Since Sonny Moore launched Skrillex, his meteoric rise has packed a never-ending touring schedule that finds the OWSLA-naut behind the decks everywhere from boats in Fiji to canyons in Arizona. Sonny propelled the term dubstep into popularity, however, as he continually morphs his style and changes as an artist, his sets have naturally evolved as well. Recalling one of Skrillex’s earliest highlights reveals a trove of dance gems that have easily stood the test of time; revisit Skrillex at RockNess in his first Essential Mix.
This mix, taken from the 2011 RockNess festival at Loch Ness in Scotland, features some of the hottest tracks of the time from Sonny himself and other dubstep champions like Doctor P, Flux Pavilion, Bare Noize, and more. Clocking in around 50 minutes long, the live set is a high-energy high energy thrill ride from front to back. Skrillex shows some love for the UK scene with accents of drum and bass from Pendulum, Camo & Crooked, and Friction sprinkled throughout the mix. For anyone missing some old Skrillex or just craving heavy dubstep, tune into one of Skrillex’s earliest milestones.
“Fifty bucks? Are you crazy?” Walt Jr. incredulously asks his father after they sell their Pontiac Aztek to an auto body shop. Walt Jr.’s father winks in response, proud of his recent sale. Cut to the next scene, in which father and son pull into their driveway in the newly purchased Chrysler 300 and Dodge Challenger. Viewers can hear audio from a decadently audacious track, aptly fitting for Walter White’s newly found intrepid wealth. For those unfamiliar, this scene is from Breaking Bad, perhaps the greatest television show of the recent era. Fans will immediately recall the soundtrack to the end of this particular episode features “Bonfire” by Knife Party. One might go as far as claiming the cult-like idolatry surrounding Walter White is comparable Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen‘s veneration within the dance music industry.
“Bonfire” appears on Knife Party’s sophomore EP, Rage Valley, which was released half a decade ago. To celebrate this trend-setting, genre-defining work is not to simply listen to the record again, but rather to bask in the heinous sounds that amplified the then-growing dubstep and complextro house movements. To celebrate this EP is to lovingly embrace the absurd noises that terrify the Baby Boomers and shake their dwindling hopes in the artistic tastes of younger generations. To celebrate this EP is to understand where it comes from and who made it. Swire and McGrillen did not begin with Knife Party, and likely won’t end with Knife Party. Ultimately, this opportunity to celebrate Rage Valley is also an opportunity to celebrate these two creative talents producing at the top of their respective games.
Swire and McGrillen met at Scotch College, later forming heavy metal band Xygen – their first project together. The parallels between Knife Party’s tenacious output and lots of classic heavy metal, with distorted guitar riffs and belching bass lines, shine distinctly in revisits to their old material. After Xygen split, they formed Pendulum in 2002 with Paul “El Hornet” Harding. Pendulum’s creative contribution to drum & bass, live electronic music performance, and the electronic music industry as a whole cannot be understated. Elaboration here should be reserved for a post of it’s own.
Eventually the two split off from the iconic drum & bass trio to form their own offshoot, Knife Party. Their first EP 100% No Modern Talking leapt bounds with the uniquely terrifying, now-canonized “Internet Friends” as their breakout track. “Modern Talking” refers to a hackneyed preset in the Massive synthesizer used by many dubstep producers. The outspoken opinions of the artists behind the Knife Party project bleeds into their music. Their first EP was one of many jabs at their contemporaries inability to innovate beyond what’s already being produced.
Modern Talking is the Comic Sans of dubstep sounds.
A year after their first EP, Rage Valley was delivered. The opening track, the album’s title offering, “Rage Valley” is a teeth-grinding, anxiety-inducing electro house fire starter. The track is a searing, truculent whirlwind of artificial sonic screams, wails, and distorted bass riffs. “Centipede” comes second. After the unnerving vocal sample provided in “Internet Friends,” “Centipede” follows in its wake with an equally disturbing vocal sample seemingly repurposed from a dusty old documentary. Rather than four to the floor house, like “Rage Valley,” Centipede drops into a two-step kick snare familiar to the rising dubstep sound of its time, with melody and sound engineering that matches every bit of the haunting tone of the sampled centerpiece.
