Veteran UK producer Skream just released his most recent single “Ectogazm”, which was also named both Pete Tong‘s Essential New Tune and Annie Mac‘s Hottest Record. Released on Ministry of Sound‘s label, the track is reminiscent of UK house and the earlier years of dance music.
The UK producer and DJ captures the feeling of old-school rave tunes with a catchy piano progression but also manages to make something that feels fresh and new. With a driving bassline, shuffling shakers and percussion, the track is one that Skream has been rinsing out on dance floors in many of his recent sets. He continues on his current tour, where he’s playing sets open to close across Europe through the end of 2019. Check “Ectogazm” below.
A staple in the bass music scene, Zomboy is known and loved for his consistently innovative sound design and wildly powerful drops. 2019 has already been an amazing year for fans, with the release of EPs Rott N’ Roll: Part 2 and Rott N’ Roll Part 2: Remixed, as well as DJ Snake collaboration “Quiet Storm.” With the year quickly coming to a close, the world has received another coveted Zomboy original, courtesy of dubstep super-label Never Say Die.
After opening with a series of eerie individual synths, “Archangel” expands into a full cinematic intro before quickly moving into a tense buildup. The drop begins with Zomboy’s signature vocal tag, followed by utter chaos as deep growls and high-pitched screeches intertwine. Sure to edge its way into major festivals and shows around the world, take a listen now before it inevitably makes its way into countless DJ sets.
Eddie Jefferys, known now musically as Moody Good, has been disseminating his dastardly dubstep earmark for years—both on his own and formerly, as one half of the bass outfit, 16bit. Since launching his solo project, he’s released with NGHTMRE and SLANDER‘s Gud Vibrations, Skrillex‘s OWSLA imprint, and most recently, Zeds Dead’s Deadbeats label.
The “Hotplate” producer’s return to Deadbeats is marked by “Kush,” an aural nod to the island-y dominion of rhythmic dub, all the while employing melodic sensibilities to its audacious approach. The track’s bass grinds alongside bubbly, video-game reminiscent synth lines pack an enticing punch for bass consumers on any side of the dubstep continuum.
Moody Good is currently executing his Sunny Side Up headlining tour. Tickets are available here.
Ever since Excision brought out “the biggest DJ in the world” as a Lost Lands special guest in 2018, Shaquille O’Neal (DJ Diesel) has taken the bass music scene by storm, hosting his own events and performing at massive festivals across the world. Now, Shaq is leaping into original production, teaming up with recent Latin Grammy Award-winning producer, Nitti Gritti.
Shaq has been teasing this elusive ID at festival performances for months now, leaving fans anxiously awaiting its release. With its arrival, it’s evident the winnings were worth the wait. “Takin’ Over” opens with a series of ominous growls topped with aggressive shouts from Shaq himself, preparing the listener for the bass destruction to come. The drop hits hard and fast, and showcases the leaves-nothing-to-be-desired production style embodied by Nitti Gritti. The combination of the track itself and the reputation of the names attached to it is certainty enough that the offering will be a fixture in the bass dominion for months to come. Catch Nitti Gritti on his upcoming Asian tour dates with Space Yacht, including stops in Taipei and Shanghai.
Fresh off the fall cresting of his Ride Waves Season 2 Tour, saxophone sensei GRiZ has released the fourth installment of his Bangers.Zip EP series. GRiZ started the collection with the first arm this past June, followed closely by Bangers.Zip in August, and Bangers.Zip in September. Each release has served in showcasing GRiZ’s fine-tuned production skills in a variety of musical styles. Bangers.Zip features funky beats and high-energy wobbles that old and new fans of the perennially get-down-friendly producer ought to enjoy.
Kicking off the three-track EP, house tune “Gonna Get Funky” is exactly what you’d expect from the title: a feel-good funky rhythm that’s concocted to get crowds moving. Following closely behind are ad lib-abundant tracks “Let’s Get Weird” and “Tiger Kingdom Space Camp,” two wildly creative tracks that highlight GRiZ’s signature big brass and wonky wobble sounds.
For six consecutive weeks, Kai Wachi showed consistency to be one of his strong suits, releasing a new single each week from his latest EP, All My Demons. The eighth week culminates in the grand finale: the project’s full-fledged debut.
The All My Demons preview that Kai Wachi afforded listeners in the time leading up to the EP’s arrival was hearty, but there’s still unheard Wachi sound to be sought on the full production. Streamers will find it in the form of “Vapula” and the eponymous “All My Demons.”
Wachi seizes streamers’ speakers with his visceral style of dubstep. All My Demons’ title track provides a kinetic kickstart to the electronic endeavor. Across the EP, eerie samples (note the alarm in “ASMODEUS”) intermingle with stabbing synths and anchored bass lines situated in the darkest of tonal depths. There’s a devilish allure to all the low-end activity on All My Demons. It distinguishes the effort as another no-holds-barred approach to bass from the producer—his hardcore listeners wouldn’t have it any other way.
As dubstep enters a new echelon with entire festivals dedicated to its deep, wobbling kiss of death, it’s high time to remember that dubstep arrived at the helm of the EDM explosion in the US.
Skrillex released the Kraken with Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites in 2010, just as the term “EDM” was starting to take shape. At that point, the raw, sometimes island-evocative, minimalist sound known as “riddim” didn’t boast anything near the earnest following it enjoys today. The popular dubstep in the states at the time, commonly referred to as “brostep,” was flashy and rather outlandish. It was raucous. It was huge in both form and function. And MUST DIE! was undoubtedly one of the biggest proponents of the sound, signing on with Skrillex’s OWSLA, where he produced some of the most irreverent and influential cuts of the moment, (i.e., “Gem Shards”). Though, as time went on, once the compositional visionary began regularly releasing with dubstep dominion Never Say Die records, his catalog became riddled with tracks imbuing more riddim-ready sensibilities.
On “Funeral Zone,” his latest Never Say Die release, MUST DIE! aligns himself with the sonic trends of the current dubstep epoch, employing harsh, undulating, riddim accents alongside a series of floaty mid-range synths that would, oddly enough, feel at home in a buildup by the late great Avicii. Don’t fret though, when the drop comes in there is no mistaking this is a MUST DIE! track that belongs in 2019.
One of the world’s premier bass festivals, Belgium’s Rampage, is coming off of a major 10th anniversary outing in 2019. The lineup boasted a thick cast of dubstep and drum ‘n’ bass heavyweights including Andy C, Excision, Sub Focus, Dimension, and more. Though now, as the festival preps for the 2020 iteration, Rampage has revealed their first headliner—Pendulum, performing their Trinity Live concept for just the second time. And judging by the festival’s lead off booking, 2020’s talent roster is already looking mighty fine.
Pendulum Trinity feature’s the group’s original three members: Gareth McGrillen, Rob Swire, and El Hornet, performing atop a pyramid of LEDs, making for one of the most sensory-overloading live electronic shows of the last decade. The trio have only performed together one time outside of Australia in the last ten years, debuting the Trinity concept at London’s South West 4 Festival in early 2019. Now, the group is locked in for a headlining slot in Antwerp next year for Rampage, which takes place March 13 – 14, signaling to a massive low-end lineup soon to follow.
Effin is carving out his own lane as one of bass music’s fiercest new forward-thinkers. The LA-transplant is building a catalog of menacing low-end ammunition, and with each new original work, manages to plant his flag a little deeper—Effin is here to stay. He’s forming a reputation as a new force to be reckoned with a steady stream of new material like his latest neck breaker, “Partial.”
The track is a ground-rattling setlist weapon that packs a deafening punch, marked by the “Cabbage” producer’s emerging sonic signature. “Partial” comes by way of bass powerhouse Never Say Die, which is proving to be a fitting home for the burgeoning beatmaker. Keep an eye on Effin—there’s a lot more where “Partial” came from.
Ever since dance music became a real contender in the pop music landscape—rivaling rock and hip-hop in terms of global influence, artists have been looking for new, unique ways to innovate; to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack. After all, once any genre breaks out of the underground, the number of artists that hitch their wagons to it nearly overnight increases dramatically.
As a result, so many of those artists calculate their craft for marketability on every level—from production to performance—searching for different aspects to which they can draw focus so as to affirm their originality. Sometimes it can come off as gimmicky, other times more genuine, though the line between is a tightrope walk.
There are some artists, though, who don’t have to manufacture a sense of originality. They show up already equipped with a sound and style that is inimitably and entirely their own. Chief among that elite crop of artists in the electronic space may be KOAN Sound. Consisting of Will Weeks and Jim Bastow, the venerated British duo has tackled an extended myriad of genres and subgenres, all while maintaining their unmistakable sonic identity.
This flair for uniqueness is driven by a concerted effort to imbue their strong instrumental background into every track they produce. From their breakout hit, “Meanwhile, In The Future,” to their latest EP, Intervals Above, their early days playing in a band together back in Bristol support their affinity for limitless exploration, both in the studio and on stage.
Dancing Astronaut caught up with Weeks and Bastow at their LA tour stop for a rare interview wherein the pair discussed their continuing instrumental influences, their brand new live show, and more.
You’ve just released another rework of “Meanwhile In The Future,” one of your break out tracks. What does this track mean to you both? How did it feel to revisit this track once again as more seasoned, experienced musicians?
Weeks: Well, that was really fun to do because we’ve learned so much since writing the original. It was cool trying out similar things, but with all these new techniques.
Bastow: Out of all our tracks that one’s always been one of the biggest fan favorites. That kind of era of our productions, the early OWSLA productions, are still really popular with a lot of fans so we wanted to keep playing it, but we thought it would be cool to update that along with some of the other tracks in the set. Kind of put a fresh spin on them, and I think the reception so far has been positive.
Which of the two versions would you say you enjoy listening to more?
Weeks: I think the old one, you can definitely hear the age.
Bastow: Yeah it’s definitely partly a nostalgic thing.
Throughout your career you’ve adopted a plethora of styles and genres—everything from boom-bap beats to drum ‘n’ bass to dubstep to disco, and yet your music is unmistakably your own. How do you continue to insert your unique sound into all these different styles in fresh, new ways?
