Interview by Christoph Böttcher Photography by Jeremy Stephenson
Hey Dominic, how are you doing?
At the moment okay.
Where are you right now and what have the last few days been like for you?
I’ve recently decided to come move here to Barcelona, Spain for about 3 months to get a few skating projects done. Vibes are good here, so this helps for everyday life. Regularly surrounding yourself with positive vibes helps with everyday life, I think. Life here is faster paced for me than life back in Southern California. I think in any big city it’s like this. It’s work hard and play hard here, so I always find myself skating hard and resting hard, and the last few days have been no exception.
Today we don’t want to talk exclusively about your skating, but something else you’re really good at. You ready?
When did you discover that making music is something you really enjoy? And how did you encounter the genre you are working in?
I discovered experimenting with sound in high school about 11 years or so ago. I enjoy all creative activities, and obviously when I first discovered it, I was enjoying experimenting and learning about it. But I think now more than ever I value and enjoy writing music. It is my therapy. My time to zone out, disconnect from the world and focus on one creative task at hand. I first encountered the Drum & Bass music genre from old friends like the FP and Esco guys.
What’s it like to play in front of a big crowd at a club, feel the peoples energy and see how they react to what you are doing?
It’s really unlike anything else that I do or have done before. I think to just zen out and be yourself, to just do what you do, to do it properly in front of people who are reacting in such an enthusiastic and positive way is one of the greatest feelings. It can also be very entertaining as you are very conscious of what you are doing, you know what is coming next, and then to see people go crazy over something that you already see coming is just pure entertainment. You look up at the people with a big smile on your face and sometimes just think to yourself, “you guys are funny” – but in a good way, of course!
Is this feeling in any way comparable to skating in front of a crowd or to just skating in general? With the adrenalin rush you get when lacing a difficult trick or during the summit of a good session maybe?
Yes, this feeling is almost the same, I think. To get an instant response from other people to what you are doing at that exact moment. I think many of the big contest skaters probably know this feeling more than most of us, and some of them feed off of it, as do DJ’s feed off the crowd. But for me I do not like skating in front of anyone anymore, only a small group of friends who are a part of the session. I get anxiety before I play at a gig, but it’s usually gone by the time I start to catch a groove.
What has been the gig you enjoyed the most recently or ever? What makes a gig turn out perfect?
I always have amazing gigs here in Spain. I think the bigger the crowd the more enjoyable it is. It just means there is more energy and louder sound. Clean sound is crucial to a perfect gig, but also being prepared and practiced gives you control over where you take your sound and the way you manipulate it live. To have all of these things, and be yourself performing in the moment equals the perfect gig. Also with a nice handful of cash at the end, of course!
Is it much different to play in front of an audience in SoCal or in, let’s say… Spain? Do people around the world react differently to your music during live gigs?
The scenes are very different, but it also really depends on the type of party and audience to you are playing to.
Do you prefer playing in front of a die-hard Drum ‘n’ Bass audience or an ordinary well-humoured party crowd?
I think for the most part I like playing in front of a drum and bass centered crowd, because as of right now that’s what I tend to make and play the most. But as long as the crowd is into cutting edge, bass heavy electronic music, then I suppose it doesn’t really matter too much.
Listening to your tracks like “End of Atlas” I imagine a bunch of ecstatically dancing people next to a giant, steaming robot that is fucking up the place. Is that what you’re aiming for? In what kind of mood do you want people to listen to your music and in which one do you want to put them?
My music and the way I make it has gone through lots of changes over the last couple years. But most of the time I make music for me. Not all of my tunes are super dance floor friendly. Most of the time they are made out of pure artistic expression and selfishness.
Where do you see the strengths of electronic music? How can something that is entirely made with computers and samplers still have such a great influence on a persons feelings?
All music can have a great influence on personal feelings. I guess that’s the point of music in the first place. The great thing about electronic music is you can create sounds that you are not capable of creating with traditional physical instruments like a guitar or harmonica for example.
What drives you to work on a new song? What inspires you?
I am inspired by different things all the time. It can be anything from a good or bad movie to the sounds in the street. Anything really, I suppose. I have the desire to make music all the time. I’m just hungry.
Do you still like your old tracks from a few years back? Is there one that you thought was perfect right when you finished working on it? Are you still thinking that way about it?
I don’t like much of my music after I’m done with it. I suppose some of them I do, but after making it where you go through the process of listening to it about a 1000 times, I get pretty over it. Although it is always nice to test and play your favorite ones on the dance floor. I usually prefer my newer tracks to my older ones.
Do you like playing with other DJs or are you more of a lone warrior?
I don’t mind either way, but it is always fun to session with some friends.
Have you collaborated with other musicians on an album or a song yet? Is it much different to work on a piece with another person? Is it easier or more complicated?
Yes, I’ve collaborated with a couple friends, but not to the extent that I want. It’s always been online and passing a file back and forth once or twice. I’d really like to sit down and work with someone in the studio who’s on the same level as me and that I have a good chemistry with. I think that’d be something new in itself.
Who are your icons in your genre?
There are so many talented drum and bass producers. I’d say I fancy Noisia, Spor, and the Neosignal stuff the most. There are really too many to name.
Making music is obviously a form of art. Do you consider yourself an artist?
Yes, I do. I rollerblade and make drum and bass. Definitely a starving artist.
You are well known for your unique style in blading. How would you describe your style of making music?
Heavy, techy, funky, deep. But I’m always learning day by day.
Skating and making music are rather different from each other, aren’t they? So much that it’s pretty difficult to compare them. Could you describe where both of these things intersect in your life in any way? Are there similarities that are defined by your personality?
They are both a chance for me to zone out of reality in a way. I focus on these two little things and I don’t worry about anything else. I am in the moment.
Are you making some decent money with your music yet? Do you plan on pursuing DJing as your career? Any ideas were this will take you?
I make next to nothing making music. I don’t know where it will take me. Probably to the homeless shelter, haha!
How’s the support from the labels you’re working with? Are they helping you to get some airtime for your tracks or to get you on stage?
Label support can be fantastic sometimes. They get me play from bigger artists a lot of the time, land me good gigs, get me radio play. They can really help sometimes. Sometimes labels can be complete shit and do nothing for you. It’s really good to pick and choose the best you can if you have the option to do so.
For the geeks among our readers: what technical equipment are you using?
Not much really. I work mainly ‘in the box’, which means all from within my computer. I have a maxed out 2008 Macbook Pro running Logic 9 with an assortment of Audio Units, a pair of KRK Rockit 5’s, a 49 key MIDI controller, a pair of Beyerdynamic DT 770 headphones, an M-Audio Firewire 410 Soundcard, 2 Technics 1200’s, and a Pioneer DJM 600.
Is everything you’re using in your tracks produced digitally or do you work with recordings of real-world noises you alter on the computer? Where do you get your samples from?
I use both. The more resourceful and high quality, original material you have the better!
What are you listening to when alone? Other than Drum ‘n’ Bass, of course.
Oh… Everything from Adele to Nine Inch Nails to Biggie to electro house… You name it…
Are you into any other creative work besides making music and blading?