As most of you are aware, Figure is known for his heavy bass tracks accompanied by a masterfully created, gory horror visuals. His signature sounds and Monsters series won the hearts of devoted bassheads around the globe and we got a chance to sit with the man behind the name before the last show of his “Bloodbath” tour. Josh Gard shared with us his thoughts on music trends, his admiration of fellow producers, the most insane fan art he received and a little about his love of BBQ.
All right, so let’s start with the basics. What inspired you to take this name? What inspired Figure? What does it mean to you?
I used to write graffiti when I was younger and my graffiti name was Action Figure. Because of course, you know, we all grow up with action figures, but the letter balance of “action figure”, liked how I could lay it out when I tapped it and then when I grew up I just took the action off and still used it. Yeah.
I know you used to be more into hip-hop genre, what made you switch the gears and start making bass music?
A lot of old Drum’n’ Bass and a lot of really early Dubstep, a lot of early Dubstep to me, like a lot of Hatcha’s stuff, Youngsta, all that. It just sounded like hip hop to me because it’s just beats, I mean still to this day, Dubstep to me is just literally a beat. It’s just a beat. Like it’s just instrumental music the whole time. So I was already making Hip Hop instrumentals and then I heard that and it just sounded a little bit crazier, a little more energetic. So I just started, you know, trying to integrate that.
So who were some of the artists, whether Dubstep, Drum’n’Bass, Punk or Death Metal, that you were listening to and had influence from at that time?
Ooh. Gruesome, is a metal band. Gruesome is really good. Dubstep wise, I think the only dude that really influences me is… I grew up with him, Space Laces and that dude’s been talented before anyone knew. Like he’s, that’s been his name. But no one knew because he didn’t give a shit about putting music out. He just liked making music. But to see how quick, to see actual talent shine through that fast because normally it’s with people blow up because of clever marketing. They hire the right people. They get with the right manager and all this shit and they blow up with garbage music. But Space Laces is outproducing everyone and he blew up just because he’s so fucking good! And he’s still blowing up. It’s not like he’s even close to his pinnacle yet. He’s just rising and rising and shitting on everyone as he comes up.
Code Pandorum, he’s really fucking good. I think these last 2 years he sat his balls down on everyone’s face Dubstep wise, like no one sounds like him. This used to be a thing 10 years ago where you heard a track and you knew who it was, you didn’t have to look at the record or laptop, whatever you were listening to it, you just knew who it was. That has recently kind of stopped because everyone kind of sound like each other, because people really focus more on “Will other DJs play this? I’ll make that.” They’re not worried about their own vision. But there’s people like Code Pandorum and Space Laces that sound exactly like their fucking thing. They have their own vision and that’s what influences me because I feel like I still haven’t adapted to the new era. That’s why I’m staying at the size I’m at right now because I’m not going to make some big riddim banger if it doesn’t sound like me or I’m not going to make it just because I know that it will help my career. That’s just real easy to make. It’s dope. But I tried to follow that model of just staying true to mind what I wanted to do no matter what’s going on around me. So yeah.
That brings me to another question. So you know much like horror movies genre and all its subgenres, Electronic music is constantly evolving. Artists are always striving to make something new, something different and crazy, something intense. So that being said what are some trends right now that you do like and what’s a trend that you wished would just die off?
Well, I think sound design is getting really fucking crazy right now, where there’s noises that you haven’t heard before. That’s really nice. But again, then those noises will be chopped into a typical riddim thing or something like that. I’m like, “Oh man, you really had something there!” Don’t worry about what’s going on and just do your thing. One of the trends that I really do like is some things are getting simpler and some younger kids are starting to go back to the roots of Dubstep. And there’s the simple well made almost retro tracks being put out like ConRank! ConRankis murdering it. He’s on Circus and he’s making shit that if it would’ve came out 10 years ago, it would have been the biggest fucking thing ever. And it’s still big. It’s selling well, he’s doing very well. But the people like me that’s been around for a while, when I hear that I get a fucking hard on! Cuz now I can play something that has new dynamics. The new school dynamics of everything. You know, sounds damn crisp, but it sounds like some throwback shit. So the whole throwback thing is really good. But the trend that I wish would die off other than people thinking riddim is new… I’m talking about riddim too much *laughs* I mean it was already a genre before we used it. Like it’s kind of like how EDM started saying “trap music.” Especially we’re in in Atlanta like, “Nah, motherfucker, that was already a thing.” Yeah. That was already a thing. Like don’t use that. Like I’m not going to come out in 20 years and start making them, I’m not going to do a punk band and say it’s Trance. Just to be like no, cause you know, you know, you know…*mocks smug guy*
So I’ll take it back a little bit. At what point did you decide you wanted to make music your career?
