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Damian Higgins, better known by his stage name Dieselboy, is an American drum and bass DJ, producer, and label head. Since December 2013 he has been performing his sets on four CDJ's.
Dieselboy is the founder of the Human Imprint music label (drum and bass) in 2002, and co-founder of its sublabel SubHuman : Human Imprint (dubstep, electro) which launched in September 2010. In February 2012, Higgins co-founded Planet Human as the umbrella label for Human Imprint and SubHuman.
Dieselboy was the first American to be voted into the UK-based Drum & Bass Arena Top 10 DJs 2004 online poll. He was the first drum 'n' bass artist to chart a single on Billboard's dance chart with "Invid" in 2000. (Source: The Washington Post) Dieselboy is sponsored by DC Shoes and Pioneer PRO DJ.
Currently based in Brooklyn, New York, Dieselboy has also performed at rock festivals and extreme sports exhibitions. Dieselboy tracks have been heard on MTV and ESPN, and in videogames. Higgins has also designed graphics for T-shirts, logos, fliers, buttons, CD's and record sleeves. Dieselboy is represented by Circle Talent Agency.
An uncredited sample Higgins created for an intro for a New Year's Eve show in Los Angeles – "Ladies and gentlemen ... it's time to get fucking grimey!" – was used in Joe Manganiello's solo dance scene in Magic Mike as heard in the film's Blu-ray+DVD release.
Higgins has been interviewed about his passion for food and began writing about food for FirstWeFeast.com in 2012. He was selected as a presenter for the 7th Annual StarChefs.com International Chefs Congress (ICC) held September 30 to October 2, 2012, at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City.
Dieselboy was born Damian Higgins in Tarpon Springs, Florida in 1972. At the age of six he moved to Rye/Colorado City, Colorado, where he and his two sisters were raised by their mother (1st - 8th grades). He moved with his family to Oil City, Pennsylvania, on the third day of school in the 9th grade, and is a graduate of Oil City Senior High School. He is the eldest son of singer/songwriter Bertie Higgins whose ballad Key Largo reached #8 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart in 1982. In April 2009, Higgins married his long-time girlfriend Ramie Roth.
Higgins's early music experience included playing drums in a school marching band and DJing for high school dances. "I originally started DJing (before learning to beatmatch) back in 1989 and 1990 at dances at Oil City Senior High School and also a small nightclub in Franklin, Pennsylvania, called Shenanigans. I DJ'ed three of my high school's dances, but I was just playing tunes, not mixing."
Higgins is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, where he gained additional DJ'ing experience (particularly in beat-matching records) playing on a Carnegie Mellon University radio station (WRCT).
The name Dieselboy originated from Higgins's Internet chat handle, "Diesel." Upon discovering a local graffiti artist shared the alias, he "made it Dieselboy. Back then I looked like a kid - I was 19, but I looked like I was 14. It also reflected my interest in video games and animation."
Higgins moved to Philadelphia in 1997 to become the drum 'n' bass buyer and sometime T-shirt designer for 611 Records owned by Nigel Richards.
From 1998 to 2004 Higgins hosted the seminal weekly drum & bass club night Platinum at Fluid nightclub. On March 7, 2013 Higgins announced a final Platinum "smashdown" saying: "I used to run a 21+ drum and bass weekly in Philadelphia from 1998 - 2004 called Platinum. It was somewhat legendary. Some of my favorite memories of DJing are from that night. Recently I found out that the club I used to throw the event at, Fluid, is closing down. Most of the people that had nights at Fluid are now throwing one last show as a send off for the club. On March 27 we are doing one final Platinum night to say goodbye. It is going to be fucking insanity. Almost every resident DJ we had is going to be there (myself, Mason, Karl K, Sine, Kaos, Method One, Icon) and all of your resident MC's (Messinian, Armanni, Sharpness, Illy). If you love drum and bass, you absolutely do not want to miss this show. Our "final" show from 2004 is legend. Be a part of this one."
