Through his various releases, appearances and collaborations Canadian DJ/producer Datsik, aka Troy Beetles, has emerged as a huge presence on the international dubstep scene, even more so with the establishment of his own label, Firepower Records. BOB GORDON checks in with him in the lead up to his performance at Villa Nightclub on Saturday, October 4.
You’ve stated that dubstep is like the punk rock of electronic music. How’s it feel to be Johnny Rotten?
(Laughs) Well it’s been a crazy road, so much travelling and amazing and bazaar experiences over such a short period of time. I feel very lucky to be caught in the explosion of electronic music. Never thought this would be my path when I was a youngster!
What was your upbringing like in British Columbia? Was there a strong musical presence in your family or friends that had a long-term influence on you?
Music was never really very big in my household. It was more so audio and audio equipment that really got me interested. That being said I personally have always been really into music and hip hop through my older brothers. That, and my friends were all into hip hop, breakdancing and graffiti so that definitely was a major push in that direction!
TheWu-Tang Clan were an early obsession for you, what was the primal attraction about them?
I think it was strictly because it was so grungy and raw. Nothing else really felt like that at the time. Things may or may not have been out of key in certain songs; weird Shaolin noises and super gritty slanted out backpack rap somehow all came together in unison for something you could only really describe as The Wu-tang Clan.
And it was somewhat dark. I think all these things are what pushed me in the right direction – and knowing it doesn’t have to be all done by the book. As long as it all sounds good and works in the end, that’s all that matters!
Did you have any mentors that helped show you the way or have you simply learnt, improved and achieved as you’ve gone along?
I went to audio school earlier on, and had a couple great teachers that helped me better understand the fundamentals. From there, I really have taught myself most of the ‘unique’ things that create the Datsik sound.
That being said, the whole scene – especially the bass music scene – tends to be really all on the same page with wanting to learn more and more techniques, and people love to share tips and tricks as well, which in the end when you combine everything you’ve picked up, really does end up translating. It really is a dope community, I’m stoked to be part of it. But, I really did enjoy working with a variety of producers and stepping outside of my box!Shout-out to Bassnectar, Diplo, Korn and Infected Mushroom for really allowing me to flex my versatility on certain projects!
What have you learnt about success having attained it?
It’s really hard to measure success – with music and being heard by people, you can always become a bigger artist. I think it’s just super important to remember why you’re do this in the first place and that it is your passion that’s helping you pay the bills! As long as you remember those things and don’t get caught up in the drama or bullshit which comes with the territory, then it’s all good. I am blessed for everyone that has helped me along the way to get to where I’m at right now and couldn’t be happier!
Has constant travel had an effect on your creativity?
Most definitely. I’ve wrote some of my favourite tracks while being on a tour bus across the States, or airplane to Asia, or a train across France. It really helps having a different environment or backdrop to spawn new ideas or different methods. It’s actually one of the most inspiring things, travelling, but often hard to translate it into music because of the lack of sleep. And if you live a crazy lifestyle you need to find a balance to make it work all in harmony.
What do you look for or expect from the people you collaborate with?
I love when other producers bring their style to the table and show me production techniques I may not have known before. I think collaboration is one of the most vital parts to progressing your sound, style and versatility. Coming in with little to no expectations is the best way to approach it as it helps you keep an open mind and write something you wouldn’t normally write, and that’s often times how hits are made!
What’s 2015 hold?
So many exciting new collabs, tons of big hip hop artist collabs, new styles, different tempos, more funk. And of course a tad of the sinister crush mode stuff people have come to love and respect!