Industrial music on the rise, fueled by Dieselboy

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Industrial music on the rise, fueled by Dieselboy

Sometimes Damian Higgins wakes up and knows where he is - and sometimes not. For up to three weeks out of every month he lives out of a suitcase, very often in countries other than his own.

On this day, the Pennsylvania native had flown from Honolulu to Seoul and was put up in a downtown hotel. A little after midnight he gets a pounding on his door. It's time for him to go to work.

Higgins, in his late 20s, is a deejay who goes by the name DJ Dieselboy. He's an expert in the burgeoning drum and bass movement - part of the electronic music scene - which is revolutionizing industrial music in the United States and bringing it out from under its U.K. shadow. Drum and bass, with its fast and relentlessly pounding beats, hasn't really got off the ground in Korea. But if a local party promoter, 02 Production Co., gets its way, that will change.

"The drum and bass scene is nothing compared with house and trance, but there is interest," said Tommy Kim, the promoter's marketing director. The company flew Dieselboy to Korea for their recent party.

The evolution of "underground" music had its genesis in drum and guitar sounds, which swiftly branched off to hip-hop and industrial music. Still, the three categories coexist and continue to evolve in Korea. As a subcategory of industrial, drum and bass is considered cutting edge, and Dieselboy is its standard-bearer: He was the first American to get the best drum and bass deejay honor at the Global DJ Mix Awards in San Francisco.

When Dieselboy arrives at the party venue, the large downtown auditorium Triport Hall, he passes the partygoers lined up outside - models, photographers, teens, English teachers, U.S. Army soldiers - decked out in hippie garb or with dangling neon glowsticks. "It looks like there's some people here," Higgins says. Though it's about freezing outside, the crowd endures the chill before being frisked by dark-suited security men.

The all-night party takes off, with local deejays Fujuwara, Dubu, Andy and Jusok playing second fiddle for Dieselboy.

Dieselboy rattles off a list of the Asian countries he's worked already: Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan. "My least favorite place was Japan, and Hong Kong was my favorite," he says. In Japan, he was surprised to find the drum and bass scene small. "I always viewed Japan as a futuristic type of society. Taipei and Hong Kong are definitely on the move though."

Though he's played plenty of parties in Asia, this is Dieselboy's first trip to Korea. What will he do when his job is done? "I heard there's good shopping in Dongdaemun," he says while relaxing backstage, warming his hands in the pockets of a gray sweatshirt that says "Re-evolu-tion." He slouches, eyes blinking back jet lag.

Dieselboy says he's inspired by everything, so a place like Dongdaemun is probably just the place for him. He is a walking antenna, processing all kinds of sounds around him. "You might hear something and think it's noise, but to me it's a cool sound," he says.

Not one to narrowly define himself, the deejay mixes from a variety of styles such as house, techno and disco. "I like music that takes your breath away when you hear it on a massive sound system," he says. "Music that sounds like you're listening to something from 10 years in the future."

To create his music he uses an Apple G4 computer with a program called the Logic Audio Platinum, an all-in-one studio with sampler and compressors and a mixing board.

If this is the future, keep your neck limber and invest in good sneakers - this music keeps you moving.

by Joe Yong-hee

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