What Can Save Drum and Bass?

I am writing an article entitled “What Can Save Drum and Bass” for an LA magazine and have set off to research this intriguing subject. I like drum and bass but agree that the genre needs a huge breakthrough, and soon, to keep things fresh and to continue to attract new listeners and passionate supporters…but what?

I am running into a problem however with my research (which entails me going out to DnB shows in LA and talking to everyone I can as well as mad internetting). Every DJ or producer I talk to who doesn’t play drum and bass just tells me, “Drum and bass is dead,” and that they have no interest in saving it.

All the drum and bass heads I pose this question to say, “Drum and bass is in no way dying. It is huge, just look at the lineup for the Electric Daisy Carnival” (or something similar). Actually, they usually say “Fuck you, Shilo” before shooting me down.

So I am getting nowhere.

I admit, I do talk the cheddar cheese occasionally about my drum and bass head friends, mostly because of their “harder-than-thou” images (when most of them are actually really chill, nice people). On the flip side, I have thrown one show in my life; it was a drum and bass show featuring the live stylings of drum master KJ Sawka. It totally kicked ass and was hailed by many as the best Thursday night in Pioneer Square in Seattle, ever. I have danced to drum and bass nights probably more often than 99% of EDM heads and have been a big supporter of the genre since I started listening to electronic music.

Do you have an opinion on the subject? What can save drum and bass? Does it need saving? Does Shilo need to fuck off? Please leave a comment below or email me at shilonikelle at gmail.com. I would really love to hear what you think. Thanks!

KJ Sawka performing live drum and bass @ BASSNDRUMS

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30 Responses to “What Can Save Drum and Bass?”

  1. I just think it’s great you were commissioned to write something. Well deserved, but a difficult subject.

  2. To be honest my answer to the question can only be “Nothing”. For me personally this genre has been dead for years. 10 years ago here in Europe it was a completely different story. I was a big fan and jumped my ass off on numerous wicked parties. I don’t know about America, but here I cannot even think about a different genre which crashed so deeply into formulaic, boring and ridiculous music patterns (maybe except for minimal techno). Just look at dnb to dubstep conversion rate. DnB still has good producers though, and some ot its aesthetics prove quite original in dubstep or other bass-heavy productions. But pure Drum and Bass – no thank you! Just my 2 cents.

  3. I’d love to talk to ya some about this topic. I’ve been a DJ/producer for about 15 years, and have been in the electronica music and dance culture scene for just as long.

    I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland where drum-n-bass (and dubstep and uk sounds) were a heavy influence on me.

    Now, I DJ on average 15-20 times a month, 1 out of those 20 times is drum-n-bass.

    I say… NO, drum-n-bass is NOT dead. It’s a niche. A niche in music, sound, and energy. DnB had a good 10 year run dabbling into the mainstream, but now it’s settling back down where it’s supposed to be.

  4. the subgenre designation is fine for drum and bass. it’s all about dropping wicked beats no matter where it comes from. true drum and bass heads will hang with it till the better end and then recycle. everyone else will leak out into other shit. it’s all good. it’s a big world and it’s all fluid and moving. nothing stays the same.

  5. dancefever5000 Says:

    Check out this thread over on Seattle DNB with replies from around the world to the question: Is drum and bass dying?

    http://seattlednb.com/forum/showthread.php?p=237075#post237075

    The best reply is the post that says if DnB seems to be dying it is only because “all the cool kids are listening to electro at the moment.”

    Uhhhhhhhhh, yeah. There’s one dnb head who’s in the loop.

  6. Kenobiben Says:

    The same thing happened with the scene in my country. We had ups and downs but, then we managed to have an p.l.u.r. community. It lasted for a bit, but it all went to hell just cause of personal interests. Now everyone is doing their own thing, maybe its better this way. But you know what died ? The vibe, the soul, there are parties, but its not the same. Everyone can feel it , but they comment it from time to time. And like you said -“Drum and bass is dead,” and that they have no interest in saving it.
    New generations appeared, and everything is different. Not that i blame them, it was the commercialism that killed it. We use to be involving people into hearing and accepting the dnb sound trough sharing music, and etc… But its not the same this days, they just appeared. There is no respect, there is no involving into the scene, just consuming it like a good robot. And that’s probably the main reason that there is no soul.

