Figure is an undisputed leader of the dubstep scene, and with Halloween closing in, we wanted to chat with the master of frightening sets to get in the mood!
If you talk to anyone about the dubstep scene and they don’t mention Figure as one of the most influential players in the game, they obviously don’t know what they’re talking about. Known for some of the heaviest dubstep around, he has been spinning sets for longer than most and always staying true to his sound. His annual EP release titled ‘Monsters’ is something that I, as well as many other bass music lovers, look forward to each year in the lead up to Halloween. This year’s edition, ‘Monsters 7’, was stocked full of heavy tracks that left us speechless, and incorporated a nice variety of samples from our favorite horror movies too. Figure brings with him a very “rock” feel to his entire experience, and unique shows like Terrorvision bring something seriously wicked to the table.
Recently, He has played all over the United States with friend and fellow dubstep artist Protohype on the ‘Outta This World‘ Tour, so make sure to check him out in a city near you! Figure is also getting ready to play at both Freaky Deaky and Nightmare Festival to bring some serious scares to festival-goers next weekend, so we made sure to get in touch with him to see what is in store!
Stream Figure – Monsters 7 on SoundCloud:
You’re currently on tour with Protohype. How did the idea behind this tour come about?
The idea came from, well I kind of tour the same time every year. So that was there, where I knew I was going to have to do some type of tour. The past two tours I’ve done, it was with friends versus how I used to just go on my own and it would be with local support. It was one with Crizzly and one with Space Laces, so I knew that I wanted to tour with somebody. I put that idea out there, telling my manager “yo, think about it, tell booking agents and talk to people to see what’s up.” And I guess Protohype was kind of doing the same thing, and we have known each other for a while so they pitched it and we were instantly like “yup, let’s do that.”
Yeah, yeah it was real easy. And then the whole theme of it has to come about, because it can’t just be like “hey, we’re going to show up and play some music.” You have to make it seem like there’s going to be some different type of vibe or environment or something because there is no stage setup. So we just thought, let’s get away from making it look like some uber-masculine dubstep night, and make it look like a party. Like something fun.
I remember seeing all the flyers and all that shit maybe ten years ago for all the Ed Banger shows and justice shows, and it just seemed like it was a really fun party. So we just want to make it look like a fun show, so some girls might get scared off if they don’t love dubstep. We figured we’d make it all spacey. I was riding one of my cats on the flyer and he’s riding his dog, just to make it look fun. Even though it’s still like pretty brutal, heavy shit the entire time. But I think people will know that when they see we’re both playing. But yeah, just trying to separate ourselves from the uber-aggressive flyers and promotion look at a lot of the dubstep shows.
I thought it was really cool branding with the whole “Outta This World” look, and everything.
Yeah, and I mean because that’s like him and I just treat it like we are partying anyway, we’re just out there to have fun. And there is some nights where we just…shit there’s been nights for our b2b that we’ve done 35 minutes of just straight 128 bpm electro stuff. There’s no real rules about it. If it’s my tour, if it’s just me, and someone is opening up for me, they expect the scariest, hardest stuff possible. So branding it like that gives us a little bit of leeway if we feel like it.
It’s almost more lighthearted and is not sticking you in the heaviness…
Right, right, like we can go there and people expect it, but people also, after a while, they’ll get that it’s kind of an open format type of night. Especially when him and I go b2b. It just doesn’t matter, I mean, there have been times in which we have done 20 minutes of indie rock and hip hop.
Is there a different energy on the tour when you’re with other artists? Do you prefer touring with other artists as opposed to touring solo?
I would say yes and no. I mean, I really like doing my own and building my own night where everyone knows it’s going to be a creepy type of night. But some days, say there’s like nine shows in a row with no breaks, some days I’m like “fuck man, I just want to play other shit right now but this is so branded”. So yes, I like that I don’t always have to do that, but it also almost makes it easier sometimes. When it’s like my Terrorvision Tour, which was me controlling the visuals and the audio, and it’s all just people getting their heads chopped off and gore and stuff, that puts it in more of a direct lane for what I want to do and that makes the night easier.
