With a repertoire of bass-heavy tracks that hit so hard they may induce clubs to invest in defibrillators, John Dadzie, aka 12th Planet, has been making dubstep and drum 'n' bass music for the past 13 years. Based in Los Angeles and hailed as an "American Dubstep God," he has toured the world multiple times and collaborated with artists like Plastician and Skrillex. He is also co-owner of SMOG, the record label and collective behind the notorious SMOG parties. We recently spoke with 12th Planet about sci-fi, seven years of SMOG, and DJ lists. He headlines the Regency Ballroom this Thursday, Dec. 4, for the SMOG City tour.
You've been DJing for 13 years, 11 professionally. Did you ever think bass culture would blow up in the U.S. as big as it is now?
I always wished that dance music would become big, but I never predicted the scale of how big it would get. I always knew there was a place for it in society, but I never thought it would get to the level it is now.
How does it feel to be able to do a tour with your crew for the SMOG city series?
Touring with friends is 10 times better than touring with people you don't know, for obvious reasons. Who doesn't want to be on the road with their homies?
As SMOG turns 7 this year, what do you think has been the biggest accomplishment?
I think our biggest accomplishment is longevity. We have been a consistent brand with parties, and records for the last five years, and I don't see any signs of slowing up. I am most proud of the fact that we survived the first wave.
As part of DJ Times' Top 20 DJs for 2013, what do you think these lists mean? Do they have credibility in the DJ scene?
I was proud to be selected as an ABDJ top 20 DJ. I am not sure how the list is calculated or what it actually means, but everyone on that list is a pioneer, or a rising star born and bred in the good old U.S. of A. Well, maybe not Cedric Gervais; he's French, but, he's been in USA for at least 20 years, so he's definitely a Yankee! I can't speak for the DJ scene, but I will say that the ABDJ has credibility with DJs in America, because it's voted by American fans, and made by American DJ's. Well, Pioneer is Japanese, but they have offices in America!
If you could collaborate with anyone from in dubstep history, who would it be?
I would have loved to collaborate with Skream & Benga back in the mid-days of dubstep. I remember studying their drum patterns, and LFO syncopation to learn how to produce the genre. They are some of my biggest inspirations as an artist, and great friends. I also would have loved to collaborate with Konflict back in the early 2000s.They were also major influences on me as an artist.
What's fun about making a collaborative album (SMOG City 2) versus doing your own co-production (Transitions EP with Protohype?)
The most fun about making a label sampler album is you get the chance to put developing artists on the same release as the artists that carry the flag for the label. Making a collab EP with another artist is way different. It's more personal, and comes with many late nights.
Some of your tracks, like "Paper," combine like hip-hop, drum 'n' bass, bass, house tempo... basically the kitchen sink. Do you usually think about what's going in the track beforehand or just let it come naturally?
The idea behind the Transitions EP was to make a melting pot of all genres. I'm not gonna lie though, the first collaboration "Paper" was a complete accident. We were just having fun in the studio, and I said to Max (Protohype), "Yo, what would it sound like if we sped the song up from 95 - 128?"
Since your music leans towards the louder side of things, who is an artist people would be surprised you listen to?
I totally listen to the Doobie Brothers. My favorite song of theirs is "What A Fool Believes" with Michael McDonald.
We heard you're a fan of everything sci-fi. What sci-fi movie soundtrack would be most synonymous with your music?
Hands down, the Blade Runner soundtrack.
What's your favorite part of partying in San Francisco?
I love the S.F. weirdos. Especially in the SOMA and the TL. There are some interesting individuals out in the Bay.