    Then it went a bit further, some dj/producers wanted you to remember one thing. You use to listen, they were wright, but… The sound is going trough some weird changes. Not that they aren’t welcomed, just the sound went in some weird direction. It has that minimal type of jungle , but from time to time it sounds a bit different. There is evolution, but its not yet developed. It goes in that phase, where everybody plays it, likes it. I’m not against it, but it went to much synthetic. The changes come and go, posers come and go, dnb heads are less and less. Sad but true, but to be a dnb head you got to earn it. Not just listen and bullshiting, but involving yourself into the music trough different actions. There is a change in the sound from the start of this genre. That is the nature of drum and bass, but all im saying there are no true spirits involved. Just consuming, and the sad part is, that the old pushers of this sound, are really old. There wont be any new generations involving in the scene. It lasted for 15 years or more, and it just splashed. This music is connected buy the soul, and its really sick at the moment, cause there is no air to breathe. Drum and bass music is a living organism and it consist all the harts of the Junglist . But the sad thing is – that title should be earned not just passed around, as there are less and less junglist, there are more and more posers. And that will be the end of the dnb (no soul involvement ). So think of this period like cleaning your house, its suppose to go this way. We are a closed type community, and the mainstream nearly killed us.

  7. Jungle/DNB is not dead, just forced underground due to the inevitable watering down that occurs in the music world when lots of money starts getting thrown around. One always ends up watching the music you love get picked apart and broken down to it’s very least denomination in order to make it accessible to the most people possible. Usually people with discretionary income and no musical taste. Or you get new people into the scene from another generation with a whole other set of influences (pendulum) who with their success move the scene somewhere else entirely with originators of the scene sadly following suit wanting to keep the dough flowing. The same thing has happened to hip-hop, house, techno jazz, rock, punk, rnb and the list goes on. Money comes along and steals all the thunder, making the artists lazy. It’s going to happen to dubstep, dub techno etc too. Sad but true. The good news is regardless of the genre the music never really dies. The foundation is still there, ready to be reaquainted with the long lost listener. There will always be people who do it for the love and new music will keep being created… In short, I’m a Junglist forever. Peace

    • All those who think Drum n Bass is dead then check out our newer stuff over here in the UK ( home of D&B ). Check out DISPATCH RECORDINGS, ANT TC1, SYNKRO, CERN & DABS, SURVIVAL, D-BRIDGE, DATA, ZERO T, ICICLE, EXIT RECORDINGS, BREAK, VAMPIRE RECORDINGS, AUDIO, OCTANE & DLR, SPINLINE, HYDRO, EBK, KEZA, SKEPTICAL, MC FOKUS, MARCUS INTALEX. some say it aint D&B but those in the know always know. The UK will always go back underground and mutate. Check them all out and then some :-)

  8. Record labels need to reconsilidate and raise the bar on releases. Period. I know all kinds of kids that got signed for making hideously underproduced transylvania nintendo beats. Number two, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS JUNGLE, stop hosting shows where your friends spin, get a real fucking headliner or no ones coming for sure. Lastly, gathering new listeners into a sound that has always been steeped in white labels is no easy task and is really the basis of the entire problem. I’m too jaded to care about new people, so your guess is as good as mine on that score.

  9. Drum and Bass died because it became more about being hardcore than about being unique and creative. The music, the dress, the vibe all just a bunch of imitating. I remember being at the record store weekly in 96-2001 and watching the shelves thin in terms of styles. I remember all the cool hippies, transvestites, and Buddhist chicks getting out. A friend of mine said it best though I disagreed with him at the time, “I don’t want to listen to music with gunshots in it.”

