Dubstep is not sunny music. It's murky, bleak, and isolated—the soundtrack to walking through London's cold, drenched city streets. Northwest winters mimic those gray conditions, which may be why the genre has been so quickly adopted as part of the region's nightlife landscape. Now labels like Rottun Recordings are sending their own creations back across the pond, adding some stateside influence into what has largely been a Brit-centric sound.
Rottun Recordings is the year-old label of Kelowna, BC's DJ Excision. Taking the DIY approach, Excision started producing because he was unable to find anything that matched the "flawless" sound design and production of Vex'd's Degenerate. That dubstep landmark was his gateway album from drum and bass, a record that hinted at the sonic diversity possible within the new genre.
"There are guys out there taking the bass sounds of DnB and combining them with gangster hiphop beats," Excision says of dubstep producers. "Then there are others using a happy-sounding wobble bass paired with fast garage beats. The ability to go from grinding half-time beats to bouncy double-time rhythms is a producer and DJ's dream come true."
Excision started Rottun Recordings partially as an outlet for his own productions, which were well received but described as "too grimy and hard" for many of the labels he was courting. He found other artists running into similar issues worldwide, making the label a logical business move. Ironically, Excision didn't run into the same difficulty finding distribution, hooking up with the UK's Nu Urban Music after merely sending them a few tracks and a copy of his business plan.
"A lot of the producers stateside are making a grimier type of dubstep than Europe," Excision says. "On that side of the pond, wobble is really popular; it's like what jump-up is for drum and bass with a lot of cheesy sounds. We just don't have that over here very much."
Excision's internet mixes have brought praise for both his productions and his label, and Rottun's first release (Excision's "No Escape") has effectively sold out, revealing the market for his take on the genre.
"Our focus on the darker side is starting to get more people hooked on the sound. People who may have previously thought of it as simple, slow, and boring are starting to realize that there is more than one kind of dubstep."
Excision headlines Shift's Rottun Recordings Night on Fri Jan 25 at Contour, 10 pm–2 am, $5 before midnight, 21+.
Also: January 25 kicks off Foscil's six-month residency at Belltown urban contemporary art gallery BLVD.
And: The Knight Riders party at Hengst Studios I wrote about last month was moved to Friday, January 25, right after the listing went to print. The extra time gave the promoters the opportunity to up the ante by bringing in KITT, the car from Knight Rider, taking the party beyond awesome into the realm of the ridiculous—don't miss it.
This article has been updated since its original publication.