In his 6 years of performing and producing as 12th Planet, John Dadzie and his label, SMOG Records , have evolved into pioneering incubators of bass music in America.
An idea for a singular party in 2006 today stands a cult-like movement, and for a genre born in Europe, SMOG is a homegrown American success story. 12th’s own productions and collabos with Skrillex, Kill the Noise , Datsik and Doctor P (to name a few) are part of the reason he and his label have risen to prominence. But an equally important component has been SMOG’s compilation tradition, putting out bass bonanzas featuring rising talent.
SMOG exclusively shared with MTV News the trailer for their new documentary, “SMOG City,” premiering on the label’s website on Thursday. Shot over three years, the documentary observes the history of the label and the growth of the scene. It’s being released in conjunction with the label’s latest compilation by the same name, a nine-track collection featuring 12th Planet, Antiserum, SPL, Flinch, the Juggernaut, Noah D, Kelly Dean, Bare and Djunya.
In an email Q & A with MTV News, 12th Planet — who is playing the AM Only CMJ showcase Friday night (October 19) at New York’s Webster Hall — candidly shared his pride with the new doc and album and the fact that more ladies in America are coming out to dubstep shows.
MTV: Tell us about the journey of the documentary. Where and when does it start and end? What is it about?
12th Planet: The “SMOG City” documentary shows the history of my record label, SMOG, which was started by me and my boys Danny Johnson and Drew Best in downtown L.A. in 2006. SMOG was only going to be one event, but six years later, we’re going strong as a record label and still doing a ton of events. The director, Mollie, was a fan, and we really wanted to get behind the project and help her realize her dream of producing a documentary. It took three years, so this documents the last three years of SMOG with some crazy tour footage, interviews with guys like Skrillex, Emalkay and Plastician … and an interview with my parents!
MTV: Do you have any favorite scenes?
12th Planet: My favorite scene is probably when SMOG goes up against Stones Throw in the Red Bull Culture Clash. You’ll have to watch it to see what happens!
MTV: How would you describe the new compilation? Is it the best of SMOG?
12th Planet: Hell yeah. It’s definitely the best of SMOG! It’s a mix of traditional dubstep, new-school dubstep, trap … all bass music you can get down to.
MTV: Can you talk about some of the talent on the SMOG compilation?
12th Planet: We’ve got Flinch, who has this awesome big-room rave sound and does great vocal collaborations. Antiserum has this Southern hip-hop trap vibe going on. SPL’s tracks always hit really heavy and hard; he’s got a background in break core and drum n bass. Noah D’s style sort of bridges U.K. grime and U.S. hip-hop. The Juggernaut mixes the U.K. and USA styles of dubstep. And Kelly Dean’s style is usually pretty deep and dark, although the track on SMOG City is surprisingly heavy!
MTV: What excites you about bass music today? Do you see clear new sounds and influences coming in?
12th Planet: What excites me the most about bass music today is the acceptance of multi-tempo DJ sets at the shows. It’s the first time in about two decades where playing something outside of the primary tempo one was DJ-ing at was acceptable. It’s making the producers explore more multi-tempo production within songs. “Right on Time” was a collaboration by Skrillex, Kill the Noise and myself, and that was the whole idea behind the song. We wanted to create a song that had started at 4/4 140 bpm, dropped into some 90 bpm D.C. go-go type beat, then go back into some more 4/4 140 bpm tech house madness.
MTV: What’s it been like to see this movement grow here in the U.S.?
12th Planet: It’s been amazing to see the scene grow from a few people at a bar listening to the music, to thousands in arenas listening to the music. It’s good to see the underground culture get embraced for a change, but not getting completely oversaturated. Sure, in my time I have seen rooms filled with kids in black hoodies, to kids with neon clothes and hats that say “legit” and “I dub to f—step.” However, one thing that’s great, a lot more girls are coming to the shows and getting down!
The “SMOG City” documentary premieres on the label’s website, and the compilation album drops October 30.