James Blake is a Dubstep Classist: The Problems with Modern Indiecentrism
For a while, I have been joking about the quest for a position called 'The Prince of Dubstep.' An ongoing battle for supremacy between artists like Skrillex, Deadmau5, Jamie xx, Burial, and James Blake, who are basically some of 'the most famous' dubsteppers in different realms of the genre. Usually, I would include James Blake in the conversation even though I always figured that his music 'wasn't really dubstep', but it was just funny that he considered to be a member of the genre. Always seemed more like a conceptual soft rocker to me. I figured it was just the indiesphere mislabeling something, just because labels are effective writing tools to appeal to ppl who don't really listen to music.
James Blake 'made indie shockwaves' yesterday in an interview with The Phoenix. He basically said that Americans ruined dubstep by taking it to inauthentic raver-bro markets.
The things that drew me to dubstep in the first place weren't necessarily the kind of testosterone-driven environments that you got from say, late jungle or some of the drum 'n' bass stuff that was happening after that. I think the dubstep that has come over to the US, and certain producers — who I can't even be bothered naming — have definitely hit upon a sort of frat-boy market where there's this macho-ism being reflected in the sounds and the way the music makes you feel. And to me, that is a million miles away from where dubstep started. It's a million miles away from the ethos of it. It's been influenced so much by electro and rave, into who can make the dirtiest, filthiest bass sound, almost like a pissing competition, and that's not really necessary. And I just think that largely that is not going to appeal to women. I find that whole side of things to be pretty frustrating, because that is a direct misrepresentation of the sound as far as I'm concerned.
James Blake dropped a massive, Anti-American bomb.
James Blake is above American dubstep.
James Blake hates Americans.
James Blake thinks dubstep can be lumped into the 'North American Scum'-wave demographic [via Deadmau5 being from Canada].
James Blake hates dubstreamers.
James Blake doesn't like his drop TOO dirty.
I am not really even very familiar with the genre of dubstep, and I am not a dubstep historian. I just remember there used to be some mysterious bro in a hoodie who every one creamed their pants over then dubstep became a bit more 'prevalent.' Like any genre other than chillwave, we argue about the history, influences, and try to project some sort of 'optimal trajectory' for the genre. Like we are some sort of watchdog and historical preservation society. However, there is something 'troubling' about James Blake's statement. I applaud him for 'saying something with balls', which is something that the majority of artists avoid ever doing and just 'try to sound cool and quirky' in interviews, but I feel like his statement perfectly embodies the white man's indiesphere's problem with dubstep.
Has the indiecentric mindset's rejection of Dubstep culture exposed the impending obsolescence of the indieblogosphere?
Indie is facing a harsh reality. Many of our most beloved indie bands have evolved into 'what they are going to be.' They will not take many risks in the future, and their lack of innovation is likely to leave us pretty disinterested in their product. There aren't that many great personalities in indie, and the way we perceive modern indie bands as 'artists' actually works against them. It feels like every modern indie band is expected to 'play by our rules', debuting their albums on boring NPR streams, existing to us in the context of familiar widgets and strategic brand alignments.
The newest 'buzzworthy' indie bands are just decent replicas of who they think they are supposed to be, replicating the same tactics of the old indie guard. Are you really that excited about the next Animal Collective album?
As we enter our alt-middle ages, we are at a crossroads. Do we want to go fall asleep at a Bon Iver or James Blake concert, or do we want to watch people who are younger than us have the same kind of fun that we used to have at a dubstep concert? Immersing yourself in dubmericana culture makes you wonder if the same joy and excitement that we once felt for music might have been just as impersonal and contrived.
What does the old guard white man's indiesphere even 'value' in the music that they honor as 'authentic'? Why has American dubstep been deemed as 'inauthentic'? Is it the people who enjoy the music? Has music tastemaking just become a classist exercise?
What are you afraid of, authentic indie blog? No longer 'being cool'? No longer controlling the ability to tastemake future generations? Become the same stale voices that we thought we had avoided becoming 5-10 years ago? Has indie 'peaked'?
James Blake claims that American dubstep is too crunchy, too wompwomp, too contrived, too bro-y, too testosterone-y, too ravey. It is 'just a pissing contest' 2 impress simpletons who are not 'students of dubstep.' Every genre of music eventually becomes a pissing contest. You can call it 'evolving' or 'the corruption of the genre.' You can call it 'attempting to make music that people enjoy/relate to', or you can call it 'manipulating the masses.' Ambition = Success = Marketing = Pissing.
I pee every day, competing for relevancy. My stream is long, thick. My prostate does not interfere with my ability to pee a consistent stream...yet.
It is also important to talk openly about the quick rise of dubstep DJ culture and the resentment and jealousy that it can inspire from buzzbands. Face it. You're an indie artist driving around Middle America in a van, and your best business model is taking handouts from megabrands. You're not going to make too much money this tour. The critics are on your ass. Some ass hole blog makes fun of you weekly. You wonder if 'being alt famous' is even worth it. Should you just get your master's degree and a decent job? Will you ever be the Arcade Fire? Do you even want that?
Then you see a popular DJ making more than you make in one night because they sold out a massive venue to people twirling glowsticks. You say the music sucks. You say their fans are less authentic than your fans. You say they have 'corrupted' something pure for the sake of money, success, fame & glamour. They see Deadmau5 headlining Coachella and wonder if the indie infrastructure could even get them there in a rewarding/fulfilling way. Maybe the jealousy isn't that simple, but it's a natural extension of human nature.
How did Skrillex reach Bono/Coldplay-level resentment levels so quickly?
I have more questions than answers.
Indie Buzzbands can question the talent & authenticity of dubsteppers. Dubsteppers can question the talent of indie buzzbands. Right now, the majority of 'genuine enthusiasm and excitement' is in the dubstep genre. Maybe it's 'youth', 'simpletons who just want to dance' or something else that James Blake hates.
Why is the indiesphere so afraid of American dubstep?
Are we in the middle of the Electro Vs. Indie War?
WTF is dubstep?
Do we really care abt the authentic preservation of genres, or is that an 'old timer's mindset'?
Why is the modern indie media resentful/negligent of these new markets when 'rap'/'hip hop' is deemed relevant/authentic/worth covering?
Did James Blake just 'bastardize' the sounds of Michael McDonald, Stevie Winwood, and Rick Astley?
Did James Blake 'speak the truth' or should he 'shut his goddamned pie hole'?
Should he be 'effing deported' from North America?
Why do we buzz the bands that we do?
Do indie blogs h8 any band that isn't created on their terms?
There was potentially a lot of truth to what James Blake said. But if you agree, maybe you should initiate a musicstential crisis relatively soon. As caught up as we can be in preserving the indieblog ideology on a day-to-day basis, the general conclusion that we always come to is, 'Let's not think about context. Let's think about how this music makes us feel.' Dubstep is making a lot of people feel something.
American Dubstep/ElectroRaveCore/Branded_House is here.
It is more popular than the Best-New-Music-wave bands.
What's so wrong with dubstream?
Is h8ing dubstep 'classist'?
Is indie already dead?
Have u been 2 a rave/dubstep concert? How did it make u feel?
Does the buzz drought just mean the indie model 'ate itself' and there is nothing left?
How obsolete is the once buzzworthy indie blogosphere?
Are indie music blogs just facilitators of sponsored experiences?