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Sasha Vatoff - One Foot In The Rave

Author: Cyclone
Monday, March 2, 2009

Sasha Vatoff takes 3D’s Cyclone through the ins and outs of compiling an aurual history of Australian rave culture – specifically his three-CD mix, Rave Anthems, out now.

Dance is one of the most ephemeral music cultures. It’s about the now, the new, the cutting-edge. But there’s always been a place for nostalgia. Ministry Of Sound’s Rave Anthems compilation taps into a collective hankering for the euphoria of the ‘smiley face’ era with Sydney’s Sasha Vatoff at the helm.

Vatoff promotes the successful retro-rave Reunion parties. The DJ, who began spinning as a teenager in the early ’90s, unearths records from the familiar (Moby, Felix, The Prodigy) and the forgotten (the UK’s Dream Frequency). The three-CD package spans seminal European house, early German and British rave, and “cheesy” Italo-dance.

Vatoff hosted the first Reunion last June after launching a popular Facebook group. The event at the Metro sold out in three weeks. “It was amazing the amount of people who went there,” he recalls. “A lot of people have families now, they’ve moved on in life, they’ve got careers – they’ve been totally out of the rave scene for 10 years plus. But they made the effort to come out to that event to experience that scene again, to reconnect with people, and to hear the music on a loud sound system in a rave environment.”

Britain already has a rave revival in full swing, with the superstar DJ Sasha approached for acid house revues (he declines). At any rate, MOS were paying attention to Reunion. Vatoff, in the throes of developing Reunion into a national party brand, was asked to produce a list of 100 rave tracks that were big across Australia. That required intensive research, since back in the day every city had a different vibe. The next challenge was to license the music.

“A lot of this stuff is not on record labels any more,” he says. “The licensing is back with the original producers. So there was a lot of negotiation that Ministry had to do in finding these original producers who have moved on from the music scene or are almost impossible to track down. We utilised things like Facebook and MySpace to track down some people who were so surprised that we’d actually managed to find them!”

At least one tune on Rave Anthems exploded here and nowhere else – Vagen’s Buggin’ was issued as a B-side on a minor label, Vatoff says. Unusually, he has also included Infusion’s Green, arguing that it materialised at “the tail end” of the rave epoch. However, he passed over the Detroit techno style so influential in Melbourne, excepting Joey Beltram’s Energy Flash. Vatoff hopes to assemble a second Rave Anthems, this time encapsulating the “darker, trancier progressive house” of the late ’90s.

Rave Anthems is aimed at those 30-something old school ravers, but Vatoff likewise wants to reach the new rave generation who’ve never heard, say, Praga Khan’s Injected With A Poison. He encounters many a contemporary track that “knocks off” an old rave anthem. Even The Prodigy replicate vintage sounds on Invaders Must Die. Vatoff recently played classic rave in the Big Day Out’s Boiler Room to an enthusiastic young crowd. “I played an old school set, I played some of the tracks on this compilation, and I saw some of these kids who are in their early 20s, their hands in the air. They don’t even know the vocals in the tracks, [but] they’re just feeling the music.”

WHO: Sasha Vatoff
WHAT: Rave Anthems through Ministry of Sound / Universal
WHEN: Out now