Jun 3, 2004

  1. mary morris

    mary morris
    6,134 posts
    Since Mar 15, 2002
    the June/July issue of INNERLOOP magazine
    dance music in D.C. and out there

    ON THE COVER: A. Skillz and Krafty Kuts
    INSIDE: Dieselboy, Ezekiel Honig, Critically Acclaimed, Suneel, the D.C.
    Sanctuary and more

    Washington, D.C.: Five, DJ Hut, Capital City Records, the Sanctuary
    Baltimore: Sonar, Modern Music, Midtown Records
    Virginia: Lemur Lounge (Alexandria), Turnstyle (Richmond), Plan 9
    (Richmond), Noetic Records (Norfolk), Tower Landmark, Tower Fairfax,
    Tower Tysons
    Philadelphia: 611 Records
    Chicago: Another Level Records
    Minneapolis: Vital Vinyl
    San Francisco: Tweekin Records
    Los Angeles: Wax Records

    To order Innerloop for your shop, call Jerome D. at Groove Distribution,
    1-888-GROOVE4, x104.

    Fuel Efficient

    Words: Mary Ishimoto Morris

    “A girl is crying because someone stole her Dieselboy poster, so I’m trying to help her out,” explains a security guard at Buzzlife’s Cübik at Nation in D.C. on April 16. American drum ’n’ bass has come to this?

    Ten years ago, when American d ’n’ b DJs were relegated to the siderooms at clubs and listed last on party flyers, it would have been hard to imagine Dieselboy (aka Damian Higgins) emerging from that lowly pack and becoming a global superstar. The first American d ’n’ b DJ to headline main rooms, he now has a large, diverse base of hardcore fans.

    Dieselboy (or DSL, as devotees often call him) has broken ground within the historically U.K.-dominated drum ’n’ bass scene, and also within dance music as a whole. With the single “Invid,” he became the first American to have a record played by the Metalheadz crew in London, and the first d ’n’ b DJ to break into Billboard’s dance charts. He was also among the first Americans to play drum ’n’ bass at London’s renowned Fabric. In addition to his role as a trailblazing DJ, Dieselboy has also achieved stature as head of HUMAN, the U.S. d ’n’ b imprint of System Recordings, and as promoter of the Philadelphia-based Platinum event, North America’s premier d ’n’ b club night.

    Fans love Dieselboy for the explosive energy of his DJing, the power and beauty of his producing, and the egalitarian message that his MC, James Messinian, puts forth. Beyond the rave and club circuits, Dieselboy has played radio festivals and other rock events, always eager for the chance to bring d ’n’ b to new ears. Making inroads into the video game industry, Dieselboy and fellow d ’n’ b producer Kaos have music in Sony PlayStation 2’s “Amplitude” and more soon in “Gran Turismo 4.” Hardcore Dieselboy fans have his logo tattooed on their bodies, and have shown up in self-designed T-shirts that proclaim “Dieselboy is God.” Autograph-seekers often mob Dieselboy and Messinian after sets, as on April 28 at Baltimore’s Sonar Lounge.

    Each of Dieselboy’s mix CDs has leaped beyond the last in concept--and sales. The first mix over which he had full artistic control was 1998’s “611 DJ Mixseries Vol. One.” The following year saw “A Soldier’s Story.” Dieselboy began experimenting with elements of film in 2000 on “System_Upgrade,” where he created an opening track sampling the movie “Ghost in the Shell.” The same year, on the double CD “The 6ixth Session,” he composed an intro to Kemal + Rob Data’s “Messiah,” launching the mix’s breakneck rampage. Dieselboy’s interest in film returned on 2002’s double CD “projectHUMAN,” framed as a movie trailer with an intro and outtro narrated by voiceover king Don La Fontaine. With this mix, Dieselboy commissioned producers on each side of the Atlantic to remix tunes from the other.