Weeks : We don’t think about it too much. We have a way of working so whatever genre it is things end up sounding the same in terms of sound design.
Bastow : I think if you do anything for long enough and keep working away at it you will develop your own spin on it; your own perspective. I think it’s unavoidable and its definitely not something we’re really conscious of when we’re in the process of making music. It’s just something that is born out of that. But to me I think that’s one of the highest compliments that someone can give because music can be good and it can be bad but if something sounds like you then no one can take that away from you, and that’s a very high compliment.
So when you go to make a new track do you have a specific intent in terms of what genre you want to make or does it flow naturally through the process?
Weeks: Usually we start with an idea, but we work on tracks for so long that they often develop into something else entirely.
Your releases have always been accompanied by very bespoke artwork to the point that you created an original piece of art for every track on Polychrome. What purpose does visual art serve in relation to your music? Do the visuals help define the music? Or are the visuals a reaction to the music?
Weeks: Well I think part of it started when I said I see a lot of shapes and colors when I hear music, but then that grew into trying to create visuals to go along with our sets, but we haven’t done anything on this scale before as we did with the new live show.
Bastow: I came from a visual art background, and that’s always been very important to me. For instance with the Polychrome project I thought it would be a cool way to try and tie all of the different elements and tracks together because, like you say, the album has a lot of different styles and covers a lot of different stylistic ground so I thought it would be a cool way to tie all of those together by telling a story in each of the pieces of artwork.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but you haven’t made an official music video for any of those tracks, right?
Bastow: Well that’s what the show is. Essentially each track has a bespoke music video for it, and we’re playing with stuff live and triggering things over the top of these space layers that are running in the background. But yeah, each track has its own full-length music video.
I think that’s interesting because if someone hasn’t come to the show and sees the art that is paired with the music, it’s still very open to interpretation. Whereas a traditional music video further defines a song most of the time. Explain the opposite approach a little more?
Bastow: I think also we play a really big role in the development of the visuals which just means we have more personal investment in them and just more attachment to them and hopefully that comes across.
You both grew up playing instruments and use them frequently in your productions. What inspired you to go the electronic route as opposed to staying the course in your live band?
Weeks: Well we were doing them both at the same time. They were both fun things, but I guess it’s hard to keep people together in a band.
Bastow: Yeah they definitely both ran in tandem and I think over time our interests and musical tastes just developed. We began to listen to more and more electronic stuff and just become more immersed in that world, but I think we went through a period while we were writing Polychrome where we were jamming quite often with some other musicians. Our friend Chalky who plays guitar being one of them. That definitely informed some of the album writing to a certain extent, and we play drums and keys on stage so there’s still a bit of that in there.
Both Polychrome and Intervals Above display a return to your more instrumental style of music. You even put together a playlist of guitar music that inspired Intervals Above. How do you translate instrumental influence into electronic music? How does a jam session inspire an electronic production?
Weeks: I think when we record anything, whether it’s other people or ourselves, we just record a lot of audio. Then usually we’ll play around with that within Ableton find cool ways to use it.
Bastow: It’s really just that. There’s not really a science behind it. It’s just recording everything that we do when we’re experimenting or just playing something and then going through it after and picking bits out and the bits that catch our ear just pursuing those and processing them and experimenting with them.
Are there times in the middle of these jams when you’ll stop and instantly know that you’ve found the idea that leads to a track?
Bastow: The recording process is very separate from the actual production process. We’re not normally doing both at the same time; recording while we’re making a track. Normally we’ll be out with a field recorder or recording someone else playing an instrument or I’ll be recording some keyboards or what not. Then after we have those we’ll go back to the studio and listen through those and choose bits from them.
Do you think having that separation between recording and producing helps formulate the ideas for your tracks?
Weeks: I’d say if anything it leads to more happy accidents because you come away from the recording process and then you come into it fresh again and you can stumble on really interesting progressions.
Bastow: It’s kind of a work flow thing as well. Just having that separation means that the two processes are distinct.
What were the intentions behind Intervals Above? Was it simply leftover tracks from the Polychrome sessions? Or were you trying to do something new?
Weeks: I think it was a love letter to the guitar music we like. Metal, Latin American music…
Bastow: We listen to a lot of instrumental metal stuff, with Animals As Leaders being one of the biggest names. So, part of it was that and part of it was becoming really close friends with a guy named Chalky who played a lot on the EP. We had these initial ideas and did some short recordings with him. Those recordings formed the direction of the EP in terms of sound, and we just tried to use those recordings as much as possible because it’s not an instrument we’ve used a lot in the past.
When you first emerged bass music was much more narrowly defined than it is today, and your music always existed outside those definitions. Now you have a long list of huge crossover artists. How do you think this trend has impacted your music and your audience? Do you find more people are down for the stuff you’re making now?
Bastow: Well I think when we initially started we were pretty closely tied to dubstep. We sort of rode the wave of that association and, like you say, everything was more in the box at that time. So, I think we were pigeon-holed a little bit into that, but I think it’s been a gradual evolution. From that point we’ve continued to experiment and try new things until we were at a point where people were digging us because we were doing that; because we weren’t sticking to that one thing. We became known for always doing a different thing.