JOHN ‘12TH PLANET’ DADZIE HAS BEEN REFERRED TO AS JOHNNY APPLESEED FOR HIS EFFORTS IN LEADING A MIGRATION OF DUB STEP FROM LONDON’S DAMP CLUB CIRCUIT TO THE ELECTRONICA HUB OF LOS ANGELES. RIP NICHOLSON GOES DEEP ON WHAT ATTRACTED THE DJ TO THE “140BPM BEAST WE LOVE” THAT TODAY DOMINATES THE US FESTIVAL CIRCUIT.
12TH PLANET interviewed @ 13:30 AEST – Friday 3rd April, 2015
For Street Press Australia & Rip2Shredz Press
Words by RIP NICHOLSON
Images courtesy of John Marias
[Full Q & A below]
Despite having been raised in an environment steeped in reality rap culture, DJ and producer Dadzie never thought he had to confine himself to hip-hop and would instead become the Kingpin of the West Coast Dub step scene.
“Growing up in South LA, hip-hop was not the only thing that reigned supreme. There was a very large Tribal House scene. Aside from the Skaters, and Goths that were at my High School, there were also these types of party kids in the mid ‘90s we called “groovers” or “rebels”. They were primarily Latino, who as a culture have been involved with the LA Dance music Underground since the 80’s. It was from these type of people I learned about House music and Club music,” explains Dadzie who was influenced otherwise and with a little help from Napster, cottoned on to something vibrant and pulsating at a far greater BPM.
“Once I got a taste of this kind of music, the only natural progression as a kid, is to find a harder style of music,” continues Dadzie, whose progression went from house music to 6blocc’s Jungle (as R.A.W.) which turned him onto drum and bass. And, if it wasn’t for Dieselboy’s ‘Soldier’s Story’ mixtape and a certain peer-to-peer service, “I would have no clue about 95% of the genre. Their track-list, and the creation of Napster, helped me fulfill my dreams of being an artist.”
As a DJ scoping the European scene, Dadzie called himself Infiltrata and fell within earshot of the warped-out drum & bass of Londoner Skream and came back to LA with a new vision for his music production. By 2006, rebranded as 12th Planet, Dadzie aligned himself with other DJs Flinch, Kill The Noise and the genre’s flagship artist Skrillex and began recording for SMOG records before taking over a year later. But trying to get recognition in LA’s scene early on, Dadzie stresses, was very difficult.
“When I was younger, it was almost impossible to get booked as a Jungle DJ in the LA scene. So, coming up as a drum and bass DJ/producer was extremely difficult. Once I started MC’ing for the DJs, it was much easier to slide my production demos to them, and eventually they started cutting my music to Dubplates. From that lead to being recognised as a national, and eventually, international artist.
12th Planet is currently working the Texas leg of the SXSW festival having sold out the week’s three shows. Shows he has spun before crowds across every major US dance event, headlining in Europe, New Zealand and, for the third time, is coming down to play Australia.
“Australia is a very forward music country, so its awesome to come out here and play sets of mostly unreleased music,’ says Dadzie, excited about his upcoming tour. “Expect to hear loads of new American Dub step, and be prepared to take the next day off of work, because the party is gonna get messy.”
[Full Q & A below]
Q+A with 12TH PLANET
I see SMOG is (or has) kept you busy this weekend with a showcase gig out in Texas. I’m told they do everything bigger in Texas. How have the shows been recently?
Certainly, everything is bigger in Texas, especially Dubstep at SXSW. This year we sold out 3 smog showcases throughout the week, despite the media saying “Dubstep is Dead.”
You’re sharing the stage with a lot of artists that you work with. Is the West coast dub scene still a tight-knit network?
The West-Coast Dubstep scene is very “tight-knit.” It doesn’t matter if you are rich, poor, black, green, hipster or trash. You are always welcome to come hang at a Dubstep party and experience the good times. As long as you genuinely like the music and you aren’t an asshole, you are pretty much welcome. However, with there being somewhat of a divide, I will say this, I have noticed 3 different scenes pop up in the last 3 years in the Los Angeles Dubstep community. You have the “Riddim” community, which is arguably the most “Die-Hard” fan base of Dubstep in LA. Then you have the “Deep” Dubstep community, which is also another one of the more loyal fan bases of Dubstep in the country. Then you have the “EDM/ Pop” Dubstep fans, who make up the majority of the scene. With that being said, all still come together at certain parties, and share great times with each other for the greater glory of this 140 bpm Beast that we love.
