I’ve always had appreciation for the roots. Without people like King Tubby, we wouldn’t have some of the live sound and production techniques we have today.
No that’s not an earthquake, that’s just the universe trembling in the wake of Megalodon’s takeover of the Black Label XL series. Featuring eleven new tracks from the likes of xKore, BadKlaat, D-Jahsta, Dack Janiels, Krimer, Supreme, Truth, Phiso, London Nebel, and Megalodon himself, the curated album and accompanying mix not only showcases the best that the Never Say Die crew has to offer, but offers a glimpse into the heavy mindset of the ever-impressive itinerant DJ and producer.
As festival season approaches and Megalodon settles in to the calm before the storm, we thought we’d touch base with the shark monster himself for a glimpse into the past, present, and future of all things Mega.
Where you living these days? It seems like every time we try to track you down you’ve up and moved on us!
Haha! Yea I’ve been doing the gypsy thing for quite a while now. Living in Europe was a great experience but of course I always find myself coming back to California. All this traveling really is a blessing, though I’m still learning how to manage “life” and touring at the same time.
You’re orginally from the southeast – give us a sense of what life was like for Megalodon the shark pup (yes, I looked that up to see what the official name of a baby shark is).
I moved around a lot as a child, all over the southeast and a random year or so in New York until I eventually made it to the California shores. As a kid I was immersed in the classics like The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, and Rush thanks to my folks. I was constantly taken to rock, jazz, and blue grass concerts and picked up playing drums and guitar at an early age. As I got older I got heavily into prog rock like King Crimson, Yes, and Tool along with jungle and stuff like Bad Company and DJ Zinc. I got a kick out of complex rhythms and time signature changes which eventually got me into mixing and later producing.
I know you were a drummer for most of your early life, were there any other musicians in your family?
Yeah, actually my grandfather was a professional jazz drummer and my grandmother on the other side of the family still plays out as a jazz pianist in Savannah. Pretty much every aspect of my childhood had something to do with music in one shape or another. I of course did the band geek thing, though I don’t have any fun band camp stories. I also was in a hardcore/metal band to get out all that teenage angst
At what point do you move out West and how does that influence your taste in music?
I moved out to the west right before 9/11, so it was like a huge change in every single way. It was around that time I started listening to UK Garage and heavier forms of drum & bass. At the same time I was doing assorted jazz bands and big band gigs both in and outside of school. A few years in I made a couple friends who collectively dove into mixing vinyl with me, which instantly became an addiction.
Somewhere in there you had to sell the drum kit and the rest of your gear due to you running low on funds – how painful was that? Did selling them force you into finding a natural outlet for making beats on the computer?
Hard times fell quite often in the beginning and one of the first things that had to go was all my drums unfortunately. I don’t know if things would have gone any different production-wise as by that time I had everything pretty much packed up in boxes in storage while I lived on friends’ couches.
I was spinning vinyl at home a lot and played underground raves until around 2007 when I started picking up dubstep as a platform to write my music. I originally favored grime and started off my dubstep productions as grime remixes and tracks for various UK artists and got one of my first plays on RinseFM from DJ Big Beatz doing a remix for DJ Gravity. I found dubstep more enjoyable to produce than to mix at first as I was always more partial to the double drop mixing in dnb which at the time was light years away from dubstep.
One thing I’ve noticed in almost all of your interviews over the years is this desire on your part to work in dancehall / reggae or at least to cite that side of things as a major influence. How do you see soundsystem culture influencing what you do and your approach to music in general?
I’ve always had appreciation for the roots. Without people like King Tubby we wouldn’t have some of the live sound and production techniques we have today. At home I constantly listen to dancehall/bashment and grime, which in my opinion is really similar in its own right. I find if you listen to a bunch of dubstep for inspiration you can get clouded with other people’s ideas and melodies. Sometimes it’s best to look for inspiration in [outside] genres that interest you.
Now flash forward to the present and you’ve just dropped this massive Never Say Die compilation album that you’ve curated and mixed. Talk a bit about the project and your ongoing relationship with NSD crew in general.
I am really happy with this next Black Label XL series that just came out. It was an honor to have the chance to do the mix and be a part of the growth of the new chapter in the NSD legacy. I’ve had the chance to hang out and play with a lot of the people on the compilation and it’s really great to be able to present a killer set list from a bunch of homies.
I know there’s some exclusive cuts on here that the heads are already going wild for on the net – any standouts for you looking back?
Oh yes! I think this comp has something for everyone in it; a little bit of old school, a little bit of new. I have to say it’s always good to have BadKlaat deliver like he always does. The way “Go Zerk” mixed so well with Dack Janiels’ track “Trees” was just perfect!
Phiso has been killing it so it’s nice to his name popping up on the tracklisting – any other new-school artists we should be keeping an eye and ear out for in the coming year?
Yeah, I think everyone’s been feeling his tracks these days. I also think there’s a lot to hear from Dack Janiels and Krimer. It’s great to see the dubstep scene vibing out to a lot of new artists and bringing some fresh new sounds to the table.
Before we go, definitely hit us with what you’ve got cooking in the lab and what we should be expecting from you next.
Well I think anyone who has been following me long enough can see I try to maintain a constant pace. Just expect more filthy tracks and collabs, along with more double drops than you can throw a stick at! As for tours I had quite a busy past few months hitting places like South America, Australia, and Europe. I’ll be hitting various North American dates while I get work done in the studio on the off time until the next tour so keep an eye out!
The Black Label XL3 album and mix is out now so be sure to warn the neighbors and turn this one up loud!