DJ ill.Gates spreads the religion of music
November 9, 2012
Dylan Lane, known professionally as bass-music producer, DJ and performer ill.Gates, is a legally ordained minister and music is his religion.
He will bring his Church of Bass tour to Park City Live on Wednesday, Nov. 14. The show is a multi-media extravaganza that will feature hip hop-inspired mixes and synced videos.
"I have wanted to go around the country, getting people to list music as their religion, so I could start my own church," ill.Gates said during a phone call from the West Coast. "When I get done with the tour, I will file the paperwork and after that, whenever I put on an event, it will be an official church event, which will make it a lot harder to shut down."
The tour centers around some of the music the DJ recorded for his "Church of Bass" extended-play CD that was released earlier this year.
"I made the EP by using bassy, fun party music, but there are religious themes and chord progressions that are from classic religious music, however, you wouldn’t really know it when you hear it because it’s all twisted and abstract," he said.
Since he was young, ill.Gates has turned to music when he needed a spiritual lift.
Recommended Stories For You
"I used to be quite depressed when I was younger, before I realized that I was, in fact, just surrounded by idiots," he said with a laugh. "Music helped me make that realization and showed me that I wasn’t alone. It brought joy back into my life and helped me out of a very dark place and introduced me into a wonderful community of artists."
Getting to that realization was a healing and transformational journey.
"The more I thought about it, I realized it was like a religious quest that changed my life," he said.
The DJ’s earliest musical influences were hip-hop and experimental electronica.
"I was torn between these two, because I listened to a lot of hip hop growing up," he said. "When you think about it, hip hop was the last paradigm-shifting genre of music."
On the other hand, ill.Gates immersed himself in British experimental electronic acts such as Aphex Twin and Squarepusher, as well as industrial artists such as Canada’s Download.
Those two genres gave him an idea.
"I used to DJ for breakdancing and used all these noise records and turntables and scratch tools, and at the time there was only so far I could take that," he said. "I always thought it would be cool to hear hip hop that was sonically experimental."
So, ill.Gates went back to producing and gradually slowed the tempos down to more traditional hip-hop and crunk beats.
"At the same time, I turned up the bass and experimentalism and that’s where I am now," he said.
The biggest challenge for ill.Gates isn’t keeping up with the new technology that is continually coming into the market, he said.
"It’s all about getting people to understand what I’m doing," he chuckled. "I mean, most people get what I’m doing once they hear what I’m doing, but it is difficult to explain my music without referencing other genres that I’m not really in.
"For example, when I tell people I make bass music, people will say ‘Like dub step?’ and I’ll say, ‘Well, kind of.’ And then I’ll talk about break beats and they’ll bring up electro," ill.Gates explained. "The music genre that I make really doesn’t have a name, and I kind of like that, because as soon as you give it a name, it’s the beginning of the end and downhill from then."
He tells people that he makes a "wide variety of bass music that is united by sub-bass and specific production aesthetics and the multi-media thing."
"Since The Church of Bass tour is a full immersive experience, I spent the last year editing videos to all of my tracks," ill.Gates said. "So, any track I want to play live will be synced up to its own video. Frankly, there is no easy way to slice that task up. That’s just mega hours of time."
To get those videos into a live setting is another challenge.
"When most people do a video and want everything to stay in sync, you have to use two computers," he said. "To keep them in sync, people will usually have one master-play button that syncs the computers together as well as the lights and all that."
The problem is the artist has to play the same set every night.
"You end up actually just decorating those couple of hours or how many hours you perform," he said. "(The show) becomes ‘laptop karaoke’ and that’s boring."
After hours of research, ill.Gates found a way to change the set up every night and even improvise.
"I figured out a solution that works, but it’s not easy and took a lot of programming," he said. "But it’s worked great so far."
Producer, DJ and performer ill.Gates will bring his Church of Bass tour to Park City Live, 427 Main St., on Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15 and available at parkcitylive.net/show.cfm?id=84310&cart.