    Dieselboy’s new release “The Dungeonmaster’s Guide” is both pinnacle and springboard, an adventure told in music and words. The double-CD package consists of an eighteen-track mix CD and a bonus disc, “Rise of the Humans,” with six tracks from the HUMAN label. On the mix, Peter Cullen, voice of Transformers cartoon character Optimus Prime, narrates a script written by Dieselboy. Like “projectHUMAN,” this offering is a monster remix project, this time with international d ’n’ b producers--Tech Itch, Usual Suspects, Concord Dawn, Evol Intent, Gridlok, Paul B + Subwave, HUMAN artists Kaos, Karl K and Jae Kennedy, and Dieselboy himself--re-envisioning tracks by non-d ’n’ b superstars such as Sasha, Tiësto, BT and Josh Wink. Drawing on the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons, “The Dungeonmaster’s Guide” appeals both to gamers and to dance music fans, offering dynamite potential for crossover; “Dragon,” the official D&D magazine, will interview Dieselboy for its convention issue out this fall.

    Dieselboy says he played Dungeons and Dragons from third grade through his first years of college. He describes how “The Dungeonmaster’s Guide” came about: “I let my subconscious work on it and it just came to me. Once I got the name down, everything started falling into place in my imagination. I realized this was going to be a lot different aesthetically from all my other stuff. Peter Cullen’s voice has such a serious tone and [by] using it interspersed throughout the CD rather than just at the beginning, I was hoping to take what I did with ‘projectHUMAN’ and ramp it up to where I’ve got an epic vibe throughout.

    “When I first go in, I usually don’t have a solid idea of how I want to take it. I sit down with the music and think about what’s going to work together and what’s going to sound best at the end. I don’t like to start off too insane. I did that with ‘The 6ixth Session,’ but Kemal + Rob Data’s ‘Messiah’ was a once-in-a-lifetime track. With the music I had for [‘The Dungeonmaster’s Guide’], I thought it would be cool to start off deep and build up intensity, then take it into a different direction, and at the end to trance it out and bring it in on an uplifting note. When I heard [the Ill Skillz remix of Dumonde’s ‘Human’], I knew it would be a beautiful way to end the CD. That was the first thing I figured out; the second was the first track [Cartridge’s ‘End Of The World’], and then it was a matter of putting everything together so it flowed really nicely.

    “The way I did the script, there are direct references to D&D that only gamers will get. One thing the narrator says is ‘A gate beyond the prime material plain,’ during the Sasha breakdown. In D&D the ‘prime material plain’ is Earth. If you read my foreword in the liner notes and compare it to the intro, I draw a parallel between being a DJ and being a Dungeonmaster, how a DJ creates a set or a mix CD, and how a Dungeonmaster creates an adventure for people to go on. You’ll hear the Dungeonmaster come in with a description of what the character sees, the actions the character takes, so I wanted him to say things that would tie in with the sound that immediately follows. His voice makes those places sound more intense, like how Don La Fontaine’s voice in the Dom track in ‘projectHUMAN’ says ‘The planetary assault begins now!’ and it gets heavy.”

    Discussing his collaboration with Optimus Prime voice Peter Cullen, Dieselboy becomes animated: “Peter went to the studio in Los Angeles; I called and got patched into his headphones. I explained the project and the intensity I wanted him to use in his voice, and sat there while he read the script and told him which lines to do over again. It was pretty thrilling. I was literally shaking a little because I used to watch the Transformers and the D&D cartoon as a kid, and hearing him read what I’d written, I can’t even tell you what it felt like, it was fucking unbelievable. They uploaded the files to the server and within fifteen minutes I had all the files on my computer.” Cullen was pleased to be part of the project; Dieselboy recalls that one week later, “he’d sent me an Optimus Prime toy in a box with a card saying he had a great time working with me. Definitely an experience I will never forget.”

    Dieselboy did a run-through of “The Dungeonmaster’s Guide” before this year’s Winter Music Conference, and upon returning home mixed it mid-afternoon in the basement studio of his apartment with a Pioneer CDJ-1000 and the dual CD player Pioneer CMX-5000. Explaining his need for three CD sources, he says, “There was one track I had to mix in, have cued up and ready to go as soon as one mix was done. It had to come in immediately, which is why I needed to have that third.”

