12th Planet Talks Dubstep, Mary Anne Hobbs, Homme Lounge, and More

Electronica superstar Skrillex owes a certain debt to John Dadzie. 

In this week's issue of the New Times, I explored the "poster boy of dubstep" and his meteoric rise to fame over the past year. And while Skrillex's phenomenal reinvention as an EDM maestro came about through his own tireless efforts, the bespectacled artist was helped along the way by Dadzie, who's better know by his nom de guerre 12th Planet.

He's been kicking around the world of electronic music for more than a decade, starting out as drum 'n' bass selecta and later becoming one of the influential pioneers of dubstep in America. 

Dadzie's coming to the Marquee Theater in Tempe this weekend as a part of Skrillex's massive Mothership Tour and Up on the Sun got a chance to speak with him via telephone.

You were one of the earliest adopters of dubstep in the U.S., correct?
Yeah, totally. There were those guys that came before me, like Joe Nice and Dave Q over in New York and Baltimore. Those guys were already like established in the scene, but I think I got to play a lot of the markets that dubstep was never in. Going to like Boise, Oklahoma, and Little Rock. I think I was one of the first people to go to those places and play dubstep like four five years ago.

When was the first time you've played Phoenix?
I think my first gig in Phoenix under the name 12th Planet was at this place with a gay bar on the bottom and an upstairs lounge on the second floor.

You mean Homme Lounge with cats like Ultrablack?
Yeah. That was in like 2007. That was before they even called themselves Ultrablack. I knew Sluggo [Nick Suddarth] and Adroit [Bryan Marek] from doing drum 'n' bass stuff before. It was setup by their friend Cruz, who was definitely one of the first person to start booking dubstep stuff out there. And then Frank Mendez started doing some dubstep shows on this patio of this place he worked at, and from there, it helped lead to where it is now.

Pheosia Film's video from12th Planet's appearance in Scottsdale earlier this year.

What was your first reaction to dubstep?
It reminded me a lot of drum 'n' bass. Before I did dubstep I was producing and touring as a drum 'n' bass artist. When I went to England, I always noticed there was this second room with some weird music, and there were guys like Slaughter Mob and Skream and Zed Bias making it. I didn't think it was gonna sound like it does today. It was like a fresh take. I was getting over drum 'n' bass at the time because it didn't really evolve. There was this certain point, around like 2006 or 2007 that nothing really sounded different. It was like the same records were being made over and over and over. No one was really pushing the envelope forward.

When did you become a dubstep convert?
After the Dubstep Warz mix that Mary Anne Hobbs did with like Mala, Skream, Benga, Hatcha and all these names that are pivotal to what dubstep sounds like now was all on one mix. Then it all started to make sense. It really hooked me and I started working on the music. I met up with my partner Drew Best [of L.A.'s influential SMOG night] and he was starting to throw dubstep shows. He was gonna do his first show and he asked me if I wanted to play, but I had to go on tour in Germany. So I recommended guys like Nick Argon and Matty G, and the rest is history.

Dubstep has been constantly evolving since its early days in both the U.S. and U.K.?
Once it got popular around the world, everyone's had their own take on it. A lot of it has to do with producers getting over making drum 'n' bass and took their experience into dubstep, which caused everyone to step their game up. It wasn't just a minimal sound anymore, it was a maximum effort. To make a dubstep song now you have to spend some time on the craft. A lot new techniques have been learned since then.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.