For many fans within the bass music community, Excision is the man who needs no introduction. The bass music king, formally known as Jeff Abel, delivers earth shattering drops, relentless walls of bass, apocalyptic sounds and even melodic bass—proving that he is a true multifaceted creative. Today, January 13, the heavyweight producer showcases his versatility on Onyx.
“The timeline for this album was really different,” Abel says. “I started working on it before the pandemic and continued working on it even after shows came back in mid-2021. In a normal year of touring, I’m always making tunes to play out at shows to get people moving and head banging.” This is best seen on the record “Decimate.” The track, he says, is meant to have a similar feeling to the T-Rex from “Jurassic Park” stomping towards you from a distance. “First you feel the vibration, then you hear the forest rattling and it all builds up into a giant roar in your face,” However, instead of a T-Rex it’s a robot saying he’s hunting “all Apex predators,” playing homage to his last LP, Apex. In addition, the bass music champion explores different tempos on Onyx that aren’t meant to be translated into a live setting right away, such as “Osiris” and “Temporary Blue.”
The title for the body of work is inspired by a black mineral by the same name. For the artwork, Abel includes his love of sci-fi and astronomy by creating an exploding black hole. Under the surface, though, Onyx also represents how he thinks the world seems to be increasingly turning black and white. “You’re either on one side or the other with far less room for gray area,” he notes. “So to me, the contrasting blacks and whites of the mineral onyx do a really good job of painting the polarization in the world at this moment in time.”
The Subsidia label boss is also the founder of multi-stage festivals Lost Lands and Bass Canyon that are known for their heavy sounds. This year, Abel is expanding his live event footprint into a destination festival located at Paradisus Resort in Cancun. Everyone attending the festival, dubbed Paradise Blue, will stay there or at the neighboring Marriott Resort, creating an intimate festival experience. Attendees will head bang in the pool, at the beach and then at night in the resort’s forest-like atrium.
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According to Abel, his music influences stem from both famed electronic producers from back in the day, such as The Prodigy, Noisia, Tipper and Vex’d, as well as metal artists—including Spirit Box, Fuming Mouth, Devildriver, The Last Ten Seconds of Life, Emmure and Mick Gordon. The icon adds that The Prodigy’s The Fat of the Land LP is what he considers the best electronic album ever made, noting that they were the first act “that felt like the ‘metal’ of electronic music and paved the way for all heavy and/or hard electronic music that came after.”
If the renowned producer didn’t go into making music, he says his childhood dream was to be a paleontologist and dig up dinosaur bones. However, he went to college for business after he “lost” his way in high school. It was then that he discovered drum’n’bass and the birth of dubstep in the U.K., igniting the idea to become a producer and a deejay.
Looking back on his illustrious career to date, Abel says if he could turn back time and give himself one piece of advice it would be, “don’t stress so much about reaching your goals—take a minute to enjoy the journey.” Going forward, he says his biggest headline shows of the year are coming up, including The Coliseum in Virginia, Thunderdome in Washington, The Armory in Minneapolis, The Arena in Chicago, Mile High in Denver and more. In addition, he is working on a new scholarship program with the mission of helping fund up-and-coming producers who need extra time and resources to reach their potential.
“I really want to support artists who have outsized creative potential but are stuck in dead-end jobs or other commitments that keep them from spending time practicing,” Abel says. “I was lucky when I came of age because I received a small settlement from a car accident that let me quit my 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job, pay my living expenses and buy a good computer and studio monitors so I could really focus on music. This really helped me level up and move things forward quickly, so I want to be able to pay it forward to some producers of the next generation.”