Skream + Benga: Alright, What’s Happening?

Image Livescape Asia

The South London DJ’s and producers have become figureheads for the ever growing dubstep scene. From theirdays at Big Apple Records store days where the movement began, their influence in the scene includes the formation of dubstep supergroup Magnetic Man; together with mentor Artwork. Skream & Benga has been a guiding force in the rise of dubstep and will continue to do so especially when it was announced that they have taken up residency at BBC’s legendary Radio 1. The dubstepping duo made their way to the decks of Vertigo Club for Livescape’s monthly NSFW midweek madness. Despite their jam packed schedule, we manage to meet the boys, who talk about everything under the sun, from dubstep to the Artic Monkeys

I read in an interview somewhere that you, Skream, mentioned that everyone is riding on a dubstep train and not everything can be called dubstep.
Skream Not everything wants to be called dubstep.

But you’ve said that most of the tracks are called UK Bass. Could you explain to us what UK Bass is?
Skream  I think I said it because the term “dubstep” make people freak out. If someone says dubstep, people go all mad and think it’s a certain style whereas if you see the record label Numbers and Swamp 81 – it’s not house, it’s not garage, it’s not dubstep but it’s just a mash-up, I call it “Mongol” because it’s everything mashed together. The interview we are talking about now, I said that because it was to do with Jackmaster and Toddla T. They had just been to America and all their shows were billed as dubstep shows and to them that’s not cool. They turn up and there’s a crowd – they can work a crowd – both of them – but they are not in the charts and they were not going to play dubstep to make anyone happy. They were just playing their stuff and everyone was confused. I think in America it’s easy for people to bring some of them from England and say “Yeah, that’s dubstep”.

It’s always easier just to dump everything into categories, I guess
S Yeah but I love Jackmaster. He’s my favourite DJ in the world.

In your opinion, what are the tracks that define this UK bass scene?
S ‘Sicko Cell’ by Swamp 81, Redlight, Soul 16
Benga Yeah!
S Most of Redlight is like UK Bass to me, I think.
B I can’t think, there’s nothing in my head! I would say Dismantle ‘Computation’ and I’ll also say Masha. This is hard because he isn’t from the UK but I love the mash up – dubstep and that 100bpm stuff like moombahthon.

It’s been a very interesting year for dubstep and its crossover success. What are your thoughts on this? Did you ever anticipated it to have come this far?
B No! I guess the time when we started believing was when people started buying records.
S There was a massive shift where it got to a point where you go like “Wow, this seems huge” and then there was another shift where we went “F$#k, this is huge!”

But I think more people anticipated this to kind of go the direction where drum and bass went. It had its peak and it sort of died down a little bit? No one actually expected dubstep to explode like this.
S I think it’s the amount of big artists that is affected – I don’t want to say “big artists” more like people outside of the genre got involved because people are constantly changing.
B Rihanna even had dubstep in her album.
S Yeah and although ultimately I don’t think it was represented right, it was crazy when Rihanna did it. Van Buuren is a fan of drum n bass and a fan of dubstep. It’s just more of these people are involved.

We have a really good question from our reader and his question was ‘What is your stand on the dominance of brostep/Skrillex in the emergence of post-dubstep as a rejection of what dubstep has become?’
B Listen, honestly I just got to say this: People think Skrillex affected the music but it’s the people.
S It’s the people affecting the music!
B Exactly. It’s not that one producer that comes in and infects or kills it. It’s not that.
S It’s everyone else trying to make the same sound and they’re nowhere near as good because the thing is, the original sound is still very strong. TMZ records that are released are still selling some of the highest units of vinyl and…
B …people just concentrate on all the negatives.

But that is the problem with this anonymous “internet generation”, after all. Everyone says as they please.
B Yeah exactly!
S Like before, the records we got and that we make, we’d talk about and say “Have you heard that new track? Have you got it yet?” Now it’s so easy to get music, so easy that now the quality bar has dropped especially when you don’t need to be signed to get your music out there.

Let’s lighten things up shall we? I know a lot of people start out the interview with Croydon but I’m really interested to know about the club FWD>>. Was there where everything began?
B That was a lot to play, a huge part of it.
S We went there when we were too young to go clubbing. We snuck in to hear our music get played. The original club was dark, and there were only 10 people but that was the first club we went to. We couldn’t go to the glitzy clubs where we’re from, where they sipped champagne and played UK garage. So FWD>> was what we saw first. Glitzy clubs for us, was not to say outside of our comfort zone –
B It really is outside our comfort zone.
S  – It was more an act, us going to them trying to blend in, trying to be cool.