    It seemed like it was getting cleaner or at least more elegant when it got all techy, but it just ended up loosing more diversity, getting even faster, and ultimately growing boring. I remember talking to friends about parties with big DJs at Buzz in DC – this was 2002 – anyway I remember asking friends if they could remember any of the tunes from the night and no one could. They might have even turned the sound down for all we cared it wasn’t about the music by then anyway.

    So that was almost the end of me as a Junglist. I took a break from it for a few years and got into Punk and Metal – blah whole other story. I only mention it because in 2006 I went to see Bukem in Philly with a few friends. It was great to hear good ol’ Jungle again… for the first 15 minutes by 2 hours in and after hearing multiple “classics” I’d had enough. Plus, the three different girls I met that night were all broke losers who didn’t have jobs and lived with their parents.

    So yeah I moved on… honestly I might have only stayed in it for so long because it was supposedly the “black techno” whatever that means or meant. Sigh… Life goes on.

  10. NOTHING CAN SAVE DRUM AND BASS<<< DUBSTEP IS BOSS NOW!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA

  11. I wouldn’t say drum n’ bass is dead, but drum n’ bass in the way we think of it (1991 – 1998) is definitely over and will never happen again. In my opinion, tech step’s insular sound, limited sound palate, and bad bwoy demeanor put an end to the fun of drum n’ bass as a genre on it’s own. Luckily, drum n’ bass has mutated numerous times in the last decade to form new genres that are much more interesting than it’s source: drill n’ bass, breakcore, liquid funk, dubstep, and so on.

    In a similar way, I don’t think anyone is awaiting disco to make a comeback in the way that were to make it as popular at its peak; but it’s sound was instrumental in forming new genres like house, techno, and electro. Waiting for drum n’ bass to rise again is like waiting for disco to rise again. It’s like waiting for psych rock to be as popular as it was in 1969 or waiting for the summer of love of 1988 to happen again. It’s all history and everyone needs to know it’s okay to move on (with everyone else).

  12. [...]  http://dancefever5000.wordpress.com/2009/06/03/what-can-save-drum-and-bass/ [...]

  13. http://www.myspace.com/subfocus

    released last week…. cant be dead if albums as good as this are still bein put out!

  14. Trip-Mode Says:

    Dnb and the related styles left producers and DJ’s with a plethora of techniques, aethestics, and just general knowledge that otherwise would have been at least partially overlooked. Before drum and bass I knew little to nothing about the extent of dynamic that they can create – such as with wah, modulation, lfos, etc. Personally, it gave me a whole new appreciation for drums and bass, since I mostly used to listen to hip hop and metal, I would mostly pay attention to the singing or rapping and the guitar. Now I love drums, and all forms of bass, and I pay better attention to every instrument to learn from them. The dnb family of genres has changed me, given me better rhythm and a better sense of production skills. Point being, drum and bass will always live, the influence is so apparent in today’s music, which can be good and bad – but that is the same with most things. Dubstep could never replace dnb, and dnb could never replace dubstep. They are a different genre for a different feeling. Sorry, but some people aren’t going to be feeling a beat that doesn’t have an average of 2 snares per 16 beats, and vice versa. Also, a genre shouldn’t be a limitation, it should be an inspiration. There is room for innovation in all genres. I think through mixing genres, use of more original basses – by the way, most instruments can be a bass, not necessarily a sub-bass, but dropping the octaves on a synth for example gets me some great basses that arent the same old reese or sine or saw or what have you. So, do the math. There are countless drum sounds out there, with countless rhythms. Countless basses, countless things to layer on top. Countless samples, and vocals too. There really are no limitations. People just need to stop always copying everyone else like a blueprint. Pull your influences and call it good. No need to be like someone else. Also, for the DJs, they just need to do some digging to find some more obscure artists so they aren’t playing the same boring tracks that everyones heard. Experient with tempo, who cares what people will try to call it. DNB and its relatives will live forever, just like rock. There is nothing to be saved, but it will be up to everyone to do the right thing and innovate. Who’s with me?

