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.”


www.inthemix.com.au arrow left

tsloby said on the 31st Dec, 2010

wow, just wow. It hurts to watch what was once a great genre going down the toilet.. articles like these show why... what next tiesto playing dubstep?


discotheque said on the 31st Dec, 2010

Tiesto did drop the Skream remix of In 4 The Kill a year ago tsloby lol


Mickstah said on the 1st Jan, 2011

Breaks a dirty word? Getthafuckouttahere!Also wtf is Kid Kenobi on about, there are plenty of great locally produced comps that are not “filled with the best of commercial dance and electro”—he's just not looking hard enough.


tweebs said on the 3rd Jan, 2011

(David Guetta Dubstep Remix)


tweebs said on the 3rd Jan, 2011

That said, Scuba releasing on Ostgut Ton, Villalobos remixing Shackleton, FourTet collaborating with Burial, etc shows a more positive side to dubstep's influence rather than wobbles on Britney tracks.


YossarianIsSane said on the 4th Jan, 2011

Extreme lols at Kid Kenobi saying "But seriously, thank fuck in 2011 we finally have a good local comp that is not filled with the best of commercial dance and electro"Oh really? Forgot that you were responsible for quite a few of them did you?


Djhowe said on the 4th Jan, 2011

its crap articles like this that kill a genre.Wannabe journos telling the kids whats where its @,me think not


daverh said on the 4th Jan, 2011

Djhowe, where'd you get that spin on the article? I don't really see an editorial slant in any direction here...?


Funkedub said on the 4th Jan, 2011

a bassline with an LFO and overdrive does NOT equate to "dubstep" ... whole situation is a larff innit.


polite_society said on the 5th Jan, 2011

Any popular genre is going to have a larger percentage of crap associated with it. Sad but true.


RunningWithScissors said on the 5th Jan, 2011

I remember years ago big eddie saying that dubstep would be the next electro just to troll Funkedub. Now that it's actually come true and we see ads for ONE LOVE DIRTY DIRTY DUBSTEP it's bloody hilarious.


RunningWithScissors said on the 5th Jan, 2011

polite_society is right though, anything popular attracts bandwagoners. When the fad dies and today's fulleh hektik epic anthems (ie. absolute rubbish) are forgotten, the people who were listening to/mixing/producing proper dubstep before the genre became a fashion accessory will still be there doing their thing.


crabman said on the 5th Jan, 2011

Otherwise who will buy hats?


RunningWithScissors said on the 5th Jan, 2011

breaks fans, if they have money left over from buying sneakers


RunningWithScissors said on the 5th Jan, 2011

actually all them hardstyle cunts in melbourne love their hats as well, innit


Tim-BO said on the 5th Jan, 2011

LMAO @runningwithscissors

Gareth Brown

Gareth Brown said on the 6th Jan, 2011

I have to agree with Diplo, nothing wrong with getting ideas from other places. Dubstep became so popular because it was good. No one from Australia can complain about dubstep becoming too mainstream because we got it from the UK anyway!


ErnestBludger said on the 6th Jan, 2011

As long as you liked it BEFORE it became popular, s'ok.


sHaRp-b0y said on the 6th Jan, 2011

Diplo: Stealing music from black kids since 2002.


B_e_de said on the 6th Jan, 2011

As long as Diplo keeps dressing the way he does, he can play whatever the fuck he wants. He'll still be more cooler than cool itself.


thesuntoucher said on the 7th Jan, 2011

As long as they keep bringing out good dupstep, who cares who's making it? Or mixing it for that matter? Even if Tiesto came out and made a dupstep compilation, and it was as good as any from the big players of the genre, why not give it a listen?


twistedbydesign said on the 8th Jan, 2011

It's this


or at least that's it's 'product life cycle'.
The sooner the 'bubble' fucks off the better...market saturation is not a good thing for something based around subtleties and sines..so much junk being hocked

If that happened, and if the 'big players' were making the best stuff then I would give it a listen.
If heroin wasn't so moreish I'd give that a go too
And If every bandwagon motherfucker didn't just LFO the shit out of a quasi reese under the latest house hook then there wouldn't be an issue.


twistedbydesign said on the 8th Jan, 2011

If the above is tl;dr then this is what I said.

Moving Ninja.


littlerascal said on the 9th Jan, 2011

there is some fukn dope music produced under this banner, and there is crap - just like everything. Good and bad - ya Ya just gotta know where to look for the good stuff! Respect to all tha producers doing what they want...the good ones will always prevail...personally my favs tend to be the tracks with dub still in the dubstep!! altho there are some crackers out there that are just downright ballsy... :)


ticketsplease said on the 10th Jan, 2011



walkdogz said on the 10th Jan, 2011

deep dubstep def deserves to be a genre... it's a lot different to the wobble stuff, so much better... pretty much the best electronic music going around atm imo.

Dr Bones

Dr Bones said on the 10th Jan, 2011

i've always thought that dubstep is one of those styles of music where it's either utterly terrible or completely awesome... i can't find a middle ground with it. so i guess if every man and his dog wants to start playing it and producing it, then it just means there'll be a whole lot more stuff on the terrible end of the spectrum, which will hopefully attract the scenesters away from the awesome end, and thereby mean that i'll still hear nothing but quality shit when i go to void.


discotheque said on the 11th Jan, 2011

If only Andy Page started dabbling into dubstep he would rip Rusko, Caspa, Skream, Benga, and Coki a new one. A lot of the breaks guys can definitely put some new directions into dubstep away from the wobble nonsense.


kone said on the 12th Jan, 2011

walkdogz and dr bones are on the money. nuff said. and if more people can get into dance music even via the filth, well thats a good thing.i love showing kids who love skrillex someone like boot, sook, or their work as the abyss. they realise then what the real good stuff is haha


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!


Derelict said on the 13th Jan, 2011

At least some industrial hardcore and dnb acts are still producing quality dubstep tunes. Fuck all the commercial bullshit. Check out SPL, Underhill and Machine Code.


Death to commercialism :D


shuffler13 said on the 14th Jan, 2011

Like all music, their is going to be benders who say "I was listening to them before they were big". To me and my mates its not about ownership, unless you produced it... Have you all forgotten what music is about? The first time you here a track and get excited? The only time you ever get to see some one live, in that moment you nearly piss yourself with excitement? Its a drainer listening to people talk about whats going to kill a genre. Some of you sound like a pack of rich kids talking about there dads country club and the new minority they let in. Enjoy it, let it evolve, dont bitch about it!


jsorati said on the 18th Feb, 2011

@Dr Bones my thoughts exactly. i either love a song or hate it. can never find one that i think is ok, its always love or hate


joshforrest said on the 11th Apr, 2011

love it how peeps like certain genres when they are "underground" and then hate said genre when it becomes popular. ie: if it becomes mainstream it must be shit. This music snobbery is amusing. Music is music. I like certain genres or styles or artists based on it merits and whether it works for me or not. Not whether its "underground" or not.

And what are "purists" compianing about. All music is deriative. Any music is deriative frim the person who first hit out a beat with a stick on a rock millions of years ago. Stop crying