12th Planet Talks Dubstep, Trap Houses, and Drop-Crotch Pants
America loves dance music, and bass music is especially beloved by thousands, probably millions, of happy beat freaks, from Miami to New York and Los Angeles.
Now, we can't really say 12th Planet is the man responsible for the current bass trend in the U.S., but we can say he his futuristic vision helped push the crowds onto the dance floor. He helped import the dubstep sound from London back in the mid 2000s, and as far as he's concerned, the bass movement is going harder and stronger than ever.
Straight from the mythical land of Nibiru (or maybe just Hollywood), he'll be landing at Grand Central this Friday to unleash face-melting, bone-crushing space-gangster beats. But first, we had this little chat.
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Crossfade: So, it's 2013, and 2012 has come and gone. What is 12th Planet up to the year after the apocalypse?
Dadzie: 12th planet is wearing drop crotch pants now. It's so cool. I got these skin graft pants, it's this company from downtown LA, they have a store front in New York too. they're fucking dope. That's what's been good in 2013 so far.
You always have something cool to shout out.
You've gotta be able to predict the future. Like omnipresent, omniscient, all that omni stuff.
You do that a lot. Something I thought was interesting was that this whole trap-house movement has exploded, it's become the norm kind of. But you've been playing traditional trap music in the southern hip-hop sense forever. How stoked were you when it seemed more DJs were coming around to that sound in the dance music scene?
What is trap-house? That's like where they sell crack, right?
That is what a trap house is, technically.
Oh, so you're like trap and house, like two different musics. My bad. I was just like, woah, we're talking about trap houses. Miami New Times, awesome.
Well, if you have anything interesting to say about trap houses, I'm definitely open to hear it.
Well, I flew with Rick Ross the other week, it was so cool. But not the Miami one, the real one, the one from L.A. There's a picture of it on my Instagram. He was coming back from Miami which is kinda cool, and I was going to Los Angeles via Charlotte, but that's about as much of the trap house as I know.
Did you get any juicy details from him?
I got a couple things. But I don't think I'm at liberty to say them.
We don't want to get you in any personal danger.
Yeah, exactly. I'm not a rapper.
But you are what a lot of people call the "King of American dubstep," right? You're kind of held responsible for bringing that sound from London over to L.A., you helped mentor Skrillex on his come-up, and you've really been there to watch dubstep evolve and explode in America, and now it kind of seems like perhaps it's on the come down. What is your opinion about dubstep. Is it dead? Is it just underground? Is it evolving in some new way? Does it not even matter what we call bass music?
I mean, I don't know how it is in Miami but the rest of America is pretty booming. All the shows are good, dubstep is still going strong. As far as dubstep the movement, like the ideology and the "us-against-them" people, that's kind of dead right now. I think it's just at the discretion of the artist to dictate what dubstep is or what that mid-tempo range is. People are not really going to the dubstep show anymore. If they like someone or they've got 'em on their playlist they're like, "Oh, I'm going to go support that guy" as opposed to the "Oh, I'm going to the dubstep show," which is how it used to be like five or six years ago. It didn't matter who the fuck was playing, you're like "oh dubstep show? There's like one a month. Let's fucking do it."
Where are you pushing yourself musically these days?
I don't know. I'm kind of just teetering.
What's the remix you're working on?
For these guys called Neo Signal, they're like these drum'n'bass dudes. They used to be called Phace and they started a new project called Neo Signal. They're from Germany, and they're signed to Noisia's label.
I've ran into a lot of people recently getting really into d'n'b, and that's where you got your start as well. Do you feel a resurgence happening for those kind of beats?
I think people are just, they got ADD and they just want to hear something different all the time, so I think you're starting to hear drum'n'bass pop up a lot more, and you're starting to hear dubstep pop up a lot more, trap and all that stuff fused together. It's just all about having a good time, and it's up to the artist really. Make some music and hopefully the people will dance to it. Hopefully they'll sing to it if there's vocals, too.
One thing I admire about you in your sets is your ability to connect with an audience, and you don't really rely on this kind of large production set up that you see a lot of DJs crutching themselves on now. You don't usually have this big crazy light show, and surely sometimes you do, but it seems you're just able to make a more personal connection with your audience. Why do you think that makes you the exception and not the rule?
'Cause I know what it's like to be on the other side of the fence, I guess. I know what it's like to be at the party, and that shit sucks when the dude is not even looking at you, and he's just like "I'm just playing the songs on my iPhone," that's boring dude. You've got to get in with it. Plus, if you really love that shit, dude, you're gonna try and represent that thing the best you can, in my opinion. I don't know. I could be wrong though.
You mentioned DJs up there just playing tracks on their iPods, I think that ties into the feeling that dance music, especially on a festival level has gotten stale. In an interview with Walshy Fire of Major Lazer, we talked about how they incorporate other flavors and sounds from other genres, but what do you think we can do to foster more growth in the scene?
It definitely has nothing to do with the music because the music is really good and it's being used by everyone. I mean, it needs to be exploited by corporate media, make like an EDM T.V. fucking channel and that's the only way it's going to grow, because it's really huge right now as it is. But it's nowhere near the state of hip-hop. I know people don't even read print anymore, but even hip-hop's got fucking print mags up, you know what I'm saying? There's no dance music print mag out. So, until it gets to that level, I'm still like yo, that's the only way it can grow, until it gets absorbed by the big machine.
I've been thinking lately about what makes a musical movement interesting, and it seems to me the moment you label something, it becomes easier to like exploit and pervert. Do you think we need to focus less on labels and genres and just be open to music as it comes?
I think genres are kind of a touchy subject. Genres are just ways to sell things. I think if you like an artist's music, you're going to just support that artist regardless. But I think the artist should dictate what their sound is going to be, and if the fans really connect with the artist, then all that stuff comes to fruition anyway.
So, how excited are you about coming back to Miami?
I'm coming back to Miami. I'm superstoked. I love Miami. I love Miami when it's not conference time, y'know? It's less. I like hanging out with the Miami fam.
What can we expect from your show?
We're going to let off a beacon signal to Venus. Straight up. We're trying to invite some homies from Titan, too.
12th Planet. With Sluggers and Caligula. Friday, August 2. Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The party starts at 11 p.m., and tickets cost $15 plus fees via ticketfly.com. Call 305-377-2277 or visit grandcentralmiami.com.
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