Interview with Datsik
Bass music fans rejoice! Datsik is heading back out on tour in 2014 with a high energy line-up that includes support from GZA (performing with a live band), Herobust, and Getter. The tour is kicking off right here in Philly on Thursday, January 16th at the Electric Factory (all ages show). Before hitting the road, the man behind Firepower Records tore himself away from the studio just long enough to answer some questions for us about life as an international DJ and producer.
Independent Philly: How’d you come up with the name Datsik? Were there any other names you considered instead?
Datsik: I came up with the name Datsik pretty much from Xbox. I was playing a lot of Xbox at the time, Halo and stuff, and at the same time I was writing a lot of music and I didn’t really know what to call myself, so I just used my Xbox gamer tag as my artist name. I was actually considering changing it at one point but my friends voted against it.
IP: Was there a specific name you were thinking of changing it to? Or just changing it in general?
Datsik: I don’t even know. I was just considering finding something different because I didn’t really think that my Xbox gamer tag was suitable, but after I started putting music out under that moniker, people kind of got used to it. I was gonna change it and I told my friends and they were like ‘No dude don’t change it’ and I was like ‘okay’ and I just kind of left it. That was it.
IP: We’re just kicking off 2014, what were some of your 2013 highlights?
Datsik: I did a couple of crazy tours. I started last January off with a tour. I had Griz come on tour with me and some of the other Firepower guys, and we did roughly 20 dates. I went to Europe, and did the whole Europe thing. I think actually I went to Europe three times last year. Then I did another big bus tour which was awesome. It was 45 dates or something like that. Did a tour with Flux Pavilion which was another 15-20 dates. I’ve had a week or so off now in 2014 and then I’m starting to tour up again. Got another 20+ dates, 28 I think, and we’re kicking it off in Philly so I’m really excited.
IP: Is there any new music you’re currently working on in addition to prepping to head back out on the road?
Datsik: Yeah, that’s what I’ve been doing. I was planning on making a really cool set for Philly to start off the tour. I’ve been pretty much locking myself in the studio. I think this is the only time I’ve gotten on the phone in the past 4-5 days because I’ve been trying to be completely cut off from the World, so I can just focus on music and not really think about what’s going on around me. I feel like that’s the only way I can really write tracks, if I just, you know, isolate myself. In doing so I’ve been coming up with cool ideas, I just taking my time and really get into the mode. Basically over the past few days I’ve started three tracks and worked on some of the colabs I started on the last tour with all the other artists. So that’s kind of where I’m going with it. I’m just trying to get music done so I can play it on these next round of shows.
IP: We know you’re an admittedly huge fan of Wu Tang Clan. How excited are you that GZA is coming out on the road with you guys on the new tour?
Datsik: Super stoked. It’s crazy to be able to finally play with one of the legends that got me into all of this from the start. I think it will be really cool. I met him once before and I’ve been keeping in touch with him a little bit. He’s a really nice dude and I’m really genuinely excited and stoked to be on the same line-up as him. I think it’ll be really cool and especially because he’s from New York and he gets to play on his side of the country in Philly, New York, Boston; and I get to play with him. He’s playing for an EDM crowd which is, you know, totally different from what he’s used to, but I think he’ll like it. It’s all about, you know, respect and love, and I think it’ll be a cool change of pace for him.
IP: Have you had a chance to hear audio or see video of the live-band that GZA will be performing with?
Datsik: No I haven’t seen the live band yet. I did a show with him in DC, which was the first one, which is actually where I met him, but he just had a DJ, not the live band. I think that will be a cool addition as well.
IP: We have come a long way since the day of straight vinyl and turntables. What equipment do you use to perform at your shows?
Datsik: I started with vinyl when I first got into it and I was playing some Drum & Bass records. Next I got Serato which allowed me to play all my stuff on digital turntables, which was cool. Then, from there, I went to CDJ’s, and then from there I went to Ableton, and that’s what I’m playing on now. I use, basically a DJM 900 mixer, my computer, as well as Novation Launch Pad and Launch control. I’m not really DJing anymore, it’s more of a performance. It’s cool, I have ultimate creative freedom to do whatever I want with every track I play. I can play the intro from one track and the drop from another track and play rises or whatever on a third track. It allows me to use all four track on the mixer and kind of almost compose a track as I’m going, as opposed to just mixing two records together. Which is like, pretty epic, if you actually analyze it. Because you can you can take certain layers from tracks and mix them with other tracks and do really cool mixes that you’d never be able to do on turntables.
IP: You’ve released some of the seminal and defining pieces of vinyl in the heavy bass scene, with both Rottun records and Excision. Notably the ‘Swagga/Invaders’ 12″, the ‘No Escape’ 12″, and the ‘Firepower’ 12″. What can we expect to see Datsik commit to wax in 2014?
