There’s something to be said for artists that commit themselves to innovation, artists that push their music, and their performance, out of the comfort zones of themselves and even their fans. That is exactly what Downlink, Excision and KJ Sawka have set out to do with their Destroid project. They have committed time, energy and money into creating what they hope will be the future of electronic dance music.
While at Camp Bisco I had the chance to catch up with Downlink. For him, the Destroid project is an exciting new musical adventure that he believes is ahead of its time.
For me the Destroid project is amazing. EDM is at a time where it has kind of crested its massive peak. It is still extremely popular but I feel like the rise of dubstep has kind of passed. It is kind of like all of a sudden the “cool kids” have moved on. I mean it is still popular but it is not the new, hot thing anymore. I really think that EDM is heading in a direction where people are going to really start embracing more live components to the music. It is time to do something different and new. I am still Downlink, I still have a solid career doing that. But this is just so much fun and its a new adventure.
The set up for Destroid is truly astounding. The three musicians, clad in distopic industrial armor, play atop color changing rocks as fog rolls across the stage. It is truly a sight to see. As you can probably imagine, preparation for a Destroid show is no simple endeavor.
We were just at sound check for 2 hours and we aren’t done yet. We have to go back for another block of time that we have scheduled later. It isn’t a DJ set where you plug in your turntables, plug in your laptop and go. It isn’t a 5 minute set up. This is a full band situation. We all have in-ear monitors, each with a unique mix going into them. We also have microphones. We have full suits that take an hour and a half to get prepped to even get ready to even get into to play the show.
Our instruments need to get tested and wired up. All the risers have to be set up. It is a full stage production with lights, risers, drum kit, it really is a full band. There’s a crew of about 10 people that put this together. On top of all that, just the actual fundamental programming of it within Ableton is completely different than a DJ set. Some of these tracks have 60 different bass chops in it that we all have to perform and hit in time with the music. The set itself is so immense that it took 2 different Ableton sessions to run it. Midway through our set we switch to a new computer and play the second half. It’s just a huge undertaking.
Luckily, the trio have been able to get some modifications done to their suits to increase comfort, mobility, and a cool temperature.
Over the past month we have had the opportunity to get our suits back to the guys who made them. They did some modifications with regards to the weight of the helmets. Also, some of the stuff that was in the backpacks we moved off of the suits so they are much lighter. In terms of the cooling system it is still the same thing just now it is like an umbilical system that is all chased away off stage. Now is is just one one thing we plug in to, one harness and then a lot of stuff has been removed from the suits and it is all off stage. They’re a lot lighter and hopefully cooler.
Clearly this is a massive technical endeavor, but it also takes quite a bit of work and concentration from the trio on the musical side of things.
With a Destroid set there is a lot of preparation that goes into how things are going to be performed. Essentially there’s three people on stage and everyone has to know what they are doing because if one person doesn’t know what they are doing right they could mess it up for everyone. When it is a DJ set if you are confident in your own skills, you are just up there doing your thing and it is all on you. If you have a shitty show thats your fault. With a Destroid set there is a a lot of camaraderie on stage because it is fun and you are with your bros doing what you love but at the same time there’s more pressure because if you mess up you mess everybody up. We aren’t completely jamming, we have a pretty rigid format but if you blow it you blow it for everyone.
As many artists are beginning to learn, if you really want to be a big success in the EDM world, you have to conform to the popular sound. For Destroid to get the opportunity to clobber some of the biggest stages at the biggest festivals they too might have to make an adjustment to their sound.
We are starting to move in a direction where we’re going to do a lot more four-on-the-floor type stuff. Just more house-oriented, big room stuff because we can see that if we want to be playing the biggest stages at the best time slots in the EDM world unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), that is the direction you have to go. You just have to play to the masses. Of course we are going to keep it dark, dirty and filthy but that is what people like Knife Party and Skrillex are doing too. These guys are putting music out to the mainstream on main stage stuff. If you had showed me that stuff 5 years ago I would have shook my head at it and said “there’s no way that is going to be on a main stage.” With Destroid we are going to start pushing in that direction as well.
We just really want to expand the Destroid brand over the next 5 years and hopefully we can get to a point when we are playing these big main stage slots. We are already selling out shows at a massive level. Next year we are going to be doing shows at places like Red Rocks. We are coming out of the gates at a level way higher than most bands start out at.
So what about the haters, the doubters and the nay-sayers? Destroid came under a bit of criticism after their inception. People attacked them and their project. However, a band of internet haters is most definitely not going to deter this trio from their project.
The fact is that what we are doing is art. We are trying to do something different here. If you don’t like it and you want to sit back and hate on what someone else is trying to do that’s your prerogative. I am not fucking Eddie van Halen on guitar. I’m a DJ that presses buttons. That is basically what we are doing. We are going to eventually move in a direction where we will start doing a lot more live stuff. At this point we are just doing stuff on a guitar that you could be doing on a keyboard we just formatted it in a way that it is shaped like a guitar. We are just growing this project. Give it some time, give it some patience. If you expected me to come out there and be shredding Beethoven on the guitar you’re dreaming.
All I am saying is calm the fuck down, come to a show instead of sitting at your computer hating.
With all this time and energy being put into the Destroid project what is going to happen to Downlink down the road?
In the future Downlink is going to be split into two things. I have music I want to create. I have music in me that I haven’t been able to get out because I am stuck with Downlink doing filthy bass stuff. With Destroid I have a whole different filthy bass identity. The thing is that I have completely different music in my head that I have to express that career wise I just do not have the time to do right now. If I started going off and doing some weird ambient side project it just won’t make me any money and at the end of the day this is a business. Maybe in 5 years time, when I am in a comfortable state with Destroid I can maybe chill out on the Downlink stuff and try firing up a different project.