In 1994, Higgins created a mixtape entitled "The Future Sound of Hardcore," and sold about 100 through online LISTSERVs. "Through [the mixtape], people heard about me and I started getting bookings on the East Coast. It was a very slow process that eventually snowballed into my getting flown various places."
In 1996, at the request of Dan Donnelly of British drum 'n' bass label Suburban Base, Dieselboy mixed "Drum & Bass Selection USA." Dieselboy hired Paul Miller of Airline Industries of Washington, D.C., to design the art.
In 1997, Suburban Base had him follow up with 97 Octane, this time allowing him to submit track suggestions, resulting in a more varied selection. Todd Baldwin of Airline Industries designed the art.
In 1998, Nigel Richards gave Dieselboy full artistic control for his next mix-CD, 611 DJ Mix-series Vol. One (1998), for which Dieselboy did the graphics. Also in that year, Dieselboy made a mix-tape called Director's Cut which he had packaged in film cans, his first experiment in presenting a dance mix in a quasi-cinematic framework.
In 1998, Dieselboy initiated Philadelphia's first 21+ drum 'n' bass weekly Thursday club night entitled "Platinum" at club Fluid, which ended on October 14, 2004. Platinum residents included Dieselboy, Kaos, Method One, Sine, Icon, Karl K, Mason, and MC's Dub2, Messinian, Armanni Reign, Sharpness, and Illy Emcee. It was rekindled in late 2009 featuring Mason, Sine and MC's Messinian & Sharpness.
In 1999, Dieselboy released his fourth mix CD, "A Soldier's Story" on the Moonshine label. The CD became the year's best-selling American D&B release. It opened with his first original "intro" and marked his CD debut as a producer with Atlantic State, a track co-produced with Technical Itch. Todd Baldwin of Airline hired an artist from Marvel Comics to design the art.
Also released on the Moonshine label was System Upgrade (2000). Justin Fines of Demo-Design designed the art.
2000 saw Dieselboy joining forces with Palm Pictures/Island Recordings and his releases The Descent, Invid, Render. The 6ixth Session was a double CD release on Palm Pictures, featuring a cyborg-themed mix described by the Washington Post as "hard-edged hyperdriven dance music," which marked the beginning of Dieselboy's VIP remix phase. The robotic album art was designed by graphic artist Akira Takahashi.
In 2002, Dieselboy founded Human Imprint, the drum 'n' bass imprint of electronic dance music label System Recordings. Human releases include Dieselboy's "projectHUMAN" (2002) and "The Dungeonmaster's Guide" (2004), as well as releases by a number of other artists.
For projectHUMAN (2002), Dieselboy presented a mix framed as a movie trailer, hiring Don LaFontaine for his intro and outtro. projectHUMAN was also Dieselboy's first foray into remix commissioning, most of the tracks featuring American producers remixing UK and other international producers, and vice versa. Mike Young of Designgraphik designed the art.
In 2003, Dieselboy was invited by globally distributed DJ Magazine to create a mix showcasing American d&b entitled DJ World Series: D & B From The United States, on which he featured American producers Hive, Echo, Mason, Juju, Kaos, Karl K, Jae Kennedy, Stratus and Sinthetix.
For his next CD, The Dungeonmaster's Guide (2004), Dieselboy asked Peter Cullen, the cartoon voice of the Transformers' Optimus Prime, to be the voice of the Dungeonmaster who narrates the mix. Again Dieselboy commissioned remixes, this time asking d&b producers from around the world to remix tracks by non-d&b dance music luminaries including Tiësto, Sasha, BT and Josh Wink. Dieselboy also released a triple vinyl LP pack featuring remixes by various artists such has Gridlok, Kaos, Karl K, Jae Kennedy, Stratus, and KC. Again, Dieselboy chose Akira Takahashi to design the album art.
