Bassnectar press hand out

Lorin Ashton, the 37-year-old DJ, electronic musician and multi-instrumentalist is best known by his stage name, Bassnectar. He’s famously produced electronic music’s heaviest low ends over the last 20 years—many of which have come on his annual mixtape.

He took time away from the tradition in 2014, instead favoring the intensive studio time his album, Noise vs. Beauty, required. (It paid off, Noise vs. Beauty—his first no.1 album—is a gorgeous collage of punishing bass and delicate tuning that fills your body as much as it does a stadium.) But he returns to the format this week with Into The Sun, which the artist says is both mixtape and album. “It’s kind of like a reversed engineered version of both,” he tells EW. “It was a mixtape but then it was like, f–k, if I just give it away as a mixtape, these songs will never be stream-able—they would have been trapped in the mix.”

His return to the format is, in part, due to a change in his own disposition. “Right around this time last year, right around Noise vs. Beauty, I was pretty cynical about music. But now it’s 180 degree difference, I am just blown away by music right now—hence, mixtape time.”

The tape, which drops June 30 via the artist’s own imprint, Amorphous Music, runs wild. Each song bounces off the track that came before it before crashing into the one that follows. Which is not to say it’s careless. Ashton is exceptionally creative, meticulously so. As he says, laughing, “I am a complete, f–king control freak on a creative level.”

Over its 17 tracks there are remixes of some familiar songs, like his take on The Naked And Famous’ “No Way,” which the artist wanted simply because, well, he wanted it, “I just wanted to be able to play this song in my set,” he says of the choice. “I got to recreate the guitar parts and distortions in a totally new way. And then I just stuck insane drums and bass under it all. So now its ultra heavy. If you drive through the neighborhood bumping that, you’ll shake the place. But it still sounds pretty. [Laughs.]”

Some of the songs on on the collection are familiar for another reason. “Ten years ago I released a double-disc called Mesmerizing The Ultra—it was 35 original songs and collaborations. But like so many record deals at the time, it went whack. The label collapsed, the deal turned out to be f–ked. They owned all the music but they didn’t have the distribution. So it was this sad catastrophe to a large amount of my music,” he says. “It’s not even available anymore besides my website. To a lot of Bassnectar fans, it’s their favorite album so on its 10-year anniversary, I wanted to re-create it.”

From that collection, “Blow”, “Dorfex Bos”, “Enter The Chamber”, “Dobuasca” and “Breathing” all received 2015 updates, but Ashton confirms a Part 2 to Into The Sun can be expected later this year and that more will be revisited.

There are also collaborations—most of which feature more under-the-radar names than you might expect from a producer of Ashton’s level. Producer G. Jones appears on a crushing ode to his and Ashton’s shared hometown, Santa Cruz, California, “The Mystery Spot,” and rapper-singer-producer Lafa Taylor guests on the equally-but-differently heavy “Speakerbox.” Cristina Soto and Zion I are found elsewhere on the track list.

“My collaborations on my record are never strategic. They’re never meant to sell units or to be part of the press announcement. I’m 100% working with them because of their talent and our synergy, and because it’s fun. It feels as simple as being 16 years old and being in a practice space with my band and working with other humans,” he explains. “I see some artists that release releases and you can tell the way they’re talking about their collaborator that this is a selling point for them. At that point it doesn’t really matter what it sounds like. And it’s cool to do that, but I’m all about sound quality. I only work with what my ear thinks is A+.”

Ashton is currently in the middle of a festival tour that has him traveling the country through October. “This is the first year that I’ve ever done it like this. I’m kind of breaking a model that was a really rare and precious model,” he says of the trek. “We just decided to make this whole year about the craziest festival run imaginable. Even to this point, because some of them haven’t even been announced, I’m still kind of reeling. I thought I was doing like half of what I’m doing and I see that it’s just f–king massive.” A full list of dates are available on Bassnectar’s website.