Monday, August 10, 2009


The Guardian, Friday 12 June 2009

Dubstep and grime, the two wayward children of UK garage, have grown up. Dubstep is the globetrotting student, stamping its imprint everywhere from Chile to Australia, hanging out with Snoop Dogg in LA and at warehouse parties in eastern Europe. Grime, always the more promising child, has developed a split personality: sometimes phenomenally popular and happy-go-lucky (as with Tinchy Stryder, Wiley and Dizzee Rascal's electro-pop chart successes), but the rest of the time moody, introverted and defiantly self-sufficient. All that unites these estranged siblings now is their DNA. They come from the same place - the estates and pirate radio stations of London - and you can still see some family resemblance in their heavy basslines and their beats per minute, always around 140. But, if not exactly estranged, they are no longer close.

More importantly, what both dubstep and grime lack is the thing most prized in British dance music: novelty. In the streets and clubs, there is always talk of who's "pushing things forward", who's "going on differently". With the sounds of dubstep and grime firmly established, the search for the next big thing has turned once again to Bristol, the launching ground for the likes of Roni Size and his crew Reprazent, Tricky, Portishead, Massive Attack and more.

Today, three of the brightest hopes of the new Bristol sound are sitting in a beer garden, humming Sonic the Hedgehog and Street Fighter game themes, and downing cranberry sambucas. This is not how one imagines the future of British dance music. The three are 21-year-old Guy "Guido" Middleton, 23-year-old Jemal "Gemmy" Philips, and a third man, 20 years old, who leans in and gives his full name slowly and carefully to the dictaphone as "Joker ... Joker".


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