Skream and Benga must have fielded through the ever perennial dubstep question more than a hundred times now. With apologies to the two, it was just too tempting of a query considering they helped elevated the genre to the mainstream – heck, they’re almost spokespersons of the genre, fairly or not. As JUICE found out during our quick catch-up with the boys a year after their first performance in Kuala Lumpur, there’s more to what defines an artiste than just a scene or a genre they’re associated with. Hear, hear, boys.
This is for Skream. How tired are you of having some people from the crowd still requesting for dubstep when you spin?
Skream It’s not happening as much anymore, but some of it I can’t get away from – I don’t want to get away from it. I never actually said [I wanted to distance myself from dubstep]. It’s just that I haven’t had proper songs that I’m completely happy with in the past 2 years. I’m sure that’s because I haven’t been feeling inspired by what I’m hearing. That’s kinda how you work as an artiste, right? You get inspired by stuff around you. When I was listening to other music, especially dirty, house-y bass stuff that’s coming out of the UK now, I was feeling it more. [They] inspired me to make records.
Speaking of house, we thought it was interesting that it’s got such a pull among the young listeners in the UK now considering when dubstep just came out, people just forgot about it for a bit. What contributed to the rise of house again in your opinion?
S [House] is open to ‘un-formula’ now. It’s that point when you got lotsa people throwing lotsa influences into it. I think it’s because I’m getting older personally – the slower tempo works more as you get older. Also, there’s that thing again, a lot of people were feeling uninspired by dubstep because there were so much of it.
Benga It’s hard to come up with anything new, and I think the key thing is that it takes a lot to actually think forward and be a visionary, you know what I mean? Once you’ve done everything that you could possibly do with [a genre], anyone who comes in fresh making music and want to make dubstep, it’s hard for them to make something new out of it. If you’re new to making music, or even just going clubbing, you want to hear something new, if everything’s been done in dubstep then it’s off to the next thing. I feel that it always goes in cycle, right? When there isn’t a new genre, then it’s going to go back on itself – it’s going to go back to house, it’s going to go back to rave music.
And newer cats would upgrade these older genres to a newer sound…
B Yeah, until someone comes out with a new genre. Like when d’n’b came back, there was some half-time d’n’b, that was kind of when Sub Focus stepped out…
S … then it goes right back to dubstep. The half-step thing was getting harder that now some of that is metal, and then you get metal records that sound dubstep – it’s a feeding loop.
When you guys started making music, no one was there to tell you what to do, so you were free to experiment and do whatever you want. Now with RBMA – which you’ve lectured at before – you’re telling kids how they should be making music. And that’s presenting them with rigidness to what they should and shouldn’t do. Do you think that might hinder some creativity?
B You are very right about that. There are always good and bad things about it, you can obviously learn how to produce and stuff from it, which is good, but then you don’t find out how to make your own thing. And I think you can tell that now, because a lot of people have records that sound the same. I’m talking about production quality – whereas back then you can tell a Benga record before, you can tell a Prodigy record before, you can tell a Chemical Brothers record before! Because everyone learnt how to produce their own way, but now you get tutorials. Oy, here’s how you kick the snare… so you just do that.
Do you feel like we’ve reached a saturation point where everyone is literally producing music now?
B I find it a lot that as soon as I get into something and I think “Oh, this is amazing,” I’d literally hear 50 of them. I don’t just hear 2 or 3. Like Disclosure, they are the sh!t to me, but if I dig a little deeper, I’d find 50 [of them], you know what I mean? As far as things getting oversaturated, the way things are heading in my head, it’s about being an artiste, not a part of a genre. Or a part of a scene. It’s all about being an artiste and doing you – doing how you feel. People can’t saturate you, there can’t be another you.
At this point of your career, how would you define yourself as an artiste? Where are you heading to creatively?
B Oh man, after the record Chapter II, it’s been really good for me to get that out of my chest – put out a record that I’ve always wanted to put out. Now I’m moving in all directions. I listen to everything and I make what I feel. I’m actually making a lot of music at the moment. When it comes to making another album, or just making music for other people, I’ve got so many avenues now. I’m not a genre, just Benga.