Digging Deeper with Demi aka ASOY

Author : Marco Sgalbazzini
June 11, 2018

Digging Deeper with Demi aka ASOY

At their height, SOS were one of the original power trios in electronic music. Long before the likes of Apollonia (or dare we say, those wretched Swedish characters arrived on the scene), these guys were throwing it down in some of the world’s best nightclubs week after week, and even contributed to the Essential Mix as far back as 2006.

Although the boys have since gone their separate ways, Demi, Omid 16B and Desyn are all still active in electronic music – with Demi in particular a busy man of late. Now producing under a new, more techno-focused alias, ASOY he’s arguably making the best music he’s made for quite some time.

We caught up with him recently for an extensive, thought-provoking and always interesting chat. Without further ado, here’s what went down…

Aside from music, what’s been keeping you busy of late?

Outside of music completely I’ve had to dive into a whole new ball game with project managing the renovation of a couple of apartments the family own. They’ve been untouched for almost 30 years since Dad bought the building here in North London which has a commercial ground floor below the flats, so it’s a bit of an undertaking and requires a very hands-on approach to ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible. From the ground up, working with the architect and the builders to try and get the job completed before the end of the year.

And though somewhat connected with music, but not for me as an artist, I’ve also been tour managing Danny Tenaglia on occasions when he is in Europe for the last few years. It certainly wasn’t a side of the business I expected to be involved in but it’s been a great discipline and a privilege to work with someone who’s not only a mentor but become a great friend over the years. Seeing first hand how professional and meticulous Danny is with his work is an example to all who want to maintain longevity in their music career.

How has the year gone so far? What’s been the highlight?

On a personal note, it will be seeing my baby bro finally get married to his beautiful girlfriend of 13 odd years I believe. They are childhood sweethearts and well….she has been very patient with him! It’s going to be a great occasion for the family and keeping the positive vibes there enables a clearer and positive mind when I’m working in the studio too.

From a professional point of view, it has been another progressive year so far as my progress in the studio output. The main highlight I can speak of so far is a cover track I’ve finished under a collaborative project called Hot Heads with Mario Badbox of Kronologik and Coda Deep which has already had early plays this summer with great video footage back by Black Coffee and Behrouz and is in the hands of a few big bods that are busy on the circuit. I think the best of 2018 is yet to come but the foundations are in place.

Do you have any plans for summer? And do you generally get most of your productions done in the winter or how does it work?

Besides local gigs I hold in and around London, I will also be quite busy on the road tour managing Danny Tenaglia around Europe from August through to September. And yes due to lack of adequate air conditioning facilities in my home studio, the summer tends to not be as productive sometimes especially during days which are particular hot and humid.

So yes like most other producers no doubt, I too tend to be able to focus better and work longer during the winter months where the night hours are embraced fully. But in truth it doesn’t stop. It’s an all year round process wherever I am.

Are you someone who needs to be in a studio to make music or are you just as comfortable making music on your laptop whilst traveling?

I need my studio space. It’s where I best function and have the ideal headspace to be creative. I am considering a small upgrade to one of those iPad pros where I can have that freedom and flexibility to capture ideas on the move though because creativity can come in any shape or circumstance and there’s nothing worse then an idea lost when it does come to you.

Can you remember the track or album that made you want to create music?

Omid 16B’s “How to Live 100 Years”

At what stage did you think of music as a career as opposed to a hobby?

When I walked out of the cashier’s job I had in a local bank I used to work in around 18 years ago. That was the time I had begun to throw my own events called Deeper Substance and soon enough something had to give way. I’ve tried to not look back since.

What’s your favourite piece of kit that you own and why?

The SY-1 Syncussion. It’s a beast of a machine that conjures up these wonderfully weird bubble bass sounds that is just an instant vibe starter. It’s a staple amongst some of my favourite producers such as Martin Buttrich and Frank Wiedemann from AME.

Can you tell us a bit about the new EP and your new ASOY alias?

This is the debut EP of just ASOY material. It’s a clear focus into the more electronic bodymusic sounds that are raw, imperfect from recorded sessions that try to live and capture that moment when the machines are turned on.

There have been a handful of single releases as part of EP’s under a Various Artists banner with other labels prior to this so it’s a big statement now that this EP had to make. And thrilled that the guys at Secret Music believed in this current material submitted to them.

NINAH started in my shed around 4 years ago and the initial spark for that came at a time when a girlfriend of mine from Toronto was visiting and staying with me. One evening she was paying attention to some of the sounds coming from the toys as I had just acquired some of them. I remember the MFB 522 Drumcomputer which she took a shining to especially. The basic drum parts were built from that and arranged quite quickly. It was left on the shelf for a year or two and then had some fresh inspiration to look to finish the track which is in an inverted way named after her.

Rumbleface is like no other tune I’ve written or released before. And I wouldn’t want to make another track sounding like this. It’s totally unique and I love it more with each listen. The foundation of the track began using the SY1 Syncussion. I had finished a raw dubbier version to have SLF listen to. He is someone I’ve known for a couple of years through mutual friends and he had a great studio space during his time in London with lots of different and very cool pieces of studio kit that often made me very green with envy.

The plan was to have Stephane (SLF) engineer and mix down both tracks but with his input we decided to join forces and so we spent a long night CV’ing up my SY1 to some of his modular toys and the Electron Octatrack he had. The results were unbelievable and created those vital final layers for both NINAH and Rumbleface. I was in Berlin for the New Year period tour managing Danny T at the Panorama Bar and thankfully had a few extra days in Berlin so we pretty much put the finishing touches to everything one night at his studio. And ADME has come up with an outstanding remix of NINAH as well which I think will hit with a lot of the techno bods out there once they find out about it.

