As with the best behind the decks.
ASW is a radiant and unique symbol for resilience and redemption. He’s undefinable and in constant evolution, never losing sight of his purpose. Surfing the tides of the unknown with grace and optimism, he is here to reflect the teachings of his journey through darkness into enlightenment, unto his music. The Seattle based producer/songwriter has emerged from the deep roots of his identity into the electronic sphere once again – only this time, as a solo artist ready to unveil a story that’s finally ready to be told. ASW stopped by SPIN to chat about his passion project/upcoming EP, Dahlia, some of his greatest influences, his mission towards finding inner peace, being a mental health advocate, spreading love, and much more. Be sure to check out his newly released single, “Roots” here.
Who is ASW and what do you stand for?
ASW is A Single Wave. A Single Wave stands for the notion that every atom originated from the same point, the same origin, and with this ought to be respected equally, wholly, accepted, and loved for whatever each atom and its counterparts comprise. Eloquence aside, I stand for community. I stand for and believe in the power of music and its ability to move mountains, heal, to uplift communities. Dance music is a powerful tool, and I believe in using it in action to better those around me.
Tell us about your sound – where does your style originate from and what have been your biggest visual, social, and sonic influences?
My sound is the intersection of several decades of influence. Pink Floyd showed me the power of a concept album, exploring madness with striking narratives and abstract structure. Depeche Mode showed me the power of the voice and how critical it was for me to begin to sing again. Death Cab for Cutie and Ben Gibbard taught me the power of storytelling through lyrics and song. My style flourishes with my electronic influences – Namely, Deadmau5, Flume, Above & Beyond, Mat Zo, and Wolfgang Gartner. They gave me a pulse to my story-telling side and made me feel complete (Well, I’d say it really traces back to Super Mario 64, and the underwater level…and the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of time, that, when I was 8/10 years old, made me fall in love with electronic music.) My style comes from this crazy mixing pot of sonic influences. It’s a sort of psychedelic, alternative rock, indie progressive dance vibe. I love it and am happy I found peace and found my sound.
Social influences for me, the most significant is Bernie Sanders. He has shown me time and time again the power of grassroots movements, the power of being raw, real, and standing for your community and taking meaningful action. He has shown transparency, and honesty, always. Seeing a figure like him motivates me to go as far as possible and never give up in pursuit of what I believe in.
Visual influences, I look highly to the surrealist and dadaist movements for inspiration. These two periods of art history put a magnifying glass to madness, to the illogical and strange, to the non-sensical, and flipped perspective on its head time and time again. I sometimes think for us to really grasp who we are, where we are, and level the playing field around us, we need to be taken completely away from our comfort zone and what makes sense and to new worlds. I’m honored to be working with Mollie Tlow, who has done visual work for Madeon and others, in helping me over the next years to see out the visual aspect of the world I want to create.
Was there a definitive turning point to your success? When did you realize the magnitude of your impact within the industry/community?
I think the turning point was realizing the power of authenticity. Once I dug into myself and my sound early last year, quite quickly, people began to take notice, and so I pushed it as far as I could. Though I’ve been seeing out some form of what has brought us together today over the last decade, I would have to say it was within the last 4 months that I understood the gravity of what I’ve begun to organize. We need folks like me who are willing to be open and transparent about their struggles and triumph with mental health, stories of getting help, and figuring out how to thrive. We need these lights, so folks know suicide isn’t the only option in our industry (music.) But it stretches beyond that too. Once you get non-profits involved, brands involved, it’s beyond music and becomes a reminder for everyone. I think once I connected all of the dots once again in 2021, with an incredible team, partner, family, friends, I knew that I had started something special.
You are reviving this solo project after taking some time to heal and rediscover your artistic identity and authentic self – What was the main source of motivation/inspiration for you to rise from the ashes?
The main source of motivation was last year. So was the pain, the fire, the darkness, the strength, the community, chaos, all of it – The polarities that were on the grand stage made me feel a visceral desire and urge to stand up and revive ASW, A Single Wave, for my heart was exploding with the want to heal and advance my communities with a contribution. That’s a key here. I’m no savior; no one is. But I knew I could be a reminder for many, a contributor to the conversation. So I stepped forward again after over 4 years of hiding.
