Hammarica.com Daily DJ Interview: EXCISION
Canadian bass master EXCISION kicks off 2013 with the massive “Execution Tour,” a North American trek that includes over 50 confirmed dates. The “Execution Tour” will feature EXCISION’s new stage “The Executioner,” a behemoth production setup and a true technological breakthrough that will take live electronic music performance to a new level. “The Executioner” is a video-mapping masterwork that displays an impressive 420 square feet of world-class, true-3D, video-mapped animations guaranteed to daze and amaze fans. “The Executioner” will include the greatest projector available in the world and cast some of the most intricate and amazing animations available today onto a mechanical bunker in which EXCISION will perform a live set that will simultaneously sync audio with video using groundbreaking technology. EXCISION is revving up the audio experience and inviting back Canada’s PK Sound—which worked with him on the sold-out 2012 “X Tour”—as the official audio provider for the “Execution Tour,” packing more than 100,000 watts of full-on bone-crushing sound. Watch the official “Execution Tour” trailer here: http://youtu.be/tloy0ldDvVQ.
What kind of gear do you use for your performances?
The new stage “The Executioner” has been in progress since April of last year. When we built Xvision, we learned what projection mapping is truly capable of, and with a bit bigger budget this year we were able to produce something far more complex. We wanted to get away from the 2D “trippy visualizations” as much as possible. My team and I felt that we had learned enough from Xvision to tackle the entire project ourselves.
I worked with Ben from Beama and went through 66 revisions before we finally settled on the current design. I then went and hired 50 or so animators from around the world, created storyboards of what we wanted each animation to look like, how we wanted it to sync with a specific song and spent a huge amount of time on each of them really dialing it in. Justin is our Mr. Fixit guy who knows a lot about a ton of different things. He handled the window to the DJ booth, which goes up and down based at the push of a button, as well as the panels that open and close to reveal lasers within the stage, as well as CO2 jets, crazy, low-lying fog machines, and even snow machines! A Canadian crew can’t truly put on a high production value show without snow. Justin also helped with the Serato/Ableton dual setup.
I wanted to keep everything as close to a traditional DJ setup as possible, and still have the freedom to play whatever tracks in whatever order the crowd wants them. We use Serato music videos for 70 songs; usually I get through 55 in a set. Each of these videos stay in perfect sync with the attached song and the Serato video technology is perfect so far. Where we ran into trouble was creating a fully synced lighting show. We bridged Ableton to Serato and hacked a bunch of things in order to get the time code sent out to the lighting desk and trigger all the cues. The result is a system that gives me full freedom to cater to the crowd and still be a real DJ, but at the same time give a fully synced audio-visual show.
You might think this has been done before, but every artist I’ve seen, and I’ve seen nearly all of them, have a 100% pre-planned set that they literally just press a play button at the beginning of the show and fake it for 90 minutes. Fuck that!
Due to how long it takes for movie-grade animations to be created, I had to be careful about which songs I had them made for. I won’t ruin the surprise, but it’s going to be an epic set that stays true to my roots, but still has enough diversity to make everyone happy. Expect to leave exhausted.
You are also part of the band Destroid together with Downlink and KJ Sawka. How do you enjoy performing as a band as opposed to DJ sets?
I’ve spent over three years getting this new Destroid project ready and I really believe that the way we are putting it together sets down a new path for electronic music performance. Yes, it uses computers, but you’d never know it, nor will you see them on stage. Two custom midi guitars and a fully custom digital drum kit. We’ll be playing our songs, covers of other tracks, as well as songs shared with us by our friends. With intricate alien/robot costumes with tons of crazy technology embedded, and the freedom to play each song differently each night, every set will be truly unique. We’ve gone so deep into the storyline of this project with viral videos and a graphic novel series that they all tie in with the storyline in the tunes. We have our album nearly finished and are looking at a March/April release! We have our first gigs booked at festivals this summer across North America and can’t wait to show the world everything we have in store.
What is coming up production wise for you in the next few months?
Destroid and the Executioner stage are my main focuses for the next year. As far as Excision goes, I am going to keep pumping out tunes under Excision and playing shows as Excision as well as working on building up Destroid. It’s going to be extremely busy, but it will be worth it.
The rule when the tour bus pulls over is, if you get out leave something on the passenger seat. Sound guy Jesus (as we call him) forgot this, with a dead phone in his pocket, the bus as he got off to buy something at a gas station in the middle of nowhere. He had no money or any way to charge his phone. Somehow he managed to call us from a random number an hour later. He never forgot the rule again.
The Executioner features every bit of cutting edge technology that we can cram into it, and it’s our goal to deliver an experience that is as close as you will get to the future of EDM in today’s world. As far as the future years and years ahead goes, we will always be working hard to stay at least a few steps ahead of the rest of the industry.