My first experience with Ephwurd was their electric collaboration with Jauz, “Rock The Party.” One of the most legendary bass house records, the duo has gained notoriety around the world for their electric sound.
After seeing their set in Toronto at the Velvet Underground, I now know why fans love them so dearly. Their sets are full of energy, and the duo have a blast on stage. Comprised of bass music legend Datsik and LA Native Bais Haus, the two have plenty of musical and production talent under their belts. I had the pleasure of talking to them before their set, discussing topics like their Summer 2017 tour, production, and how Bais Haus almost killed Steve Aoki. Here’s what the two had to say:
Could you talk to us a bit about your Summer 2017 tour? Your favorite cities so far, ones you’re excited to be playing in, and how it’s going so far?
Datsik: Yeah it’s been awesome so far, in May we did this crazy run of dates. I think we did like 4 shows a weekend and it was pretty nuts, like crazy travel schedule. Staying busy and playing some small room, some bigger rooms and all the shows were fucking sick.
Bais Haus: Middlelands, which was awesome
D: So then we took a week off and now we have 3 shows this weekend as well. Last night was pretty sick, we were in Minneapolis.
BH: Those guys were wild!
D: We played at Skyway Theater and it was sick, sold out and awesome vibes. It was funny, last night got so crazy and they had these cryo guns. Last night, I was going for this stage dive, standing on the speakers. I do a front flip off the speakers into the crowd, and then Baisy sprays them with the cryo gun and they didn’t know where I was. I was lost and kids didn’t know if I was above them or not, and it’s like this white Wonderland. Baisy’s lighting them up with cryo and I’m trying not to die, and I look back and Baisy is standing there with this sadistic grin on his face. Worst timing, but it was so funny.
Datsik, you’re from Canada and today’s Canada Day. What’s it like being a Canadian and coming home to play sets here?
D: Oh, it’s great man. Even though I live in the States, I still miss Canada like crazy. Everytime I come back I feel like I’m at home. Living in LA is one thing, but being from Canada, there’s no place I’d rather be from. And honestly, it’s cool to come back and see all my friends. For example tonight in Toronto, we showed up and say that Rezz is here and she’s from Toronto. We’re all hanging out and basically trying to get back to square one; just taking some shots and trying to fend off this shitty travel day.
Could you talk a bit about your EDC Kinetic Field performance, how’d that go?
BH: Yeah, we played really late on Sunday and we were super nervous about it like “Aw man, Sunday night, all the kids are gonna be burnt out and no one’s gonna be there.” We showed up and we couldn’t even see, it could have been anywhere from 30-50 thousand people and it was fucking mental. We couldn’t have asked for a better set, a better turn out.
D: Yeah, the crowd was sick too. I was expecting them all to be like completely dead after being there all day, but it looked like a fresh crowd.
Your GRiZ and Big Gigantic remix – how’d that come about, what intrigued you guys about remixing the track?
D: It’s funny, we were actually on the bus tour, and I randomly called GRiZ and we were talking to him on the phone. He was like “Oh I got this remix coming up, you should do a remix for it.” I asked which tune it was and they sent over Good Times Roll, and I was like “noooooo, not this song, it’s too good already.” I was like “how the fuck are we gonna make this dope still and change this up?” It’s funny, I have that song in my Spotify and listen to it all the time, I told GRiZ that he should’ve given me a song that’s not as good! I think it turned out dope, kept a lot of the original vibe in it, cranked it up and gave it a bit more of that bass house vibe. You know, it’s super wonky and we’ve been playing it out a lot and it goes off live, so that’s good.
BH: We went through a few different versions of it, because of the original tempo is slower than the original tempo we’re used to producing at which is 128. I think the originals 100? We tried doing a full 128 and we just felt we needed to keep the original vibe there and then bring it up. We did that tempo change in it and we think it worked out.
So, Eph’d Up Radio just launched with iHeart, what does this mean for you guys personally as well as your fans?
