Datsik evolves with meticulous masterpiece, 'Master of Shadows' [Interview + EP Review] – Dancing Astronaut

How does an artist become an icon?

Musicians and managers ten overlook this question in their quest for career prosperity. It speaks to art at the intersection  style and substance, more than it does to commercial fame. certainly understands the power iconography. Recently dubbed by critics as “ninja warrior,” Troy Beetles has harnessed the visual power the Asian samurai. Look no further than his Ninja Nation tour, which rolled out last winter and sold out nearly every major US city. 

“It’s tough sometimes to make the shit that you just want to listen to on headphones when you tour so much,” Datik told DA recently in a conversation. “Being out here and seeing what works on a dance floor can sometimes be detrimental to creativity. I guess at the end I’m just trying to find a balance.” The 29-year-old producer further noted that he’s outgrown the phase his career where he feels the need impress people, and that his inspiration comes from human connection: “Honestly, it’s the people and my friends and being able to share music with people. I’m inspired by the love I am shown from my listeners.” 

Datsik evolves with meticulous masterpiece, 'Master  Shadows' Interview + EP Review] - Dancing Astronaut

The Canadian producer, now based in Los Angeles, has been at the forefront heavy, head-banging dubstep from the start his career. Since the release his debut EP Nuke ‘Em in 2009, Datsik has been open about how his particular style  bass has been inspired by  and . 

Yet, he remains humble to the fact that he himself has ignited a burgeoning dubstep movement across North America that has landed him on the major festival billings  , , , and . January 2018 marks the seminal moment that Datsik emerges as a leading tastemaker in bass music, as he releases his tenth studio EP: Master Shadows

The seven-track project, out on his label , comes as the potentially the biggest milestone Troy Beetle’s career, reaching No. 1 on the iTunes Dance charts within hours its release. Along with it, the deadly assassin is taking on January armed with an enormous 60-date . 

Datsik evolves with meticulous masterpiece, 'Master  Shadows' Interview + EP Review] - Dancing Astronaut

“The fact it the EP] debuted at number one made me realize how fortunate I am to have the supporters that I do.”

Master Shadows is filled with collaborations, which speaks to Datsik’s ascendancy as a real influencer his genre. Not only does it enlist some bass music’s most innovative names, from , , , , and , the quality its sound design places the tenured talent well within the company the very pioneers who inspired his early musical directionality. 

Whereas his previous albums helped lay the groundwork for dubstep’s biggest expansion since its early emergence in 1990s London, Master Shadows marks a pronounced stylistic shift in Datsik’s lethal arsenal bass. On the one hand, the project fully delivers on every sonic element that Datsik has been dialing into over the years. One the other, what he serves up here is something fresh, inimitable, and entirely different. 

Datsik evolves with meticulous masterpiece, 'Master  Shadows' Interview + EP Review] - Dancing Astronaut

Datsik on his Ninja Nation tour stop in Philadelphia. Photo courtesy DMNDR.

Throughout Master Shadows, Datsik achieves his vision, in part by channeling his passion for creative expression and the pursuit his dream making music. “I am happy to be in a position to do what I love for a living and be able to express and share the vibe with everyone at these shows. There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing,” he says. Thematically, Beetle’s work pinpoints the nexus between his evolved style and an artistic commitment to where he’s been. 

The EP’s leading track, “Pressure Plates,” paints a cinematic picture, encompassing listeners into a fully immersive experience. The track begins with orchestral layers that, interestingly, call on the electronic stylings a budding ballad. Datsik is a master building suspense, as anticipations run high all the way up to the two-minute mark. This is where the payf happens for those yearning for Datsik’s signature style — the deadly assassin delivers his fatal drop, followed by sparse, syncopated percussive patterns and heavy bass lines. 

There is an intentional construction to Master Shadows that demonstrates Datsik’s leap from ordinary dubstep producer to bass music icon. Along with the colossal instrumentals he imbues in two the EP’s tracks with , including the previously-released “,” Datsik has so too proven himself a master collaboration. In “Freakquency,” listeners are left hanging onto every added sonic element in this carefully constructed track. After a gradual lead in, the senses are quickly bombarded with staccato guitar riffs, jarring synth work, low-frequency subwoer bass, and masterful breaks. At the song’s close, the silence is — quite literally — deafening. 

Datsik also pays homage to his past style in two unrelenting cuts: one ironically named “You’ve Changed,” and the other titled “Find Me,” which is sure to become an anthem. The latter is a stand out single for its clear influences from Dion Timmer and Excision. While Timmer’s impact is heard immediately at the track’s opening — in his sentient vocals and the unrelenting swells the electric guitar — Excision’s ruthless touch arrives at the song’s behemoth first drop, oscillating between melodic breaks and frenzied rampage. 

When prompted to tell the story  Master Shadows in his own words, Beetles states, “I actually wrote this entire EP in three weeks, and my hard drive crashed mid way. It has been the single hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m so happy with how it all came together and worked out.” 

Datsik evolves with meticulous masterpiece, 'Master  Shadows' Interview + EP Review] - Dancing Astronaut

There’s no denying Datsik has been developing his highly stylized Asian directive since his 2014 EP, Down 4 My Ninjas. Neither can one deny that this shadowy mercenary aesthetic fits perfectly into the rough and rugged genre dubstep. 

 Yet, despite the problematics a Canadian contemporary appropriating feudal Japanese cultural figures for prit, Datsik has been able to capitalize on his Ninja-branded sound stamp to much success. This precise move is because he has seamlessly fused this ninja imagery into the very substance his sound design. More than that, he infused the ninja image into his very on-stage identity — from his massive Shogun stage production to his LED conicol hat and karate uniform — all at the level style. Datsik has branded himself a “warrior the night.” 

Check dates and pricing for Datsik’s , featuring support from Space Jesus, RIOT TEN, Wooli, Carbin, and Swage. 

Featured photo courtesy Jame Winterhalter