Dubstep: Friend or foe?

Image for Dubstep: Friend or foe?

Last Friday, we launched into our five-part debate series with some vigorous back-and-forth about whether making dance music is too easy. Well, now comes the time to chew over a new topic – and just like last week there are prizes for getting involved in the debate. All this is powered by Hyundai Veloster, and of course the need to stay entertained on Friday. So let’s get stuck in.

This week, UK music site Dummy uploaded a 2003 BBC Radio 1 documentary about the emerging dubstep scene. The half-hour show titled The New Step – which we’ve plugged in below – profiles the mongrel sound bubbling up on murky dancefloors around London, including the now-seminal FWD>> club night. “The garage scene is going downhill,” says one interviewee at the show’s opening. “They’re now calling what used to be UK garage ‘urban house’.”

The consensus of all involved – from Zed Bias to a 17-year-old Benga – is that garage and two-step has become more about courting the pop charts than the clubs. “This new sound is coming through,” says one commentator. “Everyone seems to be in it and pushing the sound. Hopefully it’ll stay underground rather than come commercial like garage did, and now it’s dead.” While even then there’s no agreement on what this new sound’s called – ‘underground breaks’?; ‘new-step’?; ‘a FWD>> sound’? – the most resonant is ‘dubstep’. “If the main players have their way, underground is where it’ll stay, so keep it to yourself,” quips the host Rowan Collinson towards the end of the show. Nine years on in 2012, it’s looking something like dance music’s worst-kept secret.

Late last year, a meme did the rounds that condensed the evolution of dubstep into two photos. ‘It used to be like this’: a huddle of dudes including Benga and Mala watching fellow Londoner Distance DJing. ‘But now it’s like this’: a huddle of young festival kids in garish colours and goofy ‘rave’ paraphernalia. Plenty of people found it chucklesome enough to share, including Skream, who jokingly posted it to his Facebook page and got 1,769 comments in return.

A Photoshop effort that probably took its creator five minutes to knock up still managed to make people very, very angry. But that’s what the word ‘dubstep’ does. When Justin Bieber is uttering it in an interview about the direction of his upcoming album, you know we’re not in 2003 anymore. “I don’t think it’ll go overground as such,” predicts the teenaged Benga in The New Step. As 2012 kicks into gear, we’re looking at a new status quo: how much more overground can it possibly go?

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VanillaFace

VanillaFace said on the 13th Jan, 2012

'this is samuel' is completely right in saying that there's the two distinct 'flavours' of dubstep circulating right now. However, I don't agree that they're both going to be here to stay, simply because I believe that they can't. These two types of dubstep are opposites; I'd go so far as to say that they are in complete conflict with each other. Dubstep is now far to broad a term as at present, what it defines can be very different to different people. A genre cannot survive like this. For dubstep to survive into 2012 and beyond we need to see sub-genres emerge. It's ridiculous that we have artists like pinch under the same label as guys like Skrillex. We need to see artists separate themselves much in the way James Blake has with his 'post-dubstep' title. That said though, I still think the shelf-life of brostep is limited even if this does occur. People are listening to it at the moment as it is cool to do so. "Proper" dubstep, however, has a shelf life that is, in my opinion, infinitely longer, as long as there are still guys out there who produce it. Benga was RIGHT in his prediction that dubstep wouldn't hit the overground, as the dubstep that he was referring to at the time hasn't, and I believe never will hit the mainstream. It's because of this that this style of dubstep will survive. The mainstream simply and inevitably chews up a genre and then spits it out a complete, ruined mess. That is where the newer style of dubstep is headed in the near future, if not in 2012.

