Artists, Producers, DJs, Managers, & Photographers Give Us Their Insights As To How They’ve Seen Bass Music’s Scene Has Change From 2010 Until Now in 2023.
Storm Coverage By: Curator Presents
The Cast (In ABC Order)
Architekt: Graphic Designer, Music Producer, DJ
Brady Colee: Owner of and Lead Photographer for ‘Colee.One’
FreeSbass: DJ, Music Producer, Writer
INHUMAN: DJ, Music Producer, Mentor
JAYSYX: DJ, Music Producer
KJ SAWKA: Record Label Owner, Drummer, Music Producer, Engineer.
BLAQOUT: DJ, Music Producer, Engineer, Marketing Officer & Instructor.
Messinian: Vocalist, Music Producer, Teacher, DJ
Taylor D’Agostino: Emengy Social Media Manager, Label Assistant, & Artist Manager
Walter Wilde: DJ, Music Producer
Some Personal Backstory from Curator and premise as to why we need to rewind the clocks
The year was 2010, and I will be honest I have no idea what was going on at the time. All I knew was my sister had shown me this YouTube video, it was split into parts and she told me it was one long song. She told me it was something completely different but thought I might like it (I was a middle school metalhead elitist at the time).
This little piece of art she showed me was Excision‘s “Shambhala 2010” Mix. I was instantly captivated. I was so young and naïve. I thought that what I was hearing was a metal band doing God only knows what to create such sounds. Holy fuck, was I wrong.
The pure aggression with new sounds I had never thought imaginable, accompanied by a drum beat I could actually sit back and absorb, It was mind blowing to me.
I had fallen in love with this mix and listened to it for a few months before I saw a new event listed at a concert venue near me. It was Excision, with Liquid Stranger. I instantly bought me, my sister, and some friends tickets to go see what was up. I had zero clue what I was in for.
I walked into the event, Carhartt jacket and all, ready for what I expected to be a more metal attire crowd. Instead, it was the typical rave crowd we have come to know and love. The heat was intense, the music was loud, and my life was literally changing right before my eyes and I didn’t even know it.
Then, the current dropped, unveiling Excision‘s “X-Vision” stage.
I had no idea this was a thing, I knew this was something I wanted to be around more often. I left that event, and began my research. I always wanted to be in a band, but it just never worked out, so after that show I discovered DJing was a thing.
After diving deeper, I discovered music production, and that led me down the path that took me to where I am today, typing up this article.
Not only did I have my fun way of being introduced to electronic dance music, but many others did as well, and that’s why I reached out to get as much insight from all sides of the industry to see how things were and how they have changed into the scene we have today.
The Questions & Insights
We have insight from industry veterans, photographers, label managers, producers, DJs, writers, and designers such as KJ Sawka, Messinian, INHUMAN, JAYSYX, BLAQOUT, Taylor D’Agostino, Brady Colee, FreeSbass, Walter Wilde, and Architekt.
As I began to structure this article, I figured it would be hard to keep a steady pace, so instead, what I did was turn this into a questionnaire, and I will use at least one answer provided by each artist who we interviewed for this article.
To start, we are going to just dive right in. I’ve asked ten questions and the answers are eye-opening. Here we go!
How do you think the scene has changed the most? For better, or for worse?
INHUMAN: I think there is always two sides. Of course the scene has been filled with copycats, mediocre quality and half assed money grab releases lately but in general I have to say I feel more comfortable than ever in this scene. I think these days it’s way easier to be experimental without ruining your authenticity because people became way more open minded. In general I definitely see a positive change lately even though sometimes the negative points can be overshadowing.
pictured above: INHUMAN | by: Merlin Morzek
Brady Colee: The scene is always evolving for better or worse. I started attending EDM events back in 2011 and it has been an incredibly valuable portion of my life. The rapid growth of this industry truly has opened up so many more doors, such as bigger venues, more focus on production and audio equipment as well as a safer experience. This is great for those that really are going to the shows for the music, friends, and supporting their favorite artists. With increased popularity comes a much more diverse group of attendees. Unfortunately I have noticed a major increase in theft and camps being raided. The overall vibe is different at shows now, people aren’t as willing to move out of the way, offer help or honestly just share some space on the rail.