In April 2006, Dieselboy released his first Human Imprint compilation, a 2XCD set called "The HUMAN Resource", which debuted at #14 on the Billboard electronic album chart. Disc One Selected Works, is a 12-song un-mixed selection including club anthems and VIP remixes from Bad Company UK, DJ Fresh, The Upbeats, Dieselboy + Kaos, Counterstrike and more. Disc Two Evol Intent Assemble the Monster features a continuous DJ-mix from Evol Intent, picked by Dieselboy to stitch together some of the best of the Human catalog, plus exclusive tracks and remixes from Gridlok, Infiltrata, Hochi, Vector Burn, Technical Itch and others. The album art was created by Dieselboy with graphic artist Joel Savitzky.
In May 2008, Dieselboy released his ninth major mix-CD Substance D (Human Imprint) which includes all exclusive tracks commissioned or licensed specifically for this project. CD1 includes remixes of Meat Beat Manifesto's "Helter Skelter" by Mayhem + Evol Intent, MSTRKRFT's "Paris" by the Upbeats, Adam Freeland's "We Want Your Soul" by Raiden, Computer Club's "Load Rocket" by Gridlok, Technical Itch + Kemal's "The Calling" by Evol Intent + Ewun, Dieselboy's "N/V/D (Zentraedi remix)" by Counterstrike, Demo's Trauma and "Cell" by SPKTRM, and Current Value's "Fear" and "Machine" by Demo, as well as Technical Itch's "Pressure Drop" and Counterstrike's "Timewarp." The vocal intro and outtro were done by Tom Kane, an Oscars announcer and voice of Yoda in Star Wars videogames. CD2 included unmixed tracks Dieselboy + Evol Intent + Ewun's "Midnight Express," Demo's "O.D.," and SPKTRM's "Machine March." In conjunction with this release, Dieselboy initiated the "Monsters of Jungle" tour with rotating Human Imprint label artists including Evol Intent, Ewun, Demo, Mayhem, SPKTRM, Infiltrata and MC Messinian. The psychedelic album art was designed by Akira Takahashi.
In July 2009, Human Imprint parted amicably from System Recordings. In summer 2010, Human relaunched with Steve Gordon of Steez Promo and Circle Management as new co-owner with Dieselboy, and they created the SubHuman Imprint for dubstep and electro releases.
Dieselboy tracks have been heard on MTV and ESPN, and in videogames including Gran Turismo 4, Amplitude, Saints Row, and Need For Speed.
Higgins has designed the graphics for T-shirts, logos, fliers and record sleeves for 611 Records, Breakbeat Science, Human Imprint, SubHUMAN Imprint, the Planet of the Drums, and the Monsters of Jungle, as well as for his former Philadelphia club night "Platinum."
On New Year's Eve 2009 headlining a 3D Productions event at Club 24 in Washington, D.C., Dieselboy played a three-hour multi-subgenre set including drum and bass, dubstep and electro. The enthusiastic crowd response encouraged him to continue experimenting with this new open format into 2010. In January 2013 Dieselboy started playing all drum and bass sets again.
On January 31, 2011, Dieselboy released his first new mix in two and a half years, "Dieselboy - Unleashed!" (56 tracks, 73 minutes), as a free download on Soundcloud. In the first 24 hours it registered 14,098 plays and 6,122 downloads. On its one-year anniversary, January 31, 2012, Unleashed had logged 115,014 plays, 37,674 downloads, and 1,734 favoritings.
On February 6, 2012 Dieselboy released "Wake The Dead" a new 84-minute mix incorporating 87 tracks as a free download. In a January 2012 interview with Crowdnoize (Milwaukee), Dieselboy said of his then upcoming mix, "My goal is to make the most intricate, layered, and amazing mix that's ever been done. Period. I'm not trying to just put out a mix; I'm trying to put out a mix that other DJs will listen to and aspire TO do. I don't fuck around. I want to be amazing." The release statement further explains: "This isn't a rinseout of big rave anthems. This isn't a collection of his latest top 20 tunes. This is an archive designed to stand up to repeated listens, slowly revealing new sounds and elements over time. Taking a conceptual cue from The Walking Dead and referencing what DIeselboy feels is a definite 'bar lowering' of current dance/DJ culture, Wake The Dead is his effort to break boundaries yet again. Featuring almost an hour of heavyweight drum and bass and another 25 minutes of blistering dubstep from his SubHuman label 'family and friends,' Wake The Dead has more bass pressure than you can handle." In the first 24 hours despite initial server problems the mix logged over 16,000 plays.
