interview : Dieselboy (USA) & The Upbeats

No strangers to Drum & Bass, we lock heads with the undisputed American King of Drum & bass Dieselboy! We talk about his label Human, his upcoming Subhuman project and his current Monsters Of Jungle tour. Another member of MOJ, we talk with New Zealands own Upbeats! Wellingtons crown DNB stars.

Don't close this window just yet! These interviews are gooduns.


Tell us about how you became a part of the Drum & Bass scene, and where your alias 'Dieselboy' originates from

i started dj'ing back in 1991 while i was a student at the univeristy of pittsburgh. this was before drum and bass even existed. at the time everything was kind of a mashup of techno, breaks, trance, house, you name it. i tended to go more for the stuff that had crazy breakbeats and edits. eventually, over a period of a few years the music coming out started branching off into different genres. for one genre, the 4/4 kick drums were replaced entirely by straight breakbeats and the music progressively got faster and faster. finally people started calling it drum and bass / jungle around 94-95. over that period i was honing my dj skills, playing shows, throwing a few shows and basically just doing everything i could in the scene to promote the music. the name 'dieselboy' came from a nickname i used to use in online IRC chat rooms. i was 'diesel' for awhile until some local graffiti artist started tagging 'diesel' everywhere. i added the 'boy' because at the time everything like, kid-related in the rave scene was popular and i looked really really young for my age. 

When you were first emerging into the scene in the early 90s, where did you envision yourself down the track? How have your goals and your purpose changed over the years?

i never really envisioned much to be honest. i was going to school and working a regular job at the same time. dj'ing and the scene was just my creative outlet. i never did it to become some big dj or anything i was just really passionate about being involved in the scene. once i realized later that i could dj for a living then i started focusing on more ways to be creative and to work towards promoting drum and bass and music and the scene as much as possible to as many people as possible. the one thing that never changed with me was always trying to be positive about what i was doing and supportive of my friends in the scene.

For readers who aren't familiar with your name, how would you sum up your 'sound' and  what could you tell us about your most recent CD, Substance D?

most people tend to think i sound like my mix cds, which are on the heavier / more serious side of drum and bass. my live sets are a lot different depending on where i am at and who i am playing for. i like all styles of drum and bass and will play all sorts of different stuff. in general tho, i like to play a lot more heavy / funky stuff. and i like to go big impact on the dancefloor.

my last mix cd was kind of a throwback to some of my earlier cds like 6ixth session and system upgrade. overall pretty hard and in your face! i did put a lot of time and thought into the cd. i had a bunch of tracks and remixes made exclusively just for the cd and that includes drum and bass remixes of non dnb music from artists like mstrkrft, computer club, meatbeat manifesto, etc.

What has been your favourite country to play in? What experiences have you had that make the country stand out?

hard to say. i really love playing in the states, but i have had some amazing shows in south africa, eastern europe, russia, canada, japan and new zealand. i take it all in show to show. for a show to stand out it either has to be completely off the hook or i have to have had a good time hanging out with the people that were involved with the show (other promoters, djs, etc).

How in your eyes has the scene changed since you first emerged?

it's gotten really big and then mellowed out quite a bit. there was a point in time with drum and bass where the sound was changing pretty much year to year. now you can go back and listen to tracks from 2004 and 2005 and a lot of them sound like they could be new tunes from 2009. i've seen djs and promoters come and go. seen generations of ravers come and go. in my opinion though, drum and bass still hasn't gotten the love it deserves. i am still working towards fixing that.

How would you describe Drum & Bass culture in America? What city/state is home to the scene?

drum and bass in america is healthy in certain cities and not healthy in others. the usa is a pretty big country with lots of scenes and there is a lot of variation. los angeles hands down has the biggest scene. other cities include dallas, seattle, denver and baltimore. it all changes though over the years. i have always felt that the scene is controlled by the support of local promoters. if you have someone that has money to spend throwing good shows and they highlight dnb at their shows, then the scene tends to be pretty good. but if the big local promoters never push that sound then the scene tends to suffer as a result.

You recently played at New Zealands Phat 09 New Years festival. What did you think?  How does it differ from other DNB festivals around the world?

it was a fucking blast, straight up. the mud and the cool temperature couldn't stop people from having a good time. that was one of the better dnb shows i have played in a long ass time. i have a played a few bigger ones but phat 09 was pretty killer. really shows the health of the nz dnb scene. loved it.

