As you may have heard, dubstep is quite a big deal right now. America has clutched the sound of diaphragm-rattling low-end to its bosom, thanks in part to the rise to super-stardom of Skrillex – aka Sonny Moore, a man whose skill with pneumatic basslines and candy-coloured synth melodies has netted him three Grammys and approximately 100 million global devotees in fluro facepaint muttering something about “the drop”.
Skrillex might be hot shit right now, but it stands to reason that, where he lets his mighty basslines fall, a dozen young pretenders will flock for a bit of the action. Who, then, are pretenders to his throne? I made you a little run-down of the new producers set to be fucking you in the ear canal over the next 12 months (and in the meantime discovered a genre called “complextro”, a portmanteau of “complex” and “electro” that frankly hurts my brain to think about).
Jon ‘Feed Me’ Gooch might hail from nowhere more exotic than Hertfordshire, but this fast-rising UK producer is certainly following in Skrillex’s slipstream. Signed to Deadmau5’s Mau5trap imprint, his basslines have that growly, visceral quality that’s so in right now, and his stage show – featuring huge, nine-metre LEDs in the shape of bared canines – suggest that, like Sonny Moore, he’s looking for a raving spectacle rather more intense than a guy stood behind a laptop. He says: “Music that tastes like ozone and grandma’s tears”. They say: “This music will put some length on your dick,” (that one’s courtesy of TheBeast1413, via YouTube comments).
A new signing to Skrillex’s very own OWSLA imprint, this 24-year-old Los Angeles bass brat makes his introduction on the label page with the words “I probably won’t do an interview or photo shoot but here is an amazing picture of a cat” (it’s wearing a Batman mask). Balancing harder bass sounds are balanced out with 16-bit video game melodies, he made his debut last year on Diplo’s Mad Decent imprint with the single ‘IDGAFOS’ (which apparently stands for ‘I don’t give a fuck or shit’).
From San Luis Obispo, California, Joseph Thomas Youngman began his career as a deep house producer before changing style and finding fame under the Gartner name. Admittedly, he’s been knocking around a few years already, but he’s presented MTV’s dance music show Clubland in the US and collaborated with Skrillex on ‘The Devil’s Den’, so his profile is certainly on the rise. His single ‘Illmerica’ is well worth checking out - a Stateside reimagining of the distortion-soaked house sound pedaled by Justice before they went all soft-rock on us.
He’s from, Kaiserslautern, Germany, but Anton Zalavksi has much common ground with Skrillex. Like Skrillex, he used to play in a rock group – in this case, post-hardcore/rock/metal trio Dioramic – before turning to producing in 2009. Stylistically, it’s choppy electro with neon-coloured trance synths and crunchy basslines, and while he’s toured with Skrillex and released through OWSLA, it’s as a remixer he’s really made an impression, with mixes of Fatboy Slim, Swedish House Mafia and Lady Gaga (appearing on the Deluxe Edition of Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’).
Could the next Skrillex be a Brit? Specifically, could the next Skrillex be Joshua Steel, from Northamptonshire? Flux Pavilion has already notched up a few career milestones – a nomination for the BBC’s Sound Of 2012 poll, a track (‘I Can't Stop’) used, bizarrely, on the trailer for that Kony 2012 campaign that went viral the other month. But it’s the figures that suggest his pummeling, anthemic dubstep is due to become a very mainstream concern – ‘I Can’t Stop’ having racked up a fairly impressive 18 million YouTube views at the time of writing.