Maximum impact

Downlink and Dieselboy drop the bass, up the tempo at Masque

Drum and bass veteran Damian Higgins, Dieselboy, drops at Masque July 7; photo: Key Vision Photography

By Gary Spencer

For several years now, the duo of Tony DeSaro and Billy Dickensheets, better known collectively as 3DMentional Entertainment (3DM), has gone out of its way to present the best in nationally and internationally known electronic dance music (EDM) artists to the Gem City, and they’ve been successful. This Friday, June 7, 3DM has once again broken the bank to bring two of the biggest names in the electronic music world for a match made in EDM heaven—electronic bass impresario Downlink and drum and bass veteran Dieselboy—to Masque in downtown Dayton.

Born Damian Higgins in Florida, Dieselboy boasts an impressive resume of accomplishments in the EDM world, dating back to the 1990s, and has DJ’d all over the world. But Higgins started cutting his teeth playing music long before he became a marquee name synonymous with his signature drum and bass style.

“I actually DJ’d a few school dances in both middle school and high school,” Higgins says. “I loved playing music for my friends and family.”

Later as a college student, a chance incident at a concert led Higgins to become a pro EDM DJ.

“A guy that worked at a local record store told me to check out a track called ‘Anasthasia’ by T99,” Higgins explains. “As soon as I heard it, my life changed. What appealed to me was how underground and futuristic and alien it all sounded to me. It was unlike anything you would see on MTV or hear on the radio. It was heavy, compelling, dark, beautiful, challenging, and interesting.”

Soon Dieselboy started making a name for himself on the rave circuit during the mid-1990s for his skillful mixing of breakbeats with spine-tingling, bone-rattling drum and bass, a stripped-down EDM subgenre that was starting to catch fire with audiences, and a style for which Dieselboy is recognized as a pioneer.

“The stuff I play is so visceral that it has always been difficult to describe with words,” Higgins says. “The first things I hear are ‘It sounds fast’ followed by ‘It kind of sounds like hip-hop at twice the speed!’ and ‘It sounds hard.”

On the other side of the coin is Canada’s Sean Casavant, better known by his DJ/producer name Downlink, whose path to the world of EDM was a bit different than his touring partner in crime.

“Growing up, I didn’t really like electronic music, for the most part,” Casavant explains. “It wasn’t until I went to a rave in the year 2000 that I heard the music presented in a way that made sense to me. It was drum and bass that first struck me as the most powerful, futuristic, and advanced form of music on the planet.”

Shortly afterward, teenage Casavant bought his first set of turntables, growing obsessed with DJing and making music.

“I practiced every day for hours,” Casavant says. “I spent so much money on vinyl my parents thought I was losing my mind! Every second day or so the delivery guy would show up at the front door with what looked like a pizza box of vinyl.”

In the late 2000s, Casavant started playing his first real gigs under the Downlink moniker and released a song entitled “Gamma Ray,” a hard-hitting yet ethereal slice of dubstep, an EDM subgenre that contains elements of dub, drum and bass, jungle, techno, and layers of heavy bass frequencies. Once the song became a hit in the underground EDM community, he began touring all over North America and even helped produce and mix Korn’s 2011 album, Path of Totality. Nowadays, he’s a household name in the electronic bass music community, which continues to grow for a variety of reasons.

“It’s got a bit of a rebellious, punk rock attitude to it,” Casavant says. “Dubstep and bass music is about utilizing low frequencies and dirty sounds to elicit emotion, rather than lyrics or melodic expression—it flies in the face of what is typically considered musical. It’s the kind of music that makes parents go, ‘Ugh, what is this crap?’ and I think that’s part of what makes it appealing.”

One thing Dieselboy and Downlink have in common is their attitude and approach to their respective live sets.

“This isn’t music to just nod your head to—it is a physical experience,” Higgins says. “I keep the energy compelling. I play a wide spectrum of emotions and intensity levels. It is hard to stand still during my shows—I play for maximum impact.”

“The essence of a good DJ set is to combine lots of different music—not just mine—and try to get the crowd as into it as possible,” Casavant says. “It’s an aggressive and adrenalizing blend of otherworldly sounds rhythmically arranged and designed to make people move uninhibited. You can’t get a sense of what it’s about by playing a couple of songs on your computer at home. You need to hear and feel this music in a live setting on loud speakers with a bunch of other people around you.”

3DMentional Entertainment presents ‘Blood, Sweat, and Bass’ featuring Downlink and Dieselboy Friday, July 7 at Masque, 34 N. Jefferson St. in downtown Dayton. The Gem City Riot, Peanutbutter Williams, Overwaves, and Trill Bixby are also on the bill. Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance. For more information, please visit,, and

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Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at

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