    • Im with you! Smartness. When I hear someone say, “dnb is so 98′ or something to that effect. I say then rock and roll is so 50’s. Its silliness. Statements like that show people up to be victims of the next trendy bandwagon. Your attitude about looking for obscurity and playing with tempo is cool too. WHen I spin dnb I like to pitch to -2 so you can feel the swing rather than bugout to a mess of snares. Thats just my thing. DNb is a bit more street and we do have a bit more of a macho edge so thanks for having your thinking cap on. andy in Brooklyn..

  15. To me it comes down to this.. Have you ever liked dnb? Are you the type of person who sticks with what they like when new trends come along? If you are, then you’re saying dnb is still the bomb. Ive been following and dancing to many forms of edm since about 91′ Many changes and new fads but in the end every genre has amazing tracks and eventually classics that endure. Rock has been around since the 50’s ,house since disco found drum machines, and hip hop since its day. Even though I checked out the jungle room as early as 94 I wasnt a real fan until my pallete was addressed closer to 98′ – I was only flirting then but Ive never looked back. But I still dig house, minimal , hip hop, the clash, my itunes. All of that. You cant say any of its dead just because you stopped paying attention when the hype simmered down. There are amazing tracks of many newer fresher subgenres to suit more tastes than ever! And there or more than any one dj or fan can keep up with. I also think that dubstep has swept the subbass crowd off its feet because a new breakbeat genre popped its head out after10yrs+ of dnb. Its all good. But none of its the same.
    Support this vibe , that club, your friend the dj, Small parties, massives, 4/4, break, your roommates indy rock band. Dont be stuck. Its when you get boring that you say things are dead. Either that or no one is producing that style anymore. We all know that is not going to happen. Long live dnb. It is harder to wrap around the heads of the uninitiated. So accept our permanent place in the underground. None of us want this catch the eye of the sellout market anyway. Look what some goons did to house to make it palatable to the masses. Yuk! peeeeeace from NYC….

  16. I joined this music ten or fifteen years ago. I thought it was amazing but at that time a enjoyed, what I consider now “noise”, other musics like hardcore so It is no relevant. This spring I was in Mallorca, a great island in Spain and I was invited to join a rave in nowhere. They played reggae at first and the D&B. It was amazing to rediscover this kind of music again.
    Since then, I´ve not stopped listening D&B music and made some sessions in blog you can hear or download for free:

    http://mutomboguauburu.wordpress.com

    There are a lot D&B genres and of course million of songs but you only have to select best to realise that iis riddem will make your feet begin dancing. For me, D&B is reappearing again. This summer in Ibiza, there was a session in “Space” dedicated to D&B djs and all of us loved it. It was so crowded that you could see this reemerging.
    You can check my tracklist in order to listen what I consider some of the best D&B tracks I´ve ever listened to.
    Hope you enjoy and finish your work!

  17. I am from England and Drum and Bass is becoming more and more popular every day… I’m a Music Journalism student and im currently writing an article about the current state of Drum and Bass. It is evident that the genre is becoming VERY commercial. I haven’t heard any U.S producers so i can’t comment on what is going on over there. I don’t think it is “dying” as such but the original foundations have changed a lot! There are some DnB labels that have remained loyal to these foundations but some Artists have sold out for financial gain (pendulum/ Chase and Status) as long as there are Artists out there that stick to the conventions and don’t sell out. Drum and Bass will be around for a very long time!

  18. I believe that the old style of Drum n Bass is slowly dieing. However, this only really applies to the traditional “jungle” style and sub genres that are more suited to heavy underground clubs. It is my belief, nor is my belief without reason, that certain sub genres of DnB (such as “Liquid DnB”) are actually becoming more and more popular. I have acredited this to numerous factors such as the rise of MP3 players and iPods aswell as the increasing popularity of Youtube and the home listening. Sub genres such as Liquid DnB are targeted for the home listener of DnB, and are less “heavy” and more melodic. Personally I think that it is wrong to say that DnB as a whole is dieing; I would say that it is evolving. Tracks such as Beautiful Lies by B-Complex are gaining popularity as they do not need to be listened to through 4000 watts of club audio, and are beautiful not just as DnB but are genuinely musically brilliant.

