Back in 1991, several years before the concept of a ‘superstar DJ’ (with the booking fee to match), Mixmag declared Sasha the ‘first DJ pin-up’, such was the nascent popularity of the then-ponytailed Shelley’s resident.
As the magazine put it, ‘Whereas there have been plenty of star DJs before, Sasha is the first to be so successful precisely because of his DJing. After all the hyperbole and rhetoric, Britain’s dance revolution has arrived. In person.’
In what descends into something of a love-in, the journalist is effusive in his praise for dance’s first superstar.
‘Sasha is good. There’s no doubt about it. He can fill floors on the strength of his name alone. He’s treated like a fully-fledged pop star, recognised in clubland, lauded and lionised. […] Gradually, he is expanding into the world of remixing, but it’s his DJing that brings him the plaudits, the fame and the money. And the boys queuing up to shake his hand. And the girls queuing up to kiss him.”
Sasha, real name Alexander Coe, also offers his two cents, outlining how to keep the masses entertained, circa 1991…
“It’s the easiest way of getting a crowd to move – putting on a piano house track and getting them to put their hands in the air. That used to be my trademark, but everybody is doing it and the tracks that are created aren’t very good anyway. It’s too easy to stick to one sort of music, it works much better to play heavy techno for fifteen minutes and then follow it up with piano tunes. The effect is fifty times better.”
…. the importance of DJs to get into the recording studio…
“No-one knows better than a DJ what creates a buzz on the floor. When I’m working in the studio I am always thinking about what this track would sound like out in a club. It will be the DJs who are most spontaneous and creative in a club who are going to make the most imaginative records, because they’ll know how sounds go to together.”
… and his own introduction to the scene…
“I just did it at the time because there was a great buzz going round, and sort of fell into the style that I developed. It wasn’t a conscious thing to try to be different, but I just found that I always like to throw in really mad things. Things that were really different.”
Looking back, if ever there was a moment at which the touchpaper was lit for the emergence of superstar DJ culture, this was it. While it would be a few years before Sasha, John Digweed, Carl Cox et al would command genuine celebrity status, at the time, such aspirations must have seemed somewhat anathemaic to the DIY culture of the rave scene.
As for the man himself, while the venues may have got larger, the sound systems louder and the entry fees more expensive, even back then Sasha had a word of advice for budding bedroom superstars.
“The DJing will still be what I want to do. Seeing my face in a magazine is great, but the DJing is what it is all about.”
[Originally published in Mixmag, December 1991. Article sourced from It’s All About Flyers forum]