Aaron Hastings Brings “The Big Sexy Vibes”
“… I was educated in trance, house and breakbeats.”
Interview conducted, article written and posted by Katherine Sweetman
Aaron Hastings aka ARKON is the founder of the newly established ekstrə records (pronounced “extra” records) and the owner of Ajna Art Studio in San Diego. He started his music career in 1995 and has been a professional DJ since the late 90’s. During his tenure as a DJ he has produced hundreds of events and performed with numerous acts from all over the world. Arkon is also the resident DJ/ Promoter of the long running monthly Dragon Lounge event at Kava Lounge, and it was at this venue that he chose to have his record launch party.
DJs urBn LgNd, Otter, Osal8, Swan Dive and of course Arkon himself performed styles like drum ‘n’ bass, future jungle and glitch while patrons packed the house, danced, and until the bar closed. THEN we all followed Arkon to the after party at Ajna Art Studio in downtown San Diego.
I caught up with Aaron Hastings the following week to see if he could tell me more about himself, ekstrə records, and his thoughts on the future of electronica.
What follows is an interview with Aaron Hasings (A.H.) given by Katherine Sweetman (K.S.)
K.S. How did you get into the music business? What started your love of music?
A.H. I used to make mix tapes for my friends in high school with a mixture of new wave, punk, goth and industrial. I grew up close to Orlando [FL], and it had a great music scene during the early 90’s. That is where I was educated in trance, house and breakbeats. I moved to Raleigh in 1994, and they had a huge college scene, but it lacked quality electronic events. I took what I learned from clubbing in Florida and helped jump start a movement in North Carolina’s triangle area of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. After hosting a few after hours events at The Grove, I decided to get some used Technics 1200s turntables and a mixer. The first time I played out live was in 1995.
K.S. What DJs performed a the launch party and why did you invite these particular artists?
A.H. The ekstrə records launch party roster had a multi-genre format and each producer dropped the tune that they contributed to the album compilation. urBn LgNd opened the night with some future garage and dubstep. Otter, who is known mostly for future jungle played a liquid dnb set. I played the 11pm slot and dropped 2 originals and one remix I did for a Beatport contest in my set. That was the first time I had ever played out those particular tunes that I worked on. It was a transitional period in my music career that I will never forget. I have DJed so many times over the years and have not had butterflies in a long time. The Elev8 founder Osal8 opened with his track “Get Nasty” which is a mid tempo trap step funky banger that is on the upcoming compilation. And Swan Dive closed the night out with some glitch hop and dubstep. His last tune to finish out the event was “Glitch Please” from the album.
K.S. Who are the artists you’ve got lined up for your first album?
A.H. The majority of the artists that I collected for the ekstrə terrestrial compilation are DJs that I perform with regularly and know personally. The album is starring some already established producers such as Sleeve, Macrodot, Otter, Osal8, Divinity and Man Du. Plus some other rising stars like Swan Dive, nKey, Panda Grass, urBn LgNd, Painful Plea5ures, 5am, Axis and Stoik. I will also be adding a solo track to the album.
San Diego has a lot of exceptional talent, and I am happy to be working with this group for the release. Our album is being mastered by Kial from Sub Pressure and the album cover is being designed by Jake Fl4t Bl4ck Wagoner. Both of theses guys are masters of their trade. Jake has been our resident graphic designer for Dragon lounge since 2011. Putting this album together has been challenging and inspiring. I believe each artist involved in this project is dedicated to the music with a deep passion. I look forward to the opportunity of exposing the world to their skills.
K.S. What is your favorite sub-genre of music to play/create? Are there any in particular you continually find yourself drawn to?
A.H. Lately I have been working on future jungle, breakbeats, dubstep, dnb, down tempo and film soundtrack. I enjoy most music genres, so I have decided to produce a variety of sounds. I also have an interest for getting into 4×4 beats like house and techno. I have been a DJ for almost 20 years now and have experienced an incredible evolution through electronic music. My early roots as a DJ were psychedelic goa trance & progressive house. I might have to revisit those styles again with my music production.
K.S. What’s the future for ekstrə records?
A.H. A lot has changed in the EDM movement in the last 20 years. I saw the electronic scene peak in the early 2000’s and Hip Hop took over in most clubs and on the main stages for West Coast festivals. That is when a lot of the newer genres went back underground, and they evolved and survived until dubstep resurrected EDM back into the mainstream. Finally it seems that the United States is somewhat catching up to Europe when it comes to forward thinking music. There are plenty of highly attended festivals growing each year in this country spreading dance music into the air waves. It really is a great era to be involved in the California music scene. I have always been searching for groundbreaking producers when I book talent for events. Artists that are on the threshold of being discovered right before they blow up. I will take that experience into the selections I make for the upcoming releases on the label.
The label will be pushing the barriers on multi genres of electronica from dance music to cinema soundtrack. Although we are covering a lot of sounds the vibes will be deep and sexy. Also be on the look out for my first e.p. this fall with an array of future jungle, breakbeats and down-tempo.
The compilation release date has not been set yet so stayed tuned.
PHOTOS BY: KP Wedman