    The captivating artwork of Akira Takahashi perfectly complements the transcendent beauty and flow of “The Dungeonmaster’s Guide.” Accented with Gothic calligraphy, his richly textured Euro-Japanese montages of medieval and future, darkness and light, and fantasy and adventure are evocative and spellbinding. The artist previously worked with Dieselboy on the standout robotic images for “The 6ixth Session.”

    If Dieselboy currently receives the lion’s share of attention in the d ’n’ b world, he has earned it with his energy, discipline, creativity, perseverance and leadership. Modestly, he explains his place in the scene: “I feel like I’m just one person who’s made his contributions to the scene, trying to push the music. Drum ’n’ bass is a joint effort by everybody who’s involved in it. [With] my mix CDs, I feel I’m in a position to do something different, raise the bar. When it comes to DJing, I feel like I’ve been around a while and it’s my job, especially when I play out of the country, to represent the American scene, try to let people know that we have good DJs over here. I always feel the weight of that responsibility on my shoulders; it’s my job to help put a face to American drum n’ bass, hopefully a good, inspirational face to the music and scene here.”

    Dieselboy returns to Cübik in D.C. on June 4, and to Sonar in Baltimore on June 16. For more information on Dieselboy, see www.djdieselboy.com.
  2. mary morris

    mary morris
    6,134 posts
    Since Mar 15, 2002
  3. def.con.1

    2,315 posts
    Since Nov 20, 2001
    not to hate or anything, but every time i read or hear about dieselboy, he's always regarded in this over-blown "saviour of american d&b" schtick. really milking the whole, "america's number one greatest d&b dj evaaaar!!!" thing for all it's worth.

    well, great marketing campaign to say the least. if you force-feed a myth to people hard and often enough, people will believe it.
  4. mary morris

    mary morris
    6,134 posts
    Since Mar 15, 2002
    good comment.

    it wouldn't work if he didn't have the game to back it up, though, imho.

    sincere question: whom would you like to see more written about?

    i'm open to suggestions.

    mary :smile:
  5. pollen

    6,061 posts
    Since Jan 31, 2001
    i had no idea that was the voice of Optimus Prime in the intro!!!!

    that's fucking wicked :slayer:
  6. jbl3102 Banned by DOA

    624 posts
    Since Jul 12, 2002
    How bout


    He may not put out as many mix CDs as Dieselboy but he is one BAD ASS DJ and gets more INTERNATIONAL acclaim especially for his production.

    Josh B

    BTW I thought DMG was a step down from projectHUMAN. I felt it was too trancey. I always have seen Dieselboy as a DJ that played a very energetic selection of tracks. I didnt get that feel from this CD.....
  7. def.con.1

    2,315 posts
    Since Nov 20, 2001
    yeah, he's got game but so do another thousand stateside djs. diesel, for one reason or another (and I don't doubt for a second he's worked hard for it) has been in the right spots at the right times. as an example, doing CD mixes since the mid 90's for a widely distributed dance label like moonshine boosted his exposure way beyond most other stateside d&b djs right off the bat. does that mean he's a more skilled or "important" dj than any other stateside dj? no. frankly, if you really look at the big picture dieselboy hasn't really expanded or changed the course of drum&bass in the US, he's just made it more popular for weekend ravers and casual tower/sam goody record store shoppers.

    gotta admit, diesel is great at marketing the fuck out of himself and more power to him, but i think people (maybe present company included) should quit the blind worship, take a step back, and take a look at the stateside scene as a whole and show more love and support to everybody else who's really been busting their asses for years on the local level. diesel is cool and he's skilled on the decks, but you can't deny that he has always promoted himself as america's #1 dj, like some sort of ambassador to the world. maybe i'm crazy, but that sound a little self-congratulatory, not to mention condescending to the rest of the stateside scene. whenever i read articles about him it's constantly "i was the first stateside dj to do this, the first to do that, the first to sell X number of CDs, the first on and on. . ."

    so who are the important players moving the US d&b scene forward? who'd i like to read more articles on? maybe this just reflects my feeling that DJ's aren't musicians, and i'm into drum&bass for the music (ie. production, ie. producers), but it'd be cool to read a little about gridlock, impulse, rob f, kiko, mayhem, and solid US labels like offshore, ohm, shadow law, warm communications, armada, etc. that's just a start.

    the producers drive the music, not the djs. the credit goes to the kids in the trenches, slaving in their bedrooms looking for the next sound, pushing the envelope of drum&bass music. . .not the pretty faced celebrity djs on the cover of urb.

    just my opinion. not looking to get anybody's panties in a bunch.
  8. plume my dreams are researched_

    409 posts
    Since Dec 3, 2001
    dsl's got the skills. he's not your cut and paste quick cut type of dj but his programming is near perfection.