Can we look forward to see you back on our shores any time soon?

i would like to think so. the upbeats were over here a few months ago staying at my place and we have discussed on more than one occasion the idea of doing a nice tour of nz in the not too distant future. 

What artists stand out for you right now?

here are 5 that matter - gein, spktrm, gridlok, upbeats, zardonic

Tell us about your project 'Monsters Of Jungle'. What artists are on board and how have they contributed?

monsters of jungle is my new tour concept that includes a rotating array of dj friends of mine in the scene. this year's crew consisted of myself, upbeats, ewun, evol intent, infiltrata, mayhem, demo, spktrm and mcs messinian and dino. we headlined the dnb stage at probably america's biggest show (electric daisy carnival in los angeles). we had the show filmed so we could make a promo video to help sell a tour for 2010, rock van style. the whole vibe of the tour is 80s metal aesthetic meets hard ass drum and bass performance. we're talking crowd surfing, keg stands on the stage, crazy custom visuals and audio, etc. i wanted to do something in the vein of justice or mstrkrft but with drum and bass.

What can we expect to see from you and your label HUMAN in the near future?

there have been some things going on behind the scenes at the label that just wrapped up so now human is getting ready to come out swinging. i have the next 3-4 releases lined up (inlcluding eps from spktrm, zardonic and gein as well as a remix ep). i am also starting up a sub label of human called subhuman that will feature dubstep, electro, and interesting offshoot projects from human. currently have the first 3 12" ready to go on that front as well. with both of these labels i am working on updating the graphics and websites, etc. big things coming by 2010.

One unique feature that represents the distinct Dieselboy essence that fans know and love are your epic movie-esque intros that set the theme to your album releases. These sound like a lot of fun to make! Who do you hire to do the voices, and what is your usual inspiration for coming up with these themed ideas?

over the years i have worked with many different voiceover actors including don lafontaine (king of move trailers), peter cullen (optimus prime), tom kane (the oscars announcer), etc etc. it really depends on the job at hand. i pretty much innovated that whole idea in dnb with my intro to project human and yeah, i guess now it is kinda like my calling card at this point. i usually get inspired for my intros and whatnot randomly. like usually while i am riding in a car, sitting on a plane, taking a shower, whatever. 

If you could invent a genre of music that, no matter how ridiculous, was a guaranteed success what would it be called?


Your top 5 tunes of the moment? 

upbeats - big skeleton

fresh - acid rain

subfocus - splash

gein + killa + breaker - 6 feet

camo + krooked - alienation



You're currently touring the US of A, and I'm grateful that you're taking the time to talk with us amongst your busy schedule! How is the tour going? Tell us one thing you love and one thing you hate about America!

Hi there, yes well I'm afraid we are back from the states and lack of internet plus busy schedule meant we didnt get around to this interview in time. The tour ended up being pretty awesome, played some big shows and some not so big shows, hung out with heaps of good people, ate many foods and also got some sun on our pasty bodies..
UP:  Too much food, Warm, Cheap electronics and clothing, Pools
DOWN: Bluetooth headsets in airports and on planes, Too much food, Angry taxi drivers that like guns , sunburn.

Tell us about the Monsters of Jungle! - How did The Upbeats & Dieselboy come to work together? I've read a lot of posts from Dieselboy and MC Messinian about how much hard work has gone into this project. Now that you've participated in a couple of shows, have they all gone according to plan?

Monsters of jungle is an idea that dieselboy has been brewing for the past couple of years and has finally come into fruition with the 4 festival shows we played with the crew. Its basically the cream of the stateside drum and bass artists (plus a shabby outfit from new zealand that somehow sneaked in) playing back to back with a Monsters of rock feel to the whole vibe. People were asked to come up with their own intros plus dieselboy commissioned some crazy voice overs for everyone and it kinda went down like that. The motto for all the shows was "drink and destroy" so i guess that sums it up.

To participate in this MOJ project thats orientated around metal & 80's rock you guys must have a secret love for this sort of stuff right? Has this kind of music influenced your production over the years? What other genres have you drawn inspiration from?

