Interview: Datsik

Whether you love it or hate it, dubstep is an electronic force to be reckoned with. A select few were around to watch its ascension to the mainstream, one of those artists being Canadian artist Datsik. Without a full-length release to date, Troy Beetles, under the moniker Datsik, is one of the leading figureheads in the scene. His forthcoming album, Vitamin D, is set for release April 10th via Dim Mak Records. I had the chance to talk to Troy recently before his performance in Montreal. We discussed his newest single, festival vibes, the future of dubstep and more. Check it out below.

The Silver Tongue: So I recently saw the new video for “Evilution” that came out with Jonathan Davis and Infected Mushroom. I gotta say, it’s some crazy stuff, but it’s awesome.

Troy Beetles: Yeah, it was cool. We hooked up with one of the guys through [Steve] Aoki, and he got this video started. We really didn’t have much time; we kind of just shot it all in one day and went from there. It was really cool; we’re shown hanging out with John Davis and the guys from Infected Mushroom. They’re both really cool guys, so it was fun. The whole video and the process was great.

TST: Who came up with the idea for it?

TB: It was put all together by the director, and we just banged it out all in one day. So yeah, it all ended up working out.

TST: Musically, how was it collaborating with them? Because you brought in people from all different kinds of music: you’ve got Infected Mushroom with the psychedelic take and Jonathan Davis from Korn. How was it writing the song with them?

TB: Infected Mushroom contacted me and said, ‘We love your music. We’d love to collaborate,” and I was like, ‘Fuck yeah! Why not?’ Basically, they just sent me over some parts, and it was probably one of the easiest collaborations I’ve ever done. They sent me such solid material to work with, so I just took that, flipped it over and sent it back to them the next week. They were fucking stoked on it, and I was like, ‘Can I put this on my album?’ and they were like, ‘Oh yeah, for sure!’ They were stoked on that idea too. I did it when I was on the Korn tour. I showed John Davis the song and I was like, ‘Wait a second, your voice would fit fucking perfectly over this. Do you wanna jump on this track with us?’ and he was like, ‘Fuck yeah!’ He’s friends with Infected as well, so he was more than stoked on the idea. We – pretty much being on the bus – just turned it over, John cranked it out and it sounds great; I’m pretty stoked on it.

TST: That’s awesome how everything pretty much fell into place.

TB: Oh totally, and it’s so weird too because – Infected Mushroom being psytrance, me being dubstep and John being heavy metal whatever – it’s a really weird combination, but it was fun to do because it was so strange. It turned out pretty cool.

TST: Do you see yourself working with them again in the near future?

TB: Infected, probably. John’s like a homie now; it was cool. I became good friends with him over the course of the tour, so he’s always asking me to come down to Bakersfield and work on shit with him in his studio. As soon as I get some time off I’ll probably fly down there and kick it with him at his place. Why the fuck not? [laughs]

TST: Yeah, seriously. What kind of artists have inspired your music? Both electronic and non-electronic?

TB: Well, for electronic artists who inspire me the most, I’d probably say people like Noisia or Spor/Feed Me. Both of them are really fucking good producers, and same with Kill the Noise. They’re all super good, and when I look at electronic music that inspires me, the couple things that I look for are: ‘Are the sounds well designed? Does it have crazy sound design?’ and, ‘Is it mixed down well?’ Those are the two things I look for the most when I’m trying to reference my tracks to other tracks. I always take a Noisia track and just AB them, and if it doesn’t sound nearly as good – I’m not expecting it to sound like Noisia, but if it sounds close enough mix down wise, it’s loud enough and you can hear everything, then that’s what helps me when I’m trying to finish up my tracks. For non-electronic, I’m a big hip hop fan. So anything like Nas, Method Man or old school Wu-Tang, anything like that. Any of the old school 90s era rap is my favorite stuff.

TST: So I was looking through your tour dates and noticed Ultra Music Festival’s coming up soon, and this isn’t your first time at an electronic festival. You’ve performed at Ultra, Electric Forest, Electric Daisy Carnival and others like that. Do you feel like each of them have their own unique vibe?

TB: I definitely do. It also depends on who’s playing the festival. For example, when I play at the Electric Daisy Carnivals with Feed Me, he and I have an ongoing rivalry – not to do with music or anything. He just likes to get drunk and screw with me, and I like to get drunk and screw with him [laughs]. So that will set the pace for the night when I’m at  that kind of festival. In terms of everything else they definitely do have their own vibes. I feel like Ultra is definitely the music showcase throughout the year. You look at the lineup, and there’s absolutely everyone on it. There’s everyone you can think of; it’s the most boss lineup of the year. It’s a madhouse, and there’s tons of people that go. It’s an insane vibe and an insane party, and everyone has a good time. The EDCs as well are also really sick, and because there aren’t as many artists on the bill – don’t get me wrong, there’s tons of artists. At Ultra you try to see everyone, but you can’t because there’s too many people playing at once. Whereas at the other ones – I find myself watching artists more at the EDCs because at Ultra you just can’t get back and forth quick enough. So I’m just like, ‘You know what? Screw it. I’m just gonna have a good time, chill with all my friends, have a couple drinks and do whatever.’ I think all the festivals are dope in their own way; it all depends on where the festival is as well. If it’s in Miami there’s going to be sunshine, babes and whatever else, but yeah, all the festivals are dope in their own way.