A lot of the greatest artists have had incredible redemption arcs that have ignited and generated some of the most inspiring and raw collections of music that are oftentimes timeless – Being in the midst of your own redemption arc, what themes have you explored and released through your sound?
I’d say self-discovery, healing, self-actualization…Anthropocene, the human epoch, this world and era we are now so heavily affecting…Love, Equality, Advancement, Pain, Fire, Water, currently my canvas looks like an abstract milky way galaxy, a cosmic oceanic garden – I haven’t felt this many themes coursing through me in perhaps seven years.
You have an upcoming EP release, Dahlia, that is rapidly approaching – Talk to us about this new project. Where did the concept come from? What does this project symbolize for you?
Dahlia is a concept EP, telling stories of those moving through the pandemic and a story about myself. A Dahlia is my favorite flower – it is wild, expressive, diverse, radiant, colorful to be the epitome of a free spirit in floral form. So, I wanted to write a story that begun in darkness, loss, unknown, and move into the blooming of a wondrous new member of the garden. , this project for me, symbolizes me finding peace.
How did the process of developing Dahlia change you artistically, spiritually, mentally, etc.?
A 31-year journey, still with turbulence here and there, but I can say I have finally found peace with who I am, what that entails, and what I want. Writing this story helped me get there. The process of making myself sit down and write this in a span of four weeks made me pour everything out raw, without delay. It made me become consumed and immersed in each story and emotion. It brought me back into connection with my feeling of spirituality that strongly ties me to the world around me. Writing Dahlia improved my mixing abilities, production by absolute leaps and bounds. If you ask anyone around me, they will tell you that this EP marks a completely new chapter for me artistically. Developing Dahlia showed me I could stretch beyond just the music and create a lasting experience.
You’ve become a great advocate for mental health awareness, partnering up with Crisis Text Line – What compelled you to take this initiative on?
Two parts to this – one, I realized how far I have come that I wanted to be open and loud about my journey to help those in the dark. Secondly, I volunteered for Crisis Text Line for a year during the pandemic. I got to see firsthand how incredible this organization is and how they help thousands and thousands of people go from a moment of crisis to a place of calm. They also are a prime example of using data for good. It’s funny; I knew within the first month of volunteering for them that, in the end, I was going to ask them to partner with me. So the moment my 200 hours were up, I fired off emails, and it all began.
In what ways do you hope your work will resonate with the masses?
I hope it shows people how beautiful it is to come back to the roots of dance music, love, and acceptance and put it into action. How simple, easy, and awesome it is to rally together people and organizations to lift causes. How fun it can be! Lastly, I hope my work, my legacy if you want to call it, will show people the place and power of arts and culture within societies and how much it can positively impact our world.
As we approach the end of the tunnel, how are you planning to propel your career forward in 2021?
Taking this beautiful love parade from URL to IRL. My team and I are already actively working on the pilot city, venues, and more to carry this energy and love into real life, where I feel it will truly bloom. On top of that, I have much unreleased and unsigned music that I cannot wait to bring into the world.
Is there anything on the horizon that you can share with us?
Well, we got two more songs coming out on the Dahlia EP, and I have to say the fourth and final song is a collision of Pink Floyd, David Bowie, and Calvin Harris Ready for the Weekend energy all in. One (with me singing.) But on the horizon? This “movement” here, or whatever you want to call it, is only just beginning. And we will not rest until we stretch the globe and show people the power of Grooving for Good.
What do you wish for the future of electronic music? In what ways would you like to see it evolve?
I see it with Elohim, with Above & Beyond and Anjunabeats, with Soffi Tucker and the freak fam, with LP Giobbi and Femmehouse, Blondish… I wish for an authentic, loving, vibrant future for electronic music. Explore every nook, every cranny, and soar. I’d like to see it evolve to take the words and the concepts of raves and not only market “PLUR” but truly put it into action. I don’t see why every event cannot have some philanthropic tie-in; not every dollar needs to go into the pocket – let’s balance our books and figure out the most we can give to our community while also putting food on our tables.
Any last words for the SPIN-verse?
Thank you! Thank you for being here. Thank you for listening. I think we, as a collective, we are doing great after the year we just had. Let’s smile. Let’s laugh. Let’s come together in this beautiful opportunity we have after so much pain and destruction to build something we’ve never seen before. I think we can do it. I know we can. I’m excited for today and tomorrow. Thank you for having me.
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