It really depends on the night, but one different thing about it is that I switched to CDJs for this tour. I never even really knew how to use them before, I have always been on turntables, serato, and that’s just my go to. And I’m not done with that but I knew since we were advertising this as also a b2b set. Because he does a set, I do a set, and then there is the b2b. I was not going to try to go like, me on my own mixer over here and then him on his own setup. The only way we could beat match, since we’re not connected to the same mixer, is through the monitors, and it sounded like garbage trying to tag so I just had to learn CDJs. And that changed the set because it’s just a different tactile…it’s just the whole function of it is different. I don’t have to look at my laptop, I can just pick songs and just go, and I found myself playing more people’s music out than I normally do. I kind of try to treat myself like a band, not just like some EDM kid there to play whatever the hottest track is. I like to play more of my stuff than anyone else’s, but after ten years of playing out I am getting tired of playing “”Beetlejuice”. You know what I mean?
Yeah, I feel you, you kind of want to have some fun too…
Exactly, because at the end of the day, even though the only reason people know me as Figure is as a producer, before all that I was a DJ. Since I was 15 I loved DJing, so for all that time to be playing 90% of the same tracks, it’s refreshing. I basically just said “fuck it, I don’t care if they’re mad if they don’t hear this song that they’ve heard seven times in the past five years at my shows or some shit, I’m playing what I want to play.” And actually no one said anything. Normally people get really mad, they’re like “why didn’t you play The Werewolf” or some played out track that I’m just done playing. They’ll get mad, so I was expecting a lot of backlash to me just playing tons of unreleased stuff from my friends and the response has been awesome. I think everyone’s actually really enjoying it because they don’t know what to expect, especially because I don’t go b2b with anyone because I’ve always been on tables. It’s a whole new thing.
We absolutely loved your latest release ‘Monsters 7’. Which track was the most fun to make, and how did you pick which tracks would be arranged with each clip?
Such a hard question to say my favorite, because it kind of changes every day. But I think the one that I was most excited about was “The Exorcist” and that’s because of how it turned out. That’s thin ice messing with something that classic. You have to use the theme song obviously. I’ve tried it before and messed with it, and I was like “no I don’t want to have some weird key change and mess things up”. But finally I just went for it and sat down at my piano and started playing the theme song, and then just looped maybe 16 bars of the piano, and then played some orchestral sounds over it. I just think that song only took like, six hours, it all just kind of came together.
See, so that goes into the other part of the question that you said, how it’s arranged. So that song, I said I started with the theme song, so obviously the samples are going to go where ever it would fit in the track and they’re obviously going to be exorcist ones. But there are other songs like “RedRum” with Code Pandorum. He just sent me stems, he was like “yo I’ll chop up some horror movie samples…” and I was just like, “no, if this is for ‘Monsters’ that’s my job, let me find what’s going to fit. Don’t go looking for samples, I got it.” So he just sent me tons of noises and I made the track. That track actually, I think, was the fastest track, because we were trying to work on something for a while and it just never came together. Then he sent me another pack of stems, I downloaded them right before I got on the plane to go to Australia, and then right when I got in the hotel I was in this was in this weird, energetic but completely zombied out weird jet-lag thing because I went to the airport drunk and then woke up with a bunch of coffee and got on the airplane and then drank more. I was basically just trying to pass out so the flight didn’t exist.
When I got there I was just in this weird limbo and was like “I’m just gonna turn the lights off and get on my laptop”, and then just loaded his stems up and in like a couple of hours that song was done, but with no samples. So I thought “well I’ve done “The Exorcist”, I already had “Suspiria” done, so what other classic…” Because what I wanted to do with this, is kind of…other than “Black Magick” and “The Ritual:, which aren’t actual like…I mean there is like a shitty B movie called “The Ritual” and there are plenty of movies about Black Magick…but those aren’t specific, actual movies. That was me kind of making up that, which I’ve done a whole lot in the past, like the last Monsters I think only had like one or two actual movie themed ones and I just made up the other ones. So I just grabbed the samples, and this track that was completely done, that had no theme to it, no scoring reference or anything, and just got Shining samples from my favorite parts and just chopped it in, and boom that’s the Shining song. So there’s the two different routes, like I start as an Exorcist song, or I just finish a track and put samples in there and then it just turns into what it is. It’s almost like having the Frankenstein monster done and then you have to find the right brain to turn it on and finish it.
That’s a cool way of looking at it! Do you ever feel pressure to stay within a certain sound? Have you ever felt you wanted to make your beats more or less heavy based on the current vibe of the scene?
Yes and no. I did that not for me trying to adapt, but I did it last year. I made a full album called ‘Gravity’, and it’s not horror themed, it’s just a straight up album. It has hip hop stuff, it has melodic shit on it, and a whole bunch of other stuff. That was just because I wanted to do something else. But sound-wise I feel like I’ve been around…I was around before there was a trend.
Like when dubstep was just dubstep, and there wasn’t a “sound” to get you, like you couldn’t make a track, you had to have a thing about you. Kind of like when people first heard Skrillex’s first album, it had a sound, you know what I mean? And that I think was one of the first massive trendsetters, but before that you just had to make good shit. At that time, that’s when I kind of came up with my sound, so I think in my eyes I don’t worry about adapting. I just always progress within my own little world that I have created for myself.
If I was going to go very left field, then I’d start a new name, but I really just look at it like whatever sounds I make, somehow, no matter how I approach it, it still ends up sounding like me. And also what really helps not adapt in sound, so I don’t get some comment that’s like “yo you ripped off Getter” or “you ripped off…” you know what I mean? I just try to improve, I just always try to improve and it’s kind of the same. I feel like if you asked the Misfits or if you asked Slayer or someone like that, they’re like “Nah man, we just…we’re Slayer…we just do what we do…” I know that Slayer isn’t the original Slayer anymore, but I’m sure that Slayer doesn’t go on Spotify and listen to the newest metal to find out what their new album is going to sound like. They just go in the studio and they’re fucking Slayer.
So that’s what I kind of mean by the band thing, I just don’t pay attention to what’s going on really. I’ll get new songs from my friends, and that’s the extent of what I know is going on. I’ve met some huge artists and I didn’t know who they were because they just came up. And they’re always like “yo this motherfuckin’ so and so, he’s done this and this and this” and I’m like “I have no fucking clue who you are, I’m sorry” *Laughs* I just like to stay out of it. That’s when you really get pulled in, and instead of rowing your own boat, you’re literally just floating down stream with everyone else. You’re going where that stream and everyone else is going, but I’d rather just man my own ship and decide how fast, how slow, if I’m going to get off here or there, where I’m gonna go. But staying out of the culture of the trends, and not paying attention, that’s definitely helped.
You’ve also seemed to stay away from all the drama too that seems to be happening in the dubstep community from time to time…
Yeah I just don’t fuck with it. It’s just people get these weird egos, none of us are important, we’re all like overpaid, electronic nerdy dudes on our laptops. None of this…well the culture is important, it helps kids culturally I guess sometimes…but it’s not…we’re not fucking Radiohead. All these people get egos and then start twitter fights and there’s all this shit going down…and I don’t give a shit. It’s just childish and I don’t think any of those people are ever going to say anything to me. I’m the old guy, I’m the 30-year-old tattooed, crazy guy. I don’t think they’re going to say anything. I just think its dumb and a waste of time for people to start shit. Especially because all of us have everyone’s number. If I want to start shit with someone I’ll just call them right now and be like “yo you know that was bullshit, what the fuck is wrong with you? Explain yourself.” But publicly tweeting or posting on Facebook, I mean I’m not just referencing one scenario but I just see it happening all the time and it’s just a waste of time. They could be producing or if they care so much to call someone out maybe they should care a little bit more and put their fucking phone down and work on music.
They should make a diss track…
Right!? Let’s take it back to 80’s and 90’s hip hop. Yeah, say I had beef with Protohype, I’m not gonna be like “yo fuck you for drinkin’ my Heineken.” I’m gonna be like “yo I’m gonna remake your best track and I’m gonna make it better, fuck you”. That’s what I’d do, and then if it sucks then it looks like I lost a little battle. I would love to see a boxing circuit with DJs *Laughs*
Like “Underground DJ Fights”…
Oh it would be so good, cause you know they do those celebrity fights. There have been a couple where celebrities box each other. None of us are celebrities, but that would be very entertaining. Every DJ would have their rider in the locker room and all that shit.
If you could make any one change to the current electronic music scene as a whole, what would it be?
I think the drugs. Yeah like…I guess the way I grew up, I’m contradicting myself because I grew up loving Hunter S Thompson and I support taking the proper ride when you need to. But these kids are looking up to us, and they’re older than we were when we started. They want to be on stage like we are on stage, they want to do what we’re doing. But they’re currently, like literally wasting their time away buying super cut, horrible drugs and fucking up at school, they can’t even afford a ticket so they bother you for guest list even though they just spent 150 dollars on a backpack full of assorted drugs. They don’t really appreciate the music much, and it is just in general holding a lot of people back from being creative or spreading their wings into where ever the fuck they need to go.
And also it’s just bad for shows too. I’ve seen a difference in some big cities that I used to go to, even the same venues, and the kids used to be just fucking wild. Now, it’s just the rail riders and everyone else is just…their fucking mouth is open and they have white shit all over their mouth, and they’re just barely moving. It just takes it away. I mean, all that stuff has been around forever. Cocaine and everything has been around forever, but the shit that these kids are doing now, wasn’t really around much when all this shit started. If it was, it was good stuff and wasn’t killing kids and shutting their bodies down, and shit like that. And to be clear I don’t mean this about everyone, just focused in on this one aspect since you asked what I would change.
Yeah even I have seen a massive change in not just the age that people are doing this stuff, but the amount of people that look “gone” at events…
Yeah, it’s just they’re not there for the right reasons.
It’s a pretty big problem.
Yeah I mean, I support weed all day long, especially for medical purposes for cancer patients and shit, like that’s amazing. But I’ve had kids come up when I go down to say what’s up after shows, and a kid will have a line of ketamine on a key for me. He’ll be like “yo here!” and shove it in my face and I’ll smack his hand and say “are you fucking serious?” It will be to the point where he almost touched my nose, and I’ll be like “get the fuck away from me” like you just assume that we all are doing that. And something else to note, it’s really funny, especially with all that going on, the difference that all this stuff is creating, separating the artist and the crowd. Take for example, I was 15, 16, going to punk shows. Any of us could have walked on stage and looked like we were part of the band. We were all like-minded people, everyone could converse at the end, and it wasn’t weird.
But now sometimes, not all the times, I’ve met tons of fucking awesome fans, young and old, but lately there’s been a big disconnect I’ve seen. More so at festivals too, when you meet someone they’re not even trying to talk to you. They don’t even want to say “Hi”, they just literally hold their phone out and they want a picture. They don’t want to say anything, it’s just creating this crazy disconnect between the stage and the floor and I would love that disconnect to disappear as much as possible.
Do you feel that the disconnect has grown because there has been more people going to the events as well, or is just our culture?
Oh I’m sure it’s both. I mean with more people you’re going to get more of whatever those people offer in the first place. Life if you go to a sneaker convention, if more people show up there is going to be more sneakers bought. The bigger the festival, the bigger the drug amount that is coming in, the bigger everything. The bigger the ratio of people getting hurt, or the ratio of people maybe having fun, because there are more people. Well, and the culture too, now it’s like…they sell LED light gloves and shit at places like Best Buy now. There’s a whole end of one of the aisles, it had glow sticks and all this stuff, fake neon futuristic looking rubber dreadlock things…that’s what culture does to itself I guess. Look at how dope the era when Nirvana was around, and look at how whack the Blink 182 era was that spawned from that. So things are going to move and things are going to change, but I think if the drugs got held back a little bit then the general appreciation would go up more and then it would just internally grow from the inside, stronger.
So you’re playing Freaky Deaky and Nightmare Festival at the end of this month as well. Do you have anything special in store for your fans to celebrate Halloween at these shows?
Yeah I have three singles I haven’t even played out yet, I am saving a lot of new music…I’ll say that much. But also it is Halloween so it’s going to be a completely themed set for all of that. It’s not going to be me reading the crowd, I’m not going to be worried about what they want. I’m just going to go just as HAM as possible, just with all of my stuff, and then there are all these new remixes I have, all these remixes I have from Monsters 7, I already have a full remix pack done from Monsters 7, yeah. That and then my next couple singles and then at Freaky Deaky, their visuals I’m giving them are pretty much the only time those visuals will be used at an event, and it’s kind of like my Terrorvision stuff, but I’m not controlling it. It’s just super hyper, it’s faster and more hyper than Terrorvision but it’s just like crazy shit I put together.
Then at Nightmare [Festival], is the only time I’m actually doing my full Terrorvision set this year, and half of it is the next Terrorvision, because there is Terrorvision 2.0. It’s not going to be called that, I think it’s going to be called ‘Terrorvision Hypercolor’ but it’s just over colored, oversaturated, very bright. Almost like if someone uses a bad Instagram filter and it looks over-corrected, you know? But it’s done professionally, like it doesn’t look bad like that, but it’s the only way I could really describe it. So yeah, there is tons of new tracks, new visuals on both festivals, and both festivals will have different visuals.
Sticking with the Halloween theme, are you going to be dressing up at all?
Yeah, I got it today. Have you seen Conjuring 2?
So I’m going to be Valak, so I’m going to be a Nun.
That is awesome, I love it.
I’m going to have my face painted, and I’m going to stay in the fucking costume the entire time. Me and my girl actually just got our shit for it today, and I have multiple options of the head-piece, if I want it really long or loose. I got all the makeup and these messed up teeth. It will be funny because one, I’m dressing up like a female nun. But then I’m going to be on stage, dressed up, jumping around, so there’s going to be this Nun jumping around.
I texted my mom, and was like “I’ve got my Halloween costume”. I sent her a picture and she didn’t even respond. *laughs*
Do you have any favorite memories from past Halloweens?
See, all of the Halloweens…I haven’t had a Halloween off in like nine years or something crazy. Even before the whole Figure thing took off, I was a local DJ, so there was always some Halloween thing.
…maybe a favorite show?
Yeah to be honest, this is why this is like my fourth time back at Nightmare [Festival], and I’m not even trying to plug it. It has this certain vibe that I want. The only time I’ll ever diva out is for Halloween, and I’m like “no these are the types of shows I want, this is the week I give a shit about, this is what I demand, this vibe.” The first night at Nightmare I was like…YEAH. Because there’s this place where half of this family died in, and that is one of the cabins, like the main cabins. Then there’s this huge graveyard right behind the whole festival. It’s in these creepy ass woods and you have to walk through the woods with people trying to scare you and shit to get to the next stage.
Oh my god…
Yeah, I mean there’s literally like fog rolling in over everything. The green room is outside, and there is this trailer, but they always have a bonfire and an open bar for the artists. And there is fog on the ground, in the dark, it’s just…heaven. It’s super legit, the only thing that sucks is that the closest hotel is like a two-hour drive away.
That sounds fantastic…so in a live setting with your sets do you feel that the lead in or the drop is more important? What makes fans go off the most in your opinion?
The drop always has to be important. Look at it like a fight, you can talk shit all you want, say that’s the buildup, but it’s only when you knock someone out that you’re victor, you’re the champ. So when you talk the best shit, meaning like say the buildup is just crazy and kids are going insane, and they can’t wait and then it drops and it’s even more insane, it’s just this whole crazy package.
But there’s also another… a sleeper build, that’s what I always call it, and a lot of my older stuff had that. I wouldn’t have any builds it would just stop and have some samples, and it would be like “random monster” and then “Blahhh” and it would just go. But I think the drop is more important, but a melody and a good build into a really good drop is what makes a hit.
I care about the drop more because I don’t sit around and listen to dubstep, I mix it. So when I mix it you’re not going to hear the buildup that much because I’m going to be mixing that in while the other one is still going, and shit like that. But I guess for people listening either in the car or at a festival, I guess I would say the drop, but very close behind is the build and the melody.
If you could share the stage with one artist from your music library, who would it be and why?
If I could actually integrate and work with someone, and not just kind of be a DJ and push buttons behind a band, if I could actually work with someone when they’re doing a theatrical production…
Like a true live set…
Yeah, yeah, I would have to say Marilyn Manson and then very short under that is Rob Zombie.
Wow yeah, right up your alley.
Yeah because it’s a production. I mean, there are bands that I love but I don’t know what I could contribute. Like I love Phantogram and stuff like that but I have nothing to offer them. Yeah I think Marilyn Manson. Some of my friends are his friends, but I don’t know him yet, but from what I’ve been told he likes…well if it’s crazy he’s down. So it would be appropriate dubstep type shit, where it’s not dubsteppy like it’s not current like squealy things, but if it was heavy and dark and sets that vibe, then that.
More industrial, almost…
So Halloween 2017, Figure and Marilyn Manson right?