BH: When we first started Ephwurd, we sent out this promo email and we were like “Yo, send us all your demos – [email protected]!” We ended up getting so busy that we never checked it, and I looked at it and there were like 1500 emails that were sent to us. We had to find a way to make it worth our time to go through all these and check it out to show kids love. So we were like fuck it, let’s start a radio show so it forces us to go through all these tracks and find stuff. Also, all of our homies were hitting us up and setting us stuff that we loved, but sometimes it just didn’t work in our sets but we still love the music. It’s a good outlet so we can push the music that we love versus the music that we’d play out live.
You guys are both vocal lovers of sushi. What’s some of the weirdest sushi you’ve ever had, and where was it?
D: I’m not super experimental yet, however Baisy pushes me to try different shit. But I’m a frequent sushi goer, we’ll go like 3-4 times a week. We had sushi last night and we were planning on having it tonight but we kinda got screwed around with our travel schedule. Baisy, you’ve tried some crazy shit though right?
BH: Yeah I had Fugu in Tokyo, which is poisonous blowfish. You have to go to a specialist that does it cause if it’s cut improperly, it will stop your respiratory system. I went to this spot with Steve Aoki actually, I forced him to go with me. The whole time he was tripping out like “my lips are numb man,” and I was telling him not to worry because it was supposed to happen even though I had no clue. Meanwhile I was like “oh fuck, I might [have killed] Steve Aoki.”
You guys are also gearheads, what’s your favorite piece of hardware and software gear you guys use?
D: One thing we’ve been using a lot recently which would count as hardware and software is our Universal Audio stuff. It’s crazy, you never really think that an analogue emulation would be that much different from a digital plugin, but it’s night and day. What I have at my studio is a UAD Octo, which is an 8 core processor, and then an Apollo which is a 4 core processor. You connect them through Thunderbolt so you have 12 cores of just plugin processing power, so it runs like the old school original circuitry of timeless pieces of gear. It’s cool, so you can run multiple instances of it on any track. It also displaces your DSP so that you can run a lot more processing so it doesn’t bog down Ableton or whatever. You’re also getting the craziest sound ever. Obviously for synths and stuff, the go-to’s are your Serum and Massive and stuff, the desert island plugins that you can’t live without. A lot of the FabFilter stuff, like Saturn for multiband distortion – balancing out your bass sounds so they sound crispy and level instead of too heavy on your highs or lows or whatever.
BH: We mostly mix everything on the computer now, so we don’t use much outboard gear. I do have a Korg Minilogue which is fun to play with. [Datsik] just got the new Pioneer Topaz. It’s a single oscillator and the filters and oscillator were made by Dave Smith. We were at EDC taking a helicopter over and they had a Pioneer Setup, and we just started fucking around and were making some cool shit with it. It’s really good for like, the super deep wobbles, nothing too aggressive. Just some straight deep house shit.
How does the creative process operate when you’re starting a new project? What are some go-to techniques for the two of you?
D: I think there’s no right or wrong way to approach a new tune, it could be a simple idea or a drum loop that just spawns something. Sometimes we get a dope new vocal and we’re just like “Yo let’s write something completely around this vocal.”
BH: It’s how Vibrations happened. We were super stoked writing a new project, and just hit a wall on it and just said we’d let it work itself out. 10 minutes later we were like “fuck this let’s start a new track.” We had the one snippet from Good Vibrations and we ended up writing a whole new tune around it that night.
Anything you’d like to share with fans about upcoming release or anything else?
D: Yeah, right now we’re working on a bunch of really different shit. A lot of the stuff that’s going to be coming out is stuff I don’t think people are going to be expecting. That’s why we started the Ephwurd project, it’s so we don’t get stuck and confined to a “box” or anything like that and to be experimental. As Datsik, I’m sticking mostly with super heavy bass music type shit, and we’re really writing a lot of more pop-driven type shit and it’s going to be interesting to see if people like it or not. I’m super stoked on it, Baisy is super stoked on it, so I think that’s what we’re going to be using as our guide. I think it’ll be an interesting 2018.
Photo by Jake West for Insomniac