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It has been a long road to the top for drum ‘n’ bass DJ/Producer maverick
Dieselboy. After years spent pushing the U.S. drum ‘n’ bass scene forward
and making a name for himself, it’s easy to imagine that Dieselboy would
want to step back and bask in his well earned success. But this is not the
case… because for Dieselboy, it is the continual test that is the
inspiration. Seeking out and approaching challenges head on, Dieselboy has
taken it upon himself to tear down the walls that isolate music genres as
well as expand the worldwide acceptance of drum ‘n’ bass as a whole and
American-produced d‘n’b in particular. A part of the stateside electronic
movement from the very beginning, Dieselboy is hailed as one of the
Founding Fathers of American drum ‘n’ bass. His passion for the music and
his rigorous touring and production schedules have earned him a slot in
that upper pantheon of DJs able to perform to enthusiastic audiences the
world over. From Hong Kong to Helsinki to Philadelphia, the UK’s Knowledge
Magazine declares, “Dieselboy has managed to build a fan base that rivals
that of any rock star.”

The small-town boy, born Damian Higgins, first stepped into music as the
drummer in his junior high school band. Growing up, Dieselboy was into
breakdancing (which he picked up by watching movies such as ‘Beat Street’
and ‘Breakin’), 80s synthpop, and metal. In the early 90s, Dieselboy was
introduced to the classic T99 techno track “Anasthasia” - he was hooked,
and an interest in DJing quickly followed. Learning the basics on a
college radio show at Carnegie Mellon University (because he did not
actually own a set of turntables himself), Dieselboy literally learned how
to DJ on the air. “That’s where I practiced beat-matching,” he notes. He
started sending mix tapes out via the Internet, and amassed his earliest
fan base not at local raves, but in Internet chatrooms.

Over a decade has passed since the days of Dieselboy’s online start-up.
Today, he is at the top of his game: he can proudly say that he has one of
the longest-running drum ‘n’ bass weeklies in the nation (Platinum in
Philadelphia); he was the first American to be nominated (and win, tying
with LTJ Bukem) for best d’n’b DJ at the 1998 Global DJ Mix Awards; the
first American to get his record played at Metalheadz (2000’s “Invid”);
the first American d‘n’b DJ to play Fabric in London; the first d‘n’b DJ
to chart a single on Billboard’s dance chart; the first American d‘n’b DJ
to score higher on DJ Mag’s Top 100 poll than a UK DJ (63 to Fabio and
Grooverider’s 97 and 88). Not to mention he is consistently rated as one of America’s Favorite DJs in the annual BPM Magazine reader’s poll, and received a nomination for Best Breakthrough DJ at the 2003 American Dancestar Awards.

The ultimate perfectionist, Dieselboy looks at DJing as a serious art
form, not some cushy gig. Having every record alphabetized by artist, he’s
been called “particular almost to a fault.” His modest Philadelphia home
is filled with collectible vinyl action figures and thousands of records,
with a downstairs studio for all his production work. Among his vast music
collection one will find everything from My Bloody Valentine and early
Verve stuff to classic 70s funk and disco, 80s new wave, hip-hop, and
movie soundtracks. A film enthusiast with a photographic memory, Dieselboy
watches up to four films a week and can quote from all the reviews.
For his eighth mix CD, Dieselboy dares to challenge the rigid delineations
that have long plagued dance music, breaking down the barriers between
drum ‘n’ bass, techno, house, trance/progressive. Entitled The
Dungeonmaster’s Guide in homage to his role-playing game days (the
original Dungeon Master’s Guide actually being the first RPG book
Dieselboy ever bought), the CD is put together like an epic adventure
across a varied and gripping soundscape. “It’s a nod to my geek gaming
roots,” Dieselboy says. All the narration has been scripted personally by
Dieselboy, and features the illustrious voice of none other than Peter
Cullen, aka the Transformers’ Optimus Prime.

Approaching some of the most notable progressive artists in the world,
including BT, Sasha, and Tiesto, as well as techno prodigy and Philly
compatriot Josh Wink, Dieselboy embarked on a mission to create something
unique by having these artists’ tunes remixed by a slew of the largest
names and hottest up-and-coming drum ‘n’ bass producers. With the help of Kaos, Karl K, Concord Dawn, Gridlok, E-sassin, and more, Dieselboy collected the tracks for a state-of-the-art mix CD. While orchestrating a project of this magnitude was far from easy, Dieselboy would not have it any other way:

“ With every CD, I’ve tried to set the bar a little higher than the time
before. It would be easy for me to churn out a ‘best of drum ‘n’ bass
[compilation] every three months, cash in and rinse it out. But I try to
do creative, artistic stuff, really go for it and do something different.
I didn’t get to this point so I could sit back, stop trying and fuck it all up. I’m trying hard now to keep progressing, developing and bettering myself overall as a musician and as an artist. You always have to keep reinventing yourself and doing new stuff, or you’re just going to fall through the cracks.”

CD 2 of the double-disc set features a bonus EP of remixes of original
tracks from Dieselboy’s label, HUMAN, started in 2002 as a way to help
promote US artists he felt deserved attention. For the EP, he approached
some of his favorite US producers to remix the HUMAN singles written by
close friends Kaos, Karl K and Jae Kennedy, who blew up in 2003 with a
series of Billboard-charting releases and graced the cover of drum ‘n’
bass magazine RINSE. Among those enlisted to do the remixes are Gridlok,
KC, Stratus, Evol Intent and Basic Operations.

Dieselboy has also been experimenting with fusing drum ‘n’ bass with rock
and hip-hop. He has remixed Orgy and Styles of Beyond, and has performed
at shows with artists such as P.O.D., Orgy, and System of a Down. He has
also toured alongside David Bowie, Moby, Busta Rhymes and Blue Man Group
at 2002’s Area:2 Festival, and played the main stage at 2003’s Cyberfest
featuring Kraftwerk, Pharaoh Monch, Planet B and Kevens. For his remix of
Styles of Beyond’s “Subculture,” featured in the Playstation 2 game
‘ Amplitude’, he brought in a live band to flesh out the programmed
elements with live bass, drums, guitars and keyboards. “It was an
experiment for me, but I found jungle, rock, and hip-hop to flow together
very well,” Dieselboy says. His next project: producing drum ‘n’ bass
tunes with metal influences for a musical fusion that might just be the
next wave in the world of d‘n’b and beyond.