VanillaFace

VanillaFace said on the 13th Jan, 2012

Ph03n1x_85 raises an interesting point in regards to the influence that dubstep has had, and will continue to have (in the near future, at least) on other forms of EDM, and and mainstream hits. It's interesting that over the past few months we've heard Britney and Bieber experiment with dubstep sounds. THis is evidence in itself of the huge current popularity of the 'wub' sounds.
Over the next 12 months, I predict that these 'experimentations' are going to become much more frequent. As it is, *dusbtep sells*. This is key to what we are seeing at the moment. As I previosuly said, it's 'cool' to listen to dubstep at the moment, and mainstream "musicians" are catching on to this big time.
Similarly, DUBSTEP producers are catching on that *dubstep sells*, with brostep unfortunately being the bestseller. As unfortunate as it is, what producers create is often the product of the want of the community. As it stands, those memebers of the dubstep community who prefer brostep currently outweigh those who prefer the more traditional style, and thus we are seeing what were (imho) great producers beginning to produce garbage. Look at Modestep's recent productions, and of course, as the article mentions, Nero's 2011 album. Heck, Welcome Reality was a feature album on Triple j!
As the popularity of dubstep continues to soar into 2012, we'll see a constant degradation of the quality of what were once good producers (though I acknowledge that this is purely subjective). As demigod said, it's only the diehards who produce for the genuine love of dubstep, and what it truly stands for, that will keep it alive at the end of the day.

DJ KnightSA

DJ KnightSA said on the 13th Jan, 2012

I'd like to preface this by saying that I am one of those "kids" that's "jumped on the noisy, distorted dubstep bandwagon". I know that's basically declared my bias from the get go, but hopefully it also shows some insight when I say the following:

There's A LOT of REALLY bad dubstep out there.

But then, there's a lot of it in any genre.
Take a look at Trance:
How could we forget classics like Hampton the Hampster's Hampster Dance? Or the Crazy Frog's worldwide success?

The difference is the age in which dubstep has come about in; or, more specifically, YouTube.
We get exposed to far more of the dodgy, sub-par Dubstep than we ever got from pre-YouTube genres.
However, the stuff that is good, the stuff that is well produced and well made, will be the stuff that lasts.
The noisier Dubstep is more popular than the classic minimalistic Dubstep because it sounds better on YouTube.

I agree that dubstep is almost a dirty word in the music industry.
However, I also think that producers should always be proud of the genre they're making.
if you make dubstep, say you make dubstep.
Who cares if you get associated with Skrillex?
Do you think every rock artist out there is eternally worried they'll get compared to Nickelback?

On the topic of Skrillex, the reason he's the "most hated" is the same reason Elvis was:
He was the first person to make it really big doing what he does. What he is doing is new and, as such, people will instinctively dislike it.

As for the mosh-pit culture surrounding it, it's quite simple to explain really:
(noisy) Dubstep is to dance music as Metal is to Rock.
You need that contrast so your classic genre can stay pure.
With the separation, all of a sudden, all the people that were "ruining" the other genre are off doing their own thing.
Which is why, as much as I dislike the term "brostep", I use it as much as possible when describing my music.
I'm off doing my own thing in my own genre.

And hey, I'm having fun and making something I think sounds good. Which in the end, is all that matters.

YayaLadyZombie

YayaLadyZombie said on the 13th Jan, 2012

In topical years since Skrillex%u2019s shot to fame, it has opened doors for many other dubstep djs to mark their existence in the scene through their music. The statement is not limited to the local but also the international market, which has seen a remarkable growth in the landscape. The spotlight has not only been casted on the dubstep vista alone, but the EDM scene too has gained much more exposure with the arrivals of Zedd, Porter Robinson and a lot more with their cutting edge releases and mixes flourishing the scene with a fresh breath of air. They may be young but their talent seems to be taking on to a different level of sounds and creations. And it seems that it hasn%u2019t stopped exploding ever since. Skrillex may have laid a solid base for the music to venture globally and all the rest is now in the hands of everyone to ensure that it keeps pushing boundaries.

Skrillex is a charmer when it comes to music and most definitely the overnight sensation that undoubtedly will continue shining. Rare is a talent who has made such fame in his rookie years but here he is, positioned to keep building that foundation.

