Dubstep is a genre of electronic dance music, originating from Croydon, UK. Its overall sound has been described as ‘tightly coiled productions with overwhelming bass lines and reverberant drum patterns, clipped samples, and occasional vocals.’

The earliest dubstep releases, which date back to 1998, were darker, more experimental, instrumental dub remixes of 2-step garage tracks attempting to incorporate the funky elements of breakbeat, or the dark elements of drum and bass into 2-step.

In 2001, this and other strains of dark garage music began to be showcased and promoted at London’s club night Forward (FWD>>). Another early supporter of the sound was BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel, who started playing it from 2003 onwards.

While dubstep is its own distinct form of electronic music, its roots are located within Jamaican dub music and soundsystem cultures. Jamaican soundsystems are a group of disc jockeys, engineers and MCs playing ska, rocksteady or reggae music. The soundsystem culture elevated the ‘selector’ (DJ) and the dub plates (records) as a mode of legitimate artistic creation.

Jamaican soundsystem culture gave birth to the dub variety of reggae music, which itself originated many of dubstep’s characteristic sounds and sonic techniques. Features like sub-bass (bass less than 100 Hz), skittering and jittery drums (which would later be termed ‘2-step’), distortive echo and reverberation effects were all used prominently. These features, along with held over soundsystem techniques, went on to form the crux of numerous electronic musics which emerged from Britain, including jungle, garage, and eventually dubstep.


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