Gabe’s holds fourth dubstep summit

BY LUKE VOELZ | JUNE 23, 2011 7:20 AM

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Alex Versackas wants people to look beyond the wobble-wobble.

The noise is a colloquial reference to the grinding, distorted bass sound heard in dubstep, a style of electronic dance music headling this Saturday’s Dubstep Summit at Gabe’s, 330 E. Washington St.

The event — featuring seven electronic musicians — will begin at 8 p.m. Admission is $10.

Versackas, a 25-year-old musician known as PharmDJ, said many electronica fans focus entirely on the genre’s distinctive bass sound while ignoring dubstep’s ability to easily blend with other styles of music.

“[Dubstep] started with London reggae turning electric,” he said. “And now you have hip-hop dubstep, metal dubstep … a few songs I’m going to play are definitely a wide variety of genres. What I like about [dubstep] is there are a lot of people producing it without doing it for no reason, and it’s nice to the see the eclectic tastes that come out of it.”

The Dubstep Summit, now in its fourth year, is part of what some disc jockeys say is a local renaissance in electronic dance music.

David Neal, part of DJ duo Beat Resonance, said this revival comes from electronic music’s growing presence in pop music.

“I would attribute that [popularity] to the next generation embracing electro and dubstep,” he said.

“There are a lot of groups that have pop appeal like LMFAO and David Guetta, creating this hop-hop and hip-house kind of sound. Because of that, it’s become acceptable in mainstream.”

Dubstep summit performer David Tuttle, known as DJTUTT, said the awareness stems from youth recognizing how easily electronic music can be made — often by just a single person on a single computer.

“The more people are hearing electronic dance music, the more they say, ‘He can do that all by himself — He used [music production software] Ableton at home to produce that? Wow, I could do that,’ ” Tuttle said. “It gives them that hope, whatever the motive is, and it’s not like a whole seven-piece band.”

Neal, known as DJ Nemo, said this growing popularity led many electronic-music fans to dubstep as the subgenre’s slower speed and catchy melodies are more accessible to casual fans. He compared the style to drum-and-bass, a faster form of electronic music with more complex melodies.

Dubstep is a slower, more mainstream appeal than its drum-and-bass counterpart, Neal said.

“With drum-and-bass, people feel you have to be on some kind of narcotic to like it, whereas dub appeals more to mainstream because of its slower, almost sensual beats on top of dirty bass,” Neal said. “I like to call it the soft porn of electronic music.”

Electronic musician Matt Rissi also compared dubstep’s accessibility to other forms of electronic music.

“Techno is like an acquired taste, almost like wine,” he said. “A lot of people can’t get into it cause they can’t get over the repetitive melodies and 4-4 beat. The way dubstep sounds, with its squealing leads and squelchy bass lines, makes it easier for someone with an untrained ear to latch onto it.”

Although techno remains Rissi’s favorite electronic subgenre, he said he’s glad to see dubstep’s surge in popularity.

“I embrace dubstep’s explosion wholeheartedly,” he said. “It’s bringing a bunch of new, open-minded nightlifers out to the dance floor.”

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