The awe-inspiring thing about Skrillex is technically focused on his music production, his energetic deliverance through his gigs/shows and the level of acceptance and recognition that the industry has given him. Not limited to his fans who cultivate on daily basis, music tycoons such as Skream, Benga and the rest too have given him the detection that he deserves. Cherish the revolution, Skream and Benga has come a long way from days of making music using 3 lap tops to now having a worldwide recognition as the founding fathers of dubstep. The roots of dubstep will always go back to the dons who created the sounds and then will continue to those who has distributed it to the next level. We are past the morbid days when dubstep took residency in sweaty underground clubs with 50 people worth of crowd. Now in 2012, everyone wants to be the dubstep ambassador and it's a pinch of reality. When a genre goes mainstream and the way dubstep has been polished to the pop sheen, there will be the birth of sub-genres. Whatever it is, some of us will definitely explore the roots of it and it will go back to the godfathers of dubstep. :)

YayaLadyZombie

YayaLadyZombie said on the 13th Jan, 2012

In topical years since Skrillex's shot to fame, it has opened doors for many other dubstep djs to mark their existence in the scene through their music. The statement is not limited to the local but also the international market, which has seen a remarkable growth in the landscape. The spotlight has not only been casted on the dubstep vista alone, but the EDM scene too has gained much more exposure with the arrivals of Zedd, Porter Robinson and a lot more with their cutting edge releases and mixes flourishing the scene with a fresh breath of air. They may be young but their talent seems to be taking on to a different level of sounds and creations. And it seems that it hasn't stopped exploding ever since. Skrillex may have laid a solid base for the music to venture globally and all the rest is now in the hands of everyone to ensure that it keeps pushing boundaries.

Skrillex is a charmer when it comes to music and most definitely the overnight sensation that undoubtedly will continue shining. Rare is a talent who has made such fame in his rookie years but here he is, positioned to keep building that foundation.

The awe-inspiring thing about Skrillex is technically focused on his music production, his energetic deliverance through his gigs/shows and the level of acceptance and recognition that the industry has given him. Not limited to his fans who cultivate on daily basis, music tycoons such as Skream, Benga and the rest too have given him the detection that he deserves. Cherish the revolution, Skream and Benga has come a long way from days of making music using 3 lap tops to now having a worldwide recognition as the founding fathers of dubstep. The roots of dubstep will always go back to the dons who created the sounds and then will continue to those who has distributed it to the next level. We are past the morbid days when dubstep took residency in sweaty underground clubs with 50 people worth of crowd. Now in 2012, everyone wants to be the dubstep ambassador and it's a pinch of reality. When a genre goes mainstream and the way dubstep has been polished to the pop sheen, there will be the birth of sub-genres. Whatever it is, some of us will definitely explore the roots of it and it will go back to the godfathers of dubstep. :)

Mahali

Mahali said on the 13th Jan, 2012

Like it was said previously, music is always changing and you have to have an open mind when listening to new genres. Dubstep is no different.
There are many people who only listen to music that is played on the radio or MTV and know how popular it is becoming but, don't understand that there are two different styles of dubstep; the underground stuff and the mainstream stuff. This is probably why there is such a huge argument on dubstep music being labeled incorrectly and underground type dupstep artist being afraid to label their music as 'dupstep' due to the mainstream dubstep music behind it.
I think incorrect genre labeling happens with pretty much every type of music though and it gets even more confusing with the sub genres; the underground type, the mainstream type, brostep the list goes on. Music reporters, writers, listeners and even some musicians are probably overwhelmed with all the sub genres they're unsure what to call the specific music and just use a term that is popular now; dubstep.
With all this said, I do think that dupstep will continue to be popular this year but, I think people should stop complaining about 'mainstream dubstep sucking' or it was so much better back in the day because there will always be artist that continue the 'back in the day' music you love you just need to look for them. I''m just going to continue to enjoy and appreciate all styles of this genre and I am sure if you tried you would find something you would end up liking or even...loving!

hdskp

hdskp said on the 13th Jan, 2012

I think that musically there's probably several areas dubstep's moving in. There's artists moving to a more "future garage" "post dubstep" spund, some moving towards minimal and dub techno hybrids, some moving into hiphop and glitch styles and some moving into drum and bass and breakbeat. Pretty much these artists are more foreward and not playing the big brash noisy sound "bro-step and the like". The latter won't last for more than a few years it's tedious, gimmicky and moved on the notion of being hip, bass heavy and the in thing. The earlier musical types are not only going to be timeless but theres a long future for artists like Shackleton, Scuba, appleblim, pinch, zomby, ferusshu,2526 etc etc.

