The first in a series of articles looking at the music scene of Nottingham, Impact assesses the culture of dance music and looks at four genres in particular – Electronic, Dubstep, Drum and Bass and Reggae.
Nottingham was once famed for its free parties, weekly warehouse and factory events where attendances in excess of 3000 were the norm. Those glory days may be over, at least for now, but the underground electronic music scene here is very much alive. Pioneered largely by Blueprint Nightclub, its tireless promoters have produced the best of everything from Psy Trance to Breakcore, Glitch to Hard Techno. One outfit which dives into the deepest and darkest depths of electronic music is the 1920s Bass Convention, who also host the fantastic Crave parties, and who bring top underground DJs such as Hannah Holland to Nottingham. They and their likes bring originality, dexterity and, above all, passion to a genre which is becoming ever more diluted and exploited by commercial outfits
Other more established collectives across the city are stronger than ever, working hard to bring the best of everything from fidget electro to breakbeat. Firefly, Wigflex and Spectrum spring to the minds of all electronic music fans, continually providing some of the most exciting, innovative and electrifying beats in existence. Firefly creates fantastic parties with only the best on offer. It attracts the likes of Brodinski and Oliver Huntemann, who would otherwise have slipped under Nottingham’s radar. Wigflex, a collection of local DJs led by Spam Chop, bring a unique and magical mix of techno, experimental and dubstep. Spectrum appeals to more conventional tastes, but its style of music cross over into a variety of electronic genres. Local boy Pete Jordan, Spectrum’s resident DJ and director, has turned it into one of Britain’s best known electronic music brands and made it one more example of Nottingham’s eminence in the world of dance music.
Drum and Bass
When people in Nottingham think of Drum and Bass, they usually associate it with one word – Detonate. Detonate is undoubtedly the biggest club night in the city, with monthly showcases that attract the likes of Chase & Status, High Contrast and the Godfather of D&B himself, Goldie. But Drum and Bass in Nottingham is so much more than just Detonate. The fantastic Dogma Presents @ Dogma and MNSTR @ Brownes has brought Fabio, London Electricity and LTJ Bukem here. But it is perhaps some of the lesser known residents that these nights offer, such as Transit Mafia, that stick in the hearts and minds of Drum and Bass fans across the city.
The prominence of Drum and Bass on offer in Nottingham is nowhere more evident than in the University itself. Drum and Bass Soc is one of the University’s biggest and best music societies, bringing its members together into a community with a passion for all things Drum and Bass.
Dubstep is undoubtedly one of the most exciting and exhilarating music genres to have developed in the UK over the past decade and Nottingham is renowned for being at the forefront of the movement. The grimey, gritty, garage hybrid has come a long way since its beginnings in the late 90’s, now becoming a global cross-genre export. Hip-hop giants Snoop Dogg and Xzibit sample various tracks and Techno pioneer Ricardo Villalobos has led the way in creating a techno – dubstep crossover.
Detonate has provided most of the big name acts, including the likes of N-Type, Skream and Rusko, but nights like BassLaced, RubberDub and new boy For The Win hold a special place in the hearts of most dubsteppers. They bring an energizing change of pace and style to the increasingly brash and homogonized style of the more commercialized mainstream. Their commitment to freshness and innovation allows us to witness the creation of some superb dubstep beats in traditional dark and atmospheric dubstep settings. It is their work that gives Nottingham the reputation it deserves.
Nottingham once had a fairly non-existent Reggae scene, but the arrival of Ben Highness in the late 90’s saw that change when he created Highness Sound System. Under such influences as King Tubby, Lee Perry and Horace Andy, Highness have almost single-handedly made Reggae-Roots one of Nottingham’s most exciting alternative music scenes. It boasts a music style that is ‘strictly roots reggae in a sound system style’. With beats played using just one record deck and a heavyweight sound system, Highness is your first and last port of call for reggae in Nottingham.
Last year also saw the establishment of Nottingham’s first ever Reggae society, aptly named Reggae Soc. With weekly radio shows on URN, an ever growing membership and a fantastic social calendar, Reggae Soc is proof of how far Reggae has come in Nottingham.