Bassweight is perhaps the first feature-length dubstep documentary giving a behind the scenes look at the burgeoning music scene; both domestically and abroad. Don’t Panic had a chat with the makers of the film, producer Ryo Sanada and director Suridh Hassan, to get their views on making the film.
Why make a film about Dubstep?
Suridh Hassan: Personally, because I was a fan of the sound that was emerging and wanted to contribute to the scene in my own way!
Ryo Sanada: Same here. It also had the whole spectrum in a compact scene, the producers, cutting dubs, the radio, the nights, the promoters.
Can you outline the points that make Dubstep different from other Electronica music say for example Drum and Bass, Garage, or Funky House?
SH: It’s a different music and one that evolved and spread with a different mentality
RS: Well it sounds different for a start. But I think Dubstep was a music which developed in a unique way. With the aid of the internet it was one of the first dance music genres to experience such rapid underground spread internationally and more importantly, participation.
Did you ever think that Dubstep would achieve such international recognition (having originated in Croydon)?
SH: We weren't there while Skream [www.myspace.com/skreamuk] and Benga were doing tunes getting hyped, nor chilling in the Big Apple shop, so you'd have to ask them how they were feeling at the time. For me, it was clear though that this sound had some great appeal and it clicked with people.
RS: I am not a pioneer of the dubstep scene and I was not there right at the beginning so I can't really comment on that. But I thought it was special when I first heard it.
Dubstep is relatively new music genre, where do you see it going in the future?
RS: I think it's already in the future. The sound has been, and will continue to keep changing. It's already changed so much since the sound emerged. I think it has already diversified so much that you can no longer just pigeonhole it all as dubstep.
SH: It changes and always will change, for me that’s the beauty – music forms will change and evolve however they are labeled. For a lot of people it’s always gonna be about the 'what d'you call it moment'.
How did you get so many established DJ’s and producers, such as Kode 9, Skream, Boomnoise and the Bug involved in the documentary?
RS: By spamming them on Myspace!!
SH: And getting any mates in the scene to help us.
The rave scenes in the documentary show the crowds as pretty chilled out revelers. How much of this is true?
SH: It depends on who's playing, what time it is, where it is. Loads of factors.
Though Dubstep is initially a UK trend, do you think other countries are given the UK a run for their money in this field? From the documentary Amsterdam and Denmark seem to be doing a pretty good job.
SH: It’s been embraced all over – check Goth-trad from Japan, Tes Le Rok from Finland, guys from the USA – people have been making serious tunes from all over.
RS: Yes one of the more interesting aspects of making the film was looking at the international spread of the music. While the music did start in the UK, producers and promoters from other countries were surprisingly quick to catch on and establish a scene in their own countries. There are some really exciting producers around the world for sure and it can only be a good thing.
Dubstep can depretty dark music to listen to. Can you explain this further?
SH: People make dark tunes, people make bangers. From the tunes I loved they always had an edge but people have their own styles.
Bassweight is unique in that it is a music documentary that looks to the future more than it looks to the past. How did you all come by this method of documenting?
SH: We just had to go out and catch the vibe which we did a lot before deciding to do the film. Once doing that we felt there was a strong community with safe personalities and some little stories – so it’s not just interviews, we could try and go on a little journey with some of the people around.
RS: We started by going to enjoy nights like DMZ and FWD. There was a real buzz about it all and as we run a production company it seemed like the natural thing to do for us at the time. It might seem like the film is looking to the future but if you ask anyone in the scene they will tell you how old the footage is!
It has been said that the genre was at one point going to be called Raggage. How far do you think Dubstep would have gone with such a silly name?
RS: Well Skream didn't seem too keen on that name! As long as it sounds good I don't think it really matters what it's called. Unless it's called Raggage.
SH: Who knows?
With Dubstep getting played on BBC Radio 1, 6music and Kiss by people such as Steve Lamaq and Mary Anne Hobbs, is there any need for pirate Radio stations?
SH: I do think online radio shows have curbed the need to do pirate stations, but there are always gonna be those out there who feed off the energy of sorting out a pirate and there's still a lot of life left in them for sure!
RS: I still love the preparation and effort that goes into hosting a pirate radio show. It might not be as hardcore as in the past, as now it's possible to host shows online legally, but I think it's very important that producers have their own method to broadcast their music rather than relying on established stations.
In what ways can Dubstep affect someone in a positive way?
RS: I think Kode9 said that extreme sub-bass has an effect of either dispersing or bringing people together. I think I know which one Dubstep is.
SH: I used to treat nights like therapy – get in, eyes down and just skank out for hours. That’s what FWD and DMZ did for me kept me sane!
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