Bass bombs detonated throughout the night recently at New York’s Highline Ballroom, issuing from the stacks during Smash Gordon’s electro-dubstep set, (Skrillex’s remix of Benny Benassi’s “Cinema” set the place off), and whipping the sweaty bridge and tunnel crowd—jeans and wife-beaters for the boys, lycra and heels otherwise—into spasms when headliner Datsik got behind the decks. The 22-year-old Canadian, with a cameo from Dieselboy, summoned from Serato his signature dark and robotic dubstep—Flux Pavilion’s throbbing “Bass Cannon” lit the joint up and ignited a mosh pit, while the “Guess I got my swagga back” call-out from Datsik and Excision’s “Swagga” had the room moving up and down like a cornfield in a windstorm.
We talked to Datsik, and asked him about the last year, which has seen many DJs inhale the dubstep air, while his jams on Rottun; Ex7; and Smog Recordings have crowded the BeatPort charts.
It’s tough trying to make a living being a dubstep DJ—either in Canada or the U.S. Where can a dubstep DJ concentrate his efforts? From my experience, the major dubstep hotspots in North America are Denver, L.A. (Actually California in general is epic), Minneapolis, Austin (and most of Texas) Calgary, Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, Baltimore, Miami and more…honestly, everywhere has been good in the last year that I’ve played. I think the past year has been massive for dubstep as a whole and it’s going to continue its uprise this year! I haven’t traveled around Europe all that much, but I know Belgium’s got a massive scene, and Amsterdam was one of the coolest places I’ve played at. I know there are other massive scenes out in Europe, I just haven’t been there myself yet to witness it.
You’ve said the first time you heard dubstep was at a festival in B.C. called Shambhala. Who was playing and what did you do to your own music as a result of that day? I wouldn’t say it was the very first time I’ve heard it, but it was the first time it had a real impact on me. Hearing dubstep the way it was meant to sound, on a proper massive system with tons of bass and clarity was mind blowing for me and the way I wanted to produce music. Excision was one of the first wicked dubstep sets I heard, although there were some other dubstep acts playing that year as well. It basically infected me like a virus and from then on I started making full on dubstep as opposed to hip hop. Recently I have started to do both again and am having a lot of fun producing at hip hop tempos with a dubsteppy approach.
You’re rocking Serato. I have for a while and I’m comfortable with it. I might switch to Ableton at some point (because of its limitless potential) but right now I am having fun using decks. I also just picked up this neat little controller (Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol X1) that is fully mapped out for Serato, and I am having mad fun with it and the cool tricks you can do with it.