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Bassnectar Calls Emerging Metalstep Genre a ‘Natural Progression’

Michael Tullberg, Getty

If you’ve been out to an EDM festival anytime this summer, you might start wondering what is up with the mosh pits, the stage diving and errant kicks to the head. Then you realize, “Oh yeah, dubstep.”

Dubstep is moving closer and closer towards a heavy metal sound — occasionally referred to as “metalstep” — with artists like Jonathan Davis of Korn touring as JDEVIL, and Igor Cavalera of Sepultura‘s Mixhell all working in the genre.

Bassnectar, real name Lorin Ashton, who once played in his own death metal band, weighed in on the trend of toughened up electro. He figures it makes perfect sense.

“It’s been about 10 years since I’ve noticed that my friends into electronic music very heavily have some kind of metal or rock side,” he told Spinner (Noisecreep’s sister site) from his trailer at Veld Fest in Toronto. “It seems like a really natural progression to me. Death metal is all about intensity, frequencies, volumes and tempos, using the approach that you play your instrument as intensely as possible.”

Bassnectar’s a veteran in the EDM scene, and is finally getting to headline major festivals like Veld, Camp Bisco, and Lighting in a Bottle, but he’s kept pretty modest about his success. After all, he’s only a few years removed from having to play his “scariest gig ever.”

“I haven’t noticed the growth unless I step back,” he says. “It feels really natural and comfortable now. After doing it for 15-16 years now, the timing just synced up. I was touring just as hard, and producing as hard and working as hard 10 years ago and there wasn’t a scene to plug into nationally. It had to be built. And now that it’s built, it’s a playground.”

His last album, Vava Voom (a name inspired by Star Wars‘ warp speed special effects), dropped in April, and featured collaborations with artists such as Toronto’s Ill.Gates on “Probable Cause and conscious rapper Lupe Fiasco on the titled track, whom he met last summer at Osheaga Festival in Montreal.

It makes sense that Bassnectar and Fiasco would be working together as Bassnectar has been well known for his activist leanings in the past, sporting George Bush “International Terrorist” tees at airports and creating mash-up rants like “Inspire the Empathic,” where he rails against Clear Channel Communications’ virtual media monopoly.

Bassnectar’s shifting his focus away from these types of things, though.

“I’m less interested in political lyrics and politics in general,” he says, “but I’m no less interested in making a positive contribution to society and peoples’ lives. However, I feel that if I want to be more effective, I should leave politics out, because they can be more divisive and confusing.”

He says that DJs ranting on a microphone don’t allow an in-depth exchange of information to complex philosophical topics.

“I prefer to keep the music and atmosphere mysterious and magical and emotional and focus on humanistic topics like inspiration, education, empowerment. And politics, albeit very important, is such a fucking carnival of confusion and divisiveness — especially when pitted against two parties — both of which suck. It’s like taking the power back by not playing within their boundaries. I don’t want to be framed into saying Obama is amazing, because he’s not!”

Watch Bassnectar’s Video Interview

Watch Bassnectar’s “Vava Voom” Video

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