12th Planet’s off-axis beats and subsonic frequencies orbit on the forefront of global bass culture.
The Los Angeles-based producer and his label Smog Records are widely credited for bringing the British dubstep movement to the U.S. We asked him about touring with Skrillex, his video game problem, and the latest trends in EDM. 12th Planet and his Smog Records crew perform at the Regency Ballroom on December 5.
Can you explain your transition from creating mostly drum ’n’ bass music early in your career to dubstep?
The transition is basically I’m 31 now. I started making drum and bass when I was about 17 years old. I did that for about 6 or 7 years. And then I switched, changing my name to 12th Planet in 2006 just to differentiate the genre. Making any other genre of music other than drum ’n’ bass is a bit of a faux pas. I wanted 12th Planet to be broader than that.
Infiltrata was the moniker I used originally to produce drum ’n’ bass. 12th Planet is now a blanket brand for me as an artist, as a DJ and producer. It doesn’t really 100 percent capture the essence of dubstep, but I can make whatever music I want—hip hop, trap, dubstep.
Do you have any good stories about touring with Skrillex?
We’ve been touring together for three years straight now, since like 2011. I guess the first thing I can say about Skrillex is that he can sing the entire soundtrack to Little Mermaid. He just really likes the music. I’m not sure if he is a fan of the movie. It’s one of those movies from his generation. He also makes a really wicked tour panini, which is like you take a piece of bread, ham or bologna, and press it with a coffee maker. And he’s really good at that.
Who else is joining you on the SMOG City Series tour?
It’s basically as big of a promotional push as my label can give for everyone who made a release on the record label in the past year. In the first phase, it’s me, Flinch, SPL and a couple other guys. Another Smog City series tour starts in 2014 with guys like Son of Kick, Starkey, Protohype and Antiserum all playing the same venues.
Do you prefer to spend more time in the studio or on the road touring?
It depends, man. It comes and goes. Sometimes you get sick of the road, sometimes you get sick of the lab. Especially when you make a good song in the studio, you want to go out somewhere and play so people can hear it. One hand washes the other. I personally perfer both except in the instances like when Grand Theft Auto 5 is released.
What has been your biggest challenge in the past six months?
I haven’t really had any challenges. I guess my biggest challenge was trying to shake the Grand Theft Auto addiction after two or three weeks of playing it. It was rough, trying to get back to the real world. Once a year, there’s one game that comes along and it takes what feels like weeks of your time.
What do you think is the next big trend in electronic dance music?
Right now, it’s evident. It’s the new hyphy, like twerk. I guess a lot of the producers are calling it twerk. It’s been blowing up in America in the last 10 months, since last summer. DJ Snake’s “Bird Machine” is the first of its kind. It’s sort of Bay Area hyphy, but the whole thing reinvented.
What is your preferred downtime activity if you need to chill and relax?
Definitely xBox or an iPhone game. Otherwise, just the usual going to the bar with friends or going out to dinner.
Are there any artists out there from other genres that you wish you could collaborate with?
I’m a big fan of this French producer Mercer and DJ Snake. I would really like to collab with those guys if I could. I collaborate a lot and I think it stems from the fact I live in downtown LA and a lot of artists come in and out of the city and they find someone from my camp. A lot of artists are in town staying for a day or two. It’s the main reason why I have a lot more collaboration tracks than I do my own solo, original tracks.
Are there any holiday traditions you have while on the road?
I’m always going to be home on holidays. I think it’s because I dont see my parents that often because I travel so much. Thanksgiving day, Christmas day, Easter Sunday, my mom and dad’s birthday. I never miss it.
What’s your most vivid memory from your last visit to San Francisco?
My last show was with Borgore and Krewella. They were the opening act for the tour. We did five or six shows together. I’ve had so many San Francisco memories. The amount of debauchery that happened that night is unreal. The hangovers are the one to remember.
12th Planet performs at Regency Ballroom on December 5. Doors open at 7pm and the show starts at 8pm. Tickets are $15 to $28.