So for our first interview of 2013 we had the great privilege to interview Canadian Dubstep Heavyweight Excision. Excision is currently on his Executioner Tour, which boast his newly created Executioner light and video system. He is also currently working on a side project called Destroid a dubstep band that is going to take us all by storm and who have their first EP coming out very soon. So much more is discussed in this WHOMPING interview so Enjoy!!
Name and where your originally from?
Jeff Abel. Kelowna, BC.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
The first electronic music I heard that stood out to me was the Prodigy’s “The Fat of the Land.” I loved it, but couldn’t find anything else even close to it. It wasn’t until 2005 that I discovered drum ‘n’ bass and the Vex’d album “Degenerate,” which showed me the extent of what dubstep and all electronic music is capable of.
I started producing and DJing at the time, dropped out of the business degree program I was taking at the University of British Columbia and decided that this was what I needed to do. My parents weren’t too impressed, but they had some level of faith when they saw I was putting in 12 hours a day to get better. Living in Kelowna, I didn’t know a single other DJ for over a year and didn’t meet any other producers until I was touring in 2007. It was 2005 when I started and although the Internet had a few places you could read up on various techniques, it definitely wasn’t like today where there is a YouTube tutorial for everything.
3. When did you first discover your passion for dubstep and when did you figure out you wanted to make music?
See above answer #2.
Once I had songs that I knew were at a pro level, I started shopping them around to the dubstep labels that existed at the time. There were only about seven or eight of them at that time. Four of them replied and said that the tunes were great, but they were too hard for their label. I spoke with the other guys I knew online making the hard stuff and they were running into the same problem. So I decided to start Rottun. At first, we couldn’t even get distribution for vinyl, and Beatport didn’t have a dubstep genre section until a year later. So I learned HTML and designed the Rottun website myself, had someone help integrate a store, did a bit of advertising and suddenly we were doing really big numbers for that era. I showed these numbers to a few vinyl distributors and we locked in a record deal. Around the same time as our first record came out and went #1 on nearly all the vinyl websites, Beatport created a dubstep genre page and everything from then on was just a constant explosion of growth.
What inspired your new Executioner Video & Light Stage?
The new stage “The Executioner” has been in progress since April of last year. When we built Xvision, we learned what projection mapping is truly capable of, and with a bit bigger budget this year we were able to produce something far more complex. We wanted to get away from the 2D “trippy visualizations” as much as possible. My team and I felt that we had learned enough from Xvision to tackle the entire project ourselves.
I worked with Ben from Beama and went through 66 revisions before we finally settled on the current design. I then went and hired 50 or so animators from around the world, created storyboards of what we wanted each animation to look like, how we wanted it to sync with a specific song and spent a huge amount of time on each of them really dialing it in. Justin is our Mr. Fixit guy who knows a lot about a ton of different things. He handled the window to the DJ booth, which goes up and down based at the push of a button, as well as the panels that open and close to reveal lasers within the stage, as well as CO2 jets, crazy, low-lying fog machines, and even snow machines! A Canadian crew can’t truly put on a high production value show without snow. Justin also helped with the Serato/Ableton dual setup.
I wanted to keep everything as close to a traditional DJ setup as possible, and still have the freedom to play whatever tracks in whatever order the crowd wants them. We use Serato music videos for 70 songs; usually I get through 55 in a set. Each of these videos stay in perfect sync with the attached song and the Serato video technology is perfect so far. Where we ran into trouble was creating a fully synced lighting show. We bridged Ableton to Serato and hacked a bunch of things in order to get the time code sent out to the lighting desk and trigger all the cues. The result is a system that gives me full freedom to cater to the crowd and still be a real DJ, but at the same time give a fully synced audio-visual show.
You might think this has been done before, but every artist I’ve seen, and I’ve seen nearly all of them, have a 100% pre-planned set that they literally just press a play button at the beginning of the show and fake it for 90 minutes. Fuck that!
Due to how long it takes for movie-grade animations to be created, I had to be careful about which songs I had them made for. I won’t ruin the surprise, but it’s going to be an epic set that stays true to my roots, but still has enough diversity to make everyone happy. Expect to leave exhausted.
When can we expect your next EP or album to come out? You working on any new tracks or collabs on the tour?
I’ve spent over three years getting this new Destroid project ready and I really believe that the way we are putting it together sets down a new path for electronic music performance. Yes, it uses computers, but you’d never know it, nor will you see them on stage. Two custom midi guitars and a fully custom digital drum kit. We’ll be playing our songs, covers of other tracks, as well as songs shared with us by our friends. With intricate alien/robot costumes with tons of crazy technology embedded, and the freedom to play each song differently each night, every set will be truly unique. We’ve gone so deep into the storyline of this project with viral videos and a graphic novel series that they all tie in with the storyline in the tunes. We have our album nearly finished and are looking at a March/April release! We have our first gigs booked at festivals this summer across North America and can’t wait to show the world everything we have in store.
Destroid and the Executioner stage are my main focuses for the next year. As far as Excision goes, I am going to keep pumping out tunes under Excision and playing shows as Excision as well as working on building up Destroid. It’s going to be extremely busy, but it will be worth it.
What’s up with the water in Canada seems like a lot of good dubstep talent comes out of there?
I think that the biggest part of my Canadian background is that there really is no electronic music scene in Canada, so most of the artists who hail from Canada end up sounding quite a bit different than those who have a strong scene of other EDM artists in their city influencing them.
Craziest moment on the road?
The rule when the tour bus pulls over is, if you get out leave something on the passenger seat. Sound guy Jesus (as we call him) forgot this, with a dead phone in his pocket, the bus as he got off to buy something at a gas station in the middle of nowhere. He had no money or any way to charge his phone. Somehow he managed to call us from a random number an hour later. He never forgot the rule again.
Message to those aspiring producers out there?
Learning how to produce the sounds of your imagination is a long, arduous process that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone who isn’t willing to sacrifice a big chunk of their life.
I want to thank Excision for doing this interview and everyone at MSOPR for making this possible!!!!!!