Exclusive Interview: Mary Anne Hobbs

mary anne hobbs

Have you ever wished you could somehow be a part of a movement that would revolutionize the world of music? How many times have you caught yourself listening to the Beatles, wondering what it would have been like to be listening to those very same sounds back in the early 60’s, when the entire genre of rock as we know it was essentially being pioneered? Well, while I haven’t yet found a reasonable way to bring these time transcending dreams to fruition, what I can tell you is that interviewing Mary Anne Hobbs, queen of dubstep, brought out a feeling in me that I can only imagine would be the very same I would have gotten interviewing those four, had I been born a few decades earlier.

mah

If you don’t know her, she is the…, you need to…, you deserve a…, I should…, you are awful.

Kidding. For those of you feeling a little left out, Mary Anne Hobbs is one of the Beatles of dubstep, and essentially one of the most significant reasons that the genre has made it out to the ears (and also the chests, feet, and perhaps even the nostrils) of the world today. She is among the first to have picked up on the genre, and thanks to her having debuted the Dubstep Warz series on Radio One in 2006 (Did I mention she’s been a Radio 1 dj for over fifteen years?), the world is now in love with what might otherwise have never left its cozy home in Bristol. Long story short, this is an interview worth reading.

 

Interview With Mary Anne Hobbs

UhOhDisco: You’ve been affiliated with Radio 1 for quite some time now. What kind of music were you into before dubstep emerged?

Hobbs: Genre is not important to me at all.. i’ve always loved unique and elemental music of every type.

UhOhDisco: These days it’s easy to see how people can migrate to the world of dubstep so easily; The surge in the popularity of dance music and “electro”over the last few years has made the transition a no brainer, but the music world was a different place back in 2006 when you started the Dub Warz series. Can you think of anything in particular that caused you to make the leap?

Hobbs: I responded to dubstep in the same way as John Peel responded to punk.. i was so overwhelmed by the sound that it changed the trajectory of my life and my BBC Radio1 show.. i didn’t abandon the other forms of music that i love at all, but i did become a global evangelist for dubstep.

UhOhDisco: Were there any artists that were particularly influential to you at that time?

Hobbs: Loefah, Vex’d, Pinch and Digital Mystikz.

UhOhDisco: Considering the world of dubstep and a lot of electronic music in general has come to be known as one dominated by men, what is it like being a woman in the midst of it all?

Hobbs: Quite wonderful.. some my very best friends in this industry are men and i get nothing but love, support and respect from them.

UhOhDisco: You’ve been called the sort of “maternal figure” of the dubstep world. Would you agree?

Hobbs: I’m nobody’s mother.. what i do, is nurture a lot of young gifted producers that i love and really believe in.

UhOhDisco: A lot of people seem to think that dubstep won’t be able to last as a form of dance music because it appeals more to men than to women. Any thoughts?

Hobbs: If you can’t see the women you’re looking in all the wrong places. Vaccine, Kito, Subeena, Cooly G, Ikonika are making some of the freshest and most challenging music in the world right now.

UhOhDisco: The last show I went to I saw 12th Planet and ToddlaT, and during both of their sets, a good number of people started moshing… in a club. I had never seen this before. Do you think moshing is an appropriate response to dance music?

Hobbs: Dancing is freedom of expression… there’s no reason to censor it.

UhOhDisco: Is dubstep a wave you can see yourself riding out indefinitely, or are you already looking for the next big thing in music?

Hobbs: Electronic music moves forwards in thousands of scattered steps every day.. my mission is all about progression.

UhOhDisco: Do you notice a big difference in the way people react to music in America as opposed to England, or even Europe in general?

Hobbs: There’s always something very special about playing in America.. it feels like you are in The Beatles.. there’s such a hunger for fresh British sound.. my first tour here in September was one of the greatest experiences of my life.. you can see my diaries at http://www.xlr8r.com.

UhOhDisco: How do you feel about people like Rusko, who’ve taken dubstep in a poppier direction by working with more melodies and vocals?

Hobbs: Good luck to him.. every artist should be the master of his own destiny.

UhOhDisco: What’s your favorite tune at the moment?

Hobbs: Joy Orbison – ‘J. Doe’/’BRKLN CLLN’ (Doldrums)

UhOhDisco: Is there a track that you can’t do a set without?

Hobbs: Something by Jakes.

UhOhDisco: Tell us something we probably don’t know about you.

Hobbs: I can’t walk more than 10 paces in high heels.

