Q&A With Dubstep Expert/Journalist Tom Dotan: A Dubstep Fan’s Perspective

 

Tom Dotan, Dubstep Expert/Journalist. Photography by: Jason Brown

 

Dubstep dates back to 1998, and originated in South London, United Kingdom. Since its inception, it has seen a tremendous growth not only as its own genre of music, but has also branched out into different forms within its own genre. (See our dubstep glossary). The sound has even infiltrated modern music as we know it, with several dubstep remixes of popular songs emerging, as well as the creation of original music featuring the distinct sound. I interviewed Journalist/Dubstep Expert Tom Dotan who reflected on his first exposure to the genre, why he thinks the genre is becoming prevalent in modern music today, and where he thinks it’s headed.

Why did you become interested in Dubstep?

I follow British electronic music and was interested in the precursors to dubstep, two-step and garage. Dubstep, as soon as it crossed my radar was the next step in my exploration through the genre.

What intrigues you about the genre?

It’s very primal and yet totally a product of technology. And it’s visceral, literally. You can feel it in your guts when it’s done right.

Why do you think Dubstep is popular amongst music fans?

I don’t know if popular is the word I’d use, I’m skeptical we’ll ever have a whole pop song done that slowly, and with a bass that distorted. But its peaking into the mainstream is probably because dubstep’s presence is so recognizable so quickly. Pop music is always looking for a signature riff, and dubstep is clearly that.

Do you think its infiltration into the pop world will affect its sound in the future?

Sure. Because dubstep is an amalgam of so many music styles and based on high-end audio technology it will naturally evolve and take in different influences, pop and otherwise.

Where do you see dubstep going? Where do you want it to go?

A musician like James Blake is a good example of what a post dubstep artist– more vocally oriented and less reliant on the “drop.” Remember, dubstep isn’t a new genre, by the time it caught on in America, it was almost 10 years old in the UK. We’re already living in the post dubstep world, despite the new popularity of artists like Skrillex.

Why did you create the Owl City video?

I was interested in mapping out the structure and pattern of a dubstep track; it comes with being a musician and boring music major. It was mostly for my benefit, I didn’t think anyone would really care (do they?). Plus if dubstep can give some soul to a plastic trinket like Fireflies, it must be worth delving into.

Anything you would like to add about dubstep?

Wub wub wubwuwuwuwuwuwwub wubwub voooom!

 

Also, check out Dotan’s video he created breaking down the components of the dubstep sound in the dubstep remix of Owl City’s hit song Fireflies below: 

 

Untitled from Tom Dotan on Vimeo.

Skrillex: Eight Wild Nights and Busy Days With the Superstar

Inside the success, philosophy and love life of electronic music’s current king

By Neil Strauss
March 1, 2012 11:00 AM ET

“Want to go to a party at the drummer from Muse’s house?” Skrillex turns and asks.

“Sure, why not.”

Fifteen minutes later, the car is full and navigating through the Hollywood Hills. Skrillex is in the back seat with his girlfriend, U.K. singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding, and the bartender from the hotel we just left. In the front seat is his tour manager, Road Hog, who’s never been in the hills before.

Ratatat’s “Loud Pipes” is blasting through the car. Goulding and Road Hog are celebrating the moment, singing “the Hog is in the hills” to the instrumental track. Skrillex – nee Sonny Moore, known to close friends as Skrilly and drunk friends as the Skrill– is recording the jam on his iPhone. “This is going to be a track,” he says excitedly as we park. Behind us, another carload of Skrillex’s friends and crew unloads, and they all climb the hill, a mobile party. “Every night is like this,” Skrillex says, bounding up to the house. “It’s just totally random.”

To spend a week with Skrillex is to learn to operate with no sleep, no silence and no pause. Even sitting still, he’s moving – bouncing a leg up and down, tapping his fingers, looking around the room to take in everything going on. “He’s inhuman,” says his European booking agent, Simon Clarkson. “We gave him only one night off in Europe, and he calls and tells me he’s putting together a party that night so he can DJ. He doesn’t stop.”

“I book myself tight,” Skrillex confirms. “If I have any time off, I get antsy. I haven’t taken a vacation in, like, eight years.”

It is this tireless, jittery energy that’s propelled Skrillex through an accelerated music career: He joined his first indie and punk bands when he was 12, toured the world fronting the Top 40 screamo band From First to Last at 16, and signed a solo deal with Atlantic Records the year he turned old enough to legally go to the clubs he’d been performing at. Now, at 24, he’s performing 300 shows a year playing the most noncommercial music of his career – his tonally dirty, dynamically aggressive brand of bass-rattling dubstep – and to everyone’s surprise, most of all his own, he has become the most exciting thing happening in popular music this moment. He won three Grammys in February. His Facebook page has been growing by 300,000 new fans a week. And everyone is blowing up his phone, from Dr. Dre to Kanye West, who took Skrillex to Vegas in his private jet, watched him DJ and then invited him to his hotel room to cut some tracks.

“I’m aware of what’s going on, but at the same time there are parts I can’t see with any perspective and don’t know if I should,” he says as we stand in a bedroom with Muse drummer Dominic Howard and four girls who are cavorting around the room, hungry for the pair’s attention. “I mean, it’s surreal when you step back and see everything going on. But when I’m in the moment, I don’t realize it.”

If Skrillex continues to have his way, he will never realize it. “I don’t like being overexposed,” he says. “I don’t like being on covers. And I don’t like people talking about me.”

So in order to get a better understanding of who he is, here are a few scenes culled from eight days spent in a nonstop maelstrom of vodka, bass and late nights with pop’s reluctant phenomenon.
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