TST: Are you looking to do any cruise festivals?

TB: Yeah, I actually got asked to do Holy Ship! this year, but I couldn’t make it because I had just gotten back from heavy touring and was in Australia. I did the Korn tour, and as soon as I was done with the Korn tour I went straight to Australia and New Zealand. At that point I was really looking forward to getting home for a few days, and I was also sick. This year’s Holy Ship! didn’t work out for me, but next year there’s no way I’m going to miss it. I’m definitely, definitely into it; I heard it was the most amazing party ever!

TST: Yeah, I was reading something similar about Bruise Cruise the other day; the whole cruise festival concept is really a cool idea that’s been going around lately.

TB: Oh totally, and like even with the Holy Ship! thing. I heard they stopped on a private island and had a beach party. That sounds so incredible!

TST: Yeah, stuff like that! As cool as Ultra is, you can’t hop on a private island or something so bizarre.

TB: [laughs] Exactly. But yeah, next year for sure.

TST: I also noticed on your tour schedule that you stop touring right when your new album drops. Are you planning to set up another string of dates or are you going to hold off for a little bit?

TB: Well right now it’s a little bit early to decide, but what we are planning on doing is a big tour throughout the fall. I started my own record label called Firepower Records. So we’re going to be doing a Firepower tour in the fall, which is basically me and a bunch of other young kids who are blowing up right now. I really just want to do this tour to bring them on a massive tour. It would be a great experience for them, and I’d love to help out in any way that I can. It’s going to be really sick; 2012 is going to be a really good year. Basically for the summer I’m just doing all festivals, and hopefully that will give me some time in between to work on fresh, new music as well. It’s really hard; over the last 46 days we’ve done like 43 shows, and it’s insane. It’s really hard to find time in between to sit down and get in the groove of making music. I’m really looking forward to having some time off to just do that.

TST: So who are the new artists that will be on the Firepower tour?

TB: I have a few kids who are working on EPs for me right now for the label, and depending upon how well they’re received will determine who is going to be coming on the tour. That’s the plan, and I’m really excited to do it. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.

TST: Looking at your remix list, you have a pretty prolific set of people. From Wu-Tang to Crystal Method to MGMT, it’s all over the map. What do you look for in a track when you’re remixing? What elements of the song appeal to you?

TB: I think one important thing that I look at when I’m about to do a remix is I don’t want to remix the track just to have another track. I want to try to remix it in a way that will improve it, make it dubstep or make it cooler than the original. I don’t pick tracks that I feel I wouldn’t be able to do justice to. I only pick tracks that I feel like I can, in some way, improve or flip in my own way and make it cool, hip hoppy, dubsteppy or whatever. When I’m doing remixes, that’s the most important thing I look at over who the name is or whatever else. Obviously I’m strapped for time so I’m going to take the biggest things that are thrown at me and do what I can with it. Generally that’s the kind of rule I go by, only if I can make the track better then it’s worth doing. Also, I’ll remix my friends’ stuff just because they’re my homies, like Excision, Downlink, etc.

TST: Are there any new remixes you’re working on right now that we could expect to come out soon?

TB: I might be starting one for Steve [Aoki] pretty soon, his track with Kid Cudi. When I get home I may start working on that, but right now I really just tried to wipe my slate clean. I just did a remix for Kaskade and Skrillex as well, and I just did one for Zeds Dead and Beatport. Before I came on tour, I tried to clean my slate as much as I could so I could come home and start from scratch again and be fresh.

TST: Have you seen a shift in your fan base over the past four years with the popularity of dubstep increasing?

TB: Yeah, definitely. I feel like I got into the scene at the right time. I guess you could say we got in right before dubstep exploded. We were in the sweet spot, so at the time we, Excision and I, were kind of the go-to people for a little bit. Especially in Canada, because there wasn’t really anyone else doing it in Canada. I think this is even before Zeds Dead, so we got in at the right time. This was right before Skrillex entered the scene, and I totally feel like the numbers have jumped up since dubstep’s gotten better. Based on the sheer amount of fans, new people exposed to the music, I think it’s going to continue to grow and it just gets better and better. Who knows what’s in the future.

TST: What do you think might be in the future for dubstep?

TB: I think dubstep is a platform, a good way to represent all genres in one. I feel like it’s a hybrid; you can do it at 140 bpm, which would be a house beat, you can do it halftime, which would be dubstep, or you can do it at 135. I think the way dubstep fills the gaps between all those is the start of something new for other genres. You can even go halftime with 110 or moombahtan. For me, it’s my favorite thing right now because it’s slower electro but with a dubstep formula. I feel that the future is going to get better and better because people are going to stop looking at music within such confined lines based on genres. All the walls are going to be broken down and all of the rules are going to be broken, but in a good way. When I play my sets now I don’t just play dubstep; I play everything. Dubstep, 110, electro, breaks, hip hop, whatever. I play whatever hits me at the time, and it’s really cool how dubstep was the start of this. The future for dubstep and electronic music is…omnitempoism. Is that even a word?

TST: It is now; you’ve coined it. We made a genre tonight: omnitempoism.

TB: [laughs] Yes!

We're looking for writers and editors to join the team. Interested? Apply today!