John Dadzie, the orbital center of Los Angeles' dubstep galaxy known as SMOG, is the mastermind behind 12th Planet. Transitioning from drum and bass to dubstep seems to be a natural course for producers in the past few years, and Dadzie has been at the forefront of that movement's progression. We recently caught up with him for a chat about current affairs, international media biases and how California's education system could use a boost from marijuana sales.
Westword: Where are you right now?
John Dadzie: I'm in Los Angeles. Born and raised here, so...
What's a day in the life like?
A day in life depends on if there is a show or not, because then it's rushing to the airport. A normal day like this is waking up when I can and sending some emails, make some calls, smoke some weed... all in a day.
If you woke up tomorrow and you were the president, what would you change first?
I would legalize marijuana. Then I would free all the people who were in jail on weed charges, and then I would audit the Fed. I would give anybody that's ever paid taxes in the last sixty years, I would give them all their tax money back. And that would be a good start for day one.
Have you been following this Edward Snowden case about releasing all these NSA files?
That's the guy overseas, right? I have been traveling a lot the past two months, so I haven't been following it too much.
I'll give it to you in nutshell real quick: The NSA is spying on us. So do you have any skeletons in your closet, or email, that you wouldn't want getting out?
I don't think I have anything besides a few illegal downloads, and even at that, there's no legal download anymore. I definitely have some pirated software somewhere on my laptop for making music. Hopefully they don't find that shit. That's crazy. Big brother is really watching everything. Who knows? It might be for the better. Big brother is making sure somebody doesn't fly plane into a building and stuff like that.
Big brother might also find out about my fetish porn addiction, but that's whatever.
Hopefully big brother doesn't care about porn.
Do you think that because you are touring so much on the road it's almost better to not follow current events because it helps you avoid getting caught up in what happened yesterday?
I think it's bad. I think everyone should be up to date on current events, from people age five to age ninety. The news is pretty biased, though, so they are only reporting on the stuff that people want to watch, you know? Not really the stuff people need to know about. It's tough. On one hand, you really need to know about current events, and then on the other hand, there is so much bullshit that you don't really need to know.
Just with travels as far as domestic and international, do you think we as a country are as informed about current events as other countries, but with more bias?
I think the amount of information that flows here is still good. That's a good question. I think people in other countries have biased media, but overseas they report a little bit more of what is happening over in the Middle East only because there are more people from the Middle East that live in those countries. That's a good question. I'll have to think about that.
Where are you most recently coming back from?
I just did a Midwest tour at two festivals and couple after parties. I played Spring Awakening in Chicago at Soldier Field, where the Chicago Bears play, and then the other one was Metallica's Orion Festival, which was Metallica and Red Hot Chili Peppers with a bunch of DJs and stuff.
Is that where Metallica busted out a special "Kill 'Em All" set?
Yea! Metallica is some crazy, thrash fuckin' partyin'.
[brief pause due to lack of cell phone reception]
Sorry about that, I have bad service at my house.
No worries. Do you have roommates out there?
I live with my manager and my tour manager.
What's that like?
It's like living with your boss.
Do you ever run into situations where you are just want to be alone?
Sometimes I want to be alone, but then I'm like, 'Fuck, I'm alone,' and I call people to hang out.
What do you do to relax and wind down when you do have those cherished moments?
Most of the time I'm waiting for flights, and then it's definitely iPhone games. I like Clash of the Clans and shit like that.
Does sitting in airports ever get old?
I sort of turned that shit into a game. I wake up and try to time it to the last minute possible to leave for the airport, so I literally running to the plane. I try to get as close as possible to leaving the house to getting on the plane.
Was there ever the allure of touring and tour life, and is that lost now since it's your job?
A lot of it now is trying to conquer new territories. It's trying to go stuff in Bora Bora. I just look at touring like new adventures.
What territories are on your horizon right now?
Right now? I've pretty much done a lot of where I wanted to play. There are some spots in South Africa that I've never been to that I really like, like maybe Mozambique, or Camaroon, Brazil, Argentine, Venezuela...
Maybe pick up a couple girls?
Exactly. That's about it.
Bringing it back to 12th Planet as the new President of the U.S. of A legalizing marijuana: Do you advocate for it because the recreational aspect or the medicinal and recreational use?
It's definitely a little bit of both. I'm from a state that has failed to make budget for the past three years, so it's like, damn. In societies where [marijuana] is accepted, there are lower crimes. I just got back from Barcelona, and they just legalized it five or six months ago, and their society is so laid back. Amsterdam has one of lowest drug abuse rates in the world, which is fuckin' mind boggling. You know what I mean?
It takes away the allure that you shouldn't do it because you are allowed to do it?
On the other hand, I am not advocating for GMO weed. No Monsanto weed.
Do you think something like that could happen as far corporations taking over weed?
I think it's already happening, and it's in the process of happening.
[Corporations] are like, 'Wait, wait, wait... we can make money on this?'
Exactly. It would really help the city of Los Angeles if they took some of that money to go towards schools, programs, and shit like that. We have some of the shittiest school districts in the country... up there with Chicago and shit like that.
What was your high school experience like?
I went to a Jesuit all boys school. I was one of those sports and music guys. My high school experience was awesome. I started raving when I was fourteen or fifteen, so I was all involved with warehouses. It's not like how the kids have it these days.
When I look back on my high school experience, it seemed like the rave kids were outcasted, which, now, there is this huge shift in that the most popular kid is the one with the hot, unreleased dubstep track.
Exactly. It's raver turned rager. That's totally the case. The "normal" machine of society was affected, and [ravers] were, like, not normal, and I wanted to be like that. In my school, there were maybe four or five, maybe six, ravers, and when we got to party, we would meet maybe five or six kids from other schools, and so on. It was this big network of people who were all about the same thing.
I think it's interesting to look at that and see the grassroots wave that brought it out into this mainstream who the outcasts and now they are running the show. It's interesting to see that come full circle during our generation, similar to the eras of gangster rap and hair rock. What new releases do you have coming out?
I've got a record out on [SMOG Records], with a single called "Murdaaa" that I produced with Mayhem... it's on my Soundcloud right now. I've got a new EP coming out with a hot new producer named Protohype.
He just did a dope mix with Paper Diamond, right?
Yea! He just toured with Paper Diamond. That's about it right now until the tour starts.
I guess if there is one more thing to change as President, what would it be?
I'm going to get rid of the monetary system, and find everyone who had foreclosed houses and give 'em back their homes.
Well, you got my vote if you promise vending machines in the classrooms.
That's one more thing! We need computers in every classroom!
Catch 12th Planet at Beta on Friday, June 28.