The Changing Times of Drum & Bass
Theres been quite a backlash on facebook about frictions new release; Led Astray, infact there are no positive comments at all, neutral ones at best.
Here’s the video before I continue:
On the back of the release of this new single I’d like to stop and collect, and share my thoughts on the changing times of dnb, with a focus on Shogun Audio.
Shogun seems to be changing, slowly. There’s more and more dancefloor/jump-up sounding releases on the label these days. This trend is becoming more evident as it comes closer to the time for Friction to replace Fabio and Grooverider on Radio One.
I realise there is quite a large bridge between the different styles of music under the Drum & Bass umbrella. Shogun has traditionally put out deep releases more suited to underground tastes, this is where the majority, if not the entirety of its current fan base lies. I don’t blame them for voicing their opinion loudly, and I don’t blame Friction for wanting to diversify and bring in new fans of the label. I don’t think it will be at the expense of the label either, there’s plenty of room for all of it, it just means I buy less records from them, but hey ho.
I do wonder though, if the current changing sound of commercial dnb towards the sound of commercial dubstep (coined as Drumstep), is actually a valid endeavour at all? Is there as much money in it as people keep on saying? Is it even as popular as it’s made out to be?
I see lots of local nights going on in the Midlands. Derby and Nottingham are all I have to go on really, but I like to think there’s a good spread here. So excuse me if I’m maybe slightly naive on this matter.
Most local nights I try out that are on a Jump-up/Drumstep tip are struggling to pull the numbers. On the flip side of the scene, the underground sounds still have a huge following, both young and mature, to the point where I’m surprised at the turnout!
So what’s going on?
Is it literally just the midlands, UK where this happens? I must be missing the bigger picture.
Heres a few youtube stats that could balance the argument, these numbers are taken from the UKF dnb channel where possible.
Before you start bitching about youtube stats, fuck you, be constructive. Are there any better means of gauging this? Im not a music reporter, I’m an interested individual with no industry ties to any of these tracks whatsoever.
Friction – Led Astray – 65,887 Views
Friction – Someone – 272,180 Views
DJ Fresh – Hot Right Now – 3,239,994 Views
Chase & status – Blind Faith – 457,337 Views
Delta Heavy – Overkill – 229,129 Views
Dub Physics – Marka – 565,296 Views
Enei – Obsession – 129,343 Views
Heavy1 – Xiphactinus (Lenzman Remix) – 230,758 Views
Icicle – Dreadnaught – 352,608
To be fair, UKF has a broad reach, anything posted on there seems to have a much greater play rate than any other upload. It’s pretty obvious from these numbers that the radio one playlist tracks have a shit load of plays. DJ Fresh smashes all other numbers to bits! (I think I hate that song a little bit more than I already did now, heh)
I am quite surprised by the number of plays of the more underground sounds though, they most certainly hold up against the rest of the pack.
What does this prove? UKF has about 300,000 subscribers. Lol.
Aside from that I think it proves there is popular demand for commercial dnb/dubstep/brostep, and I think Friction is justified in taking the label into this realm, especially as he will be presenting this to the public on radio 1. The ‘Drumstep’ sound is a natural progression from dubstep and sits well with it, maybe not so well against traditional dnb though.
But it also shows that there is still high demand for deeper, underground sounds. I know for a fact the underground heads will still be making music and still be attending raves long after this fad dies a death.
Hopefully it’ll draw more numbers to the smaller nights as a generation of youngsters grow tired of cloned sounds and want something more diverse. It will certainly push dnb into a new era, whether I like it or not. Maybe it will show the masses that dnb is a truly diverse genre with all aspects worthy of praise and recognition, much like house music is today.
Only time will tell.