Dubstep: Has the bubble already burst for the sound of the future?

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A few years ago, ‘Do you like dubstep?’ is not a question you’d expect to hear from Ed Banger boss Busy P. From the basements of South London to the mainstage at Australia’s national Parklife festival in 2010, it’s been a rapid (and contentious) trajectory. So where is dubstep at right now? How is it faring down under? And with its ever-widening fan-club on both sides of the DJ booth, can all growth be seen as good? For our final Year In Review feature, we’ve pulled together opinions of those in the know about dance music’s biggest talking point in 2010.

For Chris Pfeiffer, the man behind Adelaide’s weekly dubstep night Subsects, it’s no surprise the sound has spread like wildfire. “It’s heartbeat music; it’s perfect,” he says. “It would also have a lot to do with the fact that dubstep is more of a medium than a genre. It’s an artist’s palette. There’s very few rules to follow. There’s obviously those who are just jumping on the bandwagon, but good on ‘em. They’re helping to evolve the sound and push it in different directions.”

So-called ‘bandwagon jumping’ is a recurring theme in dance music, but nowhere has it been more fiercely debated than in dubstep. Philadelphia bass-lover Diplo is a natural convert to the sound, and in a recent interview with inthemix he raged against the perception that it’s sacred territory. “People want control, but that’s not what dubstep is about. Dubstep is bigger than just these nerdy white dudes sitting at home in Liverpool talking about how the wobbles used to be bigger in 2009. This is about dudes making music all over the world. For me, the dubstep scene is a real motivator and inspiration.”

When Diplo’s label Mad Decent presented their own dubstep primer earlier this year with the Blow Your Head compilation he was prepared for the response from some circles, with Diplo saying that “people hate it because they want that scene for themselves.” In North America, Diplo says, dubstep has now usurped the popularity throne from the brash electro sounds of Justice and company. “You can’t even listen to electro-house now that dubstep is here, it’s for fucking babies now. Playing a Justice record in a club now would like playing a fucking nursery rhyme compared to the dubstep that’s going on. They love it because it’s so hardcore and it’s angry and American kids love to attach themselves to something represents them. It’s dirty, it’s underground, it’s futuristic, it’s techno; dubstep’s such a huge opener for a lot of kids’ minds.”


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hdskp said on the 13th Jan, 2011

Dubsteps a genre that took me a long time to appreciate and acknowledge. Although i tried really hard. I remember maybe 1-2 years ago when i first heard it and it didn't hook me. There was some nice bass bits but a whole set of it bored me. Personally to me it was at times very much the same wobble-wobble with no emotive depth (this is wholly subjective) and just not that interesting. It wasn't really until Burial emerged did i get a taste of great and moving dubstep and i think a diverse and musically depth came to dubstep. Admittedly it was his second cd - Untrue. Untrue brought a really moody work and to me showed really great emotional depth and i enjoyed it a lot. It reminded me a lot of liquid dnb really moody and emotional and softer urban sounds. From then on i've discovered a few more acts and also enjoyed some of the more grittier and crazy sounds.As a genre i don't know if it's 100% for me and i don't know if it's died. I do think it will still go on for a while (if not longer) but i think a big component is this need for "underground" and all the socio and personal dynamics of that. I've heard way too many shitty remixes done in a dubstep style and it's lame and boring. I'mnot going to go out of my way for dubstep but it'll always have a small place. That said there's a lot of good stuff out there. And a lot of genre crossing wioth techno and breakcore and that stuff is great

Also i guess it is an acquired sound and you have to listen to it with proepr headphones and speakers!