By Aaron Gi
I find myself wondering: when did Dubstep become such an old fad? Was it Skrillex? Was it trap music? Was it just the fact that it became mainstream in the blink of an eye (or the drop of the bass)? Maybe it’s just me, maybe not, but there once was a time where I could go to a show, not dressed in neon, without a pacifier, and not wearing a ‘bro-tank’, and enjoy the teeth-gritting-knee-shaking wobbles. There once was a simpler time when you could go see Rusko as an opener, enjoy a casual Tuesday night with Caspa in an undersold show, and artists like Zeds Dead or Flux Pavilion hadn’t even graced American soil with their sounds. That time seems to be long gone as artists like Rusko and Zeds Dead now fill out 5,000-cap venues and headline festivals across the country; they’re a staple of today’s EDM culture. I remember when dubstep was in an under-saturated, or even (dare I say it) underground scene. Clearly, it’s far from that now.
In today’s EDM and bass culture we see more than a handful of genre’s from glitch hop, to future bass, to trap, to drum and bass, to nu-disco, to hard-style, to house, to electro soul… just to name a few. We’ve seen artists win Grammy’s. We’ve seen artists change their entire sound based on a new genre coming into play as the ‘new thing’. We’ve even seen DJ’s transition into a full live band. My question here is: when did dubstep become such a fad?
It almost goes without saying that in America, we’ve always been a step (or five) behind in the evolution of electronic music. When Dubstep came to the States it was still a relatively unknown, unappreciated sound. Listening to the pioneers of the sound itself such as Skream, Benga, Example, Chase and Status, 12th Planet, the music is much more simple, sub heavy wobbles without all the robot womps and abrasive screaming. Dubstep [originally] is made up of dub and 2-step garage. Dub, similar to reggae, is made of mainly instrumental loops. 2-step garage is a genre of EDM that was popular in England in the late 1990’s, comprised of irregular drum rhythms and bass lines, landing on the first and third beats, rather than all four. Hence the conventional dubstep BPM (beats per minute) being set at 140, while other traditional EDM beats (House, Techno, etc..) are stuck at 128. Add in some heavy techno sounds, drum and bass-type rhythms and there you have it, a brand new style of music that would slowly but surely take the world by storm.
Listen to Skream’s “Midnight Request Line,” a dubstep track from 2005:
Now back to the original question: when did Dubstep stop being cool? I don’t think it ever did. It’s clearly shaped the EDM community and brought to it a new level of insanity, put it under a public eye like never before, and brought in the masses to enjoy something we all have for years. Now maybe I was just young when it was all happening, and maybe it was like this with techno and raves in the 90’s, but seeing a scene go from being weird, frowned upon, and relatively under the radar to being the thing to do as soon as you hit puberty could be looked at from two different ways. 1.) Dubstep is now just a fad. All the young kids have taken it over and now we must distance ourselves from a scene that has gone from zero to hero and is about as mainstream as it gets for EDM. 2.) Appreciate it more, be happy you watched a culture grow and blossom into something as ridiculous as it has become. Brag about how you knew about Skrillex when he had less than 1000 likes on Facebook. You were a part of a movement, and an epic one at that.
Personally, you won’t find me in the pit of a Skrillex show wearing a gas mask anymore. You probably won’t see me crowd surfing at Perry’s stage during Lollapalooza either. And you definitely won’t see me inadvertently elbowing people in the face while raging intensely on the rail at a Rusko show. (All true stories.) I may not be at every rowdy dubstep show announced at all the biggest venues in town, but I do still sneak in a Zed’s Dead track here and there, I occasionally find myself ‘letting the bass cannon kick it,’ and, yes, I still get chills when I play “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites.” Dubstep happened. I was there, in the thick of it, and it was fucking awesome. Now to all you beat junkies out there, go find the next biggest thing and blow it up. It isn’t a fad until we find it.
Enjoy some Dubstep classics right below: