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Monday, 8 October 2012

Perth Drum and Bass / Jungle: Part 1 (MFI)

So around late 2011 or early 2012 was when I started, in conjunction with a good friend of mine, a Soundcloud group to represent local Drum and Bass. As the name suggests, this group is exclusive to up and coming or established producers, musicians, MC's and DJ's that hail from the Perth area involved with making Drum and Bass music.

You can find the group here and a preview of the content is below. If you're reading this and you are from Perth, please add your tracks.



Perth in particular has always been at the forefront of bass music (and particularly Drum and Bass) in Australia and even the whole Australasian region. Some of the artists that have come out the local scene who are now established producers and touring DJ's or MC's are:

Pendulum / Knife Party
Shockone
Phetsta
Rregula
Greg Packer & MC Assassin


There are also many, many others who have contributed to the music or the scene, but that remain less visible. Worth mentioning are a few up and coming producers who are just starting to get some attention. I'm thinking of guys like Ekko & Sidetrack, and Gran Calavera. It's actually quite interesting to contemplate why Perth, because it seems that bass music producers and DJ's from other cities in Australia on average haven't enjoyed the same level of success, with those exceptions who have in some cases being from Perth anyway, for example Droid Sector. That is of course notwithstanding the efforts of some, for example Nick Thayer who is from Melbourne and has no association with Perth. Other people have commented on This exact trend as well, with Dom Alessio's article on Triple J's Home and Hosed blog here mentioning it in a bit of detail.

Perhaps the best explanation that i've heard for this is that starting in the late 1990s, a group of promoters and DJ's headed by Dan Lucas who were using the name Mad For It (usually abbreviated to just MFI) put on all ages events that were more or less purely Drum and Bass, to the exclusion of other genres. By the time they stopped putting on events in mid 2003, a whole generation of kids had grown up listening to Drum and Bass and carried their musical preference with them into nightclubs and other places. This demand for Drum and Bass created opportunities for many DJ's and inspired lots of people to get into DJing themselves, as well as production, promotion, radio or any other way of pushing their vision of the music, with a few even having started bass music record labels. In short, Drum and Bass became more visible in Perth because of the head start that MFI events gave us. Other cities perhaps didn't have events like these, or else all ages events focused on other types of music meaning that there was no focal point for kids who were interested in Drum and Bass, and no way for kids going to all ages events to be exposed to this type of music resulting in other genres taking hold. For example it's generally accepted that Melbourne is the home of Hip Hop in Australia, as far as i'm aware.

Undoubtedly it's not really as simple as this, and there's a multitude of factors at hand with other players in the scene have also having played a large part. For example Teknoscape, which is an online resource for all types of EDM artists and promoters (including those involved with bass music) has certainly been instrumental. This site has been active since very early on in the scene's history (1996) and continues to be another focal point for those interested in Drum and Bass. Teknoscape allows people to discuss music or related topics in between events today in much the same way as people did on the site ten years ago, when MFI was around. It even predates MFI if I am not mistaken. You can find the site here. Another thing that i've heard people citing as a possible reason for Perth's love of Drum and Bass is simply the high proportion of British migrants who live here in contrast to a place like Sydney which is often referred to as more multicultural. As of course Drum and Bass originated in the UK, this would have forged a close connection to what was going on musically between Perth and places like London, Bristol or Birmingham (to name a few) where migrants were coming from.

While it might be fair to say that the heydey of the Drum and Bass scene has passed since the generation of kids who attended MFI events moves on, the scene remains strong and a renewed interest in Drum and Bass and a consequent interest in other forms of bass music is coming from a new generation of kids who have been exposed through the music's visibility in Perth. A good indicator of this is how established bass music producers and DJ's pretty much without exception come to Perth when they are touring Australia, even if they skip other capital cities.

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