  19. razzledazzle666 Says:

    DnB isn’t dead it is just stuck in this awful wobbly jump up phase at the moment! almost every tune released sounds the same.. blame producers like original sin, tax man, heist etc etc. I will always be a junglist, have been since i was a young teen. At the moment im listening mainly to older stuff and liquid stuff because i cant listen to that shitty wobble jump up stuff at all.Luckily DnB changes every so often so hopefully this era of wobble will fade and a new style will take over! I personally dont care how popular it is.. aslong as DnB has the true hardcore fans and Dj’s/ Producers then it will never die out.. if it does one day then i guess i will just listen to old school all my life and make my own beats! JUNGLIST FOR LIFE!

  20. Very cool ! Thanks for sharing. Now I’m following you.

  21. Bart Cox Says:

    With Pendulem making DnB flamsy pansy, turning Rave’s into concert’s and asking for more money than your average banker’s bonus. 2004 saw the Uk scene lose its morals to all the dedicated jungelist’s that made it what it was.
    Dnb is not dead…. 1) Underground is the way forward.
    Back in the day raves were damp dark and industrial. You lived for the weekend so when it came back to the run of the mill week of work, it actually felt something was achieved by not showering all weekend and spending an unjustly amount of dosh, on drugs.
    2) Mainstream listerners have the attention span of a nat!
    For these listner’s, freshest is best. OK, DnB went mainstream, a lot of money was made, new listner’s, venue’s, artitst, ect ect. As soon as something comes along that is different and everyone eles is listening too, they follow that genre till the next big thing.
    3) Hardcore raver’s never die!

    The mainstream maybe fading from our scene and will contribute to some people to belive Dnb is dying. However, realist’s (i.e. Me and everyother Pendulem hater in this word) know where to look, when we need shake to a bassline deeper than the grand canyon, or get so lost in the moment, you’ve just got a DJ to sign your forehead! for these people Dnb is not music, its a way of life.

    Conclusion

    Drum & Bass is not dying! Its just starting to remember is root’s agian….

    so let’s go out and
    FUCKIN AV’IT

  22. saganspirit Says:

    The music has a concrete grass roots following mainly because of the energy of the music. I’m not interested in the next “breakthrough” as u call it and neither are my friends – its bad enough having Pendulum (although their first album was decent). In my mind too many producers are using Reason and it has produced (no pun intended) a very formulaic sound. Anyway an interesting article which I’m happy giving my 2 penneth to!

  23. Drum n Bass related to the Old Rave scene is dead. Dubstep ( a sound i helped to nurcher in 2002-2004 ) has taken over. I regret being part of Dubstep, ever!!!, i wish i’d retired friom music in 2002 now. i was into Acid in 1988 and progressed through all EDM styles upto 2012, then i gave in after i attended a Skrillex gig in Manchester UK. It was awfull and things changed at that point form me. So sad :-(
    Some interesting Autonomic D&B out there and the Russion stuff is awesome, but with news that Fabio And Grooverider have been axed from Radio One things look to improve with DJ Friction taking over the Monday slot instead.
    Out with the old and in with the new!!

  24. Skrillex is ROCK MUSIC!! typical of the Americans to push it in a shit direction ( like Rock ) but they are obsessed with it.
    Stop Rock music now before it kills Dubstep.

  25. Butterbeats Says:

    It can be saved ….. I’m a hip hop dj but being I have family in the UK I’m up on my drum and bass music ! But the the music needs the same shine as a Rick Ross record or a jay z record .
    But A lot of people don’t like change
    Especially if it’s something as different as D n B or any Electronic music but if people would just listen it has every music element in it from hip hop , reggae to rock samples and breaks ….
    Peace and keep the music going

  26. I know that dubstep is on the rise, especially with the mainstream, but I would hope that there are venues that still appreciate DnB. Atlanta is the closest city for me that offers any EDM. I am always in search of DnB. I would love to find a place that brings it! DUBSTEP, WTF!

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