Born and raised Canadian Troy Beetles, better known as Datsik, released the five track EP Down 4 My Ninjas in late November, but a tour originally slated to begin the month before was moved back and doesn’t kick off until tomorrow night at House of Blues. Vanyaland caught up with the dubstep artist over the weekend, and it was obvious he was itching to get back on the road and perform the new material for his longest tour yet; 50 some dates between now and early April.
Having collaborated, remixed or toured with everyone from Korn to Wu-Tang Clan, Datsik talked about how it’s a good thing that EDM has blown up in the mainstream, where he sees the genre going and why the UK always seems to have the bead on the States when it comes to trends.
Michael Christopher: You moved from Canada down to sunny Los Angeles, but you’re starting the tour in winter in Boston. What’s that all about?
Datsik: I don’t know man [laughs], I guess that’s the way the routing worked out. With these big tours, we basically have to pick a starting point and we picked the upper East Coast, then we gotta work our way down and back around to the West Coast and then all the way up and zig-zag through everything in between. It’s kind of the way the cookie crumbles I guess.
And it’s a lot of dates — 50 plus. Is this the most amount of shows in the smallest window you’ve ever done?
I think we’re doing 54, 56? So yeah, I think it is. This will be my seventh bus tour, and the ones that we’ve done before that, we’ve usually done…let me break it down real quick, let me think [Datsik at this point goes through each tour he’s done from support slots with Korn and Steve Aoki to more recent headlining jaunts]. Now we’re doing January, February, March and April; it’s pretty insane but I’m really excited for it.
It was originally supposed to start in the fall, so you must be itching to get the tracks from Down 4 My Ninjas out there in the live setting.
Yeah, absolutely, I’m super stoked to play these new tracks.
With the rise in EDM over the past couple years, do you consciously think about how you’re going to stand out from other artists?
Yeah, I mean, I think that’s important. If you’re an artist that sounds like another artist, it really makes it hard for a fan to pick one to go and see. So if you’re doing your own thing and you have your own style, it makes it so you can have a life and a career in this industry. Because this industry changes so rapidly, it’s important to think about that kind of stuff, but it’s obviously not the main drive. I think it’s important to do what you love and hopefully what you love guides you in a career in which you can make music and play music for people for a living. It’s really hard to break into that bubble right now because the EDM industry has blown up so significantly, but I guess I was lucky enough to catch the wave of the explosion. Now I’ve got my own place and just built the dream studio that I’ve always wanted, and I’m very fortunate to be able to do this for a living.
Does it bother you when you look at how big dubstep has gotten, because the bigger the demand, then you have more artists diluting the genre and you have labels that are scraping the bottom of the barrel.
I don’t know; I see two sides to it. I feel like, obviously when I got into it, it was an underground genre, something new, and it was so underground being spawned in the UK and it hadn’t really done anything in North America. But there were artists like Rusko and Bassnectar who were notorious for it – they were the underground kings and dubstep started to blow up. Then Excision and myself wrote a couple of tracks and got noticed and we started touring, and I haven’t stopped, it’s been crazy. It’s been four or five years and I’ve been touring nonstop which is pretty fucking insane.
To answer your question though, I think wherever there is a mainstream, there’s an underground. The bigger dubstep gets, or the bigger any genre gets, the more mainstream it will become, and that mainstream will spawn an underground in which new genres and styles will be created. Personally, I think it’s great when genres get really big, I wouldn’t hate on that because it only leads to further progression.
You mentioned how dubstep blew up in the UK first, and that holds true with a lot of musical trends and tastes, it always seems like they are one step ahead of the States.
I think you’re right. Part of the reason for that is because the UK is its own “island,” England and places like Australia are like that. The minute something gets popular in the UK, it’s heard everywhere – in the UK; it’s played on radio, it’s played on Radio 1, and everyone is listening to it. They’ve definitely had the jump on us for a longtime on really cool musical trends and stuff. One thing I’ve noticed that we’ve given back is trap, which really is like a Southern/American thing. It’s crunk music but takes it one step further, and now we have this explosion of EDM trap at big festivals and it’s here to stay whether they like it or not.
About a year or so ago you said that trap music would save dubstep. Do you still feel that way?
I think that both are here to stay. Honestly, because there are so many changes, it’s really hard to predict. Everyone thought that dubstep was gonna die, but it clearly hasn’t. If I’m a dubstep artist and am able to continue touring and do the biggest tour I’ve ever done? I think that’s a good sign for the genre itself. It’s still just as big, if not bigger than it’s ever been. You know it’s funny; I was in the bank yesterday, and the tellers were talking about dubstep and it just blew my mind. To think that I used to be on my computer geeking out on dubstep forums, and now I’m hearing these 30 year old bank tellers talking about dubstep [laughs], it’s weird to see how far it’s really come.
What do you do live to keep it from getting old?
Honestly, I just do what I’m passionate about. The big stage setup is one thing, but that’s almost just to complement the music. At the end of the day it’s all about the music, and the EDM industry has definitely gotten to this stage where as a big touring act you need a crazy light package and all this other stuff. But as long as I’m pushing myself, people are happy and are sticking with me. It’s cool because I was once boxed into this one genre of dubstep, but these days I’m making everything; I’m making hip-hop, I’m making trap, I’m making drum and bass and I think people have just gotten to a point where they don’t listen to one genre anymore — they just listen to everything.
Down 4 My Ninjas has a really dark feel to it. Is that what you were going for, or did it just happen?
I think I’ve always been like that. There are these trance songs that are like, “Oh my God, this is the best day of my life” type of shit and I think it’s a little bit cheesy. I just enjoy making raw, crazy, heavy bass music on a giant sound system and really hitting kids in the core with heavy bass lines; something they’ve never felt before, ever, anywhere else. I think that’s what got me into it, so why not try to share that same experience with all these other kids?