January 14, 2019

Interview: FIGURE Talks About Culture in Dance Music and Eating Squirrel Meat

Posted By Gerod Roth

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Those that have familiarized themselves in the bass or dub-step scene are no strangers to the name Figure. Considered one of dub-step’s most renowned and seasoned artists, Figure (real name Josh Gard) is ranked with some of the greats such as Flux Pavillion, 12th Planet and Kill The Noise.

Coming off of his 10th headlining tour, Gard is showing no signs of slowing down or stopping anytime soon. With a signature sound that is loud, crazy and damn near violent, Figure has made a name for himself in a big way by putting his all into the music he produces and tours with.

Before playing an absolutely slammed house at Atlanta’s own Believe Music Hall, we got the chance to sit down and talk with him, read what he had to say below:

 

 

So right now you’re near the very end of your “Bloodbath” tour. You’ve made a lot of stops this go around, what would you say would was your favorite experience?

I would probably say it was when I got to take Megalodon and his emcee Leo Black to a place in New York City called “Sleep No More”, It’s kind of hard to describe, but it’s almost like an interactive, immersive play that’s really dark and fucked up similar like a haunted house. It’s kind of like if you put The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut together with Macbeth or something, and it takes four hours. It’s really hard to describe, but it’s really inspirational, maybe just to me because I’m kind of twisted but like, I always tell my friends about it and everyone forgets about it because you know, whatever, it’s drunk talk in the green room. But doing that and then I mean in general just doing my tenth headlining tour, just the whole tour in itself was an incredible experience, the fact that I’m older and still kicking and this shit can still happen. Considering how many new and talented producers and all the stuff going on in the industry, there are so many new kids and new things going on for me to still get to do a full three month headline tour on my own and all the stops were good, that’s the best part for me.

I know you’ve played at Iris here in Atlanta a few different times. Is there something in particular that keeps bringing you back to that Believe? Crowd, atmosphere, the vibe?

Honestly I’ve been to Atlanta quite a bit, every time my management puts offers out for an upcoming tour, Iris is always excited to book me. Anytime, I play the crowd is always super rowdy and into it, they’ve always been really receptive to my style of music since ATL itself has an inherently bass-heavy music scene. They put a great deal of work into their taking care of the artists that they book and the production value of their venue is top tier. Definitely would love to play at Imagine in the future, so we will see what happens.

I ask this question a lot of international artists who are coming from overseas, but because you’re consistently on the road and always touring, what would you say is the most American shit you’ve seen when you’ve been on tour?

Well I’m kind of an expert on American shit because I’m an Indiana country-boy (laughing). Probably having promoters offer to take me to go mudding before the shows, you usually end up almost being late to the shows because your Jeep gets stuck, so they have to go retrieve another Jeep to pull your busted ass one out of a mud pit. But we do that shit back at home, so whenever we get the offer to do it, I’m like “Hell yeah man!”.That’s probably the most backwoods, American type thing I see. I mean then again, I spend a lot of time in airports, so the shit I see in the airport is up there too. From the most far right the most far left, especially in this day and age, like the political landscape., everything has changed with traveling so I’ll see old white men being clearly racist out in public, and then get taken off the plane for it. What is that. Yeah just crazy shit like that. Oh… and let’s not forget the food.

That leads into my next question, what’s the most American meal you’ve eaten on tour?

Oh Cracker Barrel, all day long. Actually… we could go a little deeper, we went to this after party and this one dude makes his own jerky and all this stuff, so he was just grilling different meats and, I’m sitting here the whole time thinking I’m eating chicken or some shit and we’re just eating a fucking squirrel that he shot in his backyard. The best part was he got real shook that I was gonna be like ” WHAT THE FUCK MAN?!”,but like, I’ve had squirrel before (laughing). I didn’t realize it at first, but I gave him that shock factor he wanted.

Now that 2018 has come to a close, we’re just just coming up in 2019. What would you say, producer wise from 2018, that you foresee becoming an unstoppable force in 2019?