I think this musical schism is also reflected (as pointed out in a great article) in the "commmercialness" and "undergroundness" that artists and fans label the music.

Dubstep to me in it's original format (2007 etc) was sort of like a one trick pony and really boring it was only with labels like deepmedi (still awesome) and the emrgence of Burial (pivotal to me in shaping a new sound) that made dubstep awesome. The noisy bro-step music like Trolleysnatcher, cookimonster, skrillex and the like is really boring...it's the same thing over and over. I don't understand how it can be so popular, it's not even musically catch/easy to dance to and such. It' concept of branding and in some markets "undergroundness" that push it. And goof luck to that sound, cause musically it's boring and tedious. If you like big bass and such why not listen to artists like Kanji Kinetic who are downright hilarious and great fun??

To give a personal idea of this schism. In my local Jbhifi they hhave skrillex, ruskko cd's for 20 dollars and they apparently sell very well. But in their 5 dollar sales bin you can get 2526's 'aerial" for 5 dollars, Puinch's CD for 10 and i also got Burial and Zomby's cd's for 10 bucks there.

crackthatback

crackthatback said on the 14th Jan, 2012

Oh how I dislike dubstep. Not the genre, but the fact that it is saturating clubs and festival lineups. I remember when DJs who would play a Drum and Bass, garage or breaks set might throw in something dubby just to break things up a little, but an entire set of bleepy dubstep makes me wonder how anyone can enjoy it. I know I'm getting on compared to the new 17 year olds ready to pay money to see anything marketed right at the next festival, but even the most tone-deaf among us knows that most dubstep is just plain annoying. The buildups and breaks in most "dubstep remixes" are what frustrate me. I expect a drum and bass style break and then I get squeaks and bleeps, to which the only thing I feel like coordinating my body movement to is hurling my beer at the DJ. Dance music was fuelled by an urge to dance, watch Pump up the Volume, it was all about music getting faster, making you want to move in time with the rhythm and get your heart rate up. Hell, even hiphop and RNB makes people move their body sexily in time with the music, albeit at a slower RPM, and all of the RNB stars seem to be crossing over now, following the lead of Will.I.Am into Guetta's destructive waiting hands, but at least it's a tempo you can still dance to. I digress - back to dubstep...Very few people can do the popping and robot moves that you see in youtube vids. These dubstep remixes just hurt my ears most of the time, it's not good enough quality to warrant playing a whole set with it. Songs like "I Need air", "Me & You" and "Katy on a Mission" are musically fantastic, and get me dancing for a short time. I am actually surprised that dubstep has been so successful in this day and age of ADHD and facebook, but I guess kids want to hear something different to their forefather's brand of dance music SO BADLY they'll listen to anything...the fact that a band like Die Antwoord can be successful proves that anything is possible nowadays... My 2 cents.

dirtyepic

dirtyepic said on the 16th Jan, 2012

"Is it any surprise %u2018bass music%u2019 has become the pleasingly non-specific, judgement-free refuge?"

This quote really resonated with me - embarrassingly, because of how true it was. I work as a freelance music journalist and when people ask me what kind of music I'm into, I'm usually fairly vague - in my experience, once you mention the word "dubstep" people start thinking of the tired, mechanical frat-boy kind of scene (HURR DURR BASS DROP), which is kind of a very narrow view of the genre when you consider the raft of really original, boundary-pushing music that's been released under the tag over the past few years.

In particular, I think 2011 was a good year for dubstep's crossover into other genres, with artists like Scuba, Martyn, Surgeon and others pushing sounds encroaching on house and techno's territory (holy shit, Scuba's DJ-KiCKS entry - mix of the year or what?).

So I think it will be people like these, who deliberately keep it non-formulaic and attempt to reappropriate the sounds, tempos and hallmarks of the genre in new ways who will be key to its survival. I don't want to see it die a slow and protracted death like breaks or what have you - it has real potential as releases from artists like SBTRKT, Zomby, Katy B, Sepalcure and Emika all clearly demonstrated this year, and for it to retain any credibility its artists and DJs needs to keep finding new ground to explore. 2011 was the year that showed us all its hold on the EDM scene - here's hoping there are a few more left yet, hey?

