Posts Tagged ‘dubstep’

A while ago I spoke with Mal Harper, the founder and owner of MalLabel Music, and Skulltrane, a local dubstep producer you’ve possibly seen tearing it up. They both love this bass music scene we’re all a part of, and gave me a ton of good insight into it from their one-of-a-kind perspectives. Listen to the edit to find out why the cuts in the Bay are so raw and why the competition is a good thing, straight from the mouth’s of two of the scenes biggest names.

MalLabel Music is maintained from a secret location in the Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco, but you can check them on their website. Skulltrane can be found at your favorite party, or heard on her Soundcloud.

Songs heard in edit: “Purple Gangsta”- Dr. Knobz (DZ Remix), “Dr. Wre”- Zombie J, “Bad Boy”- 6Blocc (Blackheart Remix); all courtesy of MalLabel Music.


Haters got you in a funk? Blast ’em with this.

Digital Bill created this six minute quick-stepping drumstep track called “Haters Anthem.” He’s a Las Vegas producer, but MalLabel Music from right here in the City sent it over for us to check out.

Now, there are plenty of technical term laden definitions out there on the internet of what drumstep is. But it’s exactly what the name is, a mixture of drum and bass and dubstep. And since they dubstep kind of grew out of drum and bass, and since they’ve fooling from the moment dubstep was born, there’s really no need to get too wrapped up in sub-sub-genre’s.

There’s plenty of delicious bass flying at your face, and that’s all that counts.

Quick hi-hat and a crisp snare keep the track rolling through with urgency. Wobbles whisk in and out, mixing with other dreery sounds that bring the song through different parts. Frantic is an appropriate word.

The beginning works up into a triumphant build, with which kind of sounds like a futuristic ant colony constructing a labyrinth in hyperspeed. About a minute and a half in, the beat breaks and bass begins to punish. It comes fast, like an overwhelming amount of jabs to the face. There’s even a sample of some bloke with a Cockney accent, for a good measure.

Admittedly, the first couple listens were a little overwhelming. There’s a lot of stuff going on in that track. But that’s presumably on purpose, as Digital Bill said “Organized music is for the weak,” when he posted this track on a drum and bass forum.

Give it a listen, and download it here for free.

Digital Bill has a new EP out via MalLabel, available on their site.

I’ve been a fan of Minnesota since the the moment I heard his Too $hort remix, “Oakland Baby.” And “My Dip In Da Club,” a track he dropped on Tuesday, is just another that has sealed the deal.

His style isn’t what’s “in” right now – It’s not hard or heavy. It doesn’t bring the words ‘epic’ or ‘massive’ to mind. But it is groovy as fuck, and is never without a reason to bounce. Have a listen below, and download it for free at his Soundcloud.

“My Dip In Da Club” is a remix of a song by Gena, an East St. Louis hip hop artist who doesn’t have much of a namein the Bay, and most likely has never messed with dubstep. The choice is a gem though. It’s light, fun and full of swagger. Perfect choice for a club atmosphere, and a perfect choice for Minnesota to remix.

The beginning drips in with this watery xylophone sound, but it’s not long before the bass beats through and party starts. Gena’s chopped up vocals shine in and shortly after a nice little 80’s synth lead comes on. The beat and glory build until around 1:40. And then the fun begins.

The verse and bass line kick through along with the energy. From that point on it’s impossible not to bounce in – if not out – of your seat. From then it drops and rises for a pleasant five a half minutes.

Christian Bauhofer, as they call him in class at UCSC, dropped this track to celebrate reaching 5,000 followers on Soundcloud. I’ll cheer’s to that, but I can’t wait to hear this baby live. Hopefully we’ll have that opportunity when on Saturday, April 30 when he plays the HowWeird Pre-Party at KMR. Check out the event page for more info on that.

Big up on the track, Minnesota. I think Gena says it best: “Used to rock in my basement/Now I’m number one.”

