The rise of electronic dance music has led to a new subgenre of EDM with an emphasis on bass, more commonly known as Dubstep. Although the origins of this genre go back to 2000 when it first appeared in London’s underground rave scene, it wasn’t until its resurgence in 2010 that it gained worldwide recognition. This article explores its history and origins, as well as how it influenced EDM.
To fully understand the origins of Dubstep, it’s important to first understand the history of UK Garage, another subgenre of EDM that influenced Dubstep. Dubstep first developed as an offshoot of UK Garage, a genre heavily influenced by Soul and R&B. During the late 90s and early 2000s, UK Garage was very popular in London’s underground music scene. UK Garage was a relaxed form of dance music with a focus on complex rhythms and groovy basslines. It also incorporated vocal samples, synthesizers, and R&B pitched vocals. UK Garage also featured a heavy bassline, but it wasn’t until Dubstep came along that the bass became the focus.
During Dubstep’s early years, it quickly developed a reputation for being an aggressive and dark genre of music. The tempo was generally around 140 BPM (beats per minute), which is considerably faster than most EDM genres. Dubstep artists also focused on giving their music a very heavy and dark sound, making it ideal for use in dark and smoky nightclubs. As a result, Dubstep was very unpopular in the beginning.
However, in 2004, a track called “Hold Your Hand” was released that brought Dubstep to a whole new level. This track was one of the first to use a new technique called “Sponge-Gate,” which involved slowing down the tempo of the song while keeping the bassline the same. This technique made the song sound even heavier. It was released by an artist called Bouchedag.
Dubstep’s aggressive, heavy sound continued to grow in popularity throughout the mid-2000s, and by the late 2000s, the music had reached maturity. This led to a significant increase in the number of artists and DJs producing Dubstep. At this point, various subgenres of Dubstep started to emerge. This included an old school subgenre that focused on the dark and aggressive sound of the music’s early years. And a new school subgenre emerged that was generally softer and more melodic than the old school variety.
Several artists emerged during this time and are considered to be the “originals” of the new school subgenre. These include Skrillex, Benga, and Mala. Skrillex’s track “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” was one of the most influential songs of Dubstep’s maturity period and is still played regularly at clubs and festivals today. Dubstep also started to gain some mainstream popularity during this time. Several songs from this genre reached the Top 40 charts in the United Kingdom and United States.
The 2010s have seen Dubstep continue to evolve. An old school subgenre called Darkstep emerged and is a fusion of Dubstep and Drum and Bass (another EDM genre). While this Darkstep subgenre is fairly new, a few artists have quickly gained popularity. These include Kryptic Minds and Attrition. Several artists have also combined Dubstep with other genres. For example, Skrillex was one of the first to combine Dubstep with EDM and create what is now called “Brostep.” More recently, artists like Pegboard Nerds and Torqux have combined Dubstep with Pop music to create an EDM subgenre called “EDM Trap.”
Many dubstep tracks feature “EDM vocals”, which are typically melodic and rhythmic vocals, predominantly in English. These vocals are often auto-tuned and processed with reverb and delay effects to create an ethereal sound. Some of the most popular EDM vocalists include Skrillex, Diplo, Justin Bieber, and Katy Perry. EDM vocals have been used in dubstep songs since the genre’s emergence in 2000.
The first dubstep track to use EDM vocals was “Slow Roast” by DJ Hatcha, which featured a vocal sample from the track, “Spiritual Aura” by Squeeze-box. However, the use of EDM vocals in dubstep became more common in the 2010s as the genre evolved with the increasing use of vocal samples in tracks. This led to the creation of a subgenre which features primarily EDM vocals and is commonly referred to as “pop-trap”.
Dubstep features a broad range of electronic instruments, including synthesizers, samplers, and virtual instruments. The most commonly used synthesizers include the Roland TB-303, Roland TR-808, Korg MS-20, and Korg M-50. The Roland TR-808 and Korg TR-909 drum machines are commonly used to create dubstep’s signature drum pattern that is characterized by a minimalistic rhythm with a heavy bassline. The Roland TR-808 is commonly used to create the “robotic” sound that is commonly associated with dubstep.
The Roland TB-303 is the most popular bass synthesizer among dubstep producers and is referred to as “the defining sound of dubstep”. The instrument is often used in combination with other synthesizers to create a distorted bassline sound. Samplers are also commonly used to create the unique sound of dubstep, with the most popular ones being the Roland TR-808, Korg TR-909, and Akai MPC4000. Dubstep’s use of virtual instruments has increased since the genre’s emergence, with producers often using software synths like Massive by Native Instruments.
Dubstep has evolved significantly since the genre’s emergence in the late 90’s, with its soundscape diversifying and the genre gaining new influences. One of the main reasons for this is the genre’s accessibility; it is now easier for producers to create dubstep tracks due to the availability of low-cost digital software. Dubstep’s influence on EDM has been significant due to the genre’s popularity in the US and its ability to influence a wide range of electronic music styles. This is reflected in the fact that dubstep-inspired tracks account for more than half of the top 10 best-selling EDM tracks on digital music platforms. As EDM continues to evolve, it remains to be seen how the genre will be influenced by dubstep.