I don’t think he falls under the category of being an “unknown artist”, but I’d have to say Space Laces. I mean I grew up with him, way back, way way back when when the first Skrillex album came out. I remember some of us were like “how the hell are you making these growls?”,Those types of noises and stuff, because we were close, but he took it to another level, whipped out his laptop and made similar sounds in like 5 minutes flat. We would sit around and Space Laces just goes “oh watch this”, pulls out Fruit Loops, and does the noises in five seconds, then all these people are trying to figure out what to do and how to do it, it’s wild. I mean. He’s been sending. He’s been sending little little clips of songs to everyone from me to Excision to Knife Party, all these people, for 8 years now, and these ID’s have been like our secret weapons that we don’t talk about in our set. So finally, he basically just, went balls in this year started releasing tons of music, in my opinion he’s just outproducing everyone right now. He’s an incredible DJ and he looks like young Charles Manson(Laughing) he says looks like Kurt Cobain but nah, he’s a young Charles Manson. I mean i every single producer, even if they don’t know him, they look up to him and consider him as top tier shit. I’ve seen some of whoever’s reading this favorite producers straight up fan-girl and start to blush when he walks into the green room, almost like he’s this enigmatic, closed off entity. Also, Code Pandorum really made a mark this year, I think he released his third studio album, but I think the way that people are going to have a good year moving forward, is if they’re doing something different, If you can hear a song, and instantly know it’s theirs, I mean that’s the reason people are gaining so much traction these days.10 or 12 years ago, my stuff started popping off because it sounded completely different, it had kind of a theme to it,the noises sounded different so it stuck around. A lot of people will have a quick come-up, making shit that everyone else likes because it sounds like everything else but there’s something to be said about someone that can create their own signature sound and their own thing, and both of those artists do a really great job of that.

Compared to all the other producers these days, you’re definitely one of the more O.G., seasoned dudes that has been in the circuit for a while. How has the mentality or the culture changed since you first started producing and touring, and how does it compare to when you were first starting out?

Man, I haven’t thought about that a long time.There’s definitely a little more undeserved ego now and certainly some fuck boy mentality happening. You have these kids who copped the new Yeezy Boosts and their song went number one on Beatport which means it only sold 100 copies, like that’s awesome, but it damn well doesn’t mean that you can turn your chin up to people that paved the way for you. So that’s definitely a thing I’ll notice. Or you know just people their first year and being really rude to promoters, I’m like ” Man… you need to be thankful because people talk about this shit, and if you’re an asshole, there’s a million producers out there right now, so you’re going to be the asshole sitting at home wishing that you were still on the road”. But it’s also it’s also good that there’s a lot of new producers because it keeps everyone on their toes, because if it was just the original like 20-25 older dudes, everyone probably would be pretty stale. So we have to have some new spices to keep everything going. The better all the new stuff does, in a way, the better people like me and Kill the Noise and 12th Planet, the people have been around in America since this shit even came to America . It helps us because it keeps everything fresh, we’re all grandfathered in basically, so I appreciate all the new sounds and experimentation that’s going on for sure.There’s still something to be said about the over-saturation of what’s going on and that weeds itself out because there are some people that were killing it two years ago and aren’t on anything now, it’s the idea that everyone has to be tip top. You can’t just make good music anymore, It’s crazy. I mean you have to have every social platform on lock, and you have to know how to properly market yourself these days. Because it used to be that we’re the teachers and they’re the students almost, we were making people say “how do you do this”, but now with all the Youtube tutorials and just all the sample packs that are universally accessible you can mimic just about anyone’s work. So that’s what I’ve really noticed lately, but again that makes the people that have their own thing really shine out and look like an artist more than just some random dub-step producer you see on Soundcloud.

So recently you released something on Instagram that was you kind of showcasing your abilities as a hip hop producer. I know you yourself are a big hip-hop fan, is that something that you might try to push out there a little bit more?

Yeah, maybe? I do that all the time because when it comes down to it, I Make music for. personal enjoyment just like I play video-games. I can’t just sit around and produce dub-step all the time, so I make a lot of hip hop.

Is it something that you might consider showcasing under a different alias and touring stand alone?

That would actually be awesome, but in the past I actually have toured playing solely hip hop as an opener under the Figure alias. It was with some some really decent names in underground hip hop, I think the most we saw the show was 30 people, so It would be a struggle to balance our show doing figure and a new alias. But just music wise, I’m very much considering doing another alias just to put the music out, not to tour with it, just to put it out. But then there’s also the thing where I could just do it as a Figure because it’s still kind of sounds like I made it. It’s scary sounding and has dark, ominous tones.So yeah, in the future that could certainly be a possibility.

Lastly of course, it’s 2019. What do you have in store for your fans this year?

You see all the collabs that are halfway done right now, I don’t know if I’m allowed to talk about but I have two really big collabs and I think I was counting today six or seven tracks about done. I think I’m really going to bring back the drum-step stuff this year because I’ve been playing it a lot more on this tour and I love playing it, plus you could see that the kids get stoked. They can realize my involvement with the creation of drum-step in general and it’s just faster and more hyper than dub-step sometimes. You can’t play a whole set of it, kids will start to get pissed they can’t womp around and stuff like that, but I really enjoy making it. And again that’s like hip hop BPM, so it’s easier for me to go grab rappers and different things or scratch over like hook parts just doing different stuff. But yeah, just tons of new music and we have we have a bunch of support dates for someone I can’t really mention just a bunch of shows and now we’re planning my next. European and Japan tour, 2019 is going to be one for the books.