pictured above: Brady Colee
Messinian: I think it has gotten a lot more commercial than when I started performing/throwing/attending events in underground warehouse parties on the east coast and slowly building the audience up to where bass music was a highlight feature on a mainstage. This was done with my fam Planet of the Drums/Substitution with D&B and countless artists/producers from around the globe with Dubstep. I am so happy that artists have the ability to drop their music and get their shine without having to even leave the comfort of their computer…but for as much amazing production that is being made and is actually successful, there is a lot of under looked names that aren’t making noise because they don’t have money to pay for promotional elements on social media, paying to play at shows, dick-riding agents, branding/marketing gimmicks instead of soulful artistic presentation that tells a story of the artist and their music. I feel the crowd becomes less educated with each era that comes into the scene and that is just as much a fault of the older veterans of the scene that don’t give information and respect to artists before them and younger kids not googling the history and evolution/culture behind the music.
pictured above: Messinian
KJ Sawka: Wow, 2010 to now… From my view point, In 2010 dubstep was really taking off and EDM was turning into a big thing in the States. I was doing world touring with Pendulum at that time, so I was out of the loop a bit in the states. But overall, I don’t think anyone saw what dubstep could do worldwide. Its still so massive. But Drum and Bass is hitting pretty hard currently and that is exciting.
I chose these replies because I felt like it brought in a few different, yet valid points. Some see it as pure opportunity and love it, while some feel it’s lost its special meaning and affects as a culture. Times are changing and the industry sure as hell is along with it. We officially live in a time where bass music is basically mainstream and festivals have become an annual event for thousands upon thousands of people a year, which leads me into my next big question.
pictured above: KJ Sawka
Do you find that the more mainstream EDM became, the less authentic its artists became?
Walter Wilde: Oh, 1000%. I would never name names, but there are straight up a lot of ghost produced artists that dump a ton of money into ads/promo; I have also heard of people buying label releases (artist X pays label Y to release song). The scene is so saturated and everyone is frantically trying to grab your attention with some flashy imagery, so there’s really not a lot of room anymore to ‘just be yourself’.
pictured: Walter Wilde | by: Nathen Lane Media
Taylor D’Agostino: I wouldn’t say less authentic, I would however say that the corporate festival circuit and promoters nationwide are pushing for artists with viral social media numbers. It definitely puts a divide between artists that know social media like the back of their hand versus those who just want to make music without having to blow up on platforms like TikTok to be given the same opportunities.
pictured above: Taylor D’Agostino
KJ Sawka: That can be a stigma. In my experience, the more successful an artist gets, the more the masses see the evolution in their sound and sometimes it goes more mainstream than underground. A lot of times, the growing artist has the ability to song write and collaborate with more top tier artists and many turn more mainstream in their sound. Many fans dislike artists growing and maturing in their sound, but the majority love it.
As you can see, When it comes to the idea of mainstream affecting authenticity, it really comes down to the individual’s main goals. If they are not in it for more than the popularity or money, they tend to be recognized as a more authentic and true to sell artist.
Does any one artist right now particularly stand out to you ? If so, who is it and what are they doing that makes them a stand out act to you?
INHUMAN: It’s hard to say one artist so I will split this into two sections. First I have to shoutout “Qoiet“. I’m working together with him since years and he is a core part of my label. One of the most creative and authentic brains in the industry. His combination of incredible strength in vocals and stellar production with a unique emotional sound is definitely something special to me. Also to name someone NOT from my label I got to say SWARM. For me he is the prime example in authenticity. Creativity in styles, his own really great and unique vocals, an incomparable sound and overall just a character you want to follow on his journey.
BLAQOUT: One act that stands out heavily to me is probably INHUMAN, he’s one of our acts on Prysm Talent Agency and he’s got a concept that’s bringing a really refreshing take to the world of EDM. Not only has he put together an entire concept and image that’s cohesive with his music, but the music covers a wide range of styles. It’s diverse, immersive and I believe it’s going to be the next big thing in EDM.
pictured above: BLAQOUT
Architekt: Marauda & Voyd are bringing theatrical elements to the experience that I knew would occur eventually. if I had a bigger budget and a larger fan base I’d be doing just that, and honestly it’s the next step in the audio visual experience these shows have become. The performer you’re watching must be larger than life.
pictured above: Architekt
FreeSbass: Honestly there’s a ton, Ganja White Night, Excision, Illenium, Slander, Subtronics and anyone that has a visual presence and can do it right blows my mind. Another notable mention is Apashe. When the music and the visuals all come together and are topped by lasers, fire, and cryo (C02); the experience is boosted 1,000-fold.
pictured above: FreeSbass
What are your thoughts on genres and how EDM has managed to continuously blossom new and unheard genres before?