Yeah it seems every teenage boy goes through a stage of listening to metal and/or rock of some sort and i think we definitely draw on that quite a bit - we love our riffage, and the whole energy that comes from that style of music is pretty inspiring. As far as other genres that have influenced us go the list would be pretty massive. We really love to listen anything thats good regardless of where abouts it falls on the genre scale.

It wasn't too long ago that you two started up your live act - Hows that going? To this day, how has it evolved since you first dabbled with it?

The live act has really come a long way since the early days of playing a distorted bass guitar at crazy levels directly into a computer and screaming into a mic to accompany. Now we have invested quite a bit in the show as far as time and gear goes and learned a bunch about trying to perform our music in a sort of 'live' format for crowds. One of the biggest things we have yet to overcome is the problem that alot of people come to the show expecting an upbeats deejay set from us and i think there just ends up being too many comparisons drawn between the two. We wanted the live show to be more of an exhibition of our music and some different takes on songs that people would hopefully know, while of course maintaining heaps of energy etc, but its definitely going to be alot different to a dj set. And of course we love djing but it would be awesome to get it into a format where people can enjoy the live thing and also have the deejaying whilst feeling they didnt miss anything.. its all a bit like the soulwax/ 2many djs thing.. both quite different but from the same people and on the same bill.

Based on your dark, upbeat style I've always thought your DJ sets could benefit with some cybernetic crazed chimpanzee stage dancers. Would you agree? I hope so - this should be a happening thing for the future! If not chimps, what kind of crazy cybernetic creation would you take on stage with you?

Crazed cybernetic chimps would be great. But in these days of recession i think we might have to think a bit leaner and maybe go with something like a possum in a cage with xmas lights attached to it, wearing a tin foil jacket and a cape. It would be in a frenzy because of the loud music environment and have a post '02 rave vibe thats pretty hot right now.

On the topic of Phat, share your thoughts on the bass republic of NZ that attend these events each year! Any stories to share with us from your past experiences? Preferably ones where you're not sober - sobriety is boring.

Phat is always one of the highlights of the year for us but it sometimes comes at a cost to our health - We have managed to take turns each year having a bit too much of a good time and maybe taking it a bit far on the night. Not to name any names but the list includes: passing out vomiting and waking up with a bleeding nose from collapsing on it..  burnt lips after eating bacon and eggs straight off a bbq hotplate at 3 in the morning(the phat crews breakfast;how where we to know?) . Being found shivering and unconscious in a gorse patch and spending the next 2 weeks pulling thorns out of arms. Spilling a bottle of vodka all through Adam Freelands record bag and cds. Being a little sick after having a bit too much champagne after spirits then going on the vertical bungy thing......09,another year, oh god.

You guys seem to be touring outside of NZ a lot more nowadays - are you sick of airplanes yet? I'd ask if you hated airport terminals, but NOBODY likes airport terminals..

This year has been pretty crazy already, we've already covered England, Europe , Russia, the US and Japan done a couple of full New Zealand tours. I think this is the first week we've had off in almost 3 months. To say we dont like planes and waiting in airports would be an understatement, and its definitely the worst part of the job. But really you cant complain if thats the worst thing...

Your label Non Vogue has been churning out great tune after great tune - Tell us about the founding of Non Vogue, your reasons for doing so, and how you went about doing collaborations with big names such as Noisia & Evol Intent

Thanks, yeah starting the label just seemed like the best thing for us to do at this point as far as progressing goes. We can now release whatever music we see fit and have control over how it's presented etc, and also not have to deal with dodgy drum and bass label owners with funky contracts and trouble paying their bills.
The collaborations just seem to happen when we are on tour. If we are staying near someone we get along with we'll generally get in the studio with a pile of junk food and try and bash out a tune. Its always a bit of fun and is good for both parties involved, usually...

Once again, you boys are taking things in new directions with your third release on Non Vogue featuring ghost radio & 1968. Does this represent the sound of your next album perhaps? What do you have in store for us in the not-so-distant future?

Yeah, the third release is the only one so far not to have featured another artist. Ghost radio is going to be on the new album so this is sort of a sampler kinda thing, but as always there's a huge mix of different stuff to be had on the album itself.  Its definitley on a cheekier tip than the last one.. a bit more party times..not so much moody introspective business.