Blacksburg, Va Has Officially Been Destroid- Exclusive Interview with KJ Sawka

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KJ

Photo taken by DJ ERiX

B.A.D.A.S.S Raves has taken over the EDM scene in Blacksburg, Va and college students are stoked to expand the rave community here in the New River Valley area.  Last Tuesday, B.A.D.A.S.S. put on a show at Sycamore Deli with talented drummer and producer, KJ Sawka headling.  The show was unreal to say the least.  The combination of the advanced light show by Fantasy Lighting and Staging and sounds by Deep Roots Production really stepped up the rave scene for a small college town. Those who came out to the show last Tuesday made the right decision; Sycamore Deli had an incredible turnout and was by far the biggest St. Patrick’s Day party of Blacksburg.

The show opened with local DJ K. Flo, who held the floor until 10pm when Riza took the stage.  Pyrite was the last opener for KJ.  Pyrite hyped up the crowd with a heavy trap set giving Blacksburg the energy it needed for KJ Sawka’s loud bass.  If you haven’t already, read out interview with Pyrite!

Photo taken by DJ ERiX

Photo taken by DJ ERiX

Finally, KJ Sawka, the drummer from Pendulum and Destroid, came on at midnight. KJ played a laptop set with electronic drumming pads and it was a phenomenal set.  Personally, one of the best parts about the show was the closely knit feeling the venue gave off.  Having KJ throw such heavy bass in our faces at a small venue gave the crowd a more personal show.  Additionally, the small venue feel gave the crowd an opportunity to actually watch KJ perform.  The difference between seeing KJ at Sycamore Deli compared to at a festival environment allowed short ravers such as myself to appreciate actually being able to see KJ’s drumming.  Watching KJ drum on the electronic drum pads was a whole other experience. KJ has been drumming for over 25 years and is by far the most talented drummer I have seen live.  At the end of KJ’s set, the drum & bass legend dropped some Pendulum songs and his unreleased song “Wild Fire.

KJ Sawka tore Blacksburg apart last Tuesday and if you weren’t there, you missed out.  Don’t be too disappointed you missed out last week though because B.A.D.A.S.S. Raves will be putting on another legendary show tonight, so be sure to come!

In addition, the show also donated some of their profits for Cameron Smook, a Virginia Tech student who has just recently passed.  It is amazing to be a part of such a close community, really setting an example of what Hokie Nation is all about. Read what B.A.D.A.S.S. has to say about the donations:

“A portion of the profits will be donated to causes related to Cameron Smook, a Hokie and friend to many members of our team and extended music family. As in the tradition of Blacksburg, we will rally together to help each other and remain strong. Our prayers go out to Cameron and his family in this difficult time. We hope that this party can bring his friends together and put some positive energy back into the world.”

Continue reading for exclusive Malaysian Safari Interview:

How long have you been drumming/producing for?

I’ve been drumming longer than I’ve been producing. I’ve been drumming for 25 years and I’ve been producing for 15 years or so, maybe longer than that.

What inspires you to create your music?

It’s a lifelong journey to keep the inspiration alive.  There’s a gazillion things that I can draw from or anyone can draw from.  They can be inspired about what they love and what they create. From listening to music or meeting a new friend or going to a new place or going through old notes or just being in the now all inspires I guess. Just with passion alone it can be a struggle sometimes but you just have to keep on going, but that’s when you can create the coolest things sometimes. 

What’s your favorite aspect of performing as a solo act? As Destroid? Pendulum?

I get that question a lot and honestly I’m a libra so I’m inherently drawn to things that are balanced and I’m always the balancer in bands that I’m in.  And so it’s nice being out by myself because it’s what most of the DJs do.  It’s fun and you get this high of doing exactly what you want to do.  But being in Destroid, it has so many advantages and perks to personal enjoyment.  Same with Pendulum.  They are both quite different.  I think I love them both the same.  I was in another band that was successful too called Conspirator.  There are some members of the Disco Biscuits in that band.  It’s like a jam band that meets EDM which was super fun too.  I love that just as much too. 

Do you ever wish Pendulum continued to make music/tour?

We are not officially over.  It’s an extended break is what it is.  All of the members are still members of Pendulum and Rob is the main one so he calls the shots and makes the majority of the music.  When he presses the green light then we all jump on it.  It was just a shift in projects, that’s all it really was.  It’s so much easier for them [Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen] to do Knife Party because they just show up and play a DJ gig.  With Pendulum there was so much involved with having 20 crew members, three buses, and an astronomical amount of investment just to play a gig and do a tour.  I can see how it’s so much easier doing the DJ market.  But who knows, I think in my heart he’s going to want to jump on those keyboards and want to sing and play his ztar live again one day because he got sick of that and I think he’s eventually going to get sick of DJing too.  Life has these cycles, you know?  Plus Pendulum fans are so die hard. 

What’s it like to perform with the Destroid suits on?

It’s like wearing a hockey outfit.  It’s stinky and very hard to wash though.  They are heavy.  We made them a lot lighter.  They had these huge battery packs like about as heavy as a laptop and if you’re carrying around a laptop and a backpack all day, it gets really heavy.  So we were totally wireless and now we are not.  It’s like looking through the bottom of a fishbowl.  It’s really hard to see and it fogs up.  We have fans in our helmets for air circulation and there are lights.  We are hooked up to the computers and it’s totally insane the technology that we are wearing.  It’s fun, I really enjoy it.  Once we put on our suits, we step into character.

Who came up with the idea of wearing the Destroid suits? 

Jeff and John kind of came up with the initial sketches and ideas.  Once they brought me on we really formalized all of the ideas and figured out how to actually make it a reality.  It was just a fantasy kind of before.  Such a big dream and idea of conquering the world.  They were hardly musicians themselves, you know? They kind of had to learn how to play their instruments because they are producers.  A lot of producers aren’t necessarily musicians.  I mean they are, but they are not producer musicians.  So getting the dexterity down was challenging, but they did, they practiced.  

How do you feel about playing in a college town like Blacksburg, Va? 

Yeah, I’ve played tons of college towns and driving down main street here I was like ‘ah, I think I’ve been here before… oh I haven’t though.”   Yeah, I love Virginia for one thing. 

Do you have any advice for beginner producers?

Yeah man, I do.  I give lots of advice to people and share my knowledge and it’s just like anything.  It’s important to follow your dreams and your heart and passion.  If music really is your passion, you should really pursue it, or any art form.  The arts are a very up and down way of creating things, like we talked about and career path.  It can be wonderful and it can be really brutal at the same time too.  Just like really any business that you start, it can be really challenging.  The main thing is the work you put into it is the work you are going to get out of it.  When I started drumming I practiced for like 8-10 hours a day for like 6-7 years, like solid.  That gave me the chops to be able to play any style and to be able to do whatever I wanted to do, drumming wise.  Then I fell in love with electronic music, mainly drum and bass because of the high speeds and stuff.  And then my passion was carved out from that.  I knew exactly what I wanted to do.  A lot of people have a hard time just with that fundamental thing.  If you can find that, then that’s your little pot of gold right there.

Have you ever worn your Destroid suit as a Halloween costume? 

We thought about that and that might happen, yes.  We thought we could win a costume contest with our Destroid costumes. 

What is a Malaysian Safari?

A Malaysian that travels the world. 
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Photo taken by DJ ERiX

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