TRUTH: Celebrating a Decade of Deep Dark & Dangerous
On May 24th, 2022, the legendary dubstep duo known as TRUTH celebrated an incredible milestone: the 10-year anniversary of announcing the creation of Deep Dark & Dangerous (DDD). What started as a party series to bring deeper and darker styles of dubstep and forward-thinking music to the United States grew into a full-fledged label and brand that has solidified its place in the electronic music scene.
Originally from Christchurch, New Zealand, TRUTH, consisting of Andre Fernandez and Tristan Roake, was inspired to start organizing shows that aligned with their signature sound, characterized by heavy, rolling basslines, dramatic negative space, and darker styles of production. Many fans in the U.S. may have only seen Fernandez take the stage as Roake lives full-time in New Zealand, but the duo is ready to bring the TRUTH project to new heights.
From hosting dubstep legends like J:Kenzo, Khan, and Mala during the early 2010s for 100-person capacity crowds, to consistently featuring releases by emerging international acts like Cartridge, Hypho, and Leo Cap, to hosting curated DDD takeovers with domestic talent like NotLö and Ternion Sound, TRUTH and DDD have always had a keen eye on the underground and artists who are making a statement with their music.
Starting with throwing shows at Monarch in San Francisco, Fernandez and Roake were inspired to fill a void they felt in the U.S. scene at the time.
“Dubstep had had its first wave of acts come through from the UK, like Mala and Skream and Hatcha and Benga had all toured — and Youngsta!” Fernandez explained. “But by the time we arrived in the states in 2010, it was like, full-boar brostep. Skrillex had just released his big tune that put him on the map, and we kind of came into things amidst that. There wasn’t much going on in terms of [deeper] nights, with the exception of select crews around the country, like Nicole’s Sub.mission in Denver or Suraj in Houston with Gritsy, who understood sound system culture.”
Fernandez continued: “So we saw an opportunity — a gap — and started this night. We started bringing over our labelmates from Deep Medi and other guys from the UK and it eventually all evolved into the music label that DDD is today.”
The idea of making music for sound systems and subwoofers has been a core part of the TRUTH project. While they agree that their music is suited for small venues with big sound, the popularity of the genre has propelled it to new heights — and much larger dancefloors.
“We still stand by that train of thought of dark rooms, big systems,” Fernandez said. “The music is more popular now and is being presented on bigger platforms at festivals on mainstages now, and you can go see this style of music at peak times, whereas that didn’t used to exist much, especially in the States. But the music sounds amazing in a contained room, in that sweatbox environment, with the low ceiling — but at the end of the day, as long as it’s on a well-tuned sound system, it could be in a basement or a festival with huge sound system stacks”
Roake continued by explaining that having a properly tuned sound system has immense importance when it comes to how they want to present their music.
“You need to feel it,” Roake said. “If you go to a music event and you’re immersed in the music, surrounding you — it’s a physical experience. You’re going to want to experience that good sound again and again, the way it’s supposed to be felt.”
Over the years, fans have enjoyed a range of releases from TRUTH. With their TRUTH Chronicles mix series that started in 2012, the duo has been able to showcase unreleased music and tracks that are better suited for fans to listen to at home on their headphones at home. Albums like Puppets (2010) Hollow Word (2014), Wilderness of Mirrors (2017), and Acceptance (2021), along with dozens of EPs and singles, TRUTH’s body of work tells a story of their progress as artists and evolution in their sound. The DDD label has evolved accordingly.
“The fact that there’s two of us helps a lot,” Fernandez explains. “There’s been a huge plethora of new talent from all over to feature. We’re signing people from the United States to the UK to Japan and beyond. DDD has been really inclusive in that sense”
In recent years, festival-goers and concert attendees have been able to witness the growth of Deep Dark & Dangerous through the brand’s curated takeovers, a chance for TRUTH to organize blocks of music on stages dedicated to DDD artists. Whether it’s the legendary boat parties at Outlook or more recent DDD-curated blocks at festivals like Wakaan, the goal is to create an environment for fans to immerse themselves in the music and give them a chance to experience a series of connected acts, while giving TRUTH fans a chance to learn about new, oftentimes international or smaller acts, that rarely see that type of exposure, especially in the States.
“Compared to everything else that’s happening at a festival, we’re curing a block within a genre and creating a flow within a night. But within that, each artist has their own very different sound. Someone like Widow is very different than someone like LOST, and someone like Kloudmen is very different than Khiva,” Roake says. “You have a chance to create a journey for the listeners and the dancers.”
“It’s about having that block of music that sets the vibe,” Fernandez continued. “Fans can stick around for a whole evening. there’s room to grow and a lot of potential for the future.”
During the tumultuous year of 2020, many artists and organizations took time to regroup, and TRUTH did just that. They were able to focus on the label and how to bring the community together. These efforts culminated in a series of live streams known as the Quarantine Sessions, featuring hundreds of artists who inspired so fans stuck at home. During these streams, the Twitch chats were flooded with in-the-moment reactions to the tunes, inside jokes, and tangible opportunities for connection at a time when the latter was hard to come by. Twenty-five sessions later, the final Quarantine Sessions stream aired on March 13, 2021, tieing the knot on a series that brought fans worldwide some solace during tough times.
“During the quarantine sessions and being in the chat, that’s one time as DJs that you get to see the names of the people you’re playing to and you start to feel like you know these people personally,” Roake said. “There was such a cool meeting of minds in that time.”
As for what fans can expect next from TRUTH and DDD, the duo will be reunited after years of distance due to COVID-19, taking the stage together at Shambhala Music Festival and other festivals this summer and fall. New music is on the horizon as well, with the second in a series of three EPs, Afterlife, coming soon after the release of the first, Twinkle Toad.
Additionally, the 100th release on DDD will be happening in 2022. Fans can subscribe to the label for giveaways and more opportunities to interact with TRUTH and DDD.
As a result of these streams, constant releases, and presence in the live event circuit, a very dedicated fanbase has emerged. Elevating what was once a standard merch line to a full-fledged clothing line with frequent drops in stunning colorways and wearable styles, it’s now common to see someone head-to-toe in DDD merch. The love for the label and TRUTH has become tangible and visible, rather than hidden in playlists or someone’s hard drive. In that way, it becomes a full picture of the strong community.
“Out of the pandemic, we were going a hundred miles per hour, over 100 flights a year, and nothing was going to force us to slow down,” Fernandez explained. “But then the pandemic happened and it meant we were able to focus on the label and merch. Now, you’re seeing it on the outflow of the pandemic — all the people wearing the gear and everything stepped up after that.”
These connections go far past making new friends. It has resulted in life-long friendships and relationships, and even marriages.
“It’s all about the community; it’s always been that way from the start. That sense of community has always been there but lately is heating up,” Fernandez said. “People doing meet-ups at gigs for photos, a lot of camaraderie and happy people that feel like they’re a part of something. If we can create something that makes people come together and feel happy, we’ve achieved our goal.”