Wednesday, 25 March 2009



I first came across this musical phenomenon on Queen's day in Amsterdam April 

2007. After a day of open air orange coated hedonism, we headed down the 

Marnixstraat to the Heineken factory where, next door is ‘Twstd’ Queens days 

premier underground party, as the word on the street was that Dave Clarke was to put 

in an appearance and electronic legend Billy Nasty also planning to rock the decks.

When we got into the place we sat in the outside area, and I got chatting to a guy 

called ‘Art’ and we shot the breeze about the current state of the dance scene in 

Holland, and what was up and coming. It was then when he told me about a club he 

promoted called ‘Lockdown” on the ‘Dubstep’ scene and tonight Billy Nasty would 

be playing a ‘Dubstep’ set.

 Now I’d heard the phrase banded around before and turns out I’d heard a few tracks, 

just not aware of putting all together under one scene.

And what a bizarre scene it was, for all of you who have not come across ‘Dubstep’ 

before it is a sound that originates from the UK garage scene in the late nineties, for 

all you jungle heads out there it will sound like a slowed version of drum and bass, 

the ‘dubstep’ scene pretty much runs concurrently with the grime scene, it’s a sound 

that champions UK hip hop style and is truly a sonic experience.

Bass is the defining characteristic to this sound, so heavy, deep and brash that you 

should feel it reverberate around your chest cavity if its been listened to correctly. The 

top range should appear sporadic highlighting the bass and with no real trace of any 

mid range. The combination of these two sounds will give the illusion of some mid 


The one requirement with this genre is the demand for it to be played through a great 

system and speakers set up for the bass crispness to otherwise it sounds distorted. 

When listened to at home, it is at first hard to figure out how this sound could be 

given a social outing but “ dubstep raves” are a completely unique experience.

Always dark and moody, just like the sound. Watching people sway to the bass and 

invent smart moves to cope with the lack of pace is something else. The odd thing is 

most modern day dance phenomena are base around the faster pace music with 

repetitive paced beats, but 'dubstep' is not any of those things, it is moody and slow 

almost fragmented in its approach, it has a hollowness that is completely filled with 

the bass, people can be very inventive when showing their interpretation of how to 

express themselves to what ever they are listening to.  The bass dictates the BPM and 

the beats are usually half time, whilst repeating bars and doubling up on the snare and 

the kick drum, and skipping beats that drag the rhythm around the speakers.

So you can imagine the first time I was presented with this, in its entirety that night at 

‘Twstd.’ apart from the sounds.

 The whole feel of the vibe felt very drum and bass, that wasn’t the only thing, the 

presence of an MC and the bass drops throughout the set also showed you that this 

movement takes its root from the UK garage and jungle scene, and using the dirty 

surliness of the London Grime scene but with out the ‘chavs.’

The ‘dubstep’ scene can draw its comparisons to the old Kingston dub sound systems 

where Lee ‘ scratch’ Perrin’s Arc studio reggae sounds rained supreme and early hip 

hop legends like ‘ Kool Herc’ cut there teeth before bringing that style to the Bronx in 

New York and the rest as they say is history.

This scene has its home in London but taken off big time in the Netherlands and 

Belgium where there are many regular nights such as Audio Culture and Lockdown.

Back in London Brixton as ever is at the for front of this scene with monthly and 

weekly nights getting down and dirty, the biggest of these is the monthly night called 

DMZ bought to you by the Dubstep label of the same name, with DJs such as the 

pioneering Kode9, plasticman and Digital mystikz.

The best thing about this low frequency sound is its ability to be mixed comfortably 

with other types of electronic music such as electro, techno and drum and bass. 

Minimal but still achieving fullness, it gives a wall of sound but with very little 


Dubstep is now getting the recognition it deserves with Burials debut album 

collecting ‘The wire’ album of the year accolade.

Another off spin to this genre is the 'No school' breaks scene championed by the likes 

of Dj's Deekline and Wizard, which is something like Dubstep meets Notting hill 

carnival. Other prevalent figures to rise out of this early Grime / Dubstep scene are 

Dizzee Rascal and early streets material are both cousins to this scene.

But if you want to get down then check out Dub scouts and the smog sessions, or my 

favourite Amsterdam’s Mike Engine and Styx.

So if you feel like taking a chance and giving something new a try check out this 

scene, if you don’t have the energy to get down to some banging techno or rocking 

jungle then its is time to “Dubstep” 

Rugged and underground but relaxing and when listened too can give an intellectual 

account for its self as thinking music.

1 comment:

  1. Had my first Dubstep outing a few weeks ago when DJ Marky came to Bournemouth 2020 Rocks. DJ Marky was awesome but the Dubstep just made me pissed off and bored. Perhaps in a different setting it might have been different... Not a fan.