Special thanks to Scion’s Houseparty events and my dear friend Whitney for making this interview possible.

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Joker – 3k Lane

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Caspa – The Takeover feat. Dynamite MC (Original Mix)

The List: Nine People We Hate at Dance Parties

Every genre of music has an ideal listening environment. Classical is best heard at a smyphony. Arena rock should be heard at, well, at a large arena. Electronic music? Nothing beats a dance party. But whether you’re a club person, a bar junkie or a house party lover, you’ve probably encountered a lot of obnoxious people during your nights out. Below are nine of the people we hate most in no particular order.

Got any good ideas for future lists you’d like to see? Send them over.

 

Let's Party Splash

1:  The guy who takes his shirt off

Surprise! It gets hot on a crowded dance floor. People are dancing and sweating and bumping into one another. You’re probably going to be uncomfortably hot. But when did it become acceptable for a guy to remove clothing? It’s fine to take off your shirt if there’s a chance you might go swimming. Nothing wrong with getting a head start at the beach or at a pool party. But if you’re indoors and just want to “cool off” a little bit? Too bad. Keep your shirt on. Please.

Even worse is that this trend has a tendency to spread. If one guy takes his shirt off, the rest of the dance floor takes it as a green light to follow suit. Soon, there’s a whole group of dudes waving their shirts around above their heads. They also tend to be the guys who spend a little too much time at the gym. Sure, you work out and have a six-pack. Show it off somewhere else. And I’m not just saying this as a guy. Girls don’t like it either, despite what you might think.

 

2:  The guy who keeps asking for a cigarette

Nope, I didn’t have one an hour ago when you asked me the first time. I still don’t have one. Either buy a pack or quit. Just please stop asking everybody. Warning: this person is almost always one of those I-only-smoke-when-I’m-drunk guys.

Crowded party 

3:  The guy who wants to mosh

All the punk-rockers-turned-electronic-musicians were a breath of fresh air for the music scene. Unfortunately, those artists brought their fans with them. And those fans brought their “dancing” style. Nothing’s more annoying than a group of people on a dance floor suddenly forming a circle to push each other around and throw wild punches.

The only nice thing about a moshpit is that it’s unsustainable. Sometimes the moshers hurt each other and have to stop after an injury. Usually, they just get obnoxiously drunk before eleven and run out of energy sometime around 1AM. Keep the party going long enough and the moshpit will self-destruct. Always. Call it the fundamental law of moshing.

 

4:  The guy who keeps talking about how wasted he is

We get it. You’re drunk. You like being drunk and you want everyone to know that you’re totally out-of-your-mind smashed. But stop telling us how much alcohol is in your system. Chances are, we’re drunk, too. And even if you’re on your thirtieth shot of hard liquor, we’re still not impressed.

 

5:  The guy who freaks out when anyone gets within ten feet of his girlfriend

These guys are annoying all the time, but they’re especially bad at parties. I don’t know why you came to this party. You’re not drinking. You’re not dancing. You’re not even talking to anyone. If anyone gets near your girl, you totally snap into a possessive, controlling anger freak. This “tough guy” (TG) usually has conversations that go like this:

Me: “Hey Sarah. What’d you think of the calculus test?”
TG: (interrupting) “What the fuck did you just say to her?”
Me: “Uhh, I was asking about Wednesday’s midterm.”
TG: “You know that’s my girl, right? Step off.”

If your girlfriend drags you to a party, at least do your best to act like you’re having fun. And don’t be surprised if she gets hit on. It’s a party.

Party Animal

6:  The guy who’s a little too old to be here

This one only really just applies to college parties. Once you graduate, any age is fair game. But when you’re an undergrad, even thirty-year-olds seem ancient. It’s awkward for everyone when the didn’t-you-graduate-like-ten-years-ago? crew shows up at a frat house. Or when last year’s graduating class comes into town and thinks they still run the school. If you’re not in college, you shouldn’t be at a college party.

 

7:  The beer snob

No, the keg isn’t filled with imported beer. That vodka you’re drinking? It probably came from a plastic bottle. What were you expecting? There’s a hundred people at this party and the hosts wanted to throw down without going broke. Stop talking about how you’d rather have an expensive bottled IPA instead of Pabst Blue Ribbon. And here’s a steadfast party rule: if the beer’s free, you’re not allowed to complain about it.

