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Sound Advice

BBC Radio DJ Mary Anne Hobbs speaks on the next wave of electronic music.

Mary Anne Hobbs

Mary Anne Hobbs

Photo By SHAUN BLOODWORTH

Appeared In
Special Issue
WWD Music issue 09/04/2008
BBC Radio DJ Mary Anne Hobbs speaks on the next wave of electronic music.

You've got to love the contrast. Dubstep is a dark, brooding new form of electronic music with an emphasis on sparse rhythms and bone-shuddering bass — and blonde, model-pretty Mary Anne Hobbs, a BBC Radio 1 personality, is arguably one of its most potent and passionate champions. Her weekly shows and superb compilation albums — the latest, “Evangeline,” is out on Planet Mu — are always at the cutting edge of experimental sounds. Here she muses on dubstep’s so-far male-dominated scene, its fashion statements and what to listen for next.

WWD: When and where did you first dip a toe into dubstep, and what was your reaction: love at first listen, or an acquired taste?
Mary Anne Hobbs: It was 2005. I’d had mixes from Vex’d and Digital Mystikz on my BBC Radio 1 show. But when I first walked though the doors of the dubstep mecca DMZ [a club night in Brixton, London] and I experienced the sound in its proper setting — in a grimy, darkened room on a full-weight sound system — it changed my life forever. Its militant, physical and spiritual power is peerless.

WWD: So do you think it’s a genre that has long-term, or even mainstream potential?
M.A.H.: It’s already a global scene. There are new producers, club nights and passionate fans springing up everywhere from Tokyo to Bucharest, Istanbul to São Paulo. Check out dubstepforum.com: This is where the global community meets online and there are more than 19,000 members. It’s about music as a pure art form rather than a commercial commodity.

WWD: The electronic music scene has long been male-dominated, the artists and the audience. Does that make you feel special, or just outnumbered?
M.A.H.: There are many women who are key players on the dubstep scene: Sarah Souljah founded the seminal FWD>> club night and record label Tempa; without her there simply would not be a scene at all. There are also maverick journalists, photographers, bloggers and underground rave organizers who are women…and dazzling young producers such as Vaccine, Ikonika and Subeena.

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