When described by the Experimental Media Performing Arts Center as “experimental,” the media showcased at events definitely fits the description. Steve Goodman, better known as Kode9, gave a dubstep performance on Tuesday, September 9 that was no exception.
The set, which lasted a little over an hour and a half, consisted of random, but also rhythmic, beats that focused more on resonance and vibrations, rather than merely mimicking the structure of currently-popular electronic songs. Samples included nature sounds, such as rain, foreign vocals, and 8-bit “retro” tunes. In the drops, which are intense build-ups of bass placed within dubstep songs, heavy bass caused the floors of the Goodman Studio 1 to vibrate intensely.
Initially, songs consisted of slower beat patterns; however, as the night progressed, the tempo sped up, and the audience responded accordingly. What started off as subtle head-nodding, swaying, and foot-tapping transformed into jumping, whistling, elaborate dance routines, flailing arms, and spinning in circles. One student, Kevin Jones ’15, repeatedly rested his head against the speakers during the bass drops. When asked why, Jones said, “I do that because it sounds awesome; it amplifies the high pitched sounds, just like a guitar, you know? I’ll be doing that all night.”
The response from attendees seemed to be generally positive. “If you’re a fan of Skream and Benga, their music is along the lines of Kode9’s as well,” said Dylan Smock ’18. “This is not what you’d expect from mainstream dubstep.” A group of upperclassmen referred to the set as “unique,” “multidimensional,” and “shaky.”
Expectedly, the event brought together long-time fans of Kode9 and his record label, Hyperdub, music enthusiasts who were interested in exploring the Electronic Dance Music (EDM) genre, and everyone in between. Alyssa Schadler ’15, a frequent at EMPAC performances, considers herself a fan of experimental media. She described the set as “unsettling, but in a good way.” Kaitlyn Ameres ’18, although a fan of the dubstep sub-genre, had not previously listened to Kode9’s music; however, she found the set to be very interesting.
Prior to producing music, Kode9 gained a popular reputation in the 90s as a disc jockey in London. In 2004, his work appeared on a compilation released through Rephlex records, and, later that year, he began releasing music under his newly-established Hyperdub label.
With tunes that have shaped the UK Funky genre of EDM music, Kode9 fit in perfectly with the diverse lineup of artists that perform at EMPAC throughout the year. Even now, his beats and rhythms continue to impress the greater dubstep community.