 DJ cartoon-style

8:  The guy who keeps giving the DJ advice

The DJ knows what he’s doing. Stop standing behind him and staring at his Serato Screen like you’re completely entranced. Stop giving him requests. Stop asking him what he’s going to play next. He doesn’t like it and just can’t think of a polite way to tell you to leave. These wannabe-hanger-on-DJs are also usually members of the I’m-too-cool-to-dance crowd, who cover their shyness by pretending to be deeply engrossed in the DJ setup. If there’s not DJ at the party, look out for his close relative: the I’m-going-to-stand-by-the-iPod-all-night guy.

 

9:  The guy trying to have an “intellectual” conversation.

I’ve got opinions on controversial issues, too. Abortion, health care, religion, politics. But these topics have no place at a party. I came to dance and enjoy the music, not debate the merits of capitalism. It’s hard enough to have a conversation over a thumping beat. Either don’t say anything or keep the conversation simple.

The only thing more annoying is that one guy who thinks he’s being deep while he’s actually just spouting out incoherent drunk-talk. You know the ones I’m talking about: it’s three in the morning, he’s hammered, and he thinks he’s finally figured it all out. He uses phrases like “it all makes sense now” and “I can’t believe I never realized that before.” His solution to a big problem is usually some variation of the phrase “everybody should just chill out.” Nope, you didn’t just figure out how to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You just forgot how much you drank and thought you were making sense.

 

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N.A.S.A. – N.A.S.A. Music (LA Riots Remix)

Free Tickets: Rusko in Los Angeles this Friday

It’s getting to be that time of the week again. The tenseness of the coming weekend’s ambiguity is again upon us, and at this point, rather than focus on our jobs/schoolwork and what-have-you, our minds become preoccupied with scrambling to have something to do once Friday night finally arrives. Since I’m entirely aware of the massive amounts of trouble and (if I might phrase this so) anti-massive amounts of productivity this scramble leads to, I’ve decided that in the spirit of happiness, I’m going to take the high road this weekend, and point my fellow Angelinos in the right direction: Control.

Free Tickets

Rusko

Should you happen to be one of the lucky first to view this post (and don’t ever doubt that you might very well be), you need only to follow two simple steps to score yourself a pair of free tickets to see Rusko at Control in Los Angeles this coming Friday. All you need to do is:

  1. Become a fan of UhOhDisco on Facebook
  2. Mention @UhOhDisco in a twitter post, along with your email address

That’s it that’s all, and you’re on your way to the Avalon to be scooped up and away by the strong arm of the bass. So make your move, or you just might show up to work on Monday and find out that you’re now the only one lacking a wonky wonky mohawk.

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Leon Jean Marie – Bring It On (Rusko Remix)

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Rusko – Hammertime

Picking That Bone: Episode 1 of ∞

I know I normally write about music itself, and I promise I will get right back to it in the subsequent days, but at this particular point in time, I’m feeling extremely compelled to offer a word of advice (in my own humble opinion) in the first of a series I’m going to call Picking That Bone. Obviously, seeing as I am just one man, your angry disagreements are inevitable, and are thusly welcomed.

“Bangers”

bangers and mash

I beg of you, the fun-loving people of the world, please discontinue your use of the word “banger,” for it has grown to encompass all that is wrong in the world of disco. I suppose a little history might be required in order to explain. Let us jump back a couple years… to 2006.

You might remember this special little time in dance music history, for it is the year that two very important events took place. First, Daft Punk brought their music to the Coachella music festival, which prompted nearly half of the United States to reconsider their position on electronic music, and second, Justice broke into the now buzzing scene, and convinced everyone else (essentially the kids that used to hang out on street corners wearing combat boots and Misfits patches) that “Woah! You can distort a synthesizer!? That’s kinda like punk, so we should definitely not hate on electronic music anymore.” And thus the new wave of dance musicians and Ed Banger minions came to be.

So where did the term “banger” come from? Well that’s easy: It came from the ex-metal-heads who wanted to like dance music but could not yet bring themselves to admit that that’s what it was. And I don’t blame them. They were all fresh out of high school at the time. Their newfound freedom had not yet kicked in, and their desire to feel wild and out of control was still burning strong. They didn’t want to make “disco.” They wanted to make metal on a computer, but since a name for that hadn’t quite been coined, the word “banger” came to be. And hey, I’m fine with that. If the music is being made, it needs a name, and far be it for me to say whether a name can or can’t be used. That’s not what bugs me. This is what bugs me:

