Drum and bass was arguably rave music's most aggressive genre back in the mid-'90s, one so championed in the UK that it pretty much became a soundtrack to its streets; you could almost imagine it slicing through every misty London alley at all hours.
Back home, when promoters wanted a drum and bass headliner for their super warehouse parties but didn't feel like paying for a transatlantic flight, they relied on the prolific and popular Dieselboy (who, if you check out the pic above is clearly now a Dieselman, but that's neither here nor there).
Damian Higgins, as it says on his airline tickets, came to the Twin Cities many a time in those days, laying down a sonic whooping at parties in event centers and clubs, especially when his Planet Of The Drums tour stopped at the Quest (the tour celebrating its 10th anniversary this year -- feeling old yet?). With a few labels, successful longplayers and countless gigs under his belt since then, Dieselboy returns to the Twin Cities this weekend a seasoned veteran, tastemaker and business owner. And it's not for a straight-up DNB show, but for TC Dubstep. Another sign of the times....
Gimme Noise: Many years before dubstep's earth-shattering basslines and wobbly goodness, you were a purveyor of massive basslines in DNB. How has your style evolved considering the former genre's evolution on the scene?
Dieselboy: I have returned to my original, more open-ended roots. Back in the early '90s, it was not uncommon for me to play early-era drum and bass / jungle, switch up into techno or trance or house, then back to drum and bass. Over the years, I ended up playing strictly drum and bass, and from time to time only certain micro-genres. Since the beginning of this year, I decided to just play whatever I like, still focusing on what I am known for. Some nights it is straight drum and bass, others I mix it up with dubstep or electro. I find that overall it makes my sets more interesting (at least to me) to keep it varied and different.
What's going on with your labels and other projects right now?
I now run two labels, human and subhuman, with my friend Steve "Smash" Gordon. By the end of this year we will have 6 releases out on subhuman, which focuses on dubstep and electro, and we have about 6 more lined up for early 2011. With human, we are looking at a good 5 releases to come out in early 2011. We're also starting up our t-shirt line any day now. I recently had a track come out that I did with blokhe4d from the UK called "Get Back" and I have another collboration in the works with Excision and Downlink tentatively called "Jaw Of Hell".
That's a lot to keep in order. What's your main focus?
My main focus right now is to make a serious dent with the labels, do branded label nights and big up the artists that we represent. Oh yeah, and to also keep DJ'ing my ass off and showing all of the newbie "producer djs" how it's done. ;)
With music magazines pretty much obsolete has it been hard to let the world know about your projects or do you find social media has been a big help? Thoughts on web 2.0?
With Twitter and Facebook, I do fine. the key is to keep getting the word out to the new kids as to what you are up to and what cool shit is going on. It's a daily battle!
There are a lot of new artists emerging on the bass scene and I'm specifically curious about your thoughts as a veteran on Rusko, DJ Fresh and Subfocus.
Rusko makes high energy dubstep and puts on high energy shows. I've have the opportunity to talk to him a few times and he is a nice guy. Fresh I have known for years and count him as one my closest friends. Extremely talented in the studio. Subfocus is a DNB artist I have respected for a long time. I've also had the chance to talk to him a few times and he is super nice and very good at what he does.
Do you still talk to Messinian, Dara and AK1200 regularly? What's the status of the Planet Of The Drums tour? Can't believe the "Planet Of The Drums" tour is more than 10 years old.
I talk to both of them fairly often. Planet Of The Drums is still alive but we are taking time off from straight touring and just doing one-off shows. Our last tour was our tenth and that was our long-term goal. Once we hit that, we felt that said what we needed to say. But we are all very close and are still down to do shows and push out our signature performance sound.
Where's homebase now, NY? Are you home often? When you have a free day, what is your favorite thing to do?
I ive in the very hipstery Wlliamsburg, Brooklyn. I am home about 40% of the time and when I am home my DVR is usually overloaded with shows to watch. So, it's lots of couch time, hanging with my girl and my dog and cooking / eating out. Super low key.
Do you consider yourself a foodie? Is there anything you absolutely refuse to eat?
I am more like food obsessed. I collect cookbooks. read magazines and blogs, and watch a dozen cooking shows. I own pretty much every kitchen gadget you can get and take cooking classes. I eat out a lot. Cook a lot. I am starting to become to go-to guy for my DJ friends when they travel. I get texts like "hey i'm in so and so city where should I eat?" Kind of funny actually. Food wise, I am a semi-picky eater, which is strange. I don't like a lot of raw vegetables. No mushrooms, no oysters. And I am not a huge fan of Indian, Thai or Chinese food (the flavor profiles). Give me Italian any day of the week.
Last question. You're a stylish dude. We've talked in the past about you shopping in Tokyo and such. Any up and coming labels or designers you can recommend?
I've started to get lazy when it comes to physically shopping, so my normal routine is to go on my computer and go through the NEW ARRIVALS for about 25 different online stores that I like. I do most of my clothes shopping via the mail. When I go to Japan or am in a city with dope stores, I will go out and see what I can find. Label wise, I tend to wear a lot of Mishka and fuct t-shirts, Nudie and Ksubi jeans, and random Japanese rings I find when I am overseas.
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