History repeats itself, and dance music is not immune to this, albeit cliché, absolute truth. As everyone begins to adopt the fashion stylings of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Beverly Hills 90210, dance music is following suit in returning to the ‘90s—the decade that saw the rise of UK garage.
In a nod to the legendary Paradise Garage, the name “speed garage” was coined by UK DJs who were playing American soulful house at a higher tempo. It was marked by heavier basslines, shuffling hats, sampling and pitch-shifting of soulful, R&B vocals, and its lack of adherence to the strict 4/4 beat.
In the UK, artists like MJ Cole and Artful Dodger helped make it a mainstream sound—and they still hold it down today—while artists like the Stanton Warriors defined the sound anew for the underground in the early 2000s. They ran with the breaks vibe to create something entirely fresh and funky.
Over the years, it has broken off and influenced all forms of bass-heavy electronic music, including 2-step, breaks, dubstep, hardcore and grime. Its recent resurgence can be partly attributed to the massive success of artists like Disclosure bringing this classic sound back into the conversation. Of course, from the depths of the underground, a sometimes darker, but always dirty, sound has emerged: bass house. While this edgier, more jackin’ style of house music is deeper than the big room sounds that have ruled the main stage for the last decade, it isn’t exactly deep house. But whatever you decide to call it—G-house, bass house, deep house, garage, jackin’ house—it’s got the goods, and it is making us move.
These three artists are not only pushing the sound forward, but they are pushing the boundaries of electronic music as a whole by creating something that is often indefinable. With sample packs and tutorials, these artists are both working within the genre and creating sounds that set them apart from the pack.
My Nu Leng
This Bristol-based duo has a genre-bending sound that is dark, moody and deep. They’ve melted faces with originals and remixes alike. Their debut on Black Butter Records, “Masterplan,” blurred the line between house, breaks and dub. And their official remix of Jillionare’s “Fresh” is dirty, low-slung and sexy. Tommy and Jammo came out swinging with a string of stellar releases on the infamous label that included two collaborations with Taiki Nulight. Receiving support from Justin Martin, Huxley and DJ EZ, along with plays on Radio 1 and Rinse FM and tour dates with both Rudimental and Gorgon City the world over, these two youngsters are poised to set the dancefloor on fire for years to come.
Cause & Effect
Even if you don’t know the name Chris Lorenzo by now, you have definitely heard his sound. The infamous ghostwriter has been instrumental in defining the sound of bass house, stamping his trademark sound all over the house music world. He and longtime production partner Kane have created Cause & Effect, which they describe as “melting tech house with garage, bassline business with plenty of swing”—though that doesn’t do justice to the evil, sub-flexing filth these two produce. They are leading the pack when it comes to consistently putting out music that is creative and technically perfect. On a recent trip to the UK, Skrillex not only showed up at one of their shows, but hopped in the studio with them as well. And he isn’t the only one who has taken notice, as they’re gaining support from the likes of the dirtybird crew and Annie Mac. With their massively successful Rinse FM show together, they are causing a ruckus in dance music.
It isn’t just the UK that’s killing the game. Eugene, Oregon’s Aaron Jackson has quickly amassed a major following of DJs, producers and dancers alike, garnering support from the likes of Oliver Heldens, UMEK and Hannah Wants, and releasing on AC Slater’s Party Like Us (easily the biggest stamp of bass business approval stateside). His sound is diverse, ranging from the deep and progressive to upfront and bangin’, but with a proper amount of restraint. While it’s still very early on in his career, he has made some huge strides while remaining fresh and creative with each new release.