It was always a pipe dream. I still live in Indiana, but I grew up in Indiana. There’s no making it there with music. But I knew that I didn’t want a full time job, anything like that. I always wanted to do it. I did construction jobs, roofing jobs, siding jobs. And then even tried to go to even working at Guitar Center and I was like, this is half and half. We’re halfway there. And I was always making music and I was always trying to just push it. I didn’t think it was going to happen, but slowly when it made more sense for me not to work because these shows were getting booked and not paying much compared to what DJs in general get paid for today. Because this was before the term EDM was there. It was before everything really blew up. But it still made more sense to just quit and go tour. And of course my mom didn’t like that. She thought you’re fucking up, you know? And I’m like, “Mom, I can get my job back at Guitar Center or Home Depot. It’s okay. Like it’s not a big deal.” But yeah, it was a slow thing. And then, still to this day it’s not something I want to look at as a career because that’s how I spoil my fun making music. Because I’m like, “Well, I better make a good move here to keep this going.” That’s not the creative side of it, that fucks it all up. I want to just enjoy what I do and then put it out and not worry about the career part of it. It’s hard because that creeps in and that goes back to the earlier thing. That’s why some people are producing things that doesn’t necessarily sound like them, but they know what’s going to go off and people are gonna play it, ya know what I mean?
So this being the last night of the Bloodbath Tour, lets focus on it for a bit. First, Why the name Bloodbath?
I just think it sounds good man. It’s a hard ass name. It sounds like a good metal band or some shit like that, like….”Bloodbath.”
I know touring can get rough sometimes, what were some ways you would find to relax when you could?
I spend a lot more time in the hotels than I did when I started touring. I used to check in 10 some years, I used to check in, throw my bags out and just get in a taxi and go to the city to see everything the city had to offer. But there’s so many times… like I love Atlanta, but there’s only so many places I can keep going shopping, you know? So there’s only a couple of repeat things that work everywhere. It’s like, arcade bar, like barcades, that and going seeing movies, going to comic book stores or just sit in the hotel and reading, playing Switch, something like that. Also, you’re going to come here and talk to all these people you’ve never met before and then play the show in front of people you don’t know, all the stuff. So keeping yourself centered, just being calm before the storm.
Are there any moments that stand out or maybe that you will never forget from this tour?
Honestly, man, just the tour itself, this is like my maybe 9th headlining tour I’ve done myself. And to even be able to have interest to tell my manager, “Okay, we’re going to do the same thing.” Like we’re going to, you know, September to the end of the year. And he’s like, “All right boss, we’ve got you.” And then they send out all these emails and everyone comes back and books it. That’s the high point of it, there’s somehow still an interest. That’s dope. If there wasn’t an interest, I would still be making the music in my house working back at Home Depot or Guitar Center or whatever. But just the typical things, if you want to talk about like Dj wise, little things like testing a new song out that I didn’t think it was too dope and my friends didn’t make the stink face at when I showed them in my studio and I was like, “Oh shit man, I thought this was the one.” And they’re like, “Ah, it’s okay.” And then I play it out and people are like whistling and screaming and going crazier than the track I played before, which could have been a very popular track from someone else that they knew. You know what I mean? That’s always where I get off on stage is when I play something brand new and if you don’t announce it, that is a new one cause they’re always going to go off. If you go, “Yo, this is a brand new one” and they’re just going to go off because they know they’re the first people to hear it. But when you play a brand new one for the first time and don’t announce that is brand new and they go off, that’s good, that’s how you know whenever that comes out you’re like music wise, you’re good for two months because you know that you’re about to put out something that everyone’s going to like.
Are you going to do another tour like this in the future?
Oh yeah. Not Stoppin. Yeah. Not stoppin.
So we got to see you at the sound camps at Lost Lands this past year, did you get to go out in to the festival and experience it during the day?
Oh, all the time. Yeah. I was actually there two days before, I live three hours away and Excision’s my dude, outside of music even. He’s a friend so, and I support what he’s doing for the Dubstep community, heavy bass community. I mean he’s basically being like, “Hey, we don’t need to fight to be on your multigenre festival. Our shit’s big enough where we can just do this all in one, all inclusive, all heavy shit, you know.” So yeah, I went and yeah I always walk around. Sometimes it gets overwhelming because I think I’m going to mask myself with a towel over my head, but I forget that I’m covered in tattoos and all this other shit and then I forgot to actually pack clothes. So all I had was my merch, so I’m walking around in my own shirts. So it’s hard to walk around because every two steps it’s just like picture, picture, picture, which is cool, but I can’t do shit about it.
Well, you kind of answered my next question. Do you think that this festival, along with Bass Canyon, are having a positive effect for a heavy bass music and its fans?
Of course. It makes everyone actually feel like a family and lets them know that these things are actually dedicated to them, it has its own spot. You know, it’s really important. Like he really stepped up, for Jeff to do what he’s doing. So yeah, they got the validation of knowing that this as real as we thought it was, this is actually a thing. Yeah, we can get big, big (I’m not going to name festivals and like shit on people) but we can get mainstage crowds that these massive festivals and big cities can get just for Dubstep for 13 hours. It’s a big fucking deal. Yeah.
I know you are very appreciative of your fanbase, so much so that you started “Free Figure Fridays” in which you send horror movie memorabilia to fans just for simply being fans. So has there ever been a gift a fan has given you that you now hold dear to your heart, or just really surprised you?
Yeah. There’s a couple… but me explaining this as almost a waste of time. I’ll have to send you a picture and you have to post it. But this dude took like two weeks ended at 37 layer picture where he cut these little…He cut… No, I can’t even explain man! I got the most insane piece of art that took longer to make than a fucking album does. It just looks like a thing on the wall and then I pull it down and I turn it to the side and you can see the layers and everyone’s jaw just fucking drops. I got, 8 years ago or something like that, someone’s father had an old vinyl pressing machine and all this other shit and he pressed a bunch of my old Monster shit on the vinyl that does not exist. And I was like, “Dude, that’s probably the fucking craziest one because that’s not even white label bootleg shit, that’s nonexistent. Yeah, that one was crazy.
For your new fans, for your old fans, gotta ask the question, what is your all time favorite horror movie and what movie genuinely creeped you out, made you feel unsettled?
Okay. All time favorite always changes. Always. Always, always changes. My go to helps me sleep also always keeps my interest is always The Shining. But then there’s so many like b movies, like really bad old movies that I like to go to. But if you were looking at my most played of my lifetime or movie, it would be The Shining. Of course, Evil Dead, all this. See, it sucks when no matter how deep I get into that world, my answers will always be the same as someone that’s not as deep into that world. I’d be like, “Yeah, The Shining is amazing. It’s a classic.” I’m like, yeah, it is. I’m not naming some shit that no one’s ever heard of. And the movie that makes me feel uncomfortable is probably Serbian film. Um, just look it up. It’s in my Terror Vision. It fucked. Yeah. And yeah a Green Room or… It’s Eli Roth movie about cannibalism…
Yeah, Green Inferno. Because you know, there’s all the old cannibal movies, but this was so fucking detailed and nasty and the people that were in the movie that went to the island, I know people that remind me of that. Like those are my friends, you know what I mean? So I can put myself in that place like, “Yeah, I’ll go do that and defend the trees getting cut down, Why not?” Like I’m not a fucking Hippie, but like why not? Yeah.
So do you get inspiration from living outside of the city? Kind of like in solitude? Do you get the inspiration for your music?
Yeah. All my inspiration comes from everything else but Dubstep. That’s the whole point. I mean if I listen to everyone else’s music to get inspiration to go make my own music, it’s going to reflect everything else going on. So I just don’t pay attention. Like I know the producers that I want to play their music and they’re my friends and so they send me their new shit. Sometimes I go on SoundCloud and browse around for new kids, but for the most part I’ll find out about those, the new up and comers from green room conversations. Like I’ll play a show with Midnight Tyrannosaurus, because he pays attention, he knows those motherfuckers that like no one knows about yet, but they’re making crazy shit. So I’m like, “So what’s going on? Like who’s what?” He’s like, “Oh, there’s this kid, so and so and so and so and so and so” then I look it up and I’ll play it, you know, but I just don’t pay attention. I want to stay outside of the box because if I’m not paying attention what’s going on, it’s going to be very hard for me to get pinned down to any current sound.
So I follow you on Instagram. I see you’ve got a Big Green Egg you throw down barbeque? So are you a brisket or pulled pork guy?
Pulled pork. I mean we’re all, we’re both right? Like every man loves both of them but pulled pork. I actually just replaced the Green Egg. I still have it. Yeah, it’s called like a “Primo” or “prImo” or some shit like that. And my mom was showing me, I’m not shitting on the Green Egg man. Like the Green Egg is the best it gets. And she’s like, well it was when it came out and now all these other companies are doing it better and not even for cheaper, they’re just doing it better. So this one is two and a half times the size cooking wise, you know, it seems so much, I haven’t even used it yet, but everything about it seems like it might kind of make the Green Egg take a nap for a second.
So, which region has the best barbeque?
That’s a hard one, I know!
I mean, I’m going to go with Texas or Tennessee. Yeah. I got family in Tennessee, so I want to say that more, but Texas knows what the fuck’s up. So yeah, Texas is more, tries to impress you more. Tennessee is just some home cooking. “This is our fucking recipe and deal with it”. I could be eating my foot on that one, but like, that’s just my opinion, from my experience, going to certain places, you know?
That was it. Thank you.
That was awesome, man. Good questions.