When American dance music runs low on ideas, it often seems to appropriate the latest British craze. At the moment, that is dubstep.
Morphing from the 2-step and drum-n-bass genres, the tough drum patterns and syncopated basslines of dubstep make its appeal universal. The American translation of this very British sound, however, is a whole other entity.
Dubstep has moved up the American ranks quicker than other, though decidedly underground, offshoots of dance music. Ensconced in the main room and/or main stage at large parties and raves, the dubstep headliner often shares equal billing with the trance and house headliners. Think of it as similar to hip hop, but with no rapper and even more bass.
For L.A.’s Reid Speed, who originally came to the public’s attention through drum-n-bass, dubstep is not only more palatable to audiences, but it’s also a more accepting culture than the insular drum-n-bass world. And now, Play Me Records, which she founded in 2009, holds the position of top American dubstep label on Beatport. Its offshoot imprint, Play Me Too, has just released a compilation of up-and-coming producers from around the globe called Play Me Too Presents The New Blood Of Dubstep.
“I started the label after a series of musical projects I put a lot of energy into didn’t go anywhere,” says the transplanted New Yorker. “I wanted to do something where I was in control. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s picking tunes. I could put what I was good at to use without needing anyone else.”
Originally, Play Me was set up to mimic Speed’s multi-genre DJ sets, which incorporate drum-n-bass, electro-house, and dubstep—anything with a lot of bass in it. The imprint veered towards dubstep, she says, because Beatport prefers single-genre labels, the timing was right, and it had the most appealing bass component.