Text: Omar Micheal
Image: Bud Culture
You like to think you’re a survivor. You’ve weathered countless musical trends, from the Bangsar days of gangsta rap to the trancey stupors of Movement to the long island-fuelled dive bar parties of Barsonic. “I’m up for any sound,” you triumphantly think to yourself on a Friday night, as you throw on your skinny jeans and checkered shirt, and head off in search of ecstasy (the emotion not the drug). And then you hear dubstep…
Oh no. Why can’t I dance to this? Why does it sound like fornicating robots? Why is everyone head-banging? Where are the familiar sounds of MGMT and Major Lazer?
Like sambuca and sphinx cats, dubstep is an acquired taste. Some of us fall hopelessly in love, and some of us just don’t get it.
If you’re in the second category, this list is for you. Here are 5 iconic tunes to get you hooked on the genre all the cool kids are calling “the sound of the future”…
Katy B – Katy On A Mission
Katy B is the commercial face of dubstep, and Katy On A Mission is her calling card. Sexy-as-sin vocals, hypnotizing beats from the legendary Benga, and a hook that will stay in your head for weeks make this the one tune most likely to elevate dubstep into the mainstream.
La Roux – In For The Kill (Skrillex Remix)
You’ve probably heard Skream’s remix of In For The Kill, that infectious slow jam favoured by some local DJs as a “time get your ass home” curtain call. Skrillex’s version chews up Skream’s and spits it out in a pile of distorted synths, syncopated rhythms and pant-wettingly evil samples. There’s a reason why this guy is dubstep’s man of the moment, and you’ll find it at the drop, 1.33 minutes in.
Ellie Goulding – Starry Eyed (Jakwob Remix)
The 21 year-old Jakwob is to dubstep what David Guetta is to electro-house, and I mean that in the best possible way. His trademark sound stays true to dubstep, but remains accessible to ears untrained in the way of the wobble. This Starry Eyed bootleg was his breakthrough track, and enjoys playtime even from commercial and R&B DJs.
Phaeleh – Afterglow
If Phaeleh’s Afterglow was a person, it would slip you a Xanax, give you a head rub and gently remind you that dubstep, like any psychotic tough guy, has a softer side. If Marvin Gaye doesn’t do it for you anymore, consider making this the looping tune in your baby-making soundtrack.
Nero – Innocence
Innocence is one of modern dubstep’s most iconic tracks, thanks to its spine-tinglingly epic sound ripped straight from a 90’s glowstick rave and a kick ass Daft Punk-inspired video bursting with laser-shooting tigers and bad 80’s hairdos. If this one doesn’t hook you, may I suggest you check yourself for a pulse?
Any real dubhead will tell you these 5 tracks are only scraping the surface of a huge and very cold iceberg. There are TONS of different dubstep sounds, vibes and styles to discover, from nightmarish heavy metal remixes to dreamy synth pop experiments. Resistance is futile, so fire up your browser, jack up your speakers and start exploring. Just remember to give your neighbours a heads up.
Omar Michael is one half of the Malaysian Dubstep Alliance (MDA), a group dedicated to growing the Malaysian dubstep scene and create performance platforms for local dubstep DJs and producers. MDA is hosting its first event, Scream!, on December 18th at Vanity Mansion, 11pm – 5am. Three of KL’s top dubstep collectives – Bud Culture, We Are Mutants and And Us Boyz – will hit the decks for the first time under one roof in an event they smugly say “will change the local dubstep scene forever,” while Australian heavyweight Mailer Daemon will be on the mic.
Want to get on the guest list? Join their Facebook Fan Page at www.facebook.com/malaysiandubstepalliance and drop them a message.