You started the dub-step label SMOG with Danny United and Drew Best. How did you guys get together?
I have been friends with Danny United for about 16 years of my life, and we have been super tight from the days I was a snot nosed raver in the 3rd option Jungle rooms on the streets of LA and San Bernadino. I met Drew about 10 years ago while he was working for Insomniac/ Bassrush. When Drew came up with the idea to start throwing Dubstep parties in LA in 2006, I was initially the first person he called to come play a set. Once I joined Smog, it was almost inevitable to start the record label.
Was it necessary then to have to go completely indie with your music, label and distro?
For us it was an absolute necessity to go indie. At the time of conception, we were only selling vinyls out the trunk of our cars with some UK distro. Keep in mind this was during a time where digital labels were first starting to become relevant. You see, at that time, no one wanted to touch Dubstep with a ten foot pole, especially in America. But we didn’t care about making money, or even being the “man” in the club. All we cared about was having a good time with our friends, making music, and supporting the other artists who were in the same struggle as us.
Most drum n bass genres are still associated with British and European artists. As a forerunner in the US market over the last 10 years how do you envision the US scene’s development over the next 10 years?
I feel now that the “Bass” music hub is in North America. Aside from DnB still being very popular in the UK & EU, I would venture to say that the home of “DnB” influenced genres are now in the US and Canada. I cannot predict the future, but I will venture to say that 10 years from now, there will still be DnB, Dubstep, Glitch Hop, Twerk and Trap shows in all 50 states of the Union, and all 10 provinces of Canada.
You grew up in South LA., among a culture steeped in reality rap, I can’t imagine their being a strong dub scene (despite dub and gangsta rap making a perfect marriage in ‘threatening youth music’). What was your early catalyst into drum n bass music?
Growing up in South LA, Hip Hop was not the only thing that reigned supreme. There was a very large Deep/ Tribal House scene. Aside from the Skaters, and Goths that were at my High School, there were also these types of party kids in the mid-90’s we called “groovers” or “rebels”. They were primarily Latino, who as a culture have been involved with the LA Dance music Underground since the 80’s. It was from these type of people I learned about House music and Club music. Also, at the time House music was on the radio for hours everyday on Power 106, and Groove Radio. Some of the guys I heard on the radio all the time were Swedish Egil, Richard Humpty Vission, and Frank Lozano. Once I got a taste of this kind of music, the only natural progression as a kid, is to find a harder style of music. Once I got to High-School, I got into Hardcore / Gabber, which in turned lead me to raves, which in turned lead me to Jungle, which in turn lead me to Drum & Bass. My first run in with Jungle was through a mix-tape called “Watch me Shred” by 6blocc, back then he went under the name R.A.W. From that mix-tape lead me to other mix-tapes like Deacon’s “In Through One Ear and Out your Mother”, DJ Hive’s “Hip Hop 2023”, Dieselboy’s “Soldier’s Story”, and Metalheadz “Platinum Breakz vol 1&2” If it weren’t for these mix-tape / albums I would have no clue about 95% of the genre. Their track-list, and the creation of Napster, helped me fulfill my dreams of being an artist.
RAW – Watch Me Shred – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtIR-dMTQvk
Did you ever start off with the MC/DJ formula or were always on a strict diet of making electronic bass beats?
I actually started off playing in jam bands, and then I worked my way up to being a poet. Haha, by poet I mean wannabe Lyricist. However the Gift of Gab helped me get some of my first gigs as an MC in the jungle / DNB community in So-Cal. When i was younger, it was almost impossible to get booked as a Jungle DJ in the LA scene. One, The talent pool was so high, two, there was absolutely no social media, and three, the the lack of venues which even allowed people to play Dance Music could be counted on two hands in the ‘90s. So, coming up as a DnB DJ / Producer was extremely difficult. Once I started MC’ing for the DJs, it was much easier to slide my production demos to them, and eventually they started cutting my music to Dubplates. From that lead to national recognition, and eventually international recognition as a DnB artist. But I guess to answer your question, My formula has always been, be the best MC / Host, Producer, DJ, Label Owner that you can be.
