As a US Drum & Bass legend, pioneer, and technical master hand; the man has pushed the genre since its hardcore roots and is a driving example on what it means to “be a real DJ”.
From ‘Human Imprint’ to ‘Planet of the Drums’ and onward, he has more than proved himself to be a legend. We sat down with Dieselboy to learn a bit more about him and his journey.
Q: Introduce yourself and tell us a bit of the history behind (you):
A: My name is Damian Higgins aka “Dieselboy”. I have spent the last 30 years pushing drum and bass music worldwide via my DJ sets, mixes, original music, remixes and countless DJ sets.
Q: Where did you get your artist name from?:
A: Back in college I used the handle “Diesel” on online message boards and chat rooms. After I discovered that a local graffiti artist was using that same tag I added the “boy” because I looked super young, was into comic books and cartoons and it was considered cool back in 1991 to have a name related to anything with a youthful bent. I never knew when I chose the name that I would end up turning DJ’ing into a lifelong career.
Q: What was your first experience with Drum and Bass like?:
A: I never had one. I entered the scene in 1991 before drum and bass music was a sound or a genre. My first experience hearing the sound that eventually morphed into drum and bass was the day I entered “Collectors 12 Inch” records in Pittsburgh and heard the tune “Anasthasia” by T-99 from the cd compilation “XL Recordings Chapter 2”. It blew my mind and started me on my journey of discovering electronic dance music.
Q: How did you discover/develop the heavy style of Drum & Bass that you’re known for playing?:
A: I always gravitated to music that really pushed the boundaries sonically. And given that I was a full on raver in the rave scene and loved going out dancing I just liked the music that had the most energy in it. This colored my taste in drum and bass as my DJ career took off. I always liked hitting the crowd with the hard stuff.
Q: Where do you think your life would have went instead if it weren’t for Drum & Bass/your music career?:
A: Hard to say. I was originally on track to have a career in database management and internet related stuff. But my path into DJ’ing and then into design and art and other creative endeavors make me think that I eventually would have ended up in something less corporate and more creative. I think that it was always my fate to do something more interesting than sitting behind a desk all day.
Q: What is you’re biggest break / thing you are most thankful for to date in your music career?:
A: I was given the opportunity to do a mix cd for the biggest American dance music label of it’s day Moonshine Recordings via Dan Donnelly at Suburban Base records in the UK. That project exposed me to a much larger audience than what I was used to playing for in the regions surrounding Pittsburgh.
Q: What is one dnb track that never gets old for you no matter how many times you hear it?:
A: Any tune from Bad Company.
Q: Who are some of your favorite Drum & Bass artists? Favorite labels?:
A: Off the top of my head – The Upbeats, Buunshin, TC, Dimension, Break, Phace, DJ Hazard, the list goes on. Label wise I would say Ram, Playaz, Don’t Play, Critical, MTA, etc etc
Q: Let’s say you’re playing a b2b set with a homie. Who are you calling?:
A: Planet of the Drums would always get the first call. But I would also always be down to turn up with my brother Downlink. If it was DJ’ing with other DJs in the scene I know then it would be either Andy C, A.M.C or Friction. I know that set would fire AF.
Q: Tell us about the strangest / most embarrassing experience you’ve had before, during or after a show:
A: I was in Russia years ago and was given what I thought was a circle of armed security guards the led me in and out of the giant rave I was booked to play. They all had weapons. When I was leaving the show people were trying to stop me for an autograph / picture and they were actually treated pretty poorly by these dudes which upset me. I found out later they were actually holding fake guns that shot paintballs and it was all fake. It was weird.
Q: As a US DnB pioneer, you’ve been spinning longer than I was alive. I was born in 1996. What was the scene like back then? Did you ever get shit for being a young (American) pushing dnb?:
A: It was really starting to get its legs underneath it and there was a lot of buzz and energy in the scene. People actually danced at the shows since there wasn’t this giant push to have people stare at the DJ. It was also way more underground and the energy was incredibly raw and real. Plenty of shows didn’t feel safe and I was 100% ok with that.
Q: What is one subgenre you think doesn’t get the attention it deserves?:
A: I would love to see more artists pushing the short-lived “filtered disco house” influenced style of Drum & Bass that was popular around the time J. Majik remixed Hatiras “Spaced Invader”. It was such a killer combination of funky and driving and fun. BRING IT BACK!
Q: If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?:
A: More American promoters would push and promote drum and bass at more shows and festivals. I continuously watch as the number of drum and bass DJs being booked at shows in the states continues to dwindle or flatline at low numbers. More exposure means more excitement from the average raver / club kid out there. We need more visibility in the overall scene.
Q: Where do you see / hope to see the sound of Drum and Bass evolving too in the next few years:
A: If I knew the answer to that I would be making that music today. I am sure it will prove to be interesting no matter what it is because that is why I love drum and bass – always expect the unexpected!
Q: What is one tip you would like to give to aspiring Drum and Bass artists/the next generation?:
A: Do your homework.