It's quite evident that Troy Beetles likes hip-hop. Going by DATSIK, a name that derives from an old XBOX Live gamer tag, his music is littered with influences from the genre. He's racked up a series of No. 1 tracks on Beatport, collabed with big names like Bassnectar, Excision and Diplo, as well as started his own record label. On his Ninja Nation Tour he'll highlight tracks from his latest EP Down 4 My Ninjas and brings along the latest edition of his psychedelic stage set Vortex 3.0.
NUVO: How would you describe the tour so far?
DATSIK: I would describe it as over the top, and off the wall, and crazy fun, and lots of bass.
NUVO: What’s with the ninjas?
DATSIK: Right now I’m dressed in all black walking through a hallway and I feel like assassinating someone just because I feel like I’m in the right attire for it. I’ve always really been into ninjas. It’s been a reoccurring theme, when I was young I liked to run around and do flips and stuff. Jump into the crowd. I felt like it made sense. It kind of came naturally.
NUVO: Sticking with your childhood, what was the first concert you ever attended?
DATSIK: That’s a good question. First concert I can remember attending would have to have been Snoop Dogg when he came through Kelowna. That was when I was 14 or 15; I basically rolled up like 20 joints and snuck them in. When we came in he was performing “Gin and Juice,” and I had Gin and orange juice in a water bottle that I brought in. I sparked all the joints and passed them around. It was one of those moments, “this is a game changer right now,” moments.
-- Ironically Snoop Dogg is going to be in Indy on Friday night --
NUVO: Back to the ninjas, how does Down 4 My Ninjas differ from other projects you’ve released?
DATSIK: Like we were talking about with the childhood stuff, I grew up on hip-hop and it was a big influence for me, a big inspiration for me. So basically I wanted to really try and bridge the gap between electronic music and hip-hop – bring the two worlds together I guess. It’s been really fun trying to do that, it’s not easy to do but I’m trying my best to turn out some cool tracks – to make some bangers. That’s the direction I’ve wanted to go with it, hip-hoppy but still heavy bass.
NUVO: You’ve collabed with countless high profile EDM artists over the years, but which hip-hop artist is No.1 on the wish list?
DATSIK: If I could do anything with Wu-Tang I’d be so stoked. That’d be really cool because they were the starting point for me, I was really into their stuff the most, it had that edgy and different feel. It’s cool because when they first started with “Method Man” and “Bring The Pain,” I liked how it was produced; it didn’t necessarily have to be all perfectly structured and perfectly in key. Because it wasn’t, it gave it a unique characteristic that I didn’t really find with any other music. That was the first sign to me, ‘if you can do it with that music, why can’t you do it with electronic music.’ I tried to take some influences from that and transform into something else, bass lines and such.
NUVO: What has the reaction been to the mixing of heavy bass and hip-hop?
DATSIK: It’s been cool man. I think people want to see what they expect, that I’m going to play all dubstep, but I play everything. I take a hip-hop DJ approach to electronic music. Even though I’m in Ableton I really try to mash it up. Bassnectar, that’s one of the things he influenced, when I was young he gave me this cool little briefing on how he does his Ableton stuff. And I trusted that and ran with it in my own direction. Now I play dubstep, that’s the foundation of a set, but I’ll play electro, hip-hop, and drumstep. I try to cover the whole spectrum; for me it keeps it more interesting while I’m playing, humanize it a little bit instead of the same monotonous 140 the whole night.
NUVO: In the future do you see heavy bass music moving into a method of mixing different genres together?
DATSIK: Absolutely, that’s kind of always been the foundation of bass music and dubstep, regurgitate. Throw a bunch of ideas into a melting pot and regurgitating different things, taking samples from classic tracks, flipping them and cutting them up – that’s kind of how trap was born. Use a lot of vocal samples that are chopped up, it’s bringing the sampling element of hip-hop into electronic music. I think it’s going in a cool direction, it’s going to keep evolving and changing. It’s really exciting doing this right now because you never really know what’s going to be popular in 3 months or a year from now.
NUVO: Switching it up, your Firepower Records label has some great artists that have been releasing through you guys, but which unknown artist is going to blow up in the next year?
DATSIK: Fox Stevenson because he does everything. He makes his own tracks, obviously, but he’s very musical and he sings over all his own songs as well. He’s a cross between an indie band and electronic music but it’s just him. He’s like Flux Pavilion, but different. He’s all over the map, there’s a lot of electro, a lot of drum and bass, a lot of dubstep. And every track that I’ve heard that’s been released is absolute fire. I think it’s going to be interesting to see how he comes out and starts performing. I don’t think he’s going to start in a dark nightclub; he has more potential to do something crossing the lines between an indie band and a DJ.
NUVO: Which festival are you looking forward to most this summer?
DATSIK: To be honest I’d say Electric Forest or Shambhala because they’re both in the forest and I love playing outside in a space like that. The acoustics are really nice and how the sound bounces through the forest and off the trees, it creates a really warm sound. I think that’s going to be a really sick experience. I played (there) once two or three years ago so I’m stoked to be coming back and getting a chance to play at (Electric Forest) again.
NUVO: In regards to the show, what’s this new VORTEX 3.0?
DATSIK: It’s basically a creation that I designed on an airplane; I was sitting there and I drew it on a napkin. I played a show the night before and saw this projector that was projecting stuff against the booth in front of me. It was really cool but it didn’t have the right depth so I thought about what if we use a 3D projector, project a 3D image? So I want to be in the center, be the focal point, and then find a way to physically project on all the surfaces around me and behind me. Basically I’m standing in the middle of this giant funnel looking thing, the funnel is facing the crowd and on every white surface around me there is 3D images being projected. So it looks really cool, like I’m standing in a wormhole, it’s pretty crazy. We’ve got all new content and added a cool lighting package to go with it. The kids are really going to like it, trip out over it.
NUVO: Anything special in store for the Indy crowd?
DATSIK: Of course man. Obviously I’m full of surprises, I’ve got a bunch of unreleased music that I’m going to play, it’s going to be crazy. I remember last time I came through the Vortex didn’t make it, one of our trucks got stuck in the snow or something. So I’m really excited to give everyone what they want, to come back and do it proper.
NUVO: It’s currently snowing so hopefully that doesn’t happen again.
DATSIK: No we’ll be good, we’re going to make it this time.
For everyone's sake I hope he's right.