Photo via: Let The Beats Flow

Hearts of Bass has parties for a cause. The organization is trying to gather the people power of the bass scene and raise money for people in need, aiming from local youth to international tragedies.

The team is fairly new, their first official event was SF Bass For Japan on April 6, but they’ve got big hearts and big plans to support some worthy causes.

In the words of the creator, Sam Arroyo, the crew was put together for dance music fans to raise money for recent issues, like Haiti and Japan.

“I asked myself, what skills do I have that can help situations like this?”

After watching Japanese earthquake footage at his mom’s house in L.A., he decided to utilize his DJ and organization skills to raise some money. He had helped throw past parties through Surefire Sound, and had already starting his own label, so Sam wasn’t concerned about the technicalities of getting a show together.

“I was part of a few Haiti benefit events, and it felt good to DJ to raise money to help folks,” Arroyo told me through email. “Throwing SF Bass for Japan was a no brainer.”

There wasn’t any specific crew doing non-profit work like Arroyo wanted.  And so he and DJ Dials created Hearts of Bass, which isn’t a non-profit organization yet, but is in the works of establishing itself. They’re also creating a two volume compilation CD to raise money, called I Love Japan.

SF Bass for Japan, a benefit event thrown on April 6 at 1015 Folsom, was the first step for the group in getting established. But Sam says the plan is to focus on a wide range of events, like raising money for earthquakes and the homeless, as well as supporting safe dance music legislation and organizations for at-risk youth.

“People who love dance music are at their core, loving and good natured folks. I asked myself, how can we harness that energy and do more than just dance and drink and have fun? How can we help others?”

Dubstep has now invaded FM radio. Just another sign of the genre’s booming popularity.

The Bay Area’s Live 105 isn’t known for playing electronic music. Hell, they’re a huge CBS-owned alternative rock station that swears by the likes of Muse, the Black Keys and Weezer.

But not too long ago they caught the bass bug and kicked off a strictly dubstep show they call Wobble Wednesday, which the hosts think could be the first dubstep focused FM radio show in the States. There are plenty of online dubstep stations, but this takes it to a much more traditional platform; and brings some good music to those late night drives.

Dallas Osborn, the guy up there on the right, co-hosts and DJ’s the show with White Menace every Wednesday night. He told me how and why the show came about, plus a little bit more about the program.

“We decided to have a dubstep show because it’s a genre that’s starting to be embraced by the masses,” Dallas explained in an email. “We felt it was a time to give it a place on terrestrial radio.”

The two Live105 team members began plotting the show in late Januray of this year, and after a thumbs-up by a program director, the first edition aired on Febraury 16.

As a large radio station, they obviously play they bangers from big timers like Nero, Skrillex, and Rusko. But being from the Bay they also show some local love to producers like Minnesota, Amplive, and NiT GriT. They try to keep it strictly dubstep, but once in a while a bass heavy song, that doesn’t necessarily fall under the dubstep label, make’s it’s way on to the track list.

“If we feel it’s worthy of the show, we play it.”

But with such a global, diverse, and mostly underground scene, it’s not necessarily easy finding the right tunes to bump. Dallas spends hours searching the internet -Youtube, beatport, and listener requests on their website – to bring bangers to the airwaves.

“This is what takes the most time. We’re looking for hits.”

The first 30 minutes of the show is a mix of the songs they find in their digital crate digging. The two DJ’s like to spin up-beat songs with proper build-ups and nasty drops; a formula I can’t argue with. The next 30 is a mini-mix from a local DJ or producer.  Co-host White Menace recently tweeted at Bassnectar asking for a half hour mix, which is yet to happen, but would help establish the show.

You can catch Wobble Wednesday weekly at 11:59pm on the FM radio station 105.3, or after the fact on their website. Dallas says the response so far has been positive, and they don’t see the show or genre leaving anytime soon.

“When you have a new genre, especially one as polarizing as dubstep, many will consider it a phase. I don’t personally see it going anywhere.”

Photo: Wobble Wednesday web page

This festival is one of those fantasies you didn’t know you had, but once the idea is heard there’s an instant burst of genius and excitement. It’s one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” moments.