Kiron

Kiron said on the 16th Jan, 2012

In topical years since Skrillex's shot to fame, it has opened doors for many other dubstep djs to mark their existence in the scene through their music. The statement is not limited to the local but also the international market, which has seen a remarkable growth in the landscape. The spotlight has not only been casted on the dubstep vista alone, but the EDM scene too has gained much more exposure with the arrivals of Zedd, Porter Robinson and a lot more with their cutting edge releases and mixes flourishing the scene with a fresh breath of air. They may be young but their talent seems to be taking on to a different level of sounds and creations. And it seems that it hasn't stopped exploding ever since. Skrillex may have laid a solid base for the music to venture globally and all the rest is now in the hands of everyone to ensure that it keeps pushing boundaries.

Skrillex is a charmer when it comes to music and most definitely the overnight sensation that undoubtedly will continue shining. Rare is a talent who has made such fame in his rookie years but here he is, positioned to keep building that foundation.

....blah blah blah blah blah on and on Skrillex dick sucking



Sorry, it's kind of an argumentative cop-out to employ this observation, but the fact you actually like all the Skrillex BS (succesfully transitioned overnight, produces on just laptop with ableton with some shitty speakers (one apparently broken)) pretty much instantly singles you all out as either young, or simple.

1. I was "there" when he was in a "hardcore" band. I was very much into post-hardcore at the time From First to Last started "trending", and that band, plus the wave of imitators that followed (Aiden, for example) was both a the first and final nail in its coffin. Atrocious music that single-handedly attracted the derogatory use of the "emo" handle.

2. After leaving FFTL he struggled for years producing horrid near-outsider-music-quality emotronica shite like this

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaRAOFkbdIM

this is by far the most PASSABLE output from that timeframe, sadly the HILARIOUS shit that was on his myspace isn't there anymore.

He first heard "dubstep" something like... one and a half years ago, via a second-, if not a third-hand source: Borgore. he actually admits to this in an interview. as emo kids will be, he was instantly drawn to the sound. so, first he does some awful remixes and a shitty EP of "br000tal" "electrohouse" and "dubstep" "tunes" with awful cheesy speech-synth verses and sound-design based around the philosophy of turning distortion up to 11.

Then media blackout.

6 months later, album chock-full of tracks with top-notch production on the drops (I'll admit to that, but honestly who GIVES A SHIT about basses made with the "modern talking" wavetable in Massive anymore?! a horse beaten well into putrefaction, that) but with the most awful fucking melodies and dismally chopped-up whiny grating vocals in between the drops. almost like... parts on the same song weren't made by the same person! gasp...

The story goes like this:

Spor takes some time off from working on his debut album as Feed Me (which also comes out on mau5trap a couple of months after Skrillex's, and sounds almost like a much much much much better and bereft of the revoltingly, vomit-inducing saccharine cheese of the former) and reworks some of his album out-takes into usable drops.

Excision and Datsik get a call, make some guy some drum loops and some Massive patches, get paid.

Noisia are called in for a little R&D.

Deadmau5 (who is by no means untalented) looms over the entire process.

And so we arrive at this Frankenstein's monster of aggro popular dance music that is "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" (good name!).

Anyways, whenever anyone says Sonny's music "rips people's heads off" and "producers are trying to emulate him", that doesn't ring so true anymore, does it? I don't see anyone struggling to emulate the whiny emo crap he does by himself on top, more like I see people trying to emulate the kind of drops they've been trying to emulate for years, ever since excision, datsik, 16bit, noisia, spor, borgore and other splendid producers with appropriate mileage hit the spotlight.

Now you might be thinking... "but if he ain't doing anything himself, what would be the point of paying all these other guys to ghost produce, instead of just releasing more material by the guys themselves?"
Well, very simple: excision is a guy from middle Canada with a hoodie, and kind of a hard man. noisia are three down to earth dudes from the netherlands. spor is a soft-spoken aphex fan. skrillex is a meth-head who chain smokes, tweeks out, looks like a goth Mowgli, and so on. and that will always do wonders for the angsty rebellious tween demographic. and skrillex had been on WB's roster ever since working with Ross Robinson on FFTL's Heroine. they saw an opportunity, and had the perfect poster child for it. they threw some wads of money around, did some beatport top 10 magic, and, voila, everyone has a new favorite "dubstep" "musician" with heaps of "talent" to his name.

Now about how Skrillex conducts his live sets. To remove any confusion it goes like this.

Identical track 'crates' on both Deck A and B, in Ableton Live. Tracks are warped to time and he literally uses the laptop track pad to trigger the next track when he wants to start playing, switching between deck A and B. Crosfader assigned to one of the faders on his M-Audio Trigger Finger controller incase he fucks up. Which he does. Alot

he also has a fader for tempo adjustment, which he uses when he decides not to beatmatch and just bring in a new track at stupidly high bpm and hope nobody notices. By the time it's reached a normal BPM the other track has faded out. Everyone is too high to notice and all the people who aren't get to laugh jovially at his lack of ability.

He makes frequent and painful use of Ableton Lives Beat-Repeat plugin, which he as assigned to one of the knobs on his Trigger Finger. The knob acts as both on/off for the Beat Repeat effect AND repetition frequency. He seems to be able to pitch change too, so he probably assigned the same effect to two knobs, but one pitch changes as well as adjusting frequency.

This is how he consistently butchers all his tracks live.

Aside from that, not much goes on. A good portion of the knobs are unassigned. he seems to have "Yes, Oh My God!" and a few other of his notable vocal samples assigned to the pads so he can bring them in before a drop. Lovely.

He doesn't beatmatch. Ableton does. And when even Ableton can't mix his shit, he gives up and just does stupid shit with his effects and tempo. There is nothing interesting going on stage at all.

Take a look at this video, you can clearly see the screen of his laptop and exactly what he's doing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvDmjc16ysA

Note that only two knobs do anything. Both the beat-repeat stutter. One pitch adjust, other non-pitch adjust.

Only external effect is on the mixer, which is Only used for effects, in this video he does a filter and flanger, both built into that particular mixer.

He's swiping around trying to find the next song to play before clicking it, then letting Ableton drop it in time with the beat, then he does his little crosefade, then some brodiving.

Now back on his productions.

Notice the moment he leaves mau5trap and starts his "OWSLA" label, he loses all his decent bass and relies entirely on two or three presets that he managed to keep.

He kept some pointless sample and presets, which have been recycled over and over (You may recognize the same whining saw and the same grinding high-wubs with little alteration consistently in each of his new tracks).

Any growls that you still here are from his former samples that he kept. He lacks the technical ability to make decent sounding growls anymore, as he never made them in the first place.

You will notice the over-use of the massive "modern talking" wavetable on his new EP. This is his replacement for "his" FM8 growls that he doesn't know how to make.

Sxrrillex is a fraud. There is Sonny Moore Skrillex, responsible for the mess of the latest EP and the first EP, and then there is 'collabrative skrillex' made up of superior sound designers, who built his songs for him. And they will build no more, because he's a lying little gollum looking imp. The facts are there if you look hard enough.

Edit:
http://img221.imageshack.us/img221/9582/skrillexscreenfu.jpg

A little recreation image of what's going on his screen.

RunningWithScissors

RunningWithScissors said on the 17th Jan, 2012

Sorry, it's kind of an argumentative cop-out to employ this observation, but the fact you actually like all the Skrillex BS (succesfully transitioned overnight, produces on just laptop with ableton with some shitty speakers (one apparently broken)) pretty much instantly singles you all out as either young, or simple.

1. I was "there" when he was in a "hardcore" band. I was very much into post-hardcore at the time From First to Last started "trending", and that band, plus the wave of imitators that followed (Aiden, for example) was both a the first and final nail in its coffin. Atrocious music that single-handedly attracted the derogatory use of the "emo" handle.

2. After leaving FFTL he struggled for years producing horrid near-outsider-music-quality emotronica shite like this

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaRAOFkbdIM

this is by far the most PASSABLE output from that timeframe, sadly the HILARIOUS shit that was on his myspace isn't there anymore.

