Dubstep: Has the bubble already burst for the sound of the future?

A few years ago, ‘Do you like dubstep?’ is not a question you’d expect to hear from Ed Banger boss Busy P. From the basements of South London to the mainstage at Australia’s national Parklife festival in 2010, it’s been a rapid (and contentious) trajectory. So where is dubstep at right now? How is it faring down under? And with its ever-widening fan-club on both sides of the DJ booth, can all growth be seen as good? For our final Year In Review feature, we’ve pulled together opinions of those in the know about dance music’s biggest talking point in 2010.

For Chris Pfeiffer, the man behind Adelaide’s weekly dubstep night Subsects, it’s no surprise the sound has spread like wildfire. “It’s heartbeat music; it’s perfect,” he says. “It would also have a lot to do with the fact that dubstep is more of a medium than a genre. It’s an artist’s palette. There’s very few rules to follow. There’s obviously those who are just jumping on the bandwagon, but good on ‘em. They’re helping to evolve the sound and push it in different directions.”

So-called ‘bandwagon jumping’ is a recurring theme in dance music, but nowhere has it been more fiercely debated than in dubstep. Philadelphia bass-lover Diplo is a natural convert to the sound, and in a recent interview with inthemix he raged against the perception that it’s sacred territory. “People want control, but that’s not what dubstep is about. Dubstep is bigger than just these nerdy white dudes sitting at home in Liverpool talking about how the wobbles used to be bigger in 2009. This is about dudes making music all over the world. For me, the dubstep scene is a real motivator and inspiration.”

When Diplo’s label Mad Decent presented their own dubstep primer earlier this year with the Blow Your Head compilation he was prepared for the response from some circles, with Diplo saying that “people hate it because they want that scene for themselves.” In North America, Diplo says, dubstep has now usurped the popularity throne from the brash electro sounds of Justice and company. “You can’t even listen to electro-house now that dubstep is here, it’s for fucking babies now. Playing a Justice record in a club now would like playing a fucking nursery rhyme compared to the dubstep that’s going on. They love it because it’s so hardcore and it’s angry and American kids love to attach themselves to something represents them. It’s dirty, it’s underground, it’s futuristic, it’s techno; dubstep’s such a huge opener for a lot of kids’ minds.”

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