Recently, I had the pleasure of catching up with John Dadzie over the phone just before his show that night in Washington. Better known as 12th Planet, The Godfather of American Dubstep took some time to shed some light on what he and his crew have been up to in 2014. Currently, 12th Planet and key players on his iconic Smog Records imprint are on the Smog City tour. Featuring veteran beat makers like Antiserum and Flinch as well as newcomers such as Steady, Smog City’s tour lineup is nothing short of stacked. Bringing the biggest beats to venues all over the country, the tour has delivered a party in every single city so far. Conversation was laid back, as it soon turned to casual trash talking with Protohype, and tour bus flatulence policies. Updating us on a tour that is bringing the best in bass music all over North America, 12th Planet dropped some knowledge on us that we thought would be great to share.
So, update us on the Smog City tour. How is the tour bus life?
“It’s been amazing, it’s been incredible. We started off in Florida and sort of worked our way up north. It’s been phenomenal, we’ve had a bunch of sold out shows. The only thing I can complain about is the weather. We went to Florida and it’s like fuckin’ 20 degrees out there. We hit Georgia and it’s 0 degrees. We’ve been basically following this ice storm the whole time”
**Broken up by some background noise**
“Sorry I just farted on the bus and these guys are yelling at me. When it’s 12 grown men on a bus, and someone breaks wind… It’s like summer camp and everyone has their distinct fart smell. Like their brand or their logo. I just got called out for it.”
“The camaraderie on the bus is insane. It’s rare to be able to travel with your friends and be on a bus for 6 weeks with them. It’s so much fun, we’ve become so much closer. I mean everyone on the tour is a vital component to me as an artist and Smog as a label…”
So it’s safe to say that you’ve built your label around how you want to reflect yourself as an artist
“Oh yeah, I’d say that’s a safe assumption”
Tell me what your studio method is like. Dubstep traditionally was considered to be a sort of “underground” movement. How do you maintain a connection with the “underground?” How do you find new material to incite creativity?
“My creation process is really just about writing whenever I can, or if I feel like it, you know? So if I’m on the bus and I’ve got my laptop and some headphones, [or] if I’m at home in the studio, I’ll write… Protohype will come over and we write some stuff, Two Fresh will come by and we write stuff. So there’s no real method to the madness”
“You know, being around a bunch of artists all the time, they are hearing new music all the time from people, they have their ears to the streets, you know? So staying connected is all really word of mouth. But Protohype might tell me like ‘hey check out this dude Trollface,’ or ‘this dude here, Twine,’ and it really goes from there. I listen to these guys around me. Two Fresh, Flinch, they are always listening to new artist and they always keep me up on what’s hot and stuff like that”
So everyone gives and takes in the creative process?
“Yeah man it’s crazy. So much testosterone with everyone on the bus… but yeah we are listening to new kinds of stuff everyday. I’ve been hearing names I’ve never heard of in my life”
Who would be some of those up and coming producers that should be on everyone’s radar?
“We’re putting out a record by these guys out in LA called Pyramid Juke. I’ve been a big fan of theirs for the last year but now we are really working together, definitely look out for them. Twine out of Florida, Trollface out of LA, Dubloadz out of New York, and HeRobust out of Atlanta. I’m really getting behind HeRobust this year, he was one of our biggest sellers last year on the label, he’s making a lot of fire right now. “
So tell me about your musical influences?
“I like the Doobie Brothers.”
You and my dad would really get along
“Zeppelin, that’s my shit. Miles Davis, Rage Against The Machine, Sublime, Metallica, Megadeath. I really like all that stuff. Ice Cube, Public Enemy. I listen to a lot of rap too. Lots of hip hop, lots of trap.”
Specifically who are some trap artists on your radar?
You’ve had a long, colorful career, and you had an instrumental role in bringing bass music to where it is now. Who’s been most fun to work with along the way?
“Protohype man, I love making music with him. And Skrillex. Kill the Noise. Flinch as well. I’ve had the most fun working with those guys. Antiserum too. Those have been the most fun collaborations I’ve been a part of in the last decade. Love those dudes”
The conversation turns towards the date smog stops in Tucson, Arizona. Somehow, Protohype and myself begin to friendly exchange college rivalry bullshit over speakerphone. As a proud Arizona Wildcat, I held my ground against the former Sun Devil as Planet chimes in sensing the “Arizona animosity” between me and his parter in crime.
“This is gonna be my first show in Tucson as 12th Planet, yeah.”
We ease our way back to business as we begin to discuss the music Planet has been playing out.
Trap blew up last year in 2013. Where do you think trap music is heading this year?
“I don’t foresee it getting any bigger than it already is. It’s one more tool for people to have fun. I just see so many more people making it. The concept is pretty much staying the same though. I think maybe the BPM is gonna get a little faster, you’ll notice that. Trap records aren’t really written at 140 anymore it’s all going up to 150-160. But honestly if the track is hot, if it’s trap, or drum n bass is hot, I’m gonna play it. If the song is dope, regardless of the genre or tempo, it’s getting played”
What do you have to say to people who claim, “dubstep is dead”?
“Come to my show. It ain’t dead. People didn’t even know what dubstep was when I started shoving it down their throat. Yeah, maybe dubstep the movement is dead, but that music will never die. It’s just another medium for producers to express their idea.
“Regardless, maybe the movement is dead, or lost in translation somehow, but the music will be around forever. I mean people used to say DnB is dead and I’d travel all around the country and there are still DnB basements that have been going for like 15 years. They’re not stoppin’…so as long as people still love the music, man, it’s never gonna die. You come to the Smog City tour and I would say 75% of the music is definitely dubstep. The other 25%, every other genre, but people seem to react to the dubstep more than anything else.”
At this point, its time for the Smog crew to get off the bus and start putting on their game faces for the show that night. We wrapped it up with friendly exchanges, and I squeezed in one last jab at Protohype. The Smog City tour has been well on the road, and although Smog is diversifying in this new year, it was good to catch up with them, as they continue to affirm themselves as the leading-edge in bass music.