He first heard "dubstep" something like... one and a half years ago, via a second-, if not a third-hand source: Borgore. he actually admits to this in an interview. as emo kids will be, he was instantly drawn to the sound. so, first he does some awful remixes and a shitty EP of "br000tal" "electrohouse" and "dubstep" "tunes" with awful cheesy speech-synth verses and sound-design based around the philosophy of turning distortion up to 11.

Then media blackout.

6 months later, album chock-full of tracks with top-notch production on the drops (I'll admit to that, but honestly who GIVES A SHIT about basses made with the "modern talking" wavetable in Massive anymore?! a horse beaten well into putrefaction, that) but with the most awful fucking melodies and dismally chopped-up whiny grating vocals in between the drops. almost like... parts on the same song weren't made by the same person! gasp...

The story goes like this:

Spor takes some time off from working on his debut album as Feed Me (which also comes out on mau5trap a couple of months after Skrillex's, and sounds almost like a much much much much better and bereft of the revoltingly, vomit-inducing saccharine cheese of the former) and reworks some of his album out-takes into usable drops.

Excision and Datsik get a call, make some guy some drum loops and some Massive patches, get paid.

Noisia are called in for a little R&D.

Deadmau5 (who is by no means untalented) looms over the entire process.

And so we arrive at this Frankenstein's monster of aggro popular dance music that is "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" (good name!).

Anyways, whenever anyone says Sonny's music "rips people's heads off" and "producers are trying to emulate him", that doesn't ring so true anymore, does it? I don't see anyone struggling to emulate the whiny emo crap he does by himself on top, more like I see people trying to emulate the kind of drops they've been trying to emulate for years, ever since excision, datsik, 16bit, noisia, spor, borgore and other splendid producers with appropriate mileage hit the spotlight.

Now you might be thinking... "but if he ain't doing anything himself, what would be the point of paying all these other guys to ghost produce, instead of just releasing more material by the guys themselves?"
Well, very simple: excision is a guy from middle Canada with a hoodie, and kind of a hard man. noisia are three down to earth dudes from the netherlands. spor is a soft-spoken aphex fan. skrillex is a meth-head who chain smokes, tweeks out, looks like a goth Mowgli, and so on. and that will always do wonders for the angsty rebellious tween demographic. and skrillex had been on WB's roster ever since working with Ross Robinson on FFTL's Heroine. they saw an opportunity, and had the perfect poster child for it. they threw some wads of money around, did some beatport top 10 magic, and, voila, everyone has a new favorite "dubstep" "musician" with heaps of "talent" to his name.

Now about how Skrillex conducts his live sets. To remove any confusion it goes like this.

Identical track 'crates' on both Deck A and B, in Ableton Live. Tracks are warped to time and he literally uses the laptop track pad to trigger the next track when he wants to start playing, switching between deck A and B. Crosfader assigned to one of the faders on his M-Audio Trigger Finger controller incase he fucks up. Which he does. Alot

he also has a fader for tempo adjustment, which he uses when he decides not to beatmatch and just bring in a new track at stupidly high bpm and hope nobody notices. By the time it's reached a normal BPM the other track has faded out. Everyone is too high to notice and all the people who aren't get to laugh jovially at his lack of ability.

He makes frequent and painful use of Ableton Lives Beat-Repeat plugin, which he as assigned to one of the knobs on his Trigger Finger. The knob acts as both on/off for the Beat Repeat effect AND repetition frequency. He seems to be able to pitch change too, so he probably assigned the same effect to two knobs, but one pitch changes as well as adjusting frequency.

This is how he consistently butchers all his tracks live.

Aside from that, not much goes on. A good portion of the knobs are unassigned. he seems to have "Yes, Oh My God!" and a few other of his notable vocal samples assigned to the pads so he can bring them in before a drop. Lovely.

He doesn't beatmatch. Ableton does. And when even Ableton can't mix his shit, he gives up and just does stupid shit with his effects and tempo. There is nothing interesting going on stage at all.

Take a look at this video, you can clearly see the screen of his laptop and exactly what he's doing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvDmjc16ysA

Note that only two knobs do anything. Both the beat-repeat stutter. One pitch adjust, other non-pitch adjust.

Only external effect is on the mixer, which is Only used for effects, in this video he does a filter and flanger, both built into that particular mixer.