Taylor D’Agostino: I would say that artists no longer feel like they need to confine to a specific genre in order to thrive. We have been seeing this lately with idols such as Excision, Wooli, Subtronics, and of course Space Laces testing the water outside their comfort BPM’s. When we see those we look up to test the boundaries of their own craft, I believe it gives others the confidence to do the same. Coloring outside of the lines versus creating for the sake of pleasing others.
Walter Wilde: I think it’s great! EDM genres are kind of silly in one way, since like, if you shift the BPM 15 either way you’re in a totally new genre even if the song is the exact same; so it’s great to see people experimenting with different themes within those BPM landscapes.
Brady Colee: It is exciting! I honestly can’t keep up with all the subgenres but I love seeing the boundaries of sound design being pushed.
What makes a headliner and how are lineups addressed? These days, it gets confusing seeing artists we all know as industry “GOATS”, not being billed high on massive festivals, and in some cases day-one openers.
Taylor D’Agostino: A headliner can be built on undeniable artistic talent and amazing attitude/likability or they can just be fast food marketing with loads of money behind them. For everyone that you see at the top of a flyer, there is an artist/producer out there way more talented them that just doesn’t have a team around them like a manager/label/money for promo and social media pay/agents/a certain look or brand. It’s just the way it is with all music really. It’s smoke and mirrors. I’m not mad at people being successful – I want everyone to do them and all of the crowds to be happy. Everyone latches on to something/someone/a certain sound or genre. I love all music and kind of don’t really care about the industry. I’d be musically creative regardless of money or whatever comes attached. I’m not interested in fame. I care about the people in the crowd and making their night amazing.
Architekt: A headliner is more than a DJ or a producer. They are a PERFORMER. They’re acting out some epic story, and the sequence of songs from the intro the the outro, to the visuals on the LED wall, are all working in tandem to create an experience. A headliner creates a sense of escapism if you will.
JAYSYX: Fans. If you have fans, you have everything. Promoters want to see you sell. If you can do that, you’ll headline.
pictured above: JAYSYX | by: Lvghts Media
Substance awareness. We all know how important it is to this industry. We can’t hide the fact it does tend to have a high drug-use amongst its audiences. How do you advise we keep our community safe while allowing its participants to do as they please at events?
BLAQOUT: Listen, we all know that asking music fans to not ingest illicit substances is like asking a porcupine to do a backflip from a handstand position (it won’t happen). The most important thing to do is test your things. Seriously. If you have to take ____ substance at the festival, that’s fine, nobody can stop you. You’re an adult, but please test the substance(s) to make sure it won’t be your last festival. You only get one chance at life!
Messinian: Drugs are ruining the community. Especially with the introduction of fentanyl. I appreciate mind-enhancing drugs. I don’t appreciate people using them at shows if they can’t handle their shit. You are wasting the lesson the drug is trying to teach you. Also, you are a liability to others around you and the promoter and staff throwing the show that put their time into organizing something solid for everyone.
JAYSYX: Test your substances. I don’t personally condone it but I get it, because I was there at one point. But, TEST YOUR SUBSTANCES.
What are your thoughts/opinions on how the scene has become less about the music and more so how to properly feed an algorithm for a better social media presence?
JAYSYX: As an artists, its 85% socials and 15% music. Which makes this industry much more difficult. But it’s the way of the industry and you got to do what you got to do.
FreeSbass: The fake ones will always cry louder than a real one. The real ones that are about the music, flex within there sound and that speaks for itself. Much louder than any clout chaser’s cries.
Architekt: All music genres eventually become a lifestyle brand. A costume one wears to showcase some sort of identity or sense of individuality through music appreciation. If you want the algorithm to work with you, you stoke this idea of lifestyle, and provide content that holds a mirror to it.
The loudness war. How important is it? It seems these days kids are just pushing tracks to the max where it literally is destroying listening devices. What ever happened to the dynamic bass focused mixdowns and masters?
INHUMAN: I absolutely hate when songs are too loud and I skip them immediately. My focus will always be the quality and listenability of a song. If a song is too loud, the mixdown and master is bad. There’s no debate.
KJ Sawka: Its only in riddim and dubstep and hard bass styles, really. The producers think it sounds good. To some it might. To some, its just distortion.
Architekt: The loudness will is eternal. Those who can soft-clip properly will inherit the earth. The art of tastefully clipping is essentially the crux of what modern dubstep relies upon. Good luck and god-speed to any one losing this war.
