A Sit Down With DJ Dieselboy
Dieselboy - The Destroyer - stand out as a rare virtuoso of the art and craft of live DJing. His complex, high voltage, take-no-prisoners sets. Arguably no other DJ mixes live - on four decks - with more precision, imagination, intensity, energy and finesse. In the history of electronic dance music, no one comes even close to matching his legacy of epic dramatic mixes, each a timeless star in his signature constellation. Dieselboy - one of the world's finest technical DJs - has, in fact, elevated the themed DJ mix to the realm of fine art.
Dieselboy is also a passionate connoisseur of books, film and food. He has written about and been interviewed about his obsession with the food, and since 2014 his cooking skills have been displayed in the professional kitchens around the world including pop-up hamburger events at restaurants in the Netherlands. He has collaborated on an artisan beer and a gourmet hot dog, and has a cocktail published in Robert Simonson's (New York Times cocktail writer) new book "The Old-Fashioned."
An inspiration for generations of DJs, Dieselboy's longevity and relevance in a mercurial industry is a tribute to his relentless drive to create "amazing" experiences for his fans in their iPods and at his infamously explosive live shows.
"Im old school and I like concepts and high levels of detail. I want to make the best mixes, period. I set the bar high for myself."
Who were some of your influences musically when you started out?
My segue into dance music comes from a blended interest in r&b, synth pop and industrial (in that order). Early dance music that I gravitated towards combined elements of all three of these genres. Nowadays I mostly listen to indie rock and metal in my downtime.
How about your dabbles with dubstep? Wasnt Beyond Thunderdome dubstep?
That was drumstep. Ive never done a 140BPM track. But I got to a point playing here in the states where I felt I couldnt get away without playing some dubstep. And that got me round to thinking if I played a few dubstep tunes I could get on those line-ups and Trojan Horse the shit out of the scene, get in with a few dubstep tunes then smash it and expose dubstep kids to drum & bass. It kinda worked for a while but I felt that a lot of fans were annoyed. Purists couldnt get their heads around 140 beats per minute difference. If you like a type of sound the BPM range shouldnt matter. Its ridiculous.
Youve also got this dope collab with Damascus that just came out. Talk about how this came about and how you see your personality surfacing in the finished product.
A few years ago I was put in touch with Nate from Damascus via my friend Dino. I was familiar with his stuff and respected his aesthetic, but I wanted to make sure that this collaboration would actually be a true collaboration, not me just lending him my name and having him bang something out for me on his own. I had a concept: what if you were a graphic designer in the late 70s/early 80s doom metal scene, a fan of old-school horror and fantasy comics, and had the aesthetic density of what Nate was doing in the modern day today? I wanted to push Nate outside of his boundaries a bit. We worked side-by-side coming up with the hand-drawn elements that we would need to have made for the shirt. The front of the shirt almost looks like a movie poster for something called DEATHWOLVES. The sleeves are meant to reflect metal vest patches with various bands on them, and the back is another reference to wolves with a giant rib cage, blood, etcetera. I was in charge of coming up with all of the text on the shirt. When it came time to print them up Nate went the extra step and had the shirt acid distressed to make it feel aged. He also made cool enamel DIESELBOY pins that come with each shirt. It was a fun project to be a part of and I hope we can work on some more stuff in the future.
Your first release came on a UK label, Tech Itch. Thats pretty significant for an international artist at the time. It was a tight scene to enter from outside the UK back then wasnt it?
I got shit on pretty hard, yes. Back in the DOA days especially. But the reason it came out on a UK label was because my roommate started this online romance with a guy who was best mates with Tech Itch in Manchester. I made a pilgrimage to the UK in 1995 and he hooked me up with Tech Itch to meet while I was there and we became mates during my vacation and worked on a track together. It was completely random. But thats what got me into production and it happened to be via a UK connection.
Are there any original productions in there we should be looking out for?
I have never been much of a consistent producer. From time to time I work on stuff, either remixes or original tunes, but never more than a couple a year. I recently did a track with Mark The Beast called Angel Dust that is coming out early 2017 and is featured in the mix. I also have a collaboration in the works with Mark and Mayhem called Stagediver that has Mark playing live guitar and beats / sounds that remind me of Ed Rush and Opticals Wormhole-era stuff. And I have a new collaboration with Mark and Bare called Demolition that features Armanni on vocals. Its a super crazy halftime thing; cant wait to finish it. Once those are done, Mark and I are set to remix an older tune by Apashe called Battle Royale. I recently started focusing more time on my record labels Human Imprint and Subhuman, so expect plenty of music coming out soon.
What are your thoughts on the whole paradigm shift that its caused in US electronic music and how that affects drum & bass?
Years ago I used to dream of how life might be if electronic music was eventually accepted by the mainstream as a real source of creativity and culture. Now I know. And I wish I didnt. Drum & bass is founded on being an aficionado and getting super into something you love and really digging deep into it. Of course the drawback of that type of spirit are dickhead trainspotters who would look down their nose if you werent playing the newest tunes, but I prefer that to mainstream kids getting into the scene without any sense of history or why it is what it is. EDM doesnt require any digging, it is just fast-food music Up goes the build, then comes the drop like some hit of drugs then an epic breakdown. DJs play a trillion drops a set like doses. Theres no patience for DJs to learn the craft or for new fans who want instant impact and dont appreciate the art of mixing and creating whole new tunes between two records. And yeah some of that behaviour has found its way into drum & bass over here. EDM has dumbed down the mindset of DJ culture. Its frustrating. I am not sure we can turn things back around.
Speaking of the future, how has the bass scene evolved this past year?
The quality of drum & bass is better than it has ever been; globally the scene is very strong. I will say that it is a bit troubling that the same support isnt mirrored here in the States. Yes, there is some support here and there but overall there should be moreA LOT more. You are seeing less and less drum & bass artists being booked at big shows and festivals. The bass stages are mostly just dubstep with some trap thrown in. I would have thought at some point the dubstep kids would evolve and maybe shift to something like drum & bass but it hasnt seemed to have happened. I have such a passion for this music and to see it get short shrift overall in the States is somewhat disheartening.
Where did the inspiration for doing cinematic type mixes come from? Its so rare to see theatricality nowadays in music.
The cinematic intro has pretty much been my bread and butter for the past 15+ years. The first proper programmed intro I ever made was for a mixtape called The Directors Cut from 1998. And since then, I have kept trying to outdo myself. I am a huge movie fanatic. I love movie trailers. I like the drama. When I started doing my intros there was literally no one else out there in dance music doing anything like them. I really feel like I own that sound at this point.
Whats your favourite mix of all time?
Good question. There was a Green Velvet Sessions mix for Ministry Of Sound. I loved the music on it and the overall story of it. It wasnt intense, it was just a really immersive vibe. Also the first James Lavelle Global Underground mix. Ive been a huge fan of his since Mo Wax. He has such a cinematic take on mixes. I listened to that one hundreds of times. Plus loads of old rave mixtapes from the UK that wed try and get our hands on. I remember some really inspirational Grooverider mixes.
What are the future plans for Dieselboy?
I have some touring coming up with my crew PLANET OF THE DRUMS. i have some new music coming out under my new project with mark the beast called FACES OF DEF. have some potential collabs in the works with phace, spktrm and a few others. next year will see another BLOOD SWEAT AND BASS tour with my man downlink and some special guests. and then another mix DESTROYER II. and possibly a mix with DMC champion shiftee which would be quite cool and different. also more music forthcoming on my labels SUBHUMAN and HUMAN IMPRINT. and clothes from my new clothing line i am doing in conjunction with NIGHTBRAND called SUBKULT.
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