Exclusive Q and A: Datsik Talks BPMs, Ninja-Step, and Wu-Tang Clan
This week I got the chance to catch up with dubstep producer/DJ Datsik a.k.a. Troy Beetles. The 24-year-old Canadian native recently shared a lot about his performance and production techniques with DJTT, so we focused our conversation on the broader end of the spectrum; discussing the direction of EDM, breaking down the BPM wall, and collaborating with Wu-Tang-Clan.
OS: Like most of the “new generation” of EDM stars; you’ve rocketed to the top in just a couple years, and you’ve spent a good amount of that time out on the road. But electronic music is such a studio-based genre, how do you find the time to keep putting out new music?
TB: Well honestly I tried working on the road a little bit, and it works…but at the same time I love my studio. It gives me a reason to be stoked to come home…other than my girlfriend of course [laughs]. But obviously when I’m on the plane I’ll make patches, or if I’m sitting at the airport I’ll bring my phones and my laptop and just try to jam out ideas. For anything concrete though, I usually wait until I’m home to finalize it.
OS: Your “Fix You” remix from the Mellow-Step EP is a lot different than most of the stuff you have done recently. Do you see yourself doing another EP like that?
TB: It’s always good to do something different from time to time, I think instead of doing a full EP of that kind of sound, it’s more so about integrating that into the stuff I’m already doing. So in one track, you have the very light stuff, and then this crazy drop thats really dark and heavy. Just trying to combine the two a little bit more. I feel like right now I’m going through a weird transition where, you know, I’ve been doing the same thing for a while, and it’s starting to feel… stale. I’m just really stoked to explore different avenues, different tempos, and that has been the most exciting thing for me. I’m working on this 100 BPM track right now that’s really cool, and kind of touches back to my hip hop roots. I’m excited about making stuff again. I’m really stoked about 110 [BPM] right now, and I think I have more fun making that than dubstep. So I’m going through a transitional period which is really cool, as I’m starting to learn different production techniques, and really spread my wings.
OS: Speaking of tempo, obviously that plays a huge role in defining dance genre divisions; What is your favorite BPM currently?
TB: I’m really enjoying 110 stuff now, it’s a nice blend of electro and hip hop. But you apply this dubstep formula with that wompy bass, and I just feel like it’s breathing new life into the scene. The cool thing is that it’s not 128 or 140; it falls somewhere in between. You can approach it from two different ways, and I typically approach it from the hip hop side, but then you can switch up to four-on-the-floor, whatever. I think it’s a really cool genre. It’s new and I’m excited to see where it goes.
OS: Where do you see EDM as a whole going in the next couple years?
TB: I definitely think that genre and tempo are gonna matter less and less, and I think people will finally realize there is no point in trying to categorize everything, instead of just calling it all dance music. Hopefully you’ll be able to go out and see a DJ who plays a set in all different tempos. I think the way its going, everything is gonna start to merge, and hybridize. You’re gonna find obscure tempos; people doing tracks at 155 halftime or something like that. Completely different and random. As things move forward everything is definitely merging together and it’s really exciting.
OS: Do you think it will be remembered as a revolution, or will it die out again like it did in the ’90s?
TB: I don’t think it’s going anywhere, because there [are] so many people that follow it now. In the ’90s it was still techno and people either liked techno, or they didn’t. Now, electronic music is almost the basis for most pop music. I don’t see it going anywhere, I just see different things changing about it. I feel like it’s not gonna die out, but something has definitely gotta change. To predict what that change will be is very hard, but this industry moves so quickly that I’m sure in a year from now there’s gonna be some new and cool genre popping up. I think it will be interesting to watch where this whole thing goes in five years…
OS: If you could pick anyone to collaborate with, who would it be?
TB: I really want to do something with any of the Wu-Tang members. I think it could be a really cool tribute because that is the kind of music that got me started; making hip hop and then making dubstep. I always look back on the Wu-Tang stuff as dark and grungy, and it translates very well into dubstep if you look at it that way. I would love to do something with Method Man, it would be really cool since he was such a big influence for me growing up.
OS: I can definitely hear some old school hip hop influence in your music, but what about the inspiration for the bass noises and the sound design that you use?
TB: It’s pretty much all experimenting. In terms of direction, I really like robotic-future-y-ninja-step type stuff. More along the lines of hyperactive robot shit [laughs]. Ya know what I mean? Like, what robots would sound like if you put condenser microphones on their joints in 50 years…
OS: Any final words of advice for the up-and-coming producers out there in the same situation you were in four years ago?
TB: I would definitely say do it for the love, don’t do it to try and get somewhere or make money. Don’t try to copy someone else because you’ll always be second best. And just have fun with it. That’s the reason we all write music, because we have fun doing it and it’s all about the love.
Check out Datsik’s DJ set at the Shambhala Music Festival 2011 in Salmo, British Columbia: