In the late ’90s, the Vegas electronic music scene was a different climate than it would become in a decade and some change. The megaclub/celebri-DJ relationship wasn’t yet a glimmer in pop culture’s eye, and a DJ’s arsenal couldn’t have — and shouldn’t have — fit in a messenger bag. Ben Garcia was there for it. And a decade and some change later, he’s here for its evolution with new project, HavocNdeeD.
As DJ OB-One (which he owns as a Star Wars reference), the Bruce Wayne to Garcia’s HavocNdeeD Batman, he spins a curated and ultimately uninspiring playlist for clubrats in The Palms and however many Boulevard pools. “On the Strip, you don’t really have a choice on a lot of the stuff you play,” OB says. “Not so much that they tell you that, but more what the crowd dictates … I just try to put my own flair on it.”
By flair he means thump, stirring dubstep and drum ’n’ bass into a modest dirty south, Top 40-flirting playlist. Back in the Utopia nightclub and Candy Factory rave days, OB spun heavy drum ’n’ bass, breaks and glitch — the constant between his early and current programming.
But the goal isn’t to just get away with it and deposit the paycheck. OB wants bass to be the reason he’s there. The point of the performance. And that’s where HavocNdeeD comes in. Influenced by the harder elements of defunct Australian drum ’n’ bass band Pendulum, OB and his partner J. Paul grabbed rock vocalist Skaught Perry for something dark, throbbing and ultimately suited for what you could call anime robot fights. The latter of which might be why Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda initially gave them attention, remixing their remix of N.W.A.’s “Dope Man” live on his blog — which became an invitation to remix a track for an upcoming Linkin Park full-length. But after an alleged disagreement with Warner Brothers, Havoc’s remix got shelved.
Instead, the trio took a different route: An all-original, six-track EP, released July 10, complementing their collection of remixes (which includes a Ladyhawk “Paris is Burning” remix and another with Cypress Hill and Rusko). Working from three different cities and piecing the project together online (Linkin Park once described doing the same thing in an interview), Distoria is an experiment in range more than anything, going from the hyper-aggression of “Waiting Game” to the lady-vox’d “Where Do We Go,” a more ephemeral and expansive track fit for a bird’s-eye shot of The Grid in Tron.
And it sounds great. Distoria offers a great portfolio for HavocNdeeD’s real aspirations: movie soundtracks and soundscapes. A necessary move, given OB’s take on DJing in the current climate. “You know as well as I do being an open-format DJ has an expiration date,” he says. “No one wants to look up and see a 50-year-old DJ at a Top 40 club.” And while Pendulum made it clear a live drum ’n’ bass band can expire, too, it can certainly snag a good run.