For many fans in the bass music community, Excision is the man who needs no introduction. The king of bass music, formerly known as Jeff Abel, delivers earth-shattering drops, relentless bass walls, apocalyptic sounds and even melodic basses, proving he’s a true multi-faceted creator. Today, January 13, the heavyweight producer showcases his versatility on Onyx.
“The timeline for this album was really different,” says Abel. “I started working on it before the pandemic and continued to work on it even after the shows returned in mid-2021. In a normal touring year, I always make bits to play at shows to get people moving and banging their heads. This is best seen on the “Decimate” disc. The track, he says, is meant to have a similar feel to the T-Rex from “Jurassic Park” stomping toward you from a distance. “First you feel the vibration, then you hear the sound of the forest and it all turns into a giant roar on your face”, however, instead of a T-Rex, it’s a robot saying that he hunts “all Apex predators”, paying homage to his last LP, Mountain peak. In addition, the bass music champion explores different tempos on Onyx which are not intended for immediate translation in a live setting, such as “Osiris” and “Temporary Blue”.
The title of the entire work is inspired by a black mineral of the same name. For the artwork, Abel includes his love of science fiction and astronomy by creating an exploding black hole. Beneath the surface, however, Onyx also depicts how he thinks the world seems to be getting more and more black and white. “You’re either on one side or the other with much less room for the gray area,” he notes. “So for me, the contrasting blacks and whites of the mineral onyx do a really good job of painting the polarization in the world right now.”
The boss of the Subsidia label is also the founder of the multi-stage festivals Lost Lands and Bass Canyon which are known for their heavy sounds. This year, Abel is expanding its live event footprint into a destination festival located at the Paradisus Resort in Cancun. Everyone who attends the festival, dubbed Paradise Blue, will stay there or at the nearby Marriott Resort, creating an intimate festival experience. Participants will have fun in the swimming pool, at the beach, then in the evening in the forest-like atrium of the complex.
According to Abel, his musical influences came from both famous electronic producers of the time, 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 earth LP is what he considers the best electronic album ever, noting that it was the first act “that sounded like the ‘metal’ of electronic music and paved the way for all heavy electronic music and/or harsh that followed.”
While the famous producer didn’t get into music, he says his childhood dream was to be a paleontologist and dig up dinosaur bones. However, he went to college for business after “losing” his way in high school. It was then that he discovered drum’n’bass and the birth of dubstep in the UK, triggering the idea of becoming a producer and 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 worry so much about achieving your goals, take a minute to enjoy the journey.” Looking ahead, he says his biggest hits of the year are to come, including The Coliseum in Virginia, Thunderdome in Washington, The Armory in Minneapolis, The Arena in Chicago, Mile High in Denver and more. Additionally, he is working on a new scholarship program whose mission is to help fund promising producers who need more 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 prevent them from spending time practicing,” says Abel. “I was lucky when I reached adulthood because I received a small settlement from a car accident that allowed me to leave my job from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., to pay my living expenses and buying a good computer and studio monitors so I can really focus on the music.. It’s really helped me level up and get things done quickly so I want to be able to pass it on to some next-generation producers.