This is the final, edited article published by the Village Voice on December 23, 2014, found here.
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, DJs were people, too. The man on stage was the man in the booth was the man signing autographs was the man shopping for new boxers -- there was no difference within these changing contexts. But as the world of EDM grows into the behemoth it has lately become, DJs have become symbols instead of people, and have slowly started to lose what young'uns would call "realness." Enter DJ Carnage, born Diamante Blackmon, a young DJ/producer who is reclaiming what it means to be real in an ocean of confused and uninformed characters, be they DJs or audiences. Carnage has shown both the guys behind the scenes and fans of the EDM movement that he has his own way of doing things, and he's not afraid to shock a few people along the way (in a good way, we promise).
Carnage, phoning from Brazil, quickly (and excitedly) revealed that he'd just left the famous Christ the Redeemer statue. "Do you remember that Snoop Dogg video, 'Beautiful'? We're at the stairs where he was sitting at. We just went to the Jesus Cristo and now we're at the stairs." Needless to say, the man knows what to do with his four days off from touring.
When Carnage, 23, began producing music, it was clear that something new was brewing, and what started out as a fun bedroom pastime quickly grew into a well-developed and entirely unique musical expression. Already ahead of the trap curve, Carnage took the newly emerging trap beats and added unique Euro-house/trance elements, creating his own subgenre of "festival trap" -- and everyone wanted a piece of the pie.
"When Tiësto played my 'Spaceman' remix in front of fucking 40,000 people in Australia, that's when everything really started getting crazy," he relates. "I mean, Avicii played my shit -- I had the biggest DJs ever. The first trap songs they ever played were Carnage festival trap remixes." It wasn't long before everyone knew DJ Carnage as the man behind those fat, high-hat-laced tunes they'd heard at the Main Stage.
What makes Carnage unique is not his homemade subgenre of EDM; it's the person behind the music. In the world of dance music, so much of the inner workings remains behind the scenes, and DJs rather quickly become marginalized into a one-dimensional version of themselves. They're expected to pump out tracks in line with their past musical history, but also to feed their fans, all while maintaining a godlike image of near perfection. As a result, many behind-the-scenes slip-ups are quickly swept under the rug or simply ignored because of a desire to live up to these unrealistic expectations.
This is not what DJ Carnage is about. "I just do my own thing...that's the best part about Carnage -- I'm just doing my own thing, and if they wanna follow, they can follow." And boy, do they. From quite literally all around the globe, people have come to love DJ Carnage not simply for his music, but for his devotion to being "real."
"The best part about what I do, what I play, is that I do all this stuff because I like it. And the best part about that is that my fans love what I do. My fans, the best part about it is that we're so in one, whatever I fuck with, they end up fucking with -- they're like your best friends." This group of best friends has a name; they're known as the Chipotle Gang (thanks to Carnage's love for the well-known chain), and they've fondly dubbed their leader Papi Gordo. "The Spanish people call me that. I just, like, ran with it. Everything that I've ever done has been organic, you know?!"
Last month in Chicago during his current Parental Advisory Tour, Carnage shot $10,000 out of a confetti cannon into the crowd. "That's just me on some baller shit. I just wanted to be baller and give back. And funny enough, a lot of people were like, 'You're such a cocky bitch! Why don't you send that somewhere where people need it?' " Well, those folks are about to bite their tongues...hard.
On December 11, DJ Carnage unveiled a Learning Center he helped build in Villa Japon, Nicaragua. As a partnership with Seeds of Learning, the Learning Center will be home to a library and a children's room and will host technology, music, and dance classes. DJ Carnage was raised in Guatemala, and dealt firsthand with the devastating poverty of that country and many others in that region, including Nicaragua. He moved to America when he was just seven, but he's always known and respected his roots, and is now able to give back.
"It was just a thing I wanted to do. I wanted to dedicate it to my grandparents -- they're getting kind of old, so...and I wanted to do something special. They did a lot of stuff giving back to the community back then when they were in Nicaragua, and I kind of wanted to do the same and make them proud, you know?" In a personal statement on his involvement with the Learning Center (which can be found here), it is clear that Carnage has a deep understanding of family and heritage, and is eager to re-immerse himself in that world any way he can.
Despite his loving fan base, which is growing constantly, some aren't too keen on a figure as honest and self-driven as Carnage. "Because I'm, like, so true to myself and stuff, that's why I give back so much, because people are just not used to that. Everybody knows this -- people are afraid of change. So when they see a guy who's out here and speaking his mind, when I speak my mind, dude, I get in trouble! Like when I'm fuckin' mad or something, I'm gonna speak my mind and stuff...there's so many politics behind this dance stuff that people just don't see!" In early 2013 DJ Carnage went on a Twitter rant, unleashing his thoughts on trap music at the time, and in January 2014 he was legally detained for going over his set time during a performance at Florida's Club Cinema -- and had no issue speaking his truth in a later tweet:
"And so, when I speak my mind, I kind of look like a cocky, obnoxious bastard, but because the majority of the people just don't know what's really behind this stuff! There's always two sides to the story, you know, so I keep it so real that, like, that's why people fuck with me, but that's why also a lot of people hate me."
This realness is what makes DJ Carnage so relatable and yet so divisive. He isn't afraid of being the bad guy who will say what no one else will because he wants to bring some realness back to the scene. Beyond giving back to his community, Carnage is enthusiastic about and interested in exploring different parts of the human condition. On his Parental Advisory Tour in India, Carnage went straight to the slums to steep himself in the real culture of the country.
"I think when you have opportunities to go all over the world and go to these places and meet people like that, it's incredible, you know? I think a lot more people need to take advantage of all this cool stuff...I kind of wanted to see what India was really about and, you know, sadly there's a lot of poverty in India, and I didn't want to ignore the fact that a lot of the people who go to my shows, a lot of the people out there, live in the slums and stuff like that, you know?"
Carnage is unabashed and unafraid in both his music and his life. His Parental Advisory Tour stops at NYC's Pier 94 on December 27 with opener Dvbbs, and he's set to release his new album in early 2015. Future philanthropic plans include building "a new [learning center]...We're gonna start building another one in Guatemala soon." The DJ, the very eclectic music-lover, the Papi Gordo, the giver, the man -- they're all the same, down-to-earth, self-assured DJ Carnage who is slowly taking over the world, one festival trap remix and learning center at a time.