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Don't Speak

A man of few words, dance music hero Sasha talks with his hands

But trance's omnipresence -- in 2000 you couldn't walk into a big club or a rave without hearing it -- led to a major backlash. Today trance has become a dirty word; even its champions prefer to call the music they spin "progressive house" in an attempt to distinguish it from the cheesy, highly melodic strains that became associated with the term. But while cutting-edge electro and house producers such as Felix da Housecat and Basement Jaxx get jocked by critics (who have turned a deaf ear to trance), Sasha and like-minded DJs such as Paul Van Dyk and Tiësto still draw massive crowds eager to dance to an epic, big-beat sound.

However, as Sasha explains, the days of ten- to twenty-hour marathon DJ sets and "all trance all the time" gigs are probably over. "Right now I'm playing shorter sets. The clubs I'm playing at finish earlier. I'm not stumbling out of the club at 10:00 in the morning anymore. I'm playing sets that are a lot more funky, a lot of the more electro-punky kind of sounds," he says. "When I used to do those long sets, it was all about these long, drawn-out grooves, and building up, and building the energy up in the room, which I really enjoyed. But I think people are into hearing a bit more of an eclectic set when they go out to a club now. It's not all about one sound.

"I just think the massive explosion that led up to the year 2000...." he says, trailing off without finishing his thought. "Things have changed a little bit, you know?"

Among superstar DJs, Sasha stands alone
Timothy Saccenti
Among superstar DJs, Sasha stands alone

Which leads you to wonder how Sasha will be remembered years from now. Will he be rehabilitated, like Benny Goodman, into a pioneer who successfully brought a mixture of underground electronic styles to the masses? Or will he be maligned like Glenn Miller, and forever charged with dumbing down dance music?

"I don't know," says Sasha when asked about his place in electronic music history. "I'm just doing what I think is right at the moment. People are still coming to hear me play, so I guess that's a good thing."

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