Dubstep has reached its pinnacle globally, and has now progressed beyond just a brand into various forms of electronic music. At the 2013 Metallica’s Orion Music + More Festival in Detroit – which featured artists from indie rock, punk, metal, and dubstep – one small seed contributor Kelly Frazier was able to follow up with Los Angeles-based dubstep artist 12th Planet after his set and talk about the parallels between dubstep and metal, where dubstep is headed, and how to keep alive the passion of making music.

12th Planet, photo: Caesar Sebastian

Kelly Frazier: Let’s talk about the link between dubstep and heavy metal.
12th Planet: Metal and dubstep are like cousins. They are like bastard cousins. Traditionally, there is no link between metal and dubstep. Dubstep comes from England; it comes from garage and dub reggae but I think the tempo, which is around 140 bpm, is reminiscent of a classic straight metal breakdown. I think that’s why the metal people kind of gravitated towards it, then appreciated it and then turned it into new metal. Bands like Asking Alexandria, Hollywood Undead, and Korn, they were doing dubstep years ago and now it’s like you can do your own thing and nobody cares. It’s just about the music. People just want to hear what they listen to.

Even drum ’n bass has similarity to speed metal.
Very true. It’s kind of like the chugging bass line and 8th note triplets. I come from a guitar background, playing in metal bands, punk bands, and reggae bands all over the place. I have a deep appreciation for the art, to be skilled at one’s instrument and to be dedicated to it. The virtuosity.

What are you working on these days?
Right now it’s the first time in my career where I have no goal, no end game. I’m just writing. I wake up and write some music. I don’t know what I’m going to do with it.

I just want to get back to when I was young, like 18, 19 or 20 years old, when I wasn’t making music to become famous or to keep my credibility. I was just making music because I wanted to make music. So, I’m going to take that approach for the next year or two and figure it out from there.

How do you feel you can get back to that emotive part of it?
I’ve been a professional producer and DJ for the last 12 years of my life. I’ve gone through multiple genres and became jaded being on the road and doing the grind. It wasn’t until the last two or three years where the scene got appreciated and developed. The shows got better, hard ticket venues started bringing in DJs. It wasn’t at some shitty rave in a fucking abandon warehouse with no security and no bathrooms. It’s proper now. All that stuff re-inspired me to keep going.

How do you keep a love for your art when the music that you are doing is pumping in so much money now?
It comes with integrity and your personality type. Some people’s goals are monetary and for some it’s just to be appreciated and respected. I think I’m kind of one of those people; I just want respect. I’ve been making music just so people are like ‘Yo, dude! That tune is sick’. Hell yeah it’s sick, I spent like a week on that shit learning techniques that are in ‘2027’. That’s my mentality. I think that’s where I keep my integrity – I’m proud of what I make and what I’ve accomplished. I’m going to keep going because I don’t want it to stop and I don’t want it to end, ever.

What’s your feelings about current dubstep in America?
It depends on the market. Without getting too political, I think it’s really just based on the artists. It’s not about the dubstep ‘brand’ anymore, because none of the real dubstep dudes play a full set of dubstep. It’s just about their music. Right now, I think it’s about whatever is on the listener’s iPhone or iPad. They identify with those artists. It’s more about the individual fan and whether or not they are willing to buy a ticket to go to that show. Whereas, when I started, the movement was about supporting the dubstep movement, or the drum ’n bass movement. It didn’t matter who was DJing and, because there was so few numbers of fans, if there’s a show everyone supported. But now that it’s so broad, it’s more about the artist as opposed to the genre. It doesn’t matter. I don’t think dubstep has gone away or trap has become so huge. I think it’s all the same and just depends on how good the artist is.

12th Planet, photo: Thesupermaniak | www.facebook.com/THESUPERMANIAK

Do you think there are any artists that are trying to get away from the dubstep pigeonhole?
Yeah, I’ll give you the best example for that – Skream. He wrote an article in the Guardian about how dubstep is dead, and this is coming from the guy who guy who created dubstep. Its not like he’s saying dubstep is dead, he’s just saying that he’s tired of making it. He’s tired of hearing it when he goes out to the club because he’s been doing it for 10 years.

Someone like Benga who said he just wanted to be an artist… no specific genre.
Benga’s new album is kind of a collection of everything but the majority of the tracks are at 140 bpm so they are at dubstep tempo but they illustrate different approaches to the tempo. He’s always done that on his albums I think. It’s about trying new things and getting the crowd and y our fans to respond.

Where do think a lot of these artists will go next?
To put out tracks that aren’t dubstep and to have acclaim for putting those tracks out. People such as Kill The Noise and Skrillex put out an EP, and even myself, where you have one dubstep song, one drum ’n bass song, one 4/4 128 bpm song, maybe a moombahton track, or a hip-hop thing. Try to show the spectrum. Even Destroid, which is like the new fucking hybrid metal dubstep combination. When you listen to their album, there’s like 128 bpm songs, there’s drum ’n bass, there’s drumstep songs, there’s straight metal songs. It’s all across the board.

There’s no real pigeonhole other than due to the ignorance from people who don’t know the artists.

In Rolling Stone, deadmau5 caught some flack about what he was talking about. What’s your thoughts about artists that pre-program sets vs. live DJs?
To me, I really don’t care. I guess I’m half and half. Without trying to be hypocritical, I have a respect for the artistry and for the artists who are trying to present their music the best way they can. They can have the crowd engaged with them and their unique style. Not everyone’s a DJ. People come from bands and they never touched turntables. I come from a DJ background so I’m more excited to see DJs and way they do it, but hats off to anyone who has the balls to get up on a stage and perform their shit and make the shit and get dissed for it or get praised for it. I respect that beyond everything.

You do have people that have big light shows and everything’s pre-programmed but how else are they going to present their music? They have to earn a living.
You can’t freestyle when you have giant robots in the back of your set.

Relevant Links

12th Planet SoundCloud
12th Planet Site
12th Planet Facebook
12th Planet Twitter
Kelly Frazier Twitter

Interview by Kelly Frazier
Images: Thesupermaniak, Caesar Sebastian, ‘Crispy as Fuck’ image by The Supermaniak Maria