Ashley ‘Woz’ Westlake has been on our radar since late 2012. His signature sonic bass productions have garnered the support of some of the finest bass maestro’s like Skream, Toddla T, Eats Everything and Foamo. The Bristol native’s latest offering on Black Butter Records, the wonderfully titled, ‘Early Morning Champagne’ EP is easily one of his best works to date and definitely one of our top picks for the year.
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The title track is eclectic, charming and vibrant. A mellow-tempo, loungey house beat layered with the smooth vocals of Joel Compass, very different from Woz’s usual stuff. The B-side, “Keep” is a spacey bouncy composition of dizzy wobbles, industrial drum rhythms, and cosmic loops. Along with top-notch remixes of Adelaide & Komon, this is one firecracker of an EP!
We caught up with burgeoning Bristolian bass-shaker to talk about his latest endeavors and upcoming tours.
Tell us about your musical background? How did you get into electronic music? When did you start producing? Did you always want to be a DJ, what would you be doing otherwise?
I haven’t really got a musical background to be honest! My family isn’t musical and music didn’t really interest me through school. I’ve always had music preferences, I just never thought past that. I took to Drum and Bass after school and started going to local raves in Bristol. That’s when it all clicked for me; I really fell in love with the whole culture surrounding the underground Bristol sound. I bought a set of decks and took to it pretty quickly but wasn’t happy with leaving it at that. So… I left my full time job and started a college course in Music Production. That was about 4 years ago!
Were there a lot of DJs/producers whose music you connected with or was it hard until you started actually making music?
At first it was drum and bass as a genre; I just listened to mix cds and was pretty much copying mixes on my decks. When dubstep started I really got into the production side of things, I loved how everyone was making this new music and putting their own style on it. I opened up to a lot more styles of dance music at that point too - I started listening to garage, bassline, house and was really into when producers would throw tribal influences into those genres. When I heard the first Zinc crackhouse mix, Redlight’s first mixtape and first listened to Toddla T, I felt I had something to give in production.
What is the story behind ‘Early Morning Champagne’? Do you like drinking champagne in the mornings or are you just a baller partying early into the mornings sipping on a bottle of bubbly?
Haha naww not a baller! When writing the vocals we were playing with a few melodies and the session wasn’t moving fast so I suggested going for a pint! We joked about for a bit and it just came out of nowhere. I loved it as a hook so we went with it and the session flowed after that!
Joel Compass has been putting out a lot of great releases lately. What was it like working with him?
Yeh Joel’s a BOSS! Was so good to work with him, as I’d been a fan since I’d heard his first bit on Black Butter. Joel was really into the track from the start, which helped a lot! We both have respect for each other so I took on his suggestions and he took on mine. It was an easy session. I often work alone so it’s always nice to have at least a second pair of ears sometimes!
When working alone in a studio, do you ever feel like you’re going crazy?
Haha! YEH, most days I’m pulling my hair out in the studio. It gets to me some days but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Nothing more satisfying than getting something sounding exactly how you want after spending ages on it! Its nice when it sounds right first time too though, haha.
Do you spend a lot of time perfecting bass lines when producing or are there other aspects of a track that you put a lot of emphasis on? Do you have a desire to keep expanding the realms of your sound?
It can change depending on the track what I spend most of my time on. Like if the drums are the main feature of a track then I’ll spend a lot of time on their place in the mix and their movement. If the bass is the feature then it needs to be unique sound or have a nice place in relation to the drums. I’m always making different music; I never want to stick to one genre!
Bristol is famous for bass music and Eats Everything eating everything but everybody knows that now. But what else goes on over there, anything else it’s famous for? I’m sure the city has such an active nightlife that there are bound to be some interesting things happening all the time?
For sure! There so much going on creatively here and most people are really open minded. There are always decent lineups every weekend and we have sick events in the summer. I love it here and really can’t see myself leaving in a hurry.
Tell us five of your favorite records that you would play at your cousin’s wedding?
Wham! – Club Tropicana
Snoop Dogg – Gin & Juice
Kenny Dope & The Bucketheads - The Bomb! (These Sounds Fall Into My Mind)
Prince - I Wanna Be Your Lover (Dimitri From Paris Re-Edit)
M.A.P – It Ain’t Right
When can we see you play here in the US? Have you ever been? We’d love to have you here.
My team and I are just putting a tour together now for next year! Can’t wait to get out there!!!