Culturally and musically, dubstep’s character is shaped by a strange existential crisis. Like any middle schooler in search of personal identity, the genre underwent an awkward adolescence. It fractured into cliques: whether or not you subscribe to subgenre controversy, the distinctions between “brostep” and “riddim” and “real” dubstep are at least vaguely familiar. An “us vs. them” mentality distinguishes sound system culture from mainstream norms; its adoption within the dubstep community itself is ever apparent in Twitter beef, DJ drama, and sound system politics. There’s a rampant obsession over the things that drive music fans apart – dramatically speaking, a battle raging over ownership of dubstep’s identity. Still, there’s a reason why its soldiers fight on the same field. With a focus on the music that brings people together, The Others oversees this common ground.
The Others is a master of the sinister vibe that differentiates dubstep from other styles of dance music. The insidious undercurrent pulsing through tunes like “Voyager” characterizes the genre’s creepy tradition, as well as the people who are drawn to it. But the artist – who, contrary to grammatical sensibilities, is a single individual – also boasts one of the most diverse and extensive catalogues that bass music has to offer. The Others is the most-released artist on the Dub Police roster, and he’s best known for his status as a staple of the iconic label. Dubstep’s fractured identity can be traced back to the inception of the Dub Police sound, which The Others created alongside figureheads like Caspa and Rusko. Nothing about the wonky, aggressive style is inherently commercial. The sound pioneered by the collective was simply commandeered when enough people recognized it as good.
The Others’ productions straddle aesthetic boundaries and genre conventions in a way that’s less “risk-taking” than genuine musical expression. He boasts collaborations with artists from all sides of the bass music matrix: from J:Kenzo and N-Type, to Joker, to labelmates like Emalkay and Caspa. There’s no religious adherence to the 140 template, either – The Others devotes entire releases to house and other styles. His sound fluctuates from minimalist to massive, catchy and danceable to decidedly underground. But regardless of tempo or appeal, all of The Others tunes remain firmly anchored to the intoxicating subfrequences that give bass music its magic.
According to a canon of tired old academics, humans, as social animals, derive our personal identities as much from who we’re not as from who we think we are. What it means to be “us” is relative to what it means to be “them” . Sociologists appointed a term for the undefined, amorphous, all-encompassing “them”: the other. It may seem strange, that the singular entity known as The Others chose to retain plurality for his individual musical personality. But, given his inclusive, uniformly nonconforming repertoire, the alias makes sense. Music subcultures are known as havens for all sorts of outcasts – dubstep is no exception. Amidst the pseudo-cultural battle over the genre’s identity, ultimately it is the music that brings the weirdo fans of all brands of bass music together. It’s the subfrequent trance we fall into, on the dance floor that’s home to “the others”.
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