Next comes “Bonfire,” arguably the collection’s most popular offering, and perhaps Knife Party’s most successful product to date. The track unabashedly nurtures the nascent brostep sound brought on by the likes of early Datsik and Skrillex. As a poignant exclamation mark and the end of a caustic clause, “Sleeze” with vocals by Mistajam concludes the EP. A refreshing change of pace, “Sleeze” drops the tempo down below 110 drawing on the rising moobahton wave of 2012.
The Rage Valley EP set the bar for bass music in a number of different ways. “Bonfire” and “Centipede” fed into the dubstep canon, while “Sleeze” and “Rage Valley” into fed moombahton and electro house, respectively. The irony here is, while Swire and McGrillen do what they can to avoid sounding derivative and often go as far as satirizing music producers that cannot innovate, they themselves are often icons for imitation and derivation, and perhaps Rage Valley is the best example of this. The much-maligned “brostep” term sparked around this release surely inspired many a young producer to imitate such an iconic sound, though half a decade later, each track of Rage Valley has gracefully stood the test of time.
Earlier this year, Dillon Francis put his words into action with the release of his first track “Say Less,” on his label IDGAFOS. The track had a revved up energy that was synonymous with the robust presence Francis brings. Rapper G-Eazy was featured on the track and, with his smooth and versatile tone layered on top of Francis’ bouncy and bass-heavy sound, the track was wildly successful.
Gorgon City and Eptic have now taken the track into their own hands, saying a lot more with “Say Less.” Gorgon City, the exuberant house duo, took what Francis and G-Eazy created and managed to make the track’s cooler, sleeker older brother. Dragging the original three minute song into a taunting six minute masterpiece, Gorgon City removed most of the vocals, replacing the trap tone with a steady backbeat, snares and claps. Meanwhile, Eptic took a different turn at the fork in the road, giving “Say Less” a heavy and hard hitting dubstep explosive remix. Channeling into the dark depths of grime, Eptic managed to fulfill every headbanger’s needs with epic buildups, dirty drops, and bits of vocal samples from G-Eazy.
New Jersey producer Au5 is known for his transcendent melodic dubstep tracks on labels like Monstercat, Simplify, OWSLA, and more. Over the years, fans have come to expect beautifully vivid soundscapes from the producer, but his latest release is something a little different.
In a genre he’s calling “future trap,” Au5 has released his latest song “I Miss You,” featuring vocalist Kenny Raye, on Simplify.
“I Miss You” initially appears to be completely different territory for the producer, but upon a closer listen, the components that make Au5’s music so unique are still very much present. The chorus contains heavy-hitting dubstep elements, and Raye’s vocals expertly capture the emotion of the song.
After months of hype, London-based producer Jon Gooch, better known as Feed Me, has released his latest EP on mau5trap. Existential Crisis marks the producer’s on mau5trap since 2013, and the wait was worth it.
Existential Crisis is an otherworldly experience, highlighted by flaring electro house melodies and heavy-hitting bass. The collection is a masterpiece and is incredible to listen to from start to finish — not unexpected, given the level of respect Feed Me has garnered within the electronic community. It flows seamlessly through different facets of Feed Me’s talents, from electro to dubstep and everything in between.
The producer says Existential Crisis represents combining techniques and equipment, and bridges a transitional period in his life:
[The EP] encompasses five pieces of music and artwork. In coming back to mau5trap to release, time feels like a flat circle in a positive way, and it’s exciting to work again with such a unique label that stands for individualism. It’s music to dance and forget about things for a short time while the world burns around us. It served as a precursor to touring with Joel on the lotsofshowsinarow tour, where I extended how I perform live and got constantly inspired by new music, new technology and new artistic opportunity. I find it important to constantly deconstruct, re-evaluate or reinvent myself or my surroundings, so with this EP and tour complete I take lessons and begin the next crisis.
