Datsik, the 24-year-old DJ who was born Troy Beetles, is among the young dubstep brigade -- along with guys like Skrillex and Porter Robinson -- that's responsible for the resurgence of head-banging everywhere.
The Canadian, who plays Electric Zoo in New York City this weekend, released his first album, "Vitamin D," on Dim Mak in April (streamed at bottom). He recently launched his own label, Firepower Records, and is prepping for a massive fall tour. He spoke to us just before hitting the stage at the HARD Summer festival in Los Angeles.
You started out in hip-hop; what made you transition into dubstep?
I think it was just the overwhelming amount of super awesome, crazy bass lines that converted me. I always listened to hip-hop; that’s what I came in through... I guess what made me turn from hip-hop to dubstep was just the fact that it’s just so cutting edge and it's just so next level. It was something completely different at the time. And now look where it’s got -- it’s getting played everywhere. It’s on the radio and it’s blowing up so big right now.
What is it about dubstep that is so appealing to you?
It’s such a free form. You can approach dubstep from so many different angles. You can approach it from the metal side of things and make super head-banging dubstep or you can get really soulful with it and make really jazzy, smooth, deep bass kind of dubstep or you can approach it from the hip-hop angle, like I like doing, and get your swag on with it.
Is there any part of you that misses when dubstep was still underground and it was a really special thing that you were doing?
You know what? I’m not gonna lie. Yes. Big time. Because the way everything has kind of gone, it’s turned into way more of an experience now instead of just about the music. Now to stay on the same level as all the other big artists, you have to have this crazy production, you have to have lights, you have to have lasers, you have to have this and that.
It’s cool to be like, as Skream once said, "Fuck the lights, I’m gonna play in a pitch black room." You know what I mean? Just really dark, dungeony dubstep kind of thing. That is kind of where my head and soul is at. But as things progress and the genre changes, it’s important to stay on top of your game and do what’s relative to what’s popular and stay with the times.
You did a lot of collaborations on your latest album, including one with Jonathan Davis from Korn. How was he to work with?
He was such a cool dude. Him being such a legend and rock star, I had no idea what to expect, but he calls me and he talks on the phone and he’s so geeky but so knowledgeable about electronic music. It just blew me away coming from the lead singer of a total hardcore metal band...
I stayed on the bus with him for the whole period of the Korn tour and that’s how we ended up linking up. He was really passionate about it. I showed him a couple of tracks and he was like, “Dude, this is sick! You should let me sing over this.” And, you know, I’m not going to say no to that.
So you’re kind of responsible for him going into the EDM direction?
I wouldn’t say I’m responsible for it, but I would say I was definitely part of it. There are a lot of artists like Noisia, Skrillex, Kill the Noise, Excision and Downlink, and they all contributed to the album as well. The reason why I really like it is because it’s a fusion of a live performance and a super well-produced sub bass and it just makes everything heavy.
And now when I listen to bands and stuff, it’s just not the same as listening to Korn tours because the Korn tour had everything. It was a live performance but it also had really stunning, low end, crazy bass with it and now when I see another band play, it just feels like it’s lacking ‘cause it’s not on that level. So I think in some sense, they set the standard for the way new age rock should be. Kind of approaching it from a digital and analog angle at the same time.
"It’s cool to be like, as Skream once said, 'Fuck the lights, I’m gonna play in a pitch black room.' You know what I mean? Just really dark, dungeony dubstep kind of thing."
What are some of the up-and-comers that you’ve been listening to?
I’ve got a few for you. These are kids I just recently signed to my label called Firepower and some of them are going to be on the tour with me. But the newest, dopest up and comers for me (are) The Frim, Rekoil, Getter and Terravita. They’ve been around but they’re killing it. Let’s see... AFK, Barron, another kid named Bong. And these kids are all like 17 to 20 years old. They’re killing it so they’re gonna be the future of dubstep.
What’s the strangest thing that’s ever inspired you to write a song?
I would say the strangest thing that inspires me to write songs is probably silence. I’m around music so often that when you take it away from me or whenever I’m driving around in the car, I just don’t listen to any music. I like to keep it quiet and just recharge. And doing that, I just start beat-boxing and then I think of simple ideas that I translate when I get home. So silence is probably my biggest inspiration.
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