The Executioner

Pack the earplugs—Canada’s Excision brings the bass to melt your face

You may want to invest in those big ol’ earmuff headphones folks who work around airplanes wear, because 100,000 watts of sound is coming to rattle your soul. Bass-music master Excision is bringing his new Execution Tour to Las Vegas’ House of Blues for his first solo headlining show. He’s also got a grip of subwoofers and an insane true-3-D video-mapping stage experience that will blow your minds as much as your eardrums. Vegas Seven geeked out on all the tech specs with Excision before the February 15 show.

Your stage setup for this tour is called “The Executioner,” and the technology brings to mind previous electronic-music stage setups such as DJ Shadow’s Shadowsphere or Amon Tobin. How does your stage compare?

Those are definitely good comparisons. We went quite a bit bigger than those guys did with their initial stages. We spent a ton of money; instead of going with one specific crew or company to build our stage and do our animations, we took everything on ourselves to hire 50 animators from around the world to each do one or two each. There’s a massive variety of styles and differences between each of the animations that creates a unique show that’s constantly changing. Sometimes it’s a crazy tank, sometimes it’s a beast thing, other times it’s just super fast-track geometric type stuff.

What is “The Executioner” comprised of, tech-wise?

It’s made of an aluminum frame with a plastic material called Sintra. Our last tour, the X Tour, we had a stage called “X-Vision” made out of wood and had to repaint it, drywall and repair it each week. This new stage is basically invincible compared to that.

How about that sound system?

It’s a 100,000-watt sound system provided by PK Sound, the premier sound company in Canada. I work closely with them. It’s going to be the loudest sound system that 99 percent of the people at the show have ever heard. We’re bringing 40 subwoofers individually and a huge line array. It’s really, really loud. We’ve had cops come to our shows many times, and we’re banned from a lot of venues across America. I think people will like it.

Is it fair to say a lot of bass-music fans haven’t experienced the music on a proper sound system?

Definitely, the way that I produce my music, it’s a lot of low sub-notes that on your standard stereo you’re not going to hear them. On your iPod, you’re not hearing the full way that the music was meant to be heard. When you hear it on this sound system, you’re getting the full effect. It will literally blow you away.

Will you guys be handing out earplugs?

We’ve got two different kinds of earplugs. We’ve got the cheap little foam ones and we’ve got some super-nice, high-quality ones that we sell. I’d definitely recommend them.

What’s it like touring with all of the gear and a whole crew when nowadays it’s super convenient for DJs to show up with just a laptop or flash drive?

I guess we’re going the opposite way of the trend. Our crew keeps getting bigger, even though it’s a simpler setup technically. We’ve got a truck and two tour buses all full of people. It’s good because you can do so much more and really put on a wicked show for people that’s different than what they’re used to seeing.

With so much on the tech front, how does that affect the programming of your DJ set?

We have put a lot of effort into making sure that I can still DJ a real DJ set and play songs however I want to play them, in whatever order. Obviously with some animations being made for specific songs, I’m limited to playing the songs that have animations made for them. But we’re always getting more made. I’ve already changed up things a lot from the first show of the tour, which was only [January 25]. There are definitely limitations, but we’re trying to keep it as close as possible to a traditional DJ set where I can read the crowd and have flexibilities to play what it seems like they want to hear—not like other acts in the past who always play the exact same set for the entire tour.

On the music front, is the follow-up to your last LP, X Rated, going to be out this year?

We’re working on the album for Destroid, which is my new group/band/project that launched last Halloween. We have that album coming out in a couple of months. It’s an Excision/Downlink/KJ Sawka Destroid album. We’re collaborating with other feature artists like Space Laces, Far Too Loud and Delta Heavy. I’ve personally been involved in every single track on the Destroid album, so it’s kind of like a dual-purpose album.

Will there be a new Destroid digital comic book to coincide with the release?

We’re definitely continuing the comic book thing. With the first one, the guy who was making it was super stressed out. We really want to continue the story line and develop it as we go. We’re not sure if it’ll be finished by the time the album comes out, but if it doesn’t it’ll be shortly thereafter.

You’ve been involved in bass music for nearly a decade. What do you think of Skrillex?

Honestly? He is the absolute nicest guy in the entire scene that I’ve ever met. Even if anyone did hate his music, they would never say anything because he is such a nice guy. I actually like his music; it’s really well produced. He got very good at producing very fast, so I have nothing but respect for him.

What do you think about his impact on the scene?

He’s blown it up for all of us, and he makes a great leader. He’s got the special look, he’s got his own sound and he’s not ripping off anyone. He’s doing his own thing. It’s great for the scene; it’s giving it a mainstream avenue for artists to get more exposure. People who like his music usually end up delving further into bass music and discover other artists they would want to come and check out. I definitely see his impact on my own shows and my own attendance. I’ve got nothing but love for him.

You’ve got some really dedicated fans with Excision logo tattoos. What is that like for you, and what does that mean if in the future you want to change your logo?

[Laughs.] Yeah, there’s a lot of those guys out there. I even had a guy who got my old stage from last year tattooed on his back in glow-in-the-dark ink. I’ve already got a new stage made so I don’t know how he feels. I guess that’s the risk you take with tattoos being so permanent. You have to have a meaning for yourself of what the tattoo stands for and not worry about the way the world changes.

Would you ever get your own logo tattooed like some DJ/producers do?

No, I think that would be a bit narcissistic.

Do fans ever bring you T-Rex “Rexcision” present, stuffed dinosaurs or anything like that?

Yeah, I love that. I get weird gifts all the time. I actually had someone give me a T-Rex helmet five minutes before my annual set at Shambhala [Festival in Canada], so I wore it for the first five minutes. Sure enough, people on YouTube were saying that I was ripping off Deadmau5, but it was just a joke.

You release those live Shambhala sets every year. Will you be playing there again in 2013?

Yep, I’ll definitely be there.

Are there any T-Rex segments in the visuals on this tour?

There definitely are. You’ll have to come see it.