It was just six months ago that bass music heavyweights NGHTMRE and Flux Pavilion released, “Feel The Love” featuring Jamie Lewis, which racked up over 1.4 million plays and was named as one of the heaviest collaborations of 2016. Now Circus Records has released the remix package that features six well-crafted songs from both established artists and promising up-and-comers. With genres ranging from dubstep to house to future and trapstyle, make sure to be on the look out for these hard-hitting tracks as festival season draws near.
Touring artist, ANGELZ, who has played with Tchami and Dr. Fresch, dishes out the first remix with a heavy-hitting bass house track loaded with energy and a driving synth. It’s no wonder this artist has racked over 50,000 followers on Soundcloud, as this artist clearly brings something new to the table in the bass house genre.
Making her breakthrough from Mexico City, Jessica Audiffred curates a bass heavy hybrid. Audiffred makes some serious creative moves here, pitching down the vocals and finding the perfect blend between heavy dubstep growls and energetic trap drums before spinning the second drop into a powerful hardstyle beat.
Up and comer CYRAN delivers a high-energy track with a moombahton beat that will easily become a fan-favorite. The second drop nods to the song’s bass-heavy roots while also maintaining a spacious, pliable rhythm.
AXEN delivers another heavy remix with a rising trap lead that parallels NGHTMRE and Slander. The track is jam-packed with explosive switches between festival trap and house, before the second drop takes a more bass-heavy turn. AXEN has skillfully pulled off an all-inclusive experience in this innovative three minute and thirty second hit.
LATE brings something new to the table with a bouncy hard house remix that is sure to draw attention from around the world. Though it starts off with a four on the floor beat, the fast paced rendition drops into eight bars of festival trap in a daring switch of energy. The second drop then takes a bold risk and follows the genre-bending graces of Kayzo in a stimulating beat that mixes trapstyle, hard house, and drum-step.
Lastly, Dommix does something different from the rest, giving his own future-spin on the bass-heavy track with massive saw waves and a melodic, chill-out vibe. If you like Flume, Wheathin, and San Holo, then Dommix’s remix will feel right at home.
Since Mija’s break out in 2014, the pioneering DJ and producer has toured the world, headlined some of the biggest festivals, and proved herself an equal to her fellow male counterparts with collaborations and remixes that have established her as a force in the industry. Driven by the mantra of ‘fk genres,’ Mija has finally released her third single, ‘Secrets’ featuring the smooth angelic voices of the Grammy-nominated indie pop duo, Tegan and Sara. The genre-bending track draws influence from Netsky and Subfocus, and takes the listener on a hard-hitting drum and bass adventure. The quick drums are balanced with deep industrial sounds and heavy LFOs to keep the listener eager and ready for what comes next. Lucky for the old-school bassheads out there, the second drop switches into half-time and brings us all back to the reigning days of heavy dubstep. ‘Secrets’ is surely a turn away from Mija’s future bass song ‘Better’ with Vindata, or ‘Crank It,’ her deep house single with Lil Jon and Ghastly. But after taking a listen, it’s a definite turn for the best as Mija flexes her versatility as a producer and gives us a glimpse of her bass-heavy side.
Mija is happy to save her fans a few bucks, and the song is available for free download below:
In a recent tweet, Porter Robinson announced that all but eleven of his tracks are now being dubbed “unofficial.” “This is the canon,” Robinson wrote. “I’ve been making music for 12 years and i only wrote 11 songs, wow.” He follows the tweet with a list of the eleven songs deemed to be a part of his “canon” in his eyes, which includes “Language,” “Shelter”, and “Sad Machine,” and is noticeably missing fan-favorites such as “Lionhearted” and “Spitfire.” Robinson includes one remix in the list as well – his spin on Nero’s “The Thrill.”
Whether Porter Robinson’s dissociation from his past catalogue is due to a disconnect with his recent aesthetic or a simple desire to start anew after the conclusion of the Shelter tour, we will continue to support Porter Robinson and his career decisions, and we hope him all the best.