The word banger, since 2006, has essentially become a meaningless slur, and yet an onslaught of newcomers continually insist on ramming it through our heads, again and again. In running this blog, I get about 50 emails each day from artists looking to promote their tracks, and almost 50% of those emails starts out with something along the lines of “I just finished this new banger for you.” For all those people, please, heed this warning:

  1. Calling your track a banger, when really all it is is the result of a couple hours of you sitting in front of your computer trying and failing to imitate the Bloody Beetroots synth sound, is not going to get you anywhere. We know you like distortion and angry sounds, but please, be original.
  2. Calling your track a banger clues all us bloggers in to the fact that you’ve only just made the transition from your metal band into dance music, and that you are completely oblivious to the workings of the scene.
  3. Calling your track a banger gives us the impression that you’re making this music on a whim, and that there’s a good chance you only downloaded Reason yesterday. It also implies that you’re only making music with hopes that you’re going to somehow become massively famous without even trying.
  4. If you must use the word, learn to use the word right. You may not, under any circumstances, call your track a banger if it sucks. The word banger (at least back when it was a healthy word) is supposed to refer to a tune that’s filled with so much energy and excitement that it can make a crowd…well, bang. If you make music that doesn’t have any of those qualities, don’t tell people it does! It’s one thing to be an amateur producer, but it is absolutely not okay to lie about it.

So that’s my qualm with the word. If I could, I would seek to have it eradicated from the English language, but since that isn’t too feasible, let me leave you with this:

The word “banger” is dead, and if you want to be taken seriously, do not use it. Ever.

A Couple Tunes

As you likely didn’t come here just to read my pointless slobber, here’s a couple tunes that have really taken the scene by storm. The A-Trak remix is this year’s equivalent of what Pilotpriest‘s Love Lockdown remix was last year. Needless to say, it’ll have you on your knees. And if you’re the DJ, make sure you’re comfortable with being touched by strangers before you consider spinning it.

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The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s – Heads Will Roll (A-Trak Remix) (Club Edit)

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The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s – Soft Shock (Them Jeans Acoustic Remix)

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Fischerspooner – Supply Demand (AutoErotique Remix)

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Little Boots – Earthquake (Treasure Fingers’ Epicwave mix)

Two-Headed Monster

Two-headed mutant cartoon

Good things come in pairs: Penn & Teller. Watson & Crick. Peanut Butter & Jelly. It’s true for electronic music, too. Look at all the popular groups with two people: Ratatat, The Bloody Beetroots, MSTRKRFT, Crookers, Justice, Simian Mobile Disco. And there’s a lot more than that. I could name dozens of popular solo artists, too. But try naming a trio that puts out electronic music. Hard, right? And by the time you get up to a quartet then the group is officially a “band,” complete with a drum set, instruments, a singer. Why are there so many pairs making electronic music?

I think duos arise as a matter of pragmatism more than anything else, the result of the equipment being used. Four turntables is possible. But six? That’s too many. Most groups only use two anyway. And have you ever tried to get three people to squeeze around a computer screen? It’s not fun. Besides, DJ booths should be as small as possible to make room for dancing. There are definitely bands with an electronic feel to them. But it’s not the same as the musicians who make club-oriented songs.

A band can have three or more people making music together because they need a larger number of people to play instruments. But it only takes one or two people to push a crossfader, add another a loop or adjust the tempo. A guitarist needs a bassist, a singer, a drummer. A DJ needs, well, he only needs one more person to work the same stuff. Electronic groups don’t pick a number of members between three and eight the way “traditional” bands do. They decide between one and two. More than that makes the stage– and the music– cluttered. The number of people simply depends on the equipment the group wants to use. If it’s turntables and a mixer, two people is more than enough. If it’s a more complicated setup, the band needs more members.

 

The Postal Service

The Postal Service

Remember when these guys were everyone’s favorite music group? Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and producer Jimmy Tamborello were one of the first duos to successfully give pop an electronic sound. Smooth. Catchy. Something you could listen to over and over. Their only album, Give Up, united everyone from pre-teens to indie snobs under it’s hypnotic spell of beeps, bells and washed-out drum kits. It even hovered under the radar long enough to give its listeners a sliver of street cred. (For a while, at least, until Postal Service songs started to show up in car commercials.) I can’t think of anyone who dislikes this duo. I wish Gibbard and Tamborello were still making music together. Since they’re not, let’s listen to some old stuff and pretend it’s still 2003.

 

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The Postal Service – Clark Gable

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The Postal Service – We Will Become Silhouettes

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The Postal Service – Be Still My Heart