Sep 16, 2014

Few acts in electronic music are as unique as bass music live trio Destroid, made up of Excision, Downlink, and KJ Sawka of Pendulum. In our exclusive interview with them, the boys discussed how they handle their heavy costumes, the capabilities of their live technology, and what bass music producers need to do to stay relevant.

Excision & Space Laces - Destroid 7 Bounce (VIP Mix) [Destroid]
LessThan3: You said after your debut show in San Francisco that wearing the armor was really tiring. How has the acclimation process been going? Are you getting buff?
Jeff (Excision): After the first Destroid show, I knew had to go to the gym regularly to be able to do this. I have for a year now. It kind of changed my life a little bit. I’m eating healthier, exercising regularly, a totally different lifestyle inspired by the band. Now the shows are a lot easier to handle. The weight of the guitars, the insane heat, especially the last show we did in Atlanta. I was dying in there but I was able to handle it.
LessThan3: What can you tell us about the technology used in your guitars? Would you be able to play a guitar solo if you wanted?
Sean (Downlink): Technically we could–we have the equipment and the melodies to play a guitar solo. However, it’s really taxing on Ableton because it’s very processor-intensive. Plus, we’re not exactly insane guitarists. We’re more like midi sequencers. We can handle sequencing and triggering audio but actually playing a guitar and ripping out a solo, we’d have to work at it a lot.
Jeff: It’s definitely in the plans for the future.
LessThan3: Have there been any upgrades or augments to the equipment since your first show?
Kevin (KJ Sawka): It’s mainly just the programming in Ableton. At first the set was split into two because there were so many samplers and various instruments inside each session that we couldn’t put 60-something songs just in one session. After a lot of trial and error, I came up with ways to put our set together that is a lot less taxing on the computer now. I’ve been able to add a lot more drums and be more creative with the bass instruments as well.
LessThan3: What major plans do you have for the next year?
Jeff: Right now the main focus is Safe In Sound Festival tour. We’re finally doing a proper tour with Destroid and hitting all the cities we’ve been wanting to hit. Working on new music is always a priority, too.
LessThan3: Where would you hope to see Destroid in three years?
Jeff: Honestly, Destroid has already far exceeded our expectations. For a band that played its first show a year ago to playing a headlining set at Red Rocks this summer, we’re pretty much happy with where we’re at. We just want to keep going and keep pushing.
LessThan3: How do you balance touring as a band as well as your own individual acts?
Sean: We basically have no life.
Jeff: I agree with that. KJ Sawka has the band to worry about. You keep doing solo gigs don’t you?
Kevin: Yeah, a few gigs per month. A lot of studio time too.
Jeff: We’re all pretty much workaholics anyway. That’s life.
LessThan3: Would you say you do most of your music production on the road?
Jeff: Yeah, just last week I rented a studio in New York just so I could finish a bunch of songs that came out in my Shambhala mix. I see that happening a lot more often now that we’re always on the road and we need to make songs. There’s only so much you can do sitting on a plane or a tour bus.
LessThan3: What would you say was the biggest challenge in getting the Destroid project going?
Sean: Coming up with the name. That took like a year.
Kevin: More than a year.
Jeff: We actually bought the rights to the word Destroid off a German industrial group. They were super cool about it. We came up with so many cool names but they were all taken. We were ready to launch the band and we still didn’t have a confirmed name, so we just had to move forward with something. We tried to buy it off them, and they were down. It was a bit rocky and expensive on the legal side of things, but I think it worked out for the best.
Sean: I would say other than coming up with the name it was designing the suits and getting them made. We went back and forth with the company that made them so many times. Concept art, constantly flying in and out of LA for fittings. It was pretty intense.
LessThan3: How did you guys come up with the story behind the Destroid intergalactic invasion?
Sean: Jeff and I talked about the concept a lot before we developed it further. We had already written a tune called Existence that alluded to that storyline, and we just kind of built on it and expanded the concept through numerous conversations with other people and ourselves. We punched it out over time and it grew organically.
Jeff: We kind of wrote a movie in our heads. We just use our music and our video clips to show parts of it, but we haven’t come up with the full story yet. Waiting for the right opportunity to come along.
LessThan3: As bass musicians, what do you think bass music needs to do to stay in the spotlight as in years past?
Jeff: I think it’s doing a lot of the right things. You can pretty much pick any guy who’s mostly pigeonholed as a dubstep artist, and they’re also making electro house, trap, drum & bass, and drumstep, whatever. Everyone’s making everything. Bass music as a whole can’t really be identified as one style anymore. It’s more like how EDM encompasses so many genres. House music has so many genres within it but they’re all based on four-on-the-floor beats, whereas bass music has such massive variety in it that we don’t think it’s ever going to go anywhere. It might not be what it is right now–it will evolve and change for as long as music is still being made.
Sean: I think for bass music to progress, the bass has to be constantly reinvented. New sound design rather than every single producer trying to make the same crazy growl that somebody else already did. Producers need to get away from copying everyone’s YouTube tutorials and try to make individual sounds that nobody else has made before.
LessThan3: Are there any artists out there that you particular admire right now?
Sean: Guys like Tipper. A lot of drum & bass guys are pushing the envelope pretty hard.
LessThan3: What is your take on emerging genres like future trap and jersey club?
Jeff: That’s what’s always going to happen. There’s going to be a mashup of bass music mixed with something else that becomes its own thing. Trap was around forever before it really started to blend with electronic music. Bass music producers started adding dubstep and other EDM elements to hip hop. It won’t be long before another combination like that comes along and blows up.
LessThan3: If the world were ending in LessThan3 minutes, and you had an iPod with every song ever made on it, what would you listen to?
Jeff: End Of The Line by DevilDriver.
Sean: Eulogy by Tool.
Kevin: Run To The Hills by Iron Maiden.
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