Stoke-On-Trent's Ashley Wallbridge has gone from a trance newbie to one of the hottest names in big room dance in a matter of years. Now, with a residency at Marquee in Las Vegas, his popularity has entered a whole new sphere.
In 2014 there is no doubt that big room reigns supreme. With Hardwell taking our award for No.1 DJ last year in the Top 100 DJs poll, the crowd has spoken. This up-tempo, dancefloor-ready take on house is as relevant as ever. With Vegas becoming more important year after year in the electronic music industry, we thought it was about time to sit down with one of the city’s current resident DJs for a chat about all things progressive.
Back in the United Kingdom, in his studio, three cups of coffee deep is where we catch up with up-and-coming producer Ashley Wallbridge. The Stoke-on-Trent native has been making waves in the scene ever since his first track “I Believe” was released on Lyon Echo records in 2008, at the ripe age of 16. A more chilled, breakbeat-oriented track, “I Believe” did not go unnoticed in the dance scene in London at the time, eventually making way for a long time friendship with another Stoke-on-Trent stalwart, Andy Moor.
Ashley grew up in a musical family, his dad a trained pianist. Living away from the two meccas of electronic music in the UK (Manchester and London) gave him ample time to produce, which ultimately led him to the successful career he has today. “My first real club night out was Ibiza when I was 15. I was on holiday with my family and I went out with my older brother and his mates with a fake ID, and it was incredibly overwhelming. It was really unbelievable,” he says.
His first time hitting the decks in front of a crowd was for a competition put on by UK industry heavy-hitters Radio One at a nightclub in London called Icon. He was already on his way to becoming a staple in the UK trance/progressive house scene. Hustling as a young kid to get his tracks out to labels, Ashley sent a bunch of demos through MySpace to fellow Stoke-on-Trent DJ Andy Moor. “Andy lives like 10 minutes away from me and when he realized I was located just down the street from him, we met up for a few drinks and the relationship built from there,” Ashley recounts his meeting with Andy Moor.
Their 2009 collaboration “Faces” led to so much recognition that Ashley’s touring schedule started heating up. His rise in fame led to many labels attempting to nab him for a full-length. Eventually deciding to release on Armin van Buuren's Armada Records, Ashley’s debut album The Inner Me dropped in 2012. “I was working on the album for about a year-and-a-half while I was touring. Each track was inspired by different cities I would travel to. The track ‘Mumbai Traffic’ was actually inspired in the back of a taxi while I was stranded in traffic in the city for over eight hours.”
This summer really saw a jump in his career when he headed off to Vegas for a residency at the infamous nightclub Marquee. With a Dayclub and a Nightclub nestled in the hippest hotel on the strip, The Cosmopolitan, Marquee has made a name for itself in the Vegas scene for bringing some of the most influential and relevant DJs to its decks. Snatching up some of the most in-demand selectors for summer residencies, the club continuously pushes the boundaries to create some of the best times to be had in Vegas.
“Vegas is crazy. It is like nowhere else I have played before. Every time I see Marquee on my calendar I get excited. It is really my favorite place to play in Vegas, because it goes non-stop. The Dayclub is nuts, it will be like 45 degrees [Celsius] and people are dancing and splashing and having a great time,” Ashley recalls about his shows there.
Along with fellow resident Dash Berlin, Ashley made waves over the summer playing multiple times at the Dayclub and Nightclub. He learned that tailoring your sets to the Vegas crowd is not as easy as it seems — the city is truly a different beast. “My sets are very different in Vegas, every time I play there I have to bring different tracks to the table.
I have found that a lot of people there are on holidays and stag dos, and it is a different crowd than anywhere in the world,” he admits. “I try to keep it as entertaining as possible without losing the dancefloor, because sometimes when you play other places you can kind of keep it a bit more groovy and you kind of build a journey, but with Vegas you have to keep it exciting all the time. High energy throughout the set.”
Sol Shafer, director of special operations and music for Marquee, has nothing but positive things to say about Ashley. “Ashley Wallbridge productions are simply next level, and with the way he holds the dancefloor it is always a great time. We at Marquee are very confident that this global residency was a great move for the future for all of us,” he enthuses about the bond between Ashley and Marquee.
Preceding his residency in Vegas, Ashley was hard at work on singles for Avicii’s label Le7els. Like most relationships these days, his association with Tim Bergling was based originally through email correspondence. He was working on some demos at the time and sent them over to Tim’s manager Ash Pournouri, who came back to him with nothing but great things to say.
The next thing you know, Avicii started to drop what would eventually become the track “Crush” in his sets, and the relationship built from there. “Pournouri kept coming back asking for more demos and I kept sending them to him, which ultimately created this awesome relationship that I have with the label,” he says about the evolution of their work together.
With top remix work and collaborations with many upper echelon DJs, it is no wonder Ashley is so in-demand. Playing all over the world in 2014, Ashley has had little time to sleep. Two shows stand out in his mind. “Marquee EDC weekend was amazing. Playing after Dash Berlin was such a treat. Also Supermartxe in Ibiza was crazy this year. It sold out and over 10,000 people came to see me play and it was pretty unbelievable. It was such a big spectacle!”
Never resting on his laurels, Ashley has some amazing things in the works. He is co-producing a couple of songs with the household legend producer RedOne. “One of my tracks with RedOne will be coming out really soon and another, that I am really excited.
WORDS: KEVIN CAMPS
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