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Friday, January 30, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 20.0° F  Fair
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Bassnectar whips up an electronic cocktail
Ashton: 'I've always loved messing with sound.'
Ashton: 'I've always loved messing with sound.'

Some know Bassnectar founder Lorin Ashton from the miasma of out-there creativity known as the Burning Man festival, others from his Bassnectar Transmission podcast on iTunes. No matter where you've encountered his electronic cocktails, one thing's for sure: This guy can combine almost any type of melody, rhythm or bass line - ska, metal, ragtime, gangsta rap, you name it - in a ridiculously fun way.

Last week I spoke with Ashton about his new album Cozza Frenzy, his crazy touring schedule and his approach to musical mixology.

How did you get started as a musician?

I wanted to make that "chug-chug-chug" sound I heard in Metallica songs (churning rhythm guitar). Three guitar lessons and I started making my own crappy songs and sketches. I teamed up with some pals when I was 13, started a hopelessly ridiculous band, then got into electronic experimentation in high school by running guitars, drums and vocals through effects pedals and recording stuff on a Tascam four-track. I've always loved messing with sound.

On your website, you describe your music as "open source." What do you mean by this?

The absence of rules: If I want to collaborate with someone or feature any sound or style or mood or ingredient or aspect, or maybe even focus on something non-sonic, I will. It's also about creating events, bringing people together, watching how they interact and trying to stimulate them in different ways. That's open-source, too: lots of input, inspiration and exchange.

Tell me about the process of making Cozza Frenzy.

Well, in part due to constant touring, completing an album takes forever. Cozza Frenzy took more than three years. I have so many effing songs and sketches and sketchy songs that I just wanted to make a nice little collection of diverse styles I like: some old-school tinkly stuff, some heavy stuff, some mega-wobbling stuff, some left-field stuff.

Do you really perform more than 100 nights per year? How do you stay motivated?

Yeah, it varies from year to year, but we basically go bananas. Good people are always wanting more, and I love giving it to them. Staying motivated and energized has never ever been a consideration. It's automatic and impulsive.

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