On May 23, 2013, Dieselboy's mix Beyond the Black Bassline (75 tracks, 83 minutes) was released by Skrillex's then new NEST HQ website.
Dieselboy released his 93-track, 87-minute mix "Dieselboy - The Destroyer" on August 5, 2014. The mix and its art incorporate the aesthetics of his 2014 tour as Blood, Sweat and Bass with bass music producer Downlink and 1970s grindhouse films. It includes a new collaboration with drum and bass producer Gridlok called "MDMX," and three tracks by Faces of Def, a new collaborative project between Dieselboy and Mark the Beast ["Blvck Celebration" with Counterstrike (SubHuman); "Carcosa" with Mayhem and Downlink (SubHuman); remix of "Tuh Tuh Duh" by Sinister Souls (PRSPCT)].
Career Crossover into Food
In 2014, Dieselboy's passion for food advanced beyond writing about it for the James Beard Award-winning FirstWeFeast.com blog, into professional kitchens. He cooked a sold-out collaboration dinner with respected chefs Matt McCallister and Alex Stupak at FT33 restaurant in Dallas on June 9, 2014. Collaborations with chefs Jonathon Sawyer (Cleveland) and David Posey (Chicago), Michael Solomonov (Philadelphia), and Giorgio Rapicavoli (Miami) are being planned for 2015. The Sawyer/Posey dinner, entitled "Metal As Fuck," will take place on March 15, 2015 at Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland. The event with Rapicavoli, Food Network Chopped (TV series) competitor, will take place at Eating House in Miami sometime in 2015.
Dieselboy competed in a nacho battle against chef Alex Stupak at Empellón Cocina in New York in February 2013, which he lost. He came back (sous chef: Jacquelyn Carnesi) to face off against chefs Alex Stupak, Michael Anthony, Wylie Dufresne and Seamus Mullen in February 2014, beating Mullen.
Dieselboy assisted chefs Dave Beran (Chicago), Daniel Patterson (chef) (San Francisco), and Christina Tosi (New York City) at an Art Basel dinner hosted by Questlove in Miami on December 6, 2014.
In November 2014, Dieselboy's cooking was featured at his first "pop-up" event called "Burger Night with Dieselboy" at the Groningen, Netherlands restaurant De Boom, preceding his DJ performance at Subsonic nightclub. In January 2015, another pop-up hamburger event took place at P60 cafe in Amstelveen, Netherlands as a prelude to his DJ gig at the P60 club.
Dieselboy's beer collaboration with Adroit Theory Brewing of Purcellville, Virginia, BLVCK Celebration, debuted in December 2014, described as "an Imperial Porter at 9.99% ... brewed with molasses, maple syrup, black lava salt and aged on oak staves." The oak staves were soaked in Smith & Cross rum. Various versions were aged in rum, whiskey and sherry casks.
In 2012, Dieselboy was a co-presenter with mixologist Jim Meehan (PDT, New York City) and chef/designer Taavo Somer at the Origins and Frontiers mixology workshop at the 7th Annual StarChefs.com International Chefs Congress in New York City, in which they discussed where they get inspiration from outside of their respective crafts and where the creative process overlaps between different creative fields (mixology, music, design).
Dieselboy has been profiled as a foodie in New York Magazine and Vice.
Dieselboy's cocktail "The Higgins" is published in New York Times cocktail writer Robert Simonson's 2014 book "The Old-Fashioned" (Ten Speed Press).
In 2014 Dieselboy co-founded with photographer Daniel Krieger a private men's dining club in New York City called Hellfire Club. Members include respected creative forces in food, writing, design, music and photography.
