As the Dungeon Sound is a fairly niche style of music I thought I’d explain a little bit about its routes, pioneers and how it has evolved from where it started.
Dungeon is a sub genre of Dubstep, a form of electronic music that originates from Croydon in London. Early dubstep was a more instrumental form of U.K. Garage, Grime & Jungle music. Early tracks were experimental and the sound was a breath of fresh air in the underground community.
The track above is one of the earliest examples of Dubstep and its producers Skream & Benga are widely credited as some of the genre’s key figures.
Dubstep was a very underground form of music. The record shop Big Apple Records acted as a hub for the sound, ran by DJ Hatcha people from around London would come to Big Apple to get exclusive vinyl releases.
The sound began to grow out of London and also took to the airwaves via Rinse F.M. a pirate radio station that was founded by DJ Slimzee. Rinse was a small local operation which broadcasted the sound in and around the Croydon area. It established itself as the station for dubstep and grime music in London and had an ever growing roster of DJ’s and shows.
As more and more people began to produce new tracks within the genre, different styles emerged, some were reggae style tracks characteristicly including sharp reverberating snare drums to add an atmosphere of space in the music. Others focussed more on the characteristic wobble of sub bass lines. An example of which is shown below.
With new subgenres being created and becoming more popular Dubstep was becoming a larger more diverse style of music. One of the more underground styles emmerging was known as the Dungeon sound.
Above is an example of an early Dungeon track, this style focusses on a much darker, menacing atmosphere and a more minimal sounds. Characterised by the use of gritty film samples and deep sub basslines. DJ Youngsta is a pioneer of the sound and is credited with popularising it within the dubstep commuinity.
Once banned from Rinse F.M. for frequently smoking cannabis in the studio during his sets, Younsgta was aloud back on the roster and has continued to expand his audiences knowledge of the Dungeon sound that he loves.
Youngsta’s shows introduced a wealth of talent to peoples ears and the genre now has a host of well known DJ’s & producers. Names such as J:Kenzo, Kryptic Minds, Pinch & Biome are now respected and exciting figures in the community.
So why is the Dungeon sound so popular? Part of the reason is a sense of community and values shared by it’s fans. Dubstep was founded on a culture revolving around dark rooms and big sound systems, Clubbers experiencing the massage of a heavy bassline while under the effects of Ketamine, Ecstasy or Cannabis. This feeling of chemical intoxication is definately reflected through the artists production techniques. The drum patterns they create skip around and reverberate around a room creating the atmosphere of floating through a large open space.
Croydub, a night that encompasses the Bass culture loved by fans of Dubstep.
Now that i’ve talked a bit about the history of the Dungeon sound, I’d like to talk a little about My own DJ sets.
I’m lucky to have a large slection of music at my disposal to play during my sets although it has taken me a lot of time and money to build this collection. When starting a set I don’t have a premade plan of what tracks I am going to play. When this scene has been part of your lifestlye for as long as it has been in mine you naturally know what tunes mix in well with eachother and which don’t. In my head I have five classifications that i apply to my tracks.
1. Openers- these tracks are 0ften mellow and allow a listener to get used to the beat structure of the music I play.
2.Building- these are tracks which I feel naturally build into more of a vibe or narrative that I want to put across to the people listening. These building tracks usually take up to 75% of my total set and try to tell a story through sound.
3. Bridges- These are tracks that I will play when I want to switch up the atmosphere of my sets, they allow me to explore a different mood or subgenre too add some diversity and variation to the music.
4.Tear Out’s- These tracks are ones I mix with the intention of getting a big reaction to. These tunes will constantly change depending on the audience I am mixing to and what they will class as a ‘gully riddim’. If the reaction from the audience is great then I will occasionally rewind the track, bring it back to the begining and play it again.
5.Closers- These are tracks I select usually during the last half an hour of my set and can either have more of a chilled sound to them to gradually bring an end to the narrtaive or they can be tear out tracks so that the set ends on a real high. Once again it all depends on what the crowd are feeling on the day.
With my 5 track classifications at my disposal I am able to maintain a consistent flow through my music I think of them almost like chapters in a book.
Recently I have been working on developing my style of mixing to make my sets more dynamic and varied. A big part of this for me is watching DJ’s sets on websites like youtube.
The video above is a set by DJ EZ. I think EZ is one of the most talented DJ’s I’ve ever seen and has recently been a big inspiration to me. After watching his videos it’s made me really think about how I can be more creative in my mix. I started using more complex techniques like rapidly flicking between to beatmatched tracks using crossfaders to essenatily remix a track live.
I’ve also began to use the loop function in different ways. By setting the loop length to less than half a bar you can achieve some really nice stuttering effects which are good to incorporate into your set. EZ has also made me rethink how sampling can be used in creative way, adding little snippets of other tracks into a mix and then dropping into something totally different.
Start the video below at 6 minuites in and it will give you a good idea of the techniques EZ uses.