Dubstep has established itself as a genre that is taking no prisoners- once the quintessential sound of the underground rave, it is now a firm fixture in the mainstream charts. Dazed spoke to Journalist Joe Muggs about his dubstep compilation, classifying the genre, and why the Volume two is so much more than a bass wobble…
Dazed Digital: Where did your love of Dubstep begin?
Joe Muggs: Bass heavy music has been my obsession for a long, long, loooooong time... But perhaps perversely I didn't "get" dubstep right at the start. I guess I sort of thought this new stuff was just another kind of electronica - because I wasn't hearing it in the right context and wasn't getting how deep the bass really was. What was the bass wobble that really kicked it off for me? Probably hearing a mate playing 'Lion' by Vex'd in a little rave in a pub backroom.
DD: How long have you been documenting the scene?
Joe Muggs: Since 2006 when I did my first feature on DMZ - just as the sound was going overground I suppose.
DD: How did you choose which artists to feature on the compilation?
Joe Muggs: There were only two criteria: 1) I want to demonstrate the diversity of the music 2) They're all tracks I love and listen to anyway. Really it's nothing but the sort of mix I'd make myself to play in the car. I guess I should make the standard disclaimer that "it's not all wobble". If you think dubstep is all "bwarrrp bwarrrp bwarrrp" you should find it a pleasant surprise.
DD: How do you feel about Vol 2 now?
Joe Muggs: It actually took me a while to get to grips with the finished mix, compared to Vol 1 which is much slicker in the way it builds from mellow and groovy to manic rave bangers. This one goes around the houses a bit more, it's not as obvious - but actually I think that's its strength. I like to think it's a grower - and that the two volumes complement each other.
DD: How important has major label support been for Dubstep?
Joe Muggs: Too early to say! I would say so far I'm optimistic. Sony have done a great job with Magnetic Man, Virgin seem to be doing alright with True Tiger and there are a few other interesting things in the pipeline. Dubstep doesn't *need* it though, it does just fine by itself!
DD: In past pieces you've talked about things like the insignificance of classifying genres-has classification helped Dubstep?
Joe Muggs: I don't think names are insignificant, but nor are they overly significant. They are one small part of what makes a sound or scene "sticky". It might sound odd coming from a writer, but I think people get way too hung up over words.
DD: Who are you listening to at the moment?
Joe Muggs: Really into the whole Anti-Social, soulful, vibe - Kromestar and Silkie's albums are great, Heny G's is sounding lush, and the new stuff from Quest is going to blow some minds I think. MRK1 has some amazing, in-your-face, projects on the go. The Andy Stott 'Execution' album is one of the heaviest pieces of bass music ever. Instrumental grime is so fertile again... Royal T. Swindle. Mr Mitch. Darq E Freaker. Teddy.
DD: What's next for Dubstep?
Joe Muggs: More of everything. I'm convinced it's as established a part of the global musical ecosystem as house and techno, with as much potential for expansion, diversification, commerciality etc etc.
DD: And what plans do you have?
Joe Muggs: Hustling, as ever. A revamp of veryverymuch.com with short pieces as well as the in depth interviews. Loads of good stuff coming up on theartsdesk.com. Plenty of new projects. But first, off to Sonar, which I am very much looking forward to.
‘Adventures in Dubstep and Beyond Vol.2’ Compiled by Joe Muggs is out now on Ministry of Sound