    I like his solo sets and I think it's best to leave it at that.

  9. plume my dreams are researched_

    409 posts
    Since Dec 3, 2001

    great point about producers v. djs. Producers are rarely given the credit they deserve especially here stateside where there are less educated people.

    really djing isn't very hard at all, and only requires minimal commitment to get good. production on the other hand... shit, I know I can't write good tunes!
  10. lucid09

    401 posts
    Since Jan 19, 2004
    so "solid US labels" includes ones which haven't ever had a release?
  11. def.con.1

    2,315 posts
    Since Nov 20, 2001

    oh shit, you found the crack in my argument.

  12. bodhisattvagrrl

    560 posts
    Since Mar 19, 2002
    i will put HIVE on my list, Josh B :smile: i'll try to be there next time he comes to town.

    just a wee comment on the reality of being a struggling writer ... since i am not a woman of great means, i tend to write about artists whose music is sent to me to listen to (because i honestly don't have much disposable income and what i do have tends to go toward buying things for my kids).

    also, i tend to write about music that excites me (inasmuch as most of the writing i've done so far i've done for the love, not the money because i've usually written for free, lol). but sometimes i write about an artist out of respect for seeing how that artist has deeply moved others.

    in any case, i'm glad that you upped HIVE, Josh B, because that's all i was ever doing when i posted about you-know-who. everything i ever said about him was a genuine expression of personal enthusiasm, like yours. :smile: i never thought of it as marketing or hype because i really believed.

    i am glad to hear others excited about other artists - big ups to those who give ups to the artists who enrich their lives. :smile:

    have a great weekend!

    mary :smile:
  13. sean mack/osiris forbidden donut

    sean mack/osiris
    3,446 posts
    Since May 12, 2001
    mary-i have a lot of respect for the fact that you seem to be very positive in your abilities to constructively rebut and discuss any contradictory opinions-i think more people on doa should take a cue from your tactics :twothumbs:

    though i haven't been into his later mix comps, i think dieselboy deserves to get his props. he's done a great deal of work to put himself and, in turn, US drum & bass artists into a respectable position. he did a lot for me insofar as exposing me to a lot of cool beats when i was a fledgling recordshopper some years ago. for that i'll always have a great deal of respect for letting his actions on a personal level take presidence over his reputation as "the superstar of stateside drum & bass."

    personally, i guess i know he's got a record to sell, and that hype gets on my nerves, but i think that's more about the way he's marketed. really, he's one of the few stateside guys who's been marketed outside of dnb. despite his work outside of dnb, hive doesn't seem to go that route, so i suppose it makes sense that damian's considered "america's drum & bass savior." i just hope the people in the states who are exposed to that hype don't believe that all american dnb is pressed from that mold; as what damian does is pretty unique, i think it does a disservice for those who don't necessarily go that way. for that reason alone i think it's pretty important to start focusing on other artists too:

    "so who are the important players moving the US d&b scene forward? who'd i like to read more articles on? maybe this just reflects my feeling that DJ's aren't musicians, and i'm into drum&bass for the music (ie. production, ie. producers), but it'd be cool to read a little about gridlock, impulse, rob f, kiko, mayhem, and solid US labels like offshore, ohm, shadow law, warm communications, armada, etc. that's just a start."

    i couldn't agree more.
  14. bodhisattvagrrl

    560 posts
    Since Mar 19, 2002
    sean mack/osiris and def.con.1

    sm/o - thank you for highlighting def.con.1's paragraph on artists he'd like to see written about more. :smile: def.con.1 - i'll make note of them. have you seen RINSE magazine? that's where you'll definitely find stories about artists like you named.

