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.