Information On Dubstep
Some people might think dubstep is a new phenomenon, but it actually grew out of garage and grime about a decade ago. In Croydon, south London, there was a shop called Big Apple Records that acted as a hub for people into all sorts of bass-led music (sadly, it closed five years ago). I had a recording studio above the shop and started the Big Apple record label with John Kennedy and DJ Hatcha. We were the first label to sign Skream and Benga when they were just 15 years old alongside Digital Mystikz (DMZ), Mala, Coki and Loefah. These artists made some of the first dubstep records.
Around this time Hatcha, who also worked at Big Apple, was championing this sound at a London club night called FWD. We were all making records for Hatcha to spin and meeting in the record shop to discuss the sound we were making. It was a bit like a bass university. And through Benga, Skream, Oris Jay, Plastician, Chef, LB, Kode 9, N Type and Benny Ill, the dubstep sound was brought to life.
We have just finished the festival season with Reading and Leeds. This is unbelievable for us, considering a few years ago you wouldn't get to play those festivals unless you had a guitar in your hand or a set of drums in front of you. It shows how much this music has grown in the past few years that a non "rock'n'roll" band can be accepted at a major rock festival (although it should be pointed out that we continue some of the old rock'n'roll traditions after the shows).
I was speaking to Skream this weekend about how dubstep has gone so far in the past three years – we were wondering if a new style of music has ever spread around the world so rapidly. If you think about drum'n'bass taking off in the 90s, a scene would blow up in one country in one year, then another a year or so later. The internet has changed all that and helped spread dubstep across the world almost instantly. At the same time, dubstep is constantly changing, incorporating different sounds and styles all the time.
The Outlook festival was held in Coatia last weekend, a dubstep event hosting some of the biggest names in the genre from around the world. If you thought you would hear only straight-up dubstep you were in for a surprise. Loefah played Detroit techno, Skream played metal, and Joker mixed it up with some UK funky and house.
I think the fact dubstep artists embrace other genres is a big part of why it's so difficult to define the music. The borders are becoming increasingly blurred between dubstep, grime, drum'n'bass, techno, house, funky ... everything. However, there is one element that links all of these genres together and that is ... BASS.
The music industry has been in the doldrums for a long time with few A&R people willing to take a risk. You get the feeling they are all being told by bosses to "sign us a hit or you're out". This is very short-sighted, and has done a lot of damage to the music on the majors. Luckily, we found a label (Columbia) that didn't ask us to water down our sound. Hopefully, other majors will follow suit and let their A&R teams make choices based on the music they believe in.
There are so many great acts out there, with fresh music deserving the same exposure we are getting at the moment (see below). With the support of more labels like ours, and Radio 1 willing to take risks as they have in supporting us, the remainder of 2010 and 2011 will hopefully be the start of another revolutionary and exciting time in UK music.