As one third of X-Press 2, man behind Black Science Orchestra, Boyz in Shock and countless other guises, he’s been there since the dawn of dance pulling together the best bits of house, hip-hop, reggae, punk and soul to inform his music and DJ sets.
He’s earned his clubbing stripes not only in the rave but also via the studio as his Message In The Music compilation shows. The release is a collection of edits from across his career for Harmless Records and illustrates no one quite has the understanding of how to work a dancefloor like Ashley.
His latest venture - for the first time using his own name - is a series of rough and bashy house EPs entitled Yardism, on Toddla T’s Girls Music imprint. It takes his sonics into new territories, bouncing somewhere between garage and soundsystem bass vibrations.
We caught up with Ashley to see where his head is currently at…
Can you remember the first songs which made you fall in love with music?
This town ain’t big enough for the both of us by Sparks was the first record I bought with my pocket money. Roxy Music’s Pyjamarama was when I discovered Brian Eno and what a discovery that was! Here comes my baby by the Tremeloes is a family favourite.
Can you remember your first clubbing experience?
1976 at the Co-op Disco above the funeral parlour by Harrow and Wealdstone station. The sound system was called Channel 1 and run by Dave who was very knowledgeable about black music. The tune that reminds me of the night is Paul Davidson’s version of Duane Allman’s Midnight Rider.
How did you end up making the leap from the dancefloor to the studio?
By total default! From Shock Sound System's (SSS) Give me back your love for Jack Trax, 1989. Dean Zepherin and Paul Denton from SSS put it together and co-produced by Byron Burke from 10 City and Marshall Jefferson. It’s probably the first British new jack style dance record.
You’re well known for remixing/re-editng - what elements are needed for the perfect re-edit?
A bloody good song and melody is where it all begins. Check the mathematics. That’s all you need to make an edit. It’s not about cutting up drums. It’s all about knowing the song inside out and feeling it. There's got to be a message in the music!
How do you approach the creative process when writing song?
I always go into the studio with strong ideas, but once you're in there, music is in the air and I pull it down. This shit is spiritual - end of story.
You’ve worked as Boyz In Shock, Black Science Orchestra, Ballistic Brothers and X-press 2 to name but a few of your projects. What has been your favourite guise? And what does working across these different names allow you to do?
My favourite guise is me, Ashley Beedle. I always deal with musical friends and companions and working across these musical genres shows that I enjoy music - period!
X-Press 2 is perhaps the most well known of all your projects - did you expect to enjoy chart success?
What you’ve got to remember is that X-Press2 was a trio. Rocky and Diesel had as much to with it as I did. We didn't expect anything beyond the underground - we had underground club records - we didn’t expect it but I had a sneaky feeling it could translate.
You’ve started releasing EPs with Toddla T’s Girls Music label in your own name - what inspired this move?
Just all the new skool boys who included Toddla T and Tee Williams, right through to Pharrell, who are reaching back for musical inspiration and I guess I was one of the lads who helped shape it all back in the day. Throwback acid house and bass culture isn't anything new to me, but there are so many up and coming producers, DJs and fans who are discovering it and feel it's brand new. I want to bring the quality end of this musical spectrum to that party and share my love and passion for it.
How has dance music changed since you started in the business? Do you think its in a healthy state compared to previous years?
It’s always been in a good state - you’ve just got to find it and follow it. Underground will always feed the overground - nuff said!
What records never leave your bag when you’re DJing?
Mass Order’s Lift Every Voice (The Bootleg Mix) and M.A.W’s I Can’t Get No Sleep (MK Mix).
What’s been your career highlight?
I can’t answer that - every new project and gig is a highlight and learning curve…but at present, we’ll be smashing it every week Notting Hill Arts Club. Watch this space! We're launching the new Message in the Music album there on the 28 March. Come and share the vibes.
Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring dance music producers?
Listen and learn from the elders but forge your own style. We need to keep this music for the love of dancing and club culture.