Dieselboy collaborated with Betony restaurant chef Bryce Shuman on a limited edition hot dog as part of a monthlong "musicians and chefs" special menu (also including Action Bronson with Michael White (chef), Estelle (musician) with chef April Bloomfield, chef Andrew Carmellini with First We Feast) co-sponsored by FirstWeFeast.com and world-renowned New York City cocktail lounge PDT in May 2015. The Dieselboy/Bryce Shuman "Demi Dog" is described as: "Crif Dog, labne, Indian lime pickle, za'atar, clover, beef fat, puffed grains, harissa powder."
On August 9, 2015 as part of the Moonrise Festival in Baltimore, Maryland, Dieselboy and The Glitch Mob hosted a Taco Party for contest winners featuring pork chop tacos (smoked rib chop, pickled stone fruit, white BBQ, toasted pecan); mushroom tacos (beer braised mushrooms, shaved mushroom, asparagus slaw, poblano crema, chèvre); shrimp boil tacos (shrimp, kielbasa, Old Bay crema, pickled jalapeños, Old Bay chips); carne asada tacos (skirt steak, chile de arbol salsa, pomengranate pico de gallo, cotija cheese); all served on corn tortillas with guacamole and esquites on the side.
Touring, Festivals, Residencies
Dieselboy has played on six continents, countries including: England, Scotland, Finland, France, Austria, Serbia, the Netherlands, Macedonia, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Switzerland, Lithuania, Belgium, Estonia, Latvia, Spain, Portugal, Russia, Ukraine, Israel, Venezuela, Costa Rica, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Puerto Rico, and all major cities in the United States and Canada.
Past residencies besides his club night Platinum in Philadelphia include Metropol in Pittsburgh and Buzz in Washington, DC.
He has played numerous major music festivals including the Bonnaroo (Manchester, Tennessee, 2010), Camp Bisco 9 (Mariaville, New York, July 2010), Jisan Valley Rock Festival (Seoul, Korea, July 2009, also featuring Oasis, Weezer, Fall Out Boy, Basement Jaxx), PHAT 09 (near Westport, New Zealand, New Year's Eve 2008), Pirate Station (St. Petersburg, Moscow, Ekaterinburg, Russia), Summerfest "The World's Largest Music Festival" (Milwaukee, 2008), Sanctuary Drum & Bass Festival (Dieselboy vs. Noisia)(UK, 2008), US Virgin Mobile Festival (Baltimore, 2007), South by Southwest (Austin, TX; 2010, 2009, 2007), Coachella, Electric Daisy Carnival (Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Dallas, Denver, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Orlando), Nocturnal Festival (San Bernardino, CA; 2009), Ultra Music Festival (Winter Music Conference, Miami, 2012, 2010, 2009), Love Parade, Bassrush, Creamfields, Shambhala (Canada, 2012, 2010, 2007), DEMF (Detroit Electronic Music Festival), Starscape (Baltimore, MD; 2008-2012), Global Gathering (UK, 2004), HFStival (Washington, DC; 1999, 2000).
Tours include Moby's 2002 Area2 (Busta Rhymes, David Bowie, Blue Man Group), the Salem "Stir the Senses" tour (with Kaos; other 2003 "Stir the Senses" tours featured The Roots, Outkast), and the PlayStation 2 (with Bad Boy Bill).
Dieselboy has played metal concerts with Orgy and Disturbed, and was the only D&B artist invited by Moby to be part of his Area2 national tour that included David Bowie, Busta Rhymes, Blue Man Group, Tiësto, and Digweed. Dieselboy (with MC Messinian) tag-teamed with Andy C (with MC GQ) at the second annual US Virgin Mobile Festival, held at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland in August 2007, which also included artists Smashing Pumpkins, The Police, Beastie Boys and Wu-Tang Clan. In 2008, Dieselboy played Milwaukee's Summerfest "The World's Largest Music Festival," sharing the bill with John Mayer, Alicia Keys, Paramore, Gnarls Barkley and Rush (band).
Early 1999 saw Higgins complete a North American tour with drum and bass producers Technical Itch & Decoder in support of his track Atlantic State, co-produced with Technical Itch. He has also toured with other drum and bass DJ's including DJ Rap (Dirty Beats Tour, 2002), DJ Fresh (Bass Invaderz Tour, 2005), Bad Company UK (Bad Human Tour, 2006), and Hive (Human Violence Tour, 2006). In 2008 he launched the Monsters of Jungle Tour including Human artists Evol Intent, Ewun, Demo, Mayhem, SPKTRM, Infiltrata and MC Messinian. The first half of 2014 Dieselboy played 35 cities with bass music producer Downlink as the Blood, Sweat and Bass Tour.
Dieselboy has also played the Homegrown drum and bass event in Cape Town, South Africa.
Planet of the Drums
In 2000 Dieselboy united with two other North American drum 'n' bass DJ's, AK1200 (Dave Minner, Orlando, FL) and Irish ex-pat DJ Dara (Darragh Guilfoyle, New York, NY), to create an annual tour, the Planet of the Drums. Since 2001 Messinian (James Fiorella, Philadelphia, PA) has been the POTD's MC. At ten consecutive years (2009), it was the longest-running annual tour in electronic dance music history. In 2010 The Planet of the Drums switched to performing one-offs, the first played at U Street Music Hall in Washington, DC in December 2010.
Monsters of Jungle
The Monsters of Jungle is a Human Imprint tour concept originated by Dieselboy. "Monsters of Jungle" was the name originally proposed in 1999 by Dieselboy for The Planet of the Drums.
The aesthetic of the tour is '80s metal meets drum and bass. It launched at the 11th Annual Starscape Festival in June 2009 as a multi-media stage production including custom visuals, and new music—including remixes—and spoken word audio prepared especially for the show.
The tour includes Human Imprint artists: Dieselboy, the Upbeats (New Zealand), Evol Intent, Ewun, Demo, Infiltrata, Mayhem, SPKTRM, MC Messinian, and MC Dino. It is represented by Steez Promo, the William Morris Agency and Circle Management. A North American cross-country bus tour is planned for 2010.
The tour launched in June 2009: June 6: 11th Annual Starscape Festival, Baltimore, Maryland; June 13: Electric Daisy Carnival, Denver, Colorado; June 26: Electric Daisy Carnival, Los Angeles, California; June 27: Future Fest, Austin, Texas.
Awards and Recognition
Dieselboy placed #23 in the 2014 America's Best DJ Poll, up 19 from the previous year's #42, between Moby and BT. Dieselboy was the highest ranked drum & bass DJ (#45) in the 2008 DJ Times America's Best DJ Poll.
On February 12, 2012 in accepting his Grammy for Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical, Skrillex (Sonny Moore) ended his comments quoting Dieselboy as saying "All the boats rise with the water."
In 1998, Dieselboy was the first American drum & bass DJ to be nominated for Best Drum & Bass DJ at the Global DJ Mix Awards, tying with LTJ Bukem.
Dieselboy's 2000 2XCD album "The 6ixth Session" was at one time the best-selling D&B mix-CD in the world.
Dieselboy is sponsored as a DJ by DC Shoes. He served as design consultant in the creation of a DC Shoes shoulder bag (with a Dieselboy logo charm) introduced in the late 2000s. Dieselboy was also one of a small group of artists consulted in the design of the Incase EO Travel luggage collection, introduced in 2015.
Dieselboy is also sponsored by Pioneer Pro DJ.
Media coverage (articles and reviews) includes DJ Times, DJ Magazine, BPM magazine, URB magazine, Remix magazine, Mixer magazine, Big Shot magazine, Lotus magazine, XLR8TR magazine, The Washington Post newspaper, Selekta.com, Spinner.com, Suicidegirls.com.
Coverage by drum and bass media includes articles and reviews in RINSE magazine, Knowledge magazine, ATM magazine, Drum & Bass Arena, and dogsonacid.com.
Magazine cover stories: URB magazine (April 2002), RINSE magazine (Nov./Dec. 2002), Big Shot (with DJ Rap).