Datsik: I’d like to but you know, I own a record label now and we haven’t done any vinyl yet, which is kind of ironic because, you know, it’s a “record” label. It’s so sad to say but it’s just completely crossing over to this digital realm and it’s hard because tracks now, all the new Dubstep tracks and electronic tracks have such a short shelf life. So it’s hard to really push vinyl now. At this point it’s almost redundant because so many people have switched off and so many people are using Serato now, that, you know, DJing comes so much easier and accessible than it even was before. Therefore decreasing the need, and desire for vinyl to put those tracks out. I love it when I go to a show and I see a DJ playing on vinyl like Andy C. But even Andy C now, he switched to Traktor. Which just goes to show, he was like one of those true DJs we never thought would change from vinyl and now he’s playing on Traktor, just because of the convenience factor. I don’t see us putting out any vinyl anytime soon, just because it seems like it’s a large expense and not, you know, it’s more of a novelty at this point than it would be to actually sell records. That being said I’d like to get all of my stuff pressed on vinyl and hang it on my wall. I’ve already gotten tons of records, I’ve gotten 12-13 records on vinyl; something like that, and they just hang up in my studio. It’d be cool to continue that and have all my tracks on vinyl. I think it’d be kind of a cool novelty.
IP: You started Firepower Records two years ago and have signed a lot of great artists to the label since then. Are there any up-and-coming producers that you have your eye on that aren’t getting a lot of attention right now that you think are poised to break out in 2014?
Datsik: Yeah there are a couple actually right there. One of them is ‘Barely Alive’. I think they’re from Boston, or Baltimore or something. But yeah these two kids are 18 and they’re making insane sounding tracks. Their sound production is amazing. Another guy, I’m pretty sure he’s from England, but his name is Joe Ford, and he’s making some of the most innovative stuff I’ve heard in a minute. All of his intros are super cinematic and it’s really cool stuff. One more that I’ve kind of been keeping my eye on, his name is ‘Wine’. Again, he just makes insane sound design and it’s just crazy to see this next wave and generation of all these insane producers come out. They are 17-18 years old and they know the same amount of, their sound design sounds similar to people like ‘Noisia’ and all these Drum & Bass veterans. To see them have this kind of grasp of audio production at this young age is like, mind blowing. So me, as a label, I just kind of want to stand there and basically try to help them get to where they wanna go and guide them along their path and use what resources I have to make them bigger artists and help their skills not go unnoticed.
IP: We are thrilled that you’re going to be kicking off your tour here in Philly. What can your fans expect from this show that will be different from other shows they’ve seen you play in the past?
Datsik: I don’t know if we’ve brought the Vortex yet to Philly. If you haven’t seen the Vortex it’s definitely a mind-fuck. The Vortex is basically a giant 3D mapped stage, and you know, it’s all projection mapped so there’s a projector in the front and a projector in the back. It basically looks like I’m standing in a giant funnel with the wide end facing the crowd and I’m basically immersed in light. We’ve added on a giant lighting package too so the whole thing looks absolutely stunning now. I try to switch up the tracks a bit too so every show is, you know, pretty unique from the last, which is kind of rare. When you’re doing multiple shows which are show after show after show, it’s unlikely that you switch it up too much but we try to keep a pretty strong creative balance, so some shows will really stand out from others. Some of the shows we are most excited about really wind up standing out the most. We’re starting out in Philly so, first show, you should be pretty excited. I think it’ll make for a good one.
IP: Do you have a favorite memory from a past show you’ve played in Philadelphia?
Datsik: I remember playing in Philly at Soundgarden once before. I didn’t really know what to expect but the crowd was absolutely bananas. It was a really long flight and I came straight to the venue and as soon as I walked on stage the place was packed. All of a sudden I just forgot about the 13 hours I spent getting there and in that moment I was just really, really excited. When you see that, after a long day of traveling, you’re like spending all day in airports and constantly eating shitty food, you get where you’re going and realize why you’re there. It makes such a big difference. The Philly crowd was amazing and I’m really excited to come back and play for them again in a different setting.
IP: Finally, could you tell us something about yourself that would surprise, or even shock our readers?
Datsik: I am a total adrenaline junky. I’m not sure if they would know that or not, but I’ve always been into doing crazy shit. I am always, you know, like skydiving, or snowboarding, or riding in NASCAR’s; doing all that kind of shit. That’s one thing. I also really love cats. So there’s two things they might not know about me.
We can’t wait to catch Datsik this Thursday at the Electric Factory (830pm)! Want to join us? Make sure you enter our ticket giveaway and you and a friend could find yourself catching the show for free!