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Dubstep star Datsik enters the dragon

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Bangers and mash-ups: Datsik is ready to do it all.
  • Bangers and mash-ups: Datsik is ready to do it all.

The ninja world has intrigued electronic dance artist and producer Datsik since childhood.

"I just think that there's nothing cooler than ninjas," he says of the inspiration behind his current stage show. "Ever since I was young, I've always had a crazy fascination with them, and also with the whole Japanese culture. In school, I took classes in how to speak Japanese. I also collect all these different anime characters — really well-crafted, cool-looking toys that I have in a display case at home. And I eat sushi probably every day. So there's that."

Those inspirations have found their way into the current Ninja Nation 2017 Tour, for which Datsik is transforming himself into "a kind of a Mortal Kombat character" who'll be surrounded by a stage set he's dubbed The Shogun. "It looks like a giant ninja temple using all these different LED panels, LED strips and really cool, different-looking lights that I've never used before," says the artist, whose birth name is the less stage-worthy Troy Beetles. "I'm basically embodying what it is to be a rave ninja."

The other central component of the tour is, of course, the music. He says all seven tracks on his new EP, Sensei," are likely to pop up during his set ... in one form or another.

"This is the first time I've actually put out a full EP of stuff I'm really happy with," he says. "I'm going to be playing every single track from it, and I can take the vocals or the bassline from one of the tracks and play it over another track. It's cool being able to take all of the new stuff that people have been listening to on Spotify, or wherever, and then mash them up all together into something completely fresh that they've never heard before."

Since coming on the scene in 2009, the 28-year-old native of British Columbia, Canada, has become known as a pioneer of dubstep, the bass-heavy, hard-hitting and sonically robust style that still remains one of the most popular subgenres of electronic music. But over the course of three full-length albums and a trio of EPs, Datsik has blended a variety of other musical styles into his sound.

On Sensei, he continues to keep dubstep at the center of his sound, especially on tracks like "Redemption," "Just Saiyan'" and "Nasty." But he also stretches its parameters with the title track — a blend of dubstep and Asian motifs — while "Wreckless" slips in some ambient tones, hip-hop bounce and an appearance by guest rapper AD.

And then there's the mellower, more pop-inclined "Gravity" — with its playful vocal effects and lush melody — which is the direction he envisions his music going in upcoming releases.

"If I have a balance of cool melodic stuff mixed with the heavy bangers, I'll be keeping everyone happy, and also keeping myself happy," he says. "Without tracks like that, I'd feel like I'm just re-doing the same thing."

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