Yeah, confirmed! *laughs* Opening up with Justin Bieber, he’s doing a full Korn cover set. *laughs*
You sort of spoke about it earlier, saying that you had some remixes and such that were going to be in your Halloween sets, but is there any new material you have in store for fans to close out the year?
Yeah I know for sure that before Halloween, I have a ‘Munsters’ theme song remix, just kind of like the “Beetlejuice” remix I did. I actually loaded up some of the same old patches from “Beetlejuice” and flipped on them a little bit and did the same thing. Like after the first drop it goes and uses the same patches but updated, and covers the ‘Munsters’ theme song. So I wanted to be a little bit nostalgic about it. I’m hoping kids will kind of realize what I did there, because half of the chords are the same as the theme.
So anyways there’s a ‘Munsters’ theme song that will be free, and I’ll have a funny little music video for it on YouTube with me chopping up old ‘Munsters’ clips. And then I might drop this collab before the end of the year with Niveau Zero, this dude from Paris that just makes crazy shit. I’ve actually put out some of his stuff on DOOM before, and we just have this song that is super machine gunny, just super heavy. He did some hardcore vocals on it, and once I finally get home I’m going to put some doom metal guitars on it. It’s done now though but if I don’t have a date set, I keep working on it, ya know?
The ‘Munsters’ thing for sure and Monsters 7 remixes. Which, that one’s crazy, because that has…I basically just grabbed a bunch of people who were talented right now…so it’s all Code Pandorum, Sudden Death, Tempest, Dubscribe, HEHVY, and Ironside. Half of those dudes are in LA and are my homies, but the whole pack is almost heavier than Monsters 7 in general.
And then my label, Doom, that’s something that I’m focusing on now too, to basically add to what else is coming. I’m putting tons of stuff out that basically, if people like my shit, then they’ll like what I’m putting out of other people. I’m being very selective, where everything I put out on the label for other people sounds like it would be in my set, easily. So there’s tons of stuff coming out. There’s a release every other week, or every week and a half, or something like that until the end of the year already set up.
Wow, I’m super stoked to hear all of these upcoming releases.
Yeah, yeah, and I’m giving everything away, as long as the artists are cool with it and so far they all have been, everything will be for sale and for free. And I did that for ‘Monsters 7’, it’s all for free on SoundCloud, but it’s also for sale other places. Because shit, if someone puts out an album and I’m on the road and I really want to hear it, I don’t want to sit down and find WiFi, download it from SoundCloud for free and then add it to my iTunes. I just want to use my Apple Pay thing, buy it on iTunes and then just have it in two minutes. So even though it’s all for free, I think also having it on sale is important. I think the general thing about putting out music, is that the reason you’re putting it out there is so that people can hear it. So I think it should be the most accessible, easily accessible thing. You shouldn’t have to jump through sixteen hoops and email chains and say yes to this or that, and then answer something else…I just want all the music to be as easy as possible to get. All the music, including Monsters 7, everything like that will be for free.
Yeah because you end up with people who will rip it anyways and throw it online illegally, so you may as well have it available everywhere too.
Right, so say Mr. John Doe, some guy, he rips it, when he could have bought it…he probably doesn’t give a shit that much about it. But he still cares about your music enough to do that. But if you’re like “yo man, you don’t have to rip anything ever again, here is everything for free”, I feel like he’s going to feel a little more connected to the artists. You’re going “here’s my work, here”. There’s money in selling music, but just general iTunes and shit like that…it’s not too crazy. When you go into licensing and all that, that’s the retirement money type shit, but when you’re just talking about Beatport sales and Amazon sales, that’s whatever. So I don’t care how the fuck they get it.
You just want people to listen to your music…
Exactly, because if I made it just for me, only for me to hear, then it would never come out. There would be no Figure, I would just have all this weird music on my laptop and no one would know. So obviously there is some yearning for people, I want people to hear it. When you know there is a fan base out there that appreciates what you do, then obviously that is another driving factor to keep you going. Before them, I think of myself, I think I want to make music, I love making music. Once it sounds good and I really like it, then I get super hyped for the second time because I’m like “oh they’re going to love this!” So after I’m already in love with it, then I’ll get hyped again, hoping that they’ll dig it.
Well thanks for chatting!