I’m talking about Emissions Fest. It’s a three-day bass music festival, on a river. Now is there anything more you could want from a weekend in Spring? No way.

The chosen weekend is May 13-15 out in Sonora, which is about two hours and 45 minutes east of San Francisco on the way to Yosemite. Some research lead me to believe it will be on the Clavey River, though the event page only says it will be “near last years location, but easy to get to.”

The festival is a joint collaboration by Burning Man crew Camp? and production company Irie Cartel with some help from MalLabel Music.

Events thrown by this crew are purposefully kept somewhat underground, Mal Harper, the head of MalLabel Music told me. But that doesn’t mean they’re tiny, she expects a comfy 1,000 people this year.

This is the third year of Emissions, but the first with the river. Something Mal is “stoked” on, though the event page doesn’t give any notice of aquatic fun.

In the spirit of community, many familiar local names will line the bill stacked with some must-sees. ill.Gates, J.Rabbit, The Widdler, Nasty Nasty, Minnesota, Blackheart, SPL and dozens more will be there, with reportedly 60 more names to be added.

A lot of Mal’s artists, like Rastatronics, Skulltrane and Zombie J will be there. And something she likes to do is book a variety of style’s of artists; people that are going to work the crowd up and down instead of hard beats the entire time through. That range of bass culture style will be heard at Emissions, which is why Mal says this is a bass music festival, not just dubstep.

Grab your friends, you can get a 3-day-pass for $75. Individual passes go for $85, but start going up in price on April 1, capping at $110 at the gates. This dual stage extravaganza is 18+, and it’s noted that no dogs or bad attitudes are allowed.

Photo: Emissions West Coast Bass Culture event page

J.Rabbit- Ninja Gaiden 2011 Remix

ill.Gates and AnaSia- Gene Splice

Minnesota- Oakland Baby (Too $hort remix)

Helicopter Showdown. I think the local gang of producer’s moniker say’s it all. It’s a pretty badass name.

The other day on Squitty Bubbler, a dubstep release site, the group released a track called “Dramatron.” The song was previewed a couple weeks ago on Showdown’s Soundcloud, but on Friday was posted in it’s powerful entirety, free for download.

It’s spacey and melodic in the beginning, but punches in with a constant wall of bass that hits the core. It’s got some halting cuts that are sure to throw you on your heels. It rides like a low end caravan of filthy subs. It’s pretty damn good.

Many people, though, have been saying it sounds a bit too familiar. Commenters on the S.F. based groups Soundcloud and on Squitty Bubbler have been drawing comparisons to a familiar Flux Pavilion track. Squitty Bubbler commenter Kaniform said, “Big tune, but, bare similar to “Bass Cannon.”” Soundcloud user Stasis touched on the same point, “Too similar to “Bass Cannon.” I know you’re more clever than this, Helicopter Showdown.”

After a couple side by side listens, they admittedly do sound fairly similar. The melodic parts have similar aspects, and the bass lines during the drop might as well be twins.

This brings up a question that comes up in any genre. Similar tones, sounds, samples; is it biting or is it inspired by? And where’s the line drawn? Now, obviously there are no clear answers. No one knows if all the horror-punk bands that came after the Misfits are imposters, or if Lady Gaga is just a regenerated Madonna. But the fact is influences and musical aspects tend to cross hairs tightly, especially in the tiny sub-genres that bass music has sprouted off.

There’s plenty of theorizing and internet arguments that could attempt to unravel those questions of originality. But the bottom line is this song is being written about because I like it. It’s a banger. Those bass rockets could carry me off to heaven for all I care.

So cheers, Helicopter Showdown. Keep ’em coming.

Check out “Dramatron” right here on Squitty Bubbler. Listen to “Bass Cannon” also.

On March 14, their collaboration with Sluggo, Hostages, with be available on Beatport through Ultragore recordings.

Photo from: Helicopter Showdown Facebook