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By Nate Jackson
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At age 24, Troy Beetles—who records and performs under the alias Datsik—is one of the OGs of the biggest EDM movement of his generation: North American dubstep. Love it or hate it, you cannot escape the womp-y electronica that has permeated so far into the mainstream that it's as commonplace in TV commercials as it is in the clubs.
None of that matters to Beetles; he's an artist creating on the cusp of the genre, which has already begun to evolve from the grinding, Galaga-style noise that's come to define dubstep's mainstream. He favors a more minimal approach—"TrapStyle," as it is coming to be known among EDM connoisseurs, a throwback to the U.K. style that pre-dates its American counterpart.
"It's cool that trap music sort of came out of nowhere because it brings dubstep in a full circle," Beetles says. "I can be playing a real rager song and have everybody jumping around real crazy, then I'll drop a trap track right after it, super-minimal, and people will cheer even louder for that track, which means there's hope for dubstep."
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TrapStyle gets its name from southern rap popular during the early part of the past decade, made famous by artists such as Young Jeezy and Rick Ross and updated by Waka Flocka Flame in more recent years; it employs mostly Roland 808 drum sounds—shrill hi-hats and snare hits; simple, repetitive, low-end dives—overlaid by chant-style lyrics. And now trap has morphed into the newest sub-genre of EDM.
It's a style that makes sense for an artist such as Datsik, a huge hip-hop fan who laces his dubstep with a sample-heavy approach. That aesthetic is getting a lot of play on the Firepower Records Tour, which Beetles is headlining, with label mates Delta Heavy, AFK and Bare Noize in support; it's a grueling, three-month road excursion that crisscrosses the U.S. and Canada.
"We've been working on the bus," Beetles says. He already has a few new tracks in the bag, writing in collaboration with the guys on tour, and they're thinking about releasing them as a free download in the near future. He also speculates about releasing an EP of trap remixes of his popular 2012 debut album, Vitamin D, containing a veritable silo of dubstep bangers.
As he continues to put in work on the road, Beetles prefers life on the tour bus to the "weekend warrior" style of airplane touring he did previously in support of Newport Beach native Steve Aoki. Aside from not having to worry about Aoki hazing him onstage—"He broke an umbrella over my head and lit me up with a fire extinguisher," Beetles says—life on the bus has allowed him to slip into a comfortable rhythm.
"I wake up around 5 or 6 p.m., do some interviews, make a drink, eat, go play my set, party and repeat," Beetles says. "I'm 24 now, and I'm learning my limitations. When you [party] every day, it can wear down your body really quickly, so I drink a lot of water, coconut water, vitamins, Emergen-C—all that good shit makes your life easier when you're on the road."
After the tour, Beetles, who hails from British Columbia, is planning on moving to LA. "I'm always there, and it feels like a second home," says Beetles, who repped a Dodgers hat this summer. "I'll be living in LA by February or March . . . Silver Lake area, Echo Park, somewhere around there."
Wherever he lands, the strength of the TrapStyle movement is sure to follow.
This article appeared in print as "Trapped On the Road: Dubstep producer Datsik perfects a clean daily routine and a grimy new sound while on tour."