Drum n Bass has been a steady staple of the underground for decades, but is the American mainstream finally catching on? A few signs are pointing to yes. Now, to a genre purist, this transition from Deep House to Drum and Bass would seem like a drastic shift in direction, but it is important to note that from a purist’s perspective, this Deep House explosion isn’t necessarily true Deep House; and it is also important to note that the explosion is nowhere near over, so this theory has some time to pan out.
The progression of the American mainstream, when looked at abstractly, makes quite a lot of sense. It went from hectic, angry Bass Music (Dubstep/Brostep), to aggressive, minimalistic bass music (Trap), to light-hearted and cool bass music (Deep House). So the next step of uplifting, high energy bass music (Drum n Bass) seems only logical.
This simplified progression is not the only evidence supporting this theory. If you are paying attention to the happenings of the music scene, you will see that the process is already underway. Look at Ram Records: with releases along the lines of Wilkinson’s ‘Dirty Love’ they have been catering to a much broader audience than they were with their Calyx & Teebee releases.
Andy C, the Ram Records headman, was just recently signed to Atlantic Records; His first single on the label is an uplifting Drum and Bass anthem featuring powerful vocals from Fiona. It doesn’t matter who you are, you can certainly enjoy that song -- it transcends generations and exists simply as good music.
Now, this does not mean that Ram Records has gone and sold out. They recently signed Teddy Killerz to an exclusive contract. If you are unfamiliar with the Teddy Killerz, they are essentially Russia’s answer to Noisia. Their remix of Noisia x Foreign Beggars’ ‘Make Those Move’ is nominated for the Drum n Bass Arena Awards Track of the Year, and we proclaimed it as the only time a remixer has ever one-upped Noisia.
This talented trio has been absolutely slaying it with their productions, and have been gaining a lot of exposure with their aggressive, neuro sound. Their remix of Skrillex’s ‘Ragga Bomb’ is pretty damn good, and has been extremely well received by OWSLA fanatics. Big ups to Skrillex for introducing the American masses to the sounds of this talented group, setting the stage for them to have an even more successful career on Ram Records.
Yes, Skrillex is playing a part in this. And it’s a good thing; he is using his powers for good now! And with Skrillex going back to his Dubstep “roots” with collabs with the likes of Trollphace, the climate of the United States bass scene will certainly be receptive to some filthy-neuro-bass.
But it is not just Bass Labels in the US that are pushing things in the Drum n Bass direction. Tastemaking SF-based House label Dirtybird Records has not shied away from their Jungle influences, with it being evident in many of their productions. In San Francisco, House Heads and Junglists are often one in the same, with a lot of the younger generation owing it to Justin Martin’s Jungle Mix published in the winter of 2012.
So as you can see, the arrows pointing to a surge in the popularity of Drum n Bass in the States are coming from two different directions: the Deep House/UK Bass progression into Uplifting Drum n Bass and Jungle, and the Dubstep scene gravitating towards darker, more aggressive sounds. And while Ram Records and OWSLA are turning the masses on to Drum And Bass, labels like Shogun Audio (celebrating their 10th anniversary this year) and Metalheadz (celebrating their 20th) are sure to capitalize by delivering the consistently top tier tracks that have made them pioneers in the industry.
Many have said that once a genre goes through the US pop culture machine, it is rarely ever the same. And there maybe some truth to that, but I don’t see that being the case with Drum n Bass. The genre has been enjoying mainstream success in the UK for a while now and the quality has never wavered. If you take the ‘entry level’ theory of EDM put forth by Carl Cox, and extrapolate it to Drum n Bass, you will see that it does not apply. What is getting mainstream attention from the latter is certainly not the formulaic, cookie cutter music that caters to an uneducated ear of the former; it is high quality music with simply more widespread musical appeal.