Datsik on Korn's Jonathan Davis: "He Knows More About Hip-Hop Than I Do"
If you have a name as cool as Troy Beetles, why would you bother getting another? If you were a Brit pop guitarist, you wouldn't, but a Canadian hip-hop and dubstep DJ and producer? Then you do. You change it to Datsik.
Datsik recently launched his own label, Firepower Records, and is touring with artists he's working with like Delta Heavy, Terravita, Bare Noize, XKore, Getter, and AFK. The trip around the country has been a fruitful one, and Datsik says that thanks to our "total laptop nation," these guys have been weaving new tracks in green rooms across America. "We can all just sit down with our computers and say 'Yo, look at this sound I made,' combine everything together, and make a cool track out of it," the DJ told us. We spoke with him about Ultra, Jonathan Davis, and his vortex DJ booth.
New Times: You had an album come out, Vitamin D, on Dim Mak. You have a good relationship with them, but you started Firepower Records. Is there any reason you started your own label?
Datsik: I always wanted to have my own record label. It was always a part of my plan and my agenda. It was really cool to link up with the Dim Mak people. They were super, super awesome people, and they did wonders for me and my album. Steve Aoki ended up being one of my best friends. I had the greatest time on tour with them.
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I feel like where I'm at right now, I'm really trying to have my own imprint upon the EDM scene and the direction that it's going. I really want to have my own thing. After I put my first album out, I thought it'd be a great time. So far, it's been exactly what I hoped and dreamed for. I've got a whole slew of crazy young new talent. It's really exciting to watch them develop and be a part of it. And part of changing the sound.
What would you say defines Firepower Records? What ties the artists together?
Basically, Firepower records is ammunition for other DJs on the dance floor. Most of the tracks that I signed are most of the tracks in my set. So, if you come watch us play, chances are you'll hear a whole shitload of unreleased Firepower music that you can't hear anywhere else, unless you see those artists directly.
The music that I play is mostly my music, and then music that's coming out on my label, and then stuff from my other friends that are also in the scene. If I start playing a track, and it's unsigned, I'm usually likely to sign it. It kinds of keeps a balance of quality control. You do them a favor and then they do you a favor by being your artist. It's been a really unique situation. A lot of fun.
You also toured with Jonathan Davis of Korn and he sang on one of your tracks. I know he makes electronic music now too. But how do you feel about working with rock musicians.
Hip-hop is a lot easier for me, because that's my background. I've always really been into hip-hop. That's kind of what got me into the music scene. Metal acts and people like Jonathan Davis and even Infected Mushroom, they're from the whole trance side of the scene.
It's totally different and weird and a little bit tricky. But it's those interesting combinations that make it fun for me to evolve as a producer. They make it a challenge.
I've never been super into heavy metal or rock, but it's cool to have the opportunity to do it. You've got to jump on it. Me and Jonathan became really good friends through the course of the tour. Turns out he knows more about hip-hop than I do. It's really cool to come from completely different ends of the spectrum and find a balance of all our creative styles.
Was the transition from hip-hop to dubstep a natural one for you? What do you think about other hip-hop artists wanting to get into EDM?
Totally. For me, I'd been making dubstep for a long time without even realizing it. I was making hip-hop with wild bass lines when I was really young. So when they told me you're making dubstep, I thought, finally, now what I'm making has a home. I had always been kind of making it without realizing it. I just didn't know the whole thing existed. Now it's blown up, and I was just lucky enough to get into it when I did.
The vortex DJ booth, looks pretty cool. Are you bringing that here to Fort Lauderdale?
Yeah, I think I am. I just depends if it fits in the venue or not. We've only had one show so far where we hadn't been able to fit it in the venue. It's about 14 feet tall, it really depends. I guess we'll find out when we get there.
It's really cool. It's basically a video map stage completely immersed in visuals from front to back. There's a projector in the front and a projector in the rear. It's a crazy idea that somehow I thought of on a plane. We all didn't really think it was going to work, but I had faith in it. I brought the idea to a couple of different people and they shot it down. I brought it to V Squared Labs, and I was like look, I really want this to work. They had faith in it. Now, sure enough we've got something that's never been done before. That's usually how new things are invented. Doing things other people think aren't going to work.
Who are other DJs who you like to see live but who have cool booths?
Excision is awesome to go watch. He has these huge Xes on the side. Skrillex is always fun to go see. He has these huge spaceship things now. I usually don't go for the flashing lights, I basically go for the music. But that's kind of the way the scene is these days you don't just pay for the music; you pay for the spectacle.
Did you catch Madonna at Ultra?
I didn't actually catch Madonna. I heard about it. I was with 12th Planet and a bunch of different artists and we were up at this big suite, and we basically watched Skrillex's set from the top of this building, overlooking the whole thing. It was so cool. Miami and Florida is always so much fun. It's easy to have a good time there because there are so many people who like to party and so many girls, and whatever. Just nuts.
What can we expect from your show?
Expect a shitload of sound and bass. Expect pretty much the craziest music you've ever heard.
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