Over the course of nearly 13 years of careful construction, fine-tuning, and experimentation, Doctor P has developed a sound immediately recognizable in the dubstep world. It is forceful yet playful, like dancing in a thunderstorm. That sound made him one of the world's premier dubstep producers from the moment he began, and it was almost entirely erased in a single, gut-wrenching instant.
"My sound was pretty close to being completely ruined," the producer says. "It was one of those moments of panic when you realize you've done something and you don't know how you're going to undo it."
He'd accidentally deleted his entire sample folder, which meant he'd have to start all over again from scratch. Not a good look for one of dubstep's last dedicated strongholds. Let this be a lesson to always back up your hard drives. It's the only thing that saved the good Doctor's sound, a sound that will knock fans on their dancing asses when the British bass monster comes to Wynwood for the Life in Color festival this Saturday.
It's the process of building these sounds that gets Doctor P most excited.
"I think a lot of producers start as the nerdy kids at school who are into the button-pressing and tweaking, the geeky side of it," he says. "I'm definitely on the chin-stroking side of things, constantly trying to find out how things are done."
He was about 12 when he discovered the internet, and while other kids searched images of cartoons and dinosaurs, he began researching the ins and outs of electronic music. He was one of those take-it-apart-and-learn-what-makes-it-tick kind of kids, a trait he's never outgrown.
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"[My] inspiration these days definitely comes from being onstage," he says. "It's normally when I play someone else's track and the crowd reacts in a new way, everybody cheers or something. I'm like, Wow, what is it that's so perfect about that track that suddenly got that reaction?"
Those moments set his mind whirring, so when the set is over and the lights come on, instead of hanging out in the backroom to party with the promoters, Doctor P rushes back to his hotel room and opens his laptop.
"Sometimes I'll get back after the show, open a project, make a couple of tweaks, and it will be the little sprinkling of magic that track really needed," he says.
Doctor P admits he prefers the expressive confines of the studio to the showmanship of the stage, but that doesn't mean he phones in his performances. He's an honest-to-god DJ, mixing tracks, matching beats, and reading the crowd. He feels like the last of a dying breed, he says, but he thinks audiences really do appreciate it.
"I actually did set up a whole Ableton thing about three or four years ago," he says, referencing the producing software that lines up and plays samples automatically. "I just didn't ever start doing it live at the shows. I set the whole thing up in the studio and realized it was worse than doing it with CDJs, so I just scrapped the whole thing."
He can tell the same story about any attempts he's made to move on from his favored genre.
"I've almost stopped doing dubstep so many times," he says. "Trap comes along and then house. Every time, I kind of do some track that goes away from dubstep; then I remember I prefer dubstep and go straight back to it. It seems like there's not that many people left doing dubstep, but I feel like it's still the music that makes the most sense to me."
Doctor P didn't get where he is by chasing trends or trying to be anything but himself. That's why, of all the guys who came and went with the times, he's still booked to bring his raucous energy to the big stage. It's what makes him an influencer despite what may be the hit du jour.
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"Whatever new thing comes about, it always takes elements from everything else," he says. "I think there will be dubstep flavor in whatever comes around next. I don't know if it's going to be dubstep that everyone starts listening to again, but I think there's definitely going to be a dubstep sound to whatever happens."
When he hits the Wynwood stage at Life in Color, there will be more than a hint of grimy bass in the air. It'll be like a kick of cayenne to the face. Though he's played in Miami many times before, the Saturday show will be the good Doctor's first LIC event, so be sure to bring your biggest smile for him and welcome the onslaught of booms and flying neon paint.
"People have been talking about it every single day since I was announced," he says, "so I'm anticipating it's going to be pretty good."
Life in Color
With Diplo, Marshmello, Doctor P, and others. 2 p.m. Saturday, January 28, at Mana Wynwood, 318 NW 23rd St., Miami. Tickets cost $145 via licmiami.com. Must be 16 years of age or older.