Who were some of the established artists who had inspired you early on in your come up?
Bar-None Dieselboy!!! If that guy never made Soldier’s Story, System Upgrade, or any of those old compilations, I would not have submerged myself into production at that time. Also, 6blocc had an alias back then called R.A.W. and it was his mixing style, and demeanor as an artist that got me hooked to Jungle / DnB. In terms of Dubstep, Skream, Benga, Mala, Jakes, and Rusko, would probably be my main sources of inspiration. They basically laid down the format of what a Dubstep song should sound like, and it was from their format I learned how to produce the music.
What music are you playing at the moment and which beatsmiths should we pay attention to in 2015?
Currently, my sets are comprised of mostly Dubstep. Two years ago I became very inspired by the “Riddim/ Swamp” movement. I have grown to love artists like Subfiltronik, Trollphace, Dubloadz, Megalodon, Getter, and the Savage Society crew. Although there are too many artists to name, I think those guys have had the most impact on me as a Dubstep artist. However this year I have already finished collabs with Lumberjvck, Dodge & Fuski, Dubloadz, Flinch, Trollphace, Juju, Megalodon, 50 Carrot, Solomon, Anderson.Paak, Antiserum, Mayhem, & Aweminus just to name a few.
You’re associated with acts like Skrillex, Kill the Noise, Flinch and Lumberjack, dudes you work with often. Is it important for you guys to work and support each other in your own projects?
To be honest, its all about the vibe, and at the moment, I am vibin’ super hard with my boy Lumberjvck. We have probably made about 6 songs together, and finished about 3 in 2015 so far. We will probably release a collab EP sometime this year, and I am really excited about the music we have been making. But to answer your question, I believe it is very important for us to work and support each other at all times. It is the one way we improve as artists, and get better at our individual crafts. I love getting feedback from Skrillex, or Kill The Noise, or Flinch, because when they tell me something, it carries a lot of weight, and most of the time, changes occur in a track because of their feedback.
‘Spilly Talker’ dropped last week. Working with Omar Linx, his music with Zed’s Dead is not so unlike yours. How did you hook up with Omar Linx for this one?
I met Omar Linx through Zed’s Dead. Spilly Talker was a freestyle that was on an old Zed’s Dead mixtape. Omar spit a verse over me, Skrillex, and Kill The Noise song “Burst”. I really loved the vocal, and wanted to release it. We tested his accapella over the collab between, Trollphace, Juju, and I, and it fit perfect.
Had you worked together before? And how is it collabing with MCs. Are you ever twisted into producing rap tracks on a more mainstream level?
Me and Omar have a another song we have done titled “Back To You”, but we haven’t given it to anyone yet. I love collaborating with MC’s. Anytime you can get good original vocals instead of samples on a track is a blessing. I have produced records for Rappers in the past. I have made records w, Dizzy Rascal, Machine Gun Kelly, Good Charlotte, Ras Kass, & Doe Boy on mixtapes.
You recently played a gig with Mayer Hawthorne and Just Blaze, among others. How are those guys to hang with backstage?
Haha, we played on different stages, and had different backstages. I have hung with Just Blaze before, He is a top notch dude. He is one of my heroes as a producer too. From the work he has done with Jay Z & Saigon, I have become inspired.
You’re coming down to Australia. Have you been here before, if so, how did you like it and the crowds at your shows?
This will be my 3rd trip to Australia I believe. I love playing in Aussie, whether its a club run or a festival run. The energy is always through the roof. Australia is a very forward music country, so its awesome to come out here and play sets of mostly unreleased music, and still get amazing reactions from the crowds.
What do you have planned for everyone, on this tour?
On this tour, expect to hear loads of new American Dubstep and be prepared to take the next day off of work, because the party is gonna get messy.