    i write a column for a free paper called "music monthly" that's distributed in dc/md/va, and since it's for a general readership, not just the dance music scene, i've tried to strike a balance between local coverage of dj's and producers of all genres and dj's who are popular, e.g., when i wrote about dieselboy this month i also wrote about a local dnb dj, seven, who opened for dieselboy for a party in february and who has a new mix out. it's posted on another thread on doa called dieselboy / dj seven.

    i plead guilty to not writing about dc locals you named - rob f, impulse and kiko. a local dnb hero of mine, ransom (harry) encouraged me to write about them long ago. i haven't yet partly because i was intimidated by what i didn't know about them and too shy to approach them to ask them to send me something to listen to. (i have written about ransom :smile:

    i was very fortunate to be able to work on a piece for RINSE about the dc/baltimore dnb scene and was able to make initial contacts with impulse and kiko (rob f is out of touch finishing his phD in chemistry! kiko told me :smile: ... so really i have no excuse but to follow through ...

    also, this is really bad, but i really owe dj Slant an apology for not writing about him yet. he is one of the dc pioneers whom all of us in dc/balto owe a lot to for pioneering dnb in the dc/baltimore area. he is one of the first (if not the first) dc dnb dj's - slant was playing parties at the age of 16, not even old enough to be at the parties he was playing, lol. i am way remiss.

    thank you, def.con.1, for your comments because they've served to wake me up.

    humble respect and appreciation,
    mary :smile:


    reflecting on what you said about dieselboy being marketed beyond the dnb scene and how that doesn't reflect the route of other dnb artists, i think what you describe might be a phenomenon that kind of ensures the health of underground dnb ...

    i think dieselboy is entitled to try to take his vision to as wide an audience as he wishes to (just as anyone should be) - and if he can make dnb accessible to more ears, if he can serve that function, i don't see anything wrong with it. the scene is badly in need of fresh blood. in any case, he is going to do what he wants to do.

    meanwhile, the purists continue to do what they do with their hardcore faithful supporters, and maybe they'll even benefit from an influx of fresh blood. to me, if they are being true to themselves and are loved and appreciated for what they are doing, that's what's really important. really. there are different kinds of success.

    dnb is a hotbed of creative energy. it's anyone's guess what things are going to be like in a few years. :smile:
  15. bodhisattvagrrl

    560 posts
    Since Mar 19, 2002

    i forgot to say the most obvious thing i might have said in this particular thread (my kid was yelling at me to get offline so it's not entirely that i forgot) ...

    but the March INNERLOOP had a great interview with Impulse by Andy Cerutti, another great DC dnb pioneer and the dnb editor for INNERLOOP.

    i have an extra copy of that issue that i can mail to you if you want it, or maybe i could transcribe it here, if you haven't seen it, if i can get permission from INNERLOOP ...

    mary :smile:
  16. def.con.1

    2,315 posts
    Since Nov 20, 2001

    it's all good. don't worry about it. not trying to guilt-trip you. just trying to figure out why exactly diesel boy gets so much attention. also just wanted to remind you that there's a whole other world of US d&b beyond diesel boy.

    regarding innerloop, i think i did read a little article about kiko a while ago. so i'm not trying to rag on innerloop. they seem to cover the scene pretty well.

    anyway, keep up the good fight.

  17. mary morris

    mary morris
    6,134 posts
    Since Mar 15, 2002

    well you did prick my conscience and i thank you. your speaking up functioned as a bit of a wake-up call. :smile:

    i admit to being extremely dsl-centric historically. :smile:

    i promise to work at expanding my horizons. (tho in my defense, i have written about other dnb artists, including goldie, aphrodite, ak1200, dara, ...)

    innerloop is a genuine scene gem, imho, really authentic, the way a predecessor called RETINA, out of baltimore, was. it was published in the mid-'90s by LG Concannon (aka DJ LoveGrove), one of the local legends. i know apple, the publisher of innerloop, is passionate about covering the scene intelligently. she saw a need and she went for it and i have the greatest respect for her. i was very excited to be able to write for innerloop for the first time.

    maybe i'll run into you somewhere 'round here. :smile:

    much respect,
    mary :smile: