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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Aggie undergrad DJ wins nat’l dubstep competition

Just like Clark Kent was a regular-looking journalist, junior evolutionary ecology major Will Bauer can be seen sitting in class, eating at the ASUCD Coffee House, or walking around campus. But instead of becoming Superman, Bauer transforms into something a bit different: DJ Dubzilla.

Bauer recently gained fame as his alter ego after winning the “Nit Grit Remix Competition,” a contest hosted by popular dubstep producer NiT GriT. Bauer won the most votes for his remix of NiT GriT’s track “Babylon.”

Bauer beat out hundreds of entries to make the top 10, which he was selected for by a panel of judges that included popular dubstep producers Freddy Todd and NastyNasty, who selected finalists based on originality, style, and technique. Leading by 43 votes, Bauer won an all-expense paid trip to open for one of NiT GriT’s shows this summer.

Bauer will perform on the quad on Tuesday from 12:30 to 1 p.m.

Making music is something Bauer has been doing since he was young. But his first musical instrument may surprise you.

“It started with me playing clarinet,” he admits. “I didn’t really like it though, so I moved onto the saxophone, which I thought was more manly and cool to play. I played jazz throughout high school.”

It was during his first year at Davis that Bauer really became interested in electronic music and DJ-ing.

“[My interest] progressed into going to a lot of shows and listening to a lot of house music. Then one day my friend played dubstep in his car for me, and I knew this was my genre. And now I’ve just been saving up money and trying to play a lot of shows around Davis,” he said.

Bauer got his start in the Davis music scene by playing for parties at fraternities such as AEPi. According to AEPi member Alex Krasnoff, Dubzilla was the perfect choice to keep the party going.

“What we love about his music style is his continuous feel for the party,” Krasnoff said. “He knows when to play house music, hip-hop, dance remixes, and really creative dubstep remixes. He always brings a fresh feel to the music that other people are just getting into.”

Krasnoff even recalled an event in which Bauer was more popular than the fraternity’s main music act.

“One of my favorite memories with him has to be at our Blackout Party in February,” Krasnoff said. “He opened for Starting 6 at our huge Conclave party for AEPi. He brought down the house for over an hour, warming up the crowd. Many people thought his set of techno and dance music was better that Starting 6’s performance.”

Bauer dedicates two to three hours a day on his music, balancing his passion with his schoolwork and involvement in the Ski or Snowboard (SOS) club. According to Bauer, the amount of time spent understanding a song is essential to making a good remix.

“I practice, to try and get to know the tracks, because you have to know what’s about to happen with a song when you’re going to play in front of so many people. Plus, I try to find tracks that will blow people’s minds, with so much bass that you can’t even think,” Bauer said.

Finding the tracks is only half the job. Making the remixes or an original song is a huge part of Bauer’s creative process.

“I have to have a filter, and think about if [someone] would actually listen to this song in their free time or on the dance floor, and it cuts out a lot of tracks that I decide to let the public see,” Bauer said. “You have to constantly make new, unexplored and unexpected sounds – and the filter helps me decide if something sounds good and if it’s interesting.”

It’s the possibility of blowing people’s minds with new music that is Bauer’s favorite part about DJ-ing.

“There’s some part of me that likes to be able to control the music, and when you’re up there on stage you just feel like a badass. Feeling the anticipation of people waiting for a drop, and teasing them and teasing them until finally giving it to them, and then watching them go crazy and everyone’s having a great time, that’s my favorite part,” he said.

This, said friend and fellow SOS member Patrick Leahy, is what makes Bauer such a great DJ.

“Will is my favorite DJ to have at a party. His song selection guarantees a great dance floor,” Leahy said. “I don’t know what it is, Will just has that terrific taste in music and puts in the time and effort to produce amazing songs and perform great live.”

Since winning the NiT GriT competition, Bauer has received gigs at bigger parties with better time slots. Bauer played at the Tres Hermanas show “Do the Dance,” and will be playing at the electronic event “Planet Bass” at Old Fellows Hall on Second St. on May 6, and at “Unity,” a show hosted by Electronic Music for Change and Theta Xi, at Freeborn on May 12.

With all his current success, Bauer hopes for a future that involves making music.

“Ultimately my goal is to one day tour and show people music that is not their typical, everyday Top-40 that they hear on the radio. Music would be an ideal life for me, the starving musician without the starving part,” he said.

It’s this prospect of sharing his love for dubstep that seems to excite Bauer the most. Both Krasnoff and Leahy recall memories in which Bauer taught them how to use his DJ equipment. Bauer also wants to spread the sound of dubstep to people who aren’t as familiar with the genre, even if it means going mainstream.

“Lots of DJs and hipsters get really butt-hurt if their music is ‘found’ and have to move on to the next unknown genre,” Bauer said. “I view DJ-ing as a way to share the music I love and meet people with similar tastes. The only negative I can see with it becoming mainstream is pre-teen girls saying ‘Dubstep? I love that band!'”

More information on Bauer, whose motto is “Less pants, more fun,” can be found on his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/DJDubzilla. You can find, listen, and download (for free!) his tracks at soundcloud.com/wbowser.

ANNETA KONSTANTINIDES can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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