Distortion. What can you tell me about it and how its uses have greatly changed over time?
FreeSbass: It’s a preference. It can evoke different emotions and give a track/vocals/synths a certain feeling. It’s not really that complex.
BLAQOUT: Distortion an be an incredibly useful tool for creating dissonance in sounds. Artful use of this effect on certain elements can really make a tune sound that much more complete. However, distortion over the entire track (thereby ruining the transients, punch, and overall clarity of your track) is not a good thing. Distort sparingly, and execute it with precise calculation.
Architekt: As mentioned above: soft-clipping, and strategic non-destructive clipping is what makes heavy dubstep…well…heavy. Clipping in bass music is no different than the absolute gain destruction that occurs in distorting guitars. It’s provocative, it’s primal, and it’s the sauce!
How do you feel about the YouTube documentary “All My Homies Hate Skrillex”? Do you find that around 2010 is when the scene began to “fall off” as it gathered a more mainstream acceptance?
Architekt: I think it’s accurate in certain aspects. I was 19 years old when I found dubstep (2009) and I was there with baited breath for every new release and every new development. I watched it go from the most obscure thing in the world to the buzzword of the day. It was exciting, but once it gained a massive sense of popularity, almost over night it was like some one took a pin to a balloon. Dubstep became a dirty word because “Skrillex ruined it”. The fact was, it was quite the opposite. He inspired a whole generation of nerds like me to do this. Without the Americanization of it, the genre would still be lurking around the dark streets of Croydon as some obscure thing.
Messinian: I haven’t seen it, but that guy has always been a good dude to me. Fuck the haters. He changed the music genre. Ask your favorite producers – the game changed significantly after he came and just shut it down. Props to him!
BLAQOUT: It’s a great depiction of the history of dubstep and how it all began, but his salty attitude towards it is the only thing holding it back from it being 10/10 in my opinion.
FREE FOR ALL SECTION: Mention anything you want included and felt needs to be covered and or brought up. Here is where you would drop stories, encounters, knowledge – etc.
Messinian: Artists are humans. They shouldn’t be treated as deity. Bad people should get the fuck out of this scene and artists getting caught out of pocket by disrespecting women or their fans should just go directly to jail and not pass go if there is evidence. I’ve seen the behind the scenes of this culture for over 20 plus years performing around the world. I’ve run into so many shitty people, but countless talented and prolific artists that want the best for the scene and are pushing the future forward. Love and respect to the veterans and new artists that genuinely care about the music and realize that all of the good that comes with success is a blessing. May the scene keep rising, and may the crowds become more aware of the foundation of this culture, educate themselves, and strive to seek knowledge.
Architekt: In closing I’d like to say, as someone whos been in this game for over 10 years, met most of my heroes, played many shows, clubs, and festivals in North America, and had one hell of an experience as an artist and fan of the genre; never let time and culture shifts let you lose your love for it. Don’t become bitter or jaded because things aren’t how they were. Change is inevitable – especially in the world of art. What may seem like decay in the eyes of one pessimistic person is actually evolution to everyone else involved. Find you’re niche, dig deeper if you don’t like the state of Spotify, because there’s so much great music being made everyday.
KJ Sawka: I hope kids in the US will continue to embrace DNB and faster tempos of dance music. This has been my hope for the last 20 years.
The author, Curator, adds in his opinion: According to this gathered info, it seems that people right now are really digging artists that are bringing theatrics to their shows. I personally am super into this as it adds layers to an artist’s branding and vision.
Also, it appears people lately have been looking towards the visual aspect of the branding alongside the music. Dons like Excision have been doing it for awhile, and even many before him, but in recent years, it feels like there is a new drive to improve live shows. EDM allows for crazy visuals given its nature of the genre, however, the brands like INHUMAN, Black Tiger Sex Machine, Ganja White Night, and Marauda are all prime examples of different artists bringing completely different styled visuals to shows and elevating it to new levels.
The fans are loving it and I’m really curious to see how far this gets pushed as people continue to grow, and technology evolves. There are so many underdog brands right now that would kill it in the visual game if they simply had the funds/ following. So I hope to see these artists rise above as they continue to grow.
Follow Monsoon Season
Listen/Subscribe to Monsoon Season
Next Up on the Label:
KVROT & Synced Harmonies: “Chasing Stars” [Monsoon Season Exclusive]
Be sure to check out more:
Articles | Interviews | Guest Mixes
Article Submissions & Services