12th Planet: His Steps

Los Angeles-based John Dadzie aka 12thPlanet stopped by Kuala Lumpur last month to let loose on some of his epic dubstep and d’n’b drops at Vertigo, which probably left some of us with a hearing impairment (and others permanent dubstep and alcohol-induced aggression). Ignoring the ferociousness of the music, JUICE discovered that 12th Planet is as affable as he is wise. With deep roots in his music, he has an open message to spread throughout the music community. He believes in having fun, not in segregation.

What got you started on DJing and producing music?
It was through this guy I knew in elementary school that had an all in one CDJ kit. He was playing for all the 7th and 8th grade dance parties at your parent’s house where you’d invite all your friends over. Nothing crazy but he would always just roll up and all the girls loved him! So I got into that and I started going to raves seeing the way the DJ got energy from the crowd and control the whole night playing whatever the hell he wanted. So that’s how I got into it really!

What’s the story behind the name 12th Planet?
It’s a name of a book by this guy called Zecharia Sitchin. He translated these cuneiform tablets that were in these old Babylonian ruins and unravelled a creation story. They believe that they came from another planet and they were made to serve these gods which were aliens from another planet. At the end of it, they revolted against these gods and that’s how civilisation started. So I thought the book was cool plus it’s like dubstep and it’s got a big Jamaican feel!

Who are some of the artists that you grew up listening to that has inspired you to make your style of music today?
Rage Against The Machine. If it weren’t for them I would have never really open my mind. I was in this tunnel vision of life and then I got their Evil Empire CD when I was in 8th grade. I remember them having this CD insert and it was like all these books that I’ve never heard of. So I decided to read stuff like The Anarchist Cookbook, The Ratchet of the Earth, The Art of War because of that band and it inspired to do what I do today.

With your music, what kind of emotions do you always want to evoke?
Happy feelings all the time. I don’t like having sad faces when I’m playing because that’s a sign of a bad DJ. I like smiles, I like good times, I like positive vibes which is kind of crazy because I listen to a lot of gangsta rap which is the opposite of that but when I play my music, I like the positive energy.

You’ve been collaborating with Skrillex and you just recently played a back to back set with him at the Ultra Music Festival. How has the experience been working with him?
He’s the nicest most down to earth person I’ve ever come in contact with. He brings the best out of everyone that’s around him and he is the hardest working person I’ve met in my life. It inspires me to even work harder. His schedule is 10 times busier than mine but he works probably 10 times as harder than me and that’s a testament to where he is. Some nights I’ll go hang out with the friends at the bar and he’s on his laptop working on beats. Even when I was on tour with him, he works on beats every single day and we’d play 2 shows a night!

You recently played for a RBMA session with DJ Craze and was also the judge for Red Bull Thre3style LA earlier. Can you speak about your involvement with RBMA a little?
Well Red Bull Culture is the team that I’m on. I’m sponsored by Red Bull and I’m one of the team DJs for the company and they’ve done so much for my career this year. They’ve given me the opportunity to tour around America, Canada and just having my back. For instance, a month ago I really wished that I could have an orchestra playing one of my songs and they made it happen!

How do you think RBMA can develop the local scene if the program is executed locally here?
To develop RBMA, you need to have a visual presence at all times. Incorporate music with everything like skateboard contests, surf contests, breakdance contests and other weird sh!t that is noticeable. Give away free alcohol and everyone would love you!

A lot of people have been throwing around the term brostep to classify the current sound of dubstep now. As a dubstep DJ, what do you make of term?
Brostep is a bunch of dudes with their shirts off, beating each other up and wearing neon hats that says ‘swag’ but it’s a part of the culture. It doesn’t matter if that’s who you are because it’s all one music under the same umbrella and it’s all about having a good time. Metal kids and James Blake fans do the same thing. Dubstep has so many different ways where it can be interpreted. You have one extreme where you have Korn and Excision doing dubstep and you have people like James Blake and Joker who are on another plane. Every artist is open to an interpretation of the genre and that’s what makes dubstep special.

Since dubstep is born in the UK and was spread to the States later on, what are some of the differences that you can pick out in the dubstep sound and scene in the UK and the States?
They’re pretty much all the same sound regardless of where you’re at. It’s all just the artist making the music and whether it’s Doctor P, Trolley Snatcha, Skrillex or myself, we’re all trying to push the brand but I think the major difference between the UK and America is the size of the shows and the magnitude of it. There are probably 100 times more shows in the US compared to England. We have parties every day of the week! Dubstep is really strong in the States. It’s the only place that I’ve ever been to where Monday night will be 10,000 people in a coliseum or 7000 people in a place like Charlottesville, Virginia which has like a population of 50,000. That’s like a fifth of the population going to a dubstep show!

With the internet being such a powerful tool to promote music, some tracks out there gets leaked really easily which makes it less special. What do you think of this situation?
It’s inevitable. You can’t control piracy at all so I just give my music away for free all the time. I make enough money DJing and when I make original material, I just give it out for free but with that being said, I don’t really think about it too much because I’d rather be heard than not and at the end of the day it’s like one big library. As long as you’re aware of the song and you’re knowledgeable about it, I think you deserve it.

If you’re a moderator of the internet and have the power to navigate music bloggers and sites, what would be your ideal world of music sharing?
Free music and no charge to get into events. What separate the big boys and the little guys are what songs they have and how exclusive those songs are. That’s just the hierarchy. I say, screw it… it’s a free game. It all comes down to what songs you can make, not what songs you can find on the internet. Although being a DJ is about the overall experience and making the crowd happy, so if it means playing a Britney Spears song… let’s do it. Let’s have some fun!

We’re down with whatever you’d drop on your set. Pump up ‘Till The World Ends’ already!

Livescape pres. NSFW feat. 12th Planet happened on Wednesday 12 September 2012. For more on Livescape’s NSFW events, check out their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/livescapeasia. More on 12th Planet at 12thplanet2012.com