Why was now the right time to introduce this alias and what does it stand for in your eyes?

Partly because of everyone’s misconceptions of what sound or style I apparently play or make. Everyone includes everyone…label owners whose music I’ve sent demos to and had knock-backs from, promoters, agents and the press too.

I had to take some time away back in 2012 to reassess everything my career up to that point and decide whether I had something to still offer with the music I play and the music I was beginning to create. Creating ASOY was the laissez-faire don’t give a f*** punk attitude I needed to instill in myself and dispel any misconceptions that I was feeling from certain quarters of the industry I knew. I still feel it now and that’s a daily mental workout I’m learning to overcome. But I’m feeling more and more comfortable in my own skin again and enjoying this new lease of music expression at this time.

My DJ work as DEMI will continue but will lean more to the lighter shades of music I am booked to play. Funk, disco, party music and the more eclectic freeform sounds of the past, present and future that I can play in a lot of very cool social spaces that don’t necessarily even have dance floors have been a joy to do and very therapeutic for the mind and soul. And that will continue. But for the more underground and discerning circles and clubs, ASOY provides a clear and sharper focus on music for these spaces.

Looking back on your time with SOS, is there one memory that you treasure more than any other?

Over a 6-year intensive period of worldwide recognition and demand that the SOS project had that’s definitely not an easy question to answer. I think at the height of when the synchronicity between us felt almost at supernatural levels was what I treasure most from that experience with Omid and Desyn. And the height of that I think was when we had to complete the Essential Mix for Radio One in 2006. We were asked by the BBC if we were ok with submitting a 3 hour studio mix because the date of the broadcast fell on the same date as when the clocks went back in March. It felt like almost fate to be asked that with 3 of us in the group. And I believe it’s the only 3-hour studio mix ever recorded in its history which we’re all proud of. And in truth I think we needed 3 hours with the amount of ideas flowing out of us at that time.

The deadline for that mix was also the same period my grandfather passed away and I was the one who had found him lying slumped in his flat and had to carry him to his bed with my Dad to help me before any other family members arrived and not see what I was seeing which was the greatest, wisest and strongest man I will ever know just lying there on the floor. It was a crushing few weeks for the entire family and I barely slept a whole week following his death. Us as the grandchildren were chosen to carry his coffin as well because we were all so close to him and I had to speak a eulogy during the funeral service. I just remember once the wake was over how I just wanted to be with the guys and channel all that grief and sadness into something so positive and profound with that mix and understand in darkness can come light. The boys were there to carry me through that experience and that mix I think still to this day sounds as relevant and significant as ever.

How do you think the industry and scene has developed and changed since you began DJing/producing?

Immeasurably. I would say the one thing I’m feeling now more than ever all around me that is positive is the more DIY approach being adopted on all levels. I don’t want to spend too much time talking about the industry itself and keep things positive and more about what I can do to project a positive feeling to anyone who comes and hears me play or listens to my music.

So I guess you’re firmly based back in London then? How do you find the music scene in the city these days?

Yes for now I am back in London. I’ve moved 3 times in the last 4 years including 9 months in Paris so it has been at times super unsettling as far as keeping the studio output consistent. But now I have a cool living space and am taking my living situation year by year at the moment. Trying to carry less baggage I suppose and keep my feet light on the ground and be ready for any potential move; appreciating the value of the present more then ever and it seems that approach has been paying dividends in all sorts of ways. The music scene here so far as choice is as healthy as it’s ever been. There’s a lot of gripes about the state of play amongst the more established promoters and venues but on a more independent scale, there is so much bubbling under the radar where you’re seeing smaller venues able to take more risks and showcase a much more diversified program of electronic music. The DIY approach is stronger then ever here in the city and that is keeping the scene alive and evolving. Personally for me I have to pick my battles a little better and be more selective about the nights I can go out but it still excites me more then ever to hear a sound I’ve never heard before. That’s the drug for me…Always has been, always will be.

We read that you’ll be doing a mix with the Balance guys. Can you tell us a bit about your association with them and how the mix came about?

It kind of coincided with the ten-year anniversary since the Balance 013 compilation under SOS was released. I have had a long standing friendship with Tom who steers the ship there from those days and then again in recent years we were in contact again as I co-engineered disc 2 of the Balance 026 Compilation by Danny Tenaglia. A few stars felt like they were aligning and I felt ready to present a body of work to the public. I felt Balance were the perfect platform to showcase and reintroduce myself to a lot of heads. The mix is called Stories through Sounds and is a more sonically chilled listen for the mind.

What else have you got coming up that you’re really excited about?

At this stage all I can reveal is a single release coming up later this summer on Kismet Records, which is run by Rui da Silva. It’s another collaborative effort that started 5 years ago with a good friend of mine from Cartagena called RASEC.

I’ll also be doing a cool techno remix for a techno label called Techfui under my Wood Drift guise, which is coming out as part of a Various Artists compilation in late 2018. The track is called ‘1532’ by Lebanese based producer Diamond Setter.

Finally, can you give us 5 tracks that you’re really feeling right now?

In no particular order or style:

  • Dark Matrix – Gravity Wave LP on Childhood Intelligence
  • DJ Koze – Knock Knock LP
  • Chebran – French Boogie Volume 2 Compilation
  • Christy Essien Igbokwe – You Can’t Change A Man
  • Lee Fields & The Expressions – Money is King

ASOY & SLF’s Between the Beat is out 2nd July via Secret Music