He's swiping around trying to find the next song to play before clicking it, then letting Ableton drop it in time with the beat, then he does his little crosefade, then some brodiving.

Now back on his productions.

Notice the moment he leaves mau5trap and starts his "OWSLA" label, he loses all his decent bass and relies entirely on two or three presets that he managed to keep.

He kept some pointless sample and presets, which have been recycled over and over (You may recognize the same whining saw and the same grinding high-wubs with little alteration consistently in each of his new tracks).

Any growls that you still here are from his former samples that he kept. He lacks the technical ability to make decent sounding growls anymore, as he never made them in the first place.

You will notice the over-use of the massive "modern talking" wavetable on his new EP. This is his replacement for "his" FM8 growls that he doesn't know how to make.

Sxrrillex is a fraud. There is Sonny Moore Skrillex, responsible for the mess of the latest EP and the first EP, and then there is 'collabrative skrillex' made up of superior sound designers, who built his songs for him. And they will build no more, because he's a lying little gollum looking imp. The facts are there if you look hard enough.

Edit:
http://img221.imageshack.us/img221/9582/skrillexscreenfu.jpg

A little recreation image of what's going on his screen.http://i.imgur.com/GKYsk.gif

Space_man

Space_man said on the 21st Jan, 2012

It is amazing that we are talking about Dubstep and so much of the conversation is based around Skrillex! Has everyone totally discarded the London origins of the sound, guys like Skream, Benga, Kode9, Loefah, Digital Mystikz, Pinch, Scuba, Distance etc???

Skrillex for mine isn't really dubstep, yes he is heavily influenced by and takes elements of Brostep and uses it in his productions. The downsampled/Vowel bass sounds was not a staple of early dubstep pioneered by the London guys i mentioned before. It was a sound that was more indicative of the sound coming out of Canada (Excision/Datsik/Rottun Records) circa 2008/09, which when it hit the Sydney scene not so much at Void but at Low society gigs, it was great and the parties went off. Anywho back to Skrillex, his heavy reliance on electro for his melodies and the over all cleanness of his productions isn't a characteristic of dubstep, after all dubstep is a lo fi sound! His drums and basslines sound way too clean, for mine. There is a certain lo fi, grit, muddy feel to dubstep, lots of white noise in the snares, oscillators pitched down 2 octaves etc, without this low tech atmosphere dubstep losses it edge. Also he lacks the linage to be a proper steppa, he never grew up on 2 step/garage, jungle etc he isn't from croydon, not that lineage is really a huge issue in dance music unlike urban but once you add this the other points i have stated then the argument is overwhelming.

To call Skrillex productions Dubstep is an insult to both the artist and the genre, Skirllex has transcended both dubstep and electro and created something totally different. Maybe this is why he polarises the opinion of so many people, i dont know, but the man is a talent no doubt.

/end rant

larrisajones

larrisajones said on the 27th Jan, 2012

As a big fan of dubstep I also feel that cringe when I have to admit to it, as the sound people commonly associate dubstep as being is far from the sound I fell in love with.

Sure enough when dubstep developed out of the garage scene it had no boundaries but two key driving factors - sub bass and space. At the core of it its the replacement of sub bass with mid range screech and the total elimination of the dub element that throws out most heads and ruffles most feathers.

While this conversation twenty years ago was about hardcore and ten years ago was about trance and breaks but at least those genres went on to be other genres rather than still clinging onto the genre they grew out of's name. In the case of dubstep all the hallmarks that allow you to identify a track as dubstep are not present in the (primarily) US wave of tracks and artists.

You can't blame promoters or even artists - there is quite clearly a market for that sound. There are thousands of angry kids around the world that want big angry music to jump up and down to. However confront them with a 'real' dubstep bassline and they just look confused (believe me I've seen it happen).

And so to me the question really is, if dubstep is the skrillex sound, is it still feasible to class old school dubstep as dubstep if this is no longer representative of the genre? Afterall if i was after the next skrillex and picked up an old DMZ release I'd be as gutted as the head that goes to a dubstep gig and is confronted only with brostep in all it's shirtless glory.

On a positive note at least brostep made wobble sound fucking fantastic.