Ask anyone who’ve seen of Woz’s live sets and you’d know that he’s capable of making the sober partygoers hit the dance floor with his music.
It’s not hard to find anyone who can do that, but it’s certainly rare to find a sound so unique that it defines Woz.
Ashley “Woz” Westlake has got a number of great tracks under his belt before getting signed by Black Butter Records in 2012.
He first caught Hush House‘s attention through his 2 tracks namely “Junky” and “Champion Bubbler”. He then impressed Black Butter Records with his entry for the RackNRuin “Territory” remix competition, ultimately becoming the winner of competiton. The record label also signed his debut EP, “Seen”, on the spot.
Through his signature bass productions and remixes, the Bristol-bred producer gained notoriety from drum & bass scene’s most respected names such as Skream, Doorly, and Marcus Nasty, to name a few.
With strong support from Zane Lowe at BBC Radio 1, it’d be an understatement to say that Woz is one of the most talented producers/DJs from the UK. Ahead of his set for It’s the Ship 2015, we caught up with Woz to talk about garage music, the British-popularised dance music, and some fun facts you didn’t know about him.
How much did the garage music of London influence you when you were younger versus listening to it after its era?
Well, it’s a strange thing because I found out about dance music really late. I kinda found out about it when I was 16, 17. It wasn’t something like, a scene that I particularly went to try and find. It’s just that I started with instrumental bass and gone to dance music through culture.
When dubstep kicked off, everyone just introduced me to garage. I was like “okay” and started listening to garage. The tempo works kinda similar to dubstep and then kinda off the back of that. So, it wasn’t like a specific obsession or anything. It’s just kind of like a progression when I came across garage music.
Before you discovered dance music, what were you listening to?
I don’t really know. Music was just there and it wasn’t like there’s a focus or anything. I remembered enjoying hip hop a lot when I was in school, like The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac. It was just very standard and it was never like a focus.
But for some reason, it definitely did something to me that I was like a bit obsessive. But because at that time, I didn’t make music or knew how to play an instrument so I never thought of it like a serious thing.
A lot of British-popularised dance music have emerged into the mainstream these days, especially in America. What’s it like to see the scene growing bigger?
I kind of experienced it when I first started releasing music. Dance music or house music were just hitting the charts and being in a position of Black Butter where people kind of make the journey over and release records (a good many of it), it kinda swayed me into more subconsciously thinking that this wasn’t what my path was. When I was producing records, I thought the next track was going to hit radio and do well.
I really didn’t enjoy the whole procedure. I just didn’t enjoy the whole thing, basically. And then I went straight back into thinking about what I want to do. The whole thing just made me kind of rethink what I want to get out of music and that’s kind of what I think about the whole scene, really.
What do you hope people will get out of listening to your music?
Umm…I don’t think there’s a particular message that I want to send out.
It’s just that when I was listening to UK dance music and underground music, I kind of feel like I have a place there. It’s just basically what kind of gets me going in the studio and what makes me feel inspired. I just enjoy making music. It’s just like, for fun.
What is the record that always gets you on the dance floor and why?
All right…let me think…I should know this. Ah yes, “Love Taking Over” by Dusky. I love Dusky and I’m a good friend with this guy, but I didn’t use to know them. I remembered going to Glanstobury and the song was being played for the first time, I was like, “OMG. What’s this tune?”
It’s not like it’s one of Dusky’s biggest songs, but it just has something to me and I just love the whole track.
What would you like people to know about you, independent of everything else? Like some fun facts?
When I was 7 years old, I was really good at yo-yoing. I can still yo-yo quite well, which is very strange and not a very cool thing to be.
What is one question that you’re sick of answering it yourself?
I hate the question “describe your sound” because there’s no specific way to describe it. I just want people to listen to it rather than having me to describe it. It’s not a conscious thing. I’m not sitting down there and thinking what I want to make. So yeah, that’s a very hard question for me.
Special thanks to our friends from Livescape Asia for making this interview happen.
We’ll leave you now with “Early Morning Champagne”, one of our favourite tracks from Woz.