Exclusive Interview with John Askew

What is your first memory?Askew_Blackout_07 (1)

I grew up in the countryside and I remember being about 3 or 4 years old messing around in a barn with a friend of mine when I stood on a plank of wood   that had a big rusty nail sticking out of it and the fucking thing went right through my foot.  I was wearing a pair of red wellington boots and I distinctly remember looking down at my foot and seeing this nail sticking up through the top of the boot. When I tried to walk away – the plank of wood came with me. Much crying ensued until my friend had got my mum to come and free my foot. I don’t remember the feeling of that nail going in but I sure as hell recall the horror of it exiting my foot.

What did you want to be when growing up?

Initially a crocodile but when I’d had the shortcoming of that plan explained to me I then opted for Fireman. I was fascinated by fire when I was younger. Maybe a bit too much. I burnt down an old disused railway carriage when I  was about 7 – not intentionally – I just used to hang out in this thing with friends but it was one of those cargo carriages with sliding doors and when they were shut it was pitch black in there – so my solution was to fill the thing with candles. Picture a bunch of kids playing in an old railway carriage made of really dried out wood while 30 or 40 candles burned away….as soon as they’d burnt right down…….an inferno followed. Nobody got hurt but it was pretty dumb and I got in a ton of shit with my parents when they found out.

If you could go back in time to any event, what would it be?

London in the 60s would have been a cool decade to have lived through in your 20s.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I’m going to have to be really cheesy here and say, my kids.

Favorite place to go out and eat?

Wow – that’s a tough one….I love Esca in New York, Kurobuta in London, Coya in London, Nove in Las Vegas….there are so many awesome places     but I think my absolute favourite though is the Fish Shack in Talamanca –   Ibiza. It’s a truly magical place that I like to go to once a year and eat          incredible fresh fish washed down with vile quantities of chilled white wine. The view across the bay and the vibe are second to none. It’s a locals hang out that is a real gem of the Island.

What was your least favorite job?

I had a shitty Summer job once working for a company called Readers  Digest. I don’t know if you’ve heard of them in the US but basically, they used   to spam the shit out of your mailbox with loads of horrific bullshit like this letter that had a key glued to the inside of it with the promise that if your key fitted a certain lock you’d win 50 grand. It was all nonsense and just a means of getting the gullible British public to sign up to some awful scheme or another.  Anyway – I was the cunt that stood there working this machine that glued the keys to the letter before they then moved on to be automatically folded and put into envelopes. I would lift this arm up and down administering first a dollop of glue and then a key. It was terrible really but I was at a stage in my life when all I cared about was earning enough money to go out clubbing and get completely fucked up on the weekends so I guess I lasted a few months before I walked out.

What is your most treasured possession?

I don’t really have anything I’m overly possessive or protective over. I prefer having experiences to owning shit. That said I’m pretty fond of my studio and my guitar collection. If my house was burning down and I knew my wife and kids were out / safe the first thing I’d go for is my laptop. Everything else is insured and replaceable.

Favorite holiday to celebrate?

Christmas. I love a beach holiday but given the choice between beach or   skiing – I’ll take snow. And there’s no better time to be in the mountains than at Christmas – especially when you have kids. They reignite the excitement and energy of the festive season that perhaps had been dulled a little by growing up.

Pet peeve of tour life?

What does that mean? You mean what do I not like about touring? I hate the flying part. I fucking hate flying.

Favorite subject in school? Least favorite?

Favourites were Music, English and Art. Least favourite were Maths, Physics and Chemistry.

Most memorable DJ experience?

Last time I played San Francisco. ;0)

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Being able to fly – so I didn’t have to go on planes ever again.

Favorite childhood game to play?

We used to play a game called kick the can where a few of you guard an old can while the rest of you have to try and sneak up unseen and “kick the can” before they could tackle you. All the kids in the village where I grew up used to get together and play that. It was a big deal. I loved the element of stealth and cunning you had to employ to outwit the other team. Now with kids, I’m also a big fan of water fights in the summer.

4 things you have you have with you on tour?

Laptop. Decent book. Vallium. Shades.

If you could play at any event or celebration, what would it be?

I’ve never been to or played in Japan. I would love to go there to play and really explore the country, the culture and the food. There are many places I have been to play that I have no interest in going back to but Japan is one country that fascinates me. Other than that I’m pretty stoked to be doing a 10 hour set at one of my favourite venues in the UK – the really underground Boxxed Warehouse in Birmingham. I’ve played for the promoters Trancecoda  many times and the shows are always superb. The last time I played for them  I did a 5 hour set and it was probably in my top 2 or 3 gigs I have ever played in the UK so being asked to come back and do 10 hours in such a stripped back, underground environment is pretty exciting. Cut away all the production and just put a kick ass sound system in dark warehouse. Back to basics.   Back to the most important stimulant – the music.

Walk us through your first experience as a clubber. How did you end up deciding to go and who was playing?

Fuck that’s a long story to explain. My first proper clubbing experience was in 1992 or 1993 at a rave in Cornwall to a DJ called Easygroove. I had no idea   what was what. I was a long-haired rock guitarist in a band used to going to sweaty leather clad gigs so was out of my comfort zone a little but ecstasy explained everything in all the detail I needed.

Being in the music industry for several years isn’t easy, what’s your advice to someone talented and learning the ropes?

Be passionate. Be original. Innovate, don’t imitate. Never ever give up and be out there living it every fucking weekend on the dancefloor.  If you’re a DJ travelling the world and only experiencing shows from the perspective of the DJ booth you can lose your sense of perspective. From time to time, it’s important to get in the middle of the dancefloor and immerse yourself in the music. It’s a grounding experience.

There are so many aspects to developing as an individual and artist, what is the most important thing in your opinion?

First of all, you have to be fucking good at what you do but I think the single most important thing is to be original, to have a sound and a style that is different to everyone else.

Describe what a day in the studio with yourself. What are some of your rituals? How do you decide on which tracks to release?

When I work in the studio the ritual is usually to spend the first few hours listening to other music for ideas or sampling off films, radio or youtube. Finding signature sounds that are going to be unique and set the production apart. And then when it comes to starting work I tend to get a little bit stoned as I find this helps the creative juices flow and also opens my ears to the smallest of intricacies in the mix down that were previously less obvious. Everybody approaches it differently and I don’t really smoke – but as a “tactical necessity” I find I get the best results and come up with the coolest ideas when I’ve had a few drags on a joint.

What are you excited for in 2016? 

The new brand / new label. I can’t tell you much more than that – but it’s    going to be massive with an all-star list of trance headliners under the banner.


Catch John Askew along with Eddie Bitar and Arctic Moon at Ruby Skye on January 30th.

Get Tickets: http://bit.ly/phoriatfsf


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