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Primary Stylistic Influences:
  • UK Garage (especially the 2-Step subgenre), Dub Reggae
Secondary Stylistic Influences:


Skrillex got famous for creating an album that tries to sonically represent the sound of two fax machines fucking."

Dubstep is a genre of Electronic Music that began in South London in the early 2000s, and has risen to become one of the most popular forms of electronic music in The New '10s. Branching off from UK garage and grime, dubstep primarily became known for a moderate tempo (typically around 140 bpm), a heavy emphasis on bass and frequencies under 100Hz and often (but certainly not always) with a distinctive "wobble" sound, commonly achieved by playing disharmonious bass tones in unison. Many artists even delve into infrasonic territory below 20Hz, which is not so much heard as felt. Rhythmically, dubstep is in Common Time by definition and owes a lot of its sound to dub reggae: both usually have a snare hit on the third beat of the bar, and both drums and bass tend to make heavy use of triplets.

Originally minimalistic, dark, and atmospheric, dubstep evolved rapidly. Beats became heavier, bass more abrasive, and as the sound gained mainstream popularity, more attention was paid to big drops and "filthy" wobbles (usually preceded by a 30-60 second long intro) than atmosphere. This new form of the style became known (first derogatorily, then as an Appropriated Appellation) as "brostep"; that is, dubstep that "bros" could enjoy. Contrast "Midnight Request Line" by Skream, one of dubstep's first crossover hits, with the Flux Pavilion remix of "Cracks" by Freestylers, a popular song from about 2010. This division in sound has led to massive amounts of Fan Dumb and Broken Base in the dubstep community, and it will most likely only get worse, as dubstep has, as of 2012, appeared even in advertisements for films, television shows and products. Many artists that once associated with the genre are splintering off and working on other forms of electronic music, such as post-dubstep (dubstep meets R&B/soul), bass music and glitch hop.

There are two popular varieties of dubstep; the aforementioned "brostep", which is harder and more abrasive, featuring a "filthy" sound, start-stop basslines, heavy drops and more emphasis on heavily distorted riffs as opposed to the conventional "wobble" sound of classic dubstep, and often with significant Heavy Metal influences (hence the alternative name "metalstep"); and "chillstep", a Lighter and Softer take on traditional dubstep which features less distorted bass, a more spacey sound, little to no wobble riffs, less emphasis to near-absence of drops and a generally "angelic" or "uplifting" feel, although many other varieties exist, such as drumstep (dubstep + Drum and Bass), glitchstep (dubstep + glitch music, occasionally with some chiptune thrown in) and noisestep (dubstep + noise/industrial). Dubstep is known among artists for its ease of fusion with non-electronic music genres, such as classical, hip-hop and soul music. Its influence has also been felt in other genres of electronic music, particularly in EBM (electronic body music), IDM (intelligent dance music), Industrial Metal and some hard varieties of Techno and Trance.

While the fans and critics of dubstep will doubtless be trolling each other in music forums for years to come over its artistic merits or lack thereof, the impact dubstep has had on the electronic music world is undeniable.

Notable Artists:

Tropes associated with the dubstep genre:

  • Auto-Tune: Commonly used by artists in the genre, mostly to add vocal effects rather than cover up bad singing. The results can range from angelic vocal runs to incomprehensible singing.
  • Broken Base: One of the most divisive genres in modern music; fans are divided over whether to listen to the more atmospheric "chillstep", or to the more metallic "brostep". The dubstep fandom continues to schism at an alarming rate due to the ever-increasing number of dubstep variants in the current scene.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Where most dubstep tends towards a dark or even harsh tone, Zomboy's music is best described as a mix of wacky Affectionate Parody, beautiful chillstep melodies bordering on Trance, and sudden plunges into speaker-destroying brostep. These shifts happen multiple times mid-song, mind you.
  • Digital Piracy Is Okay: Well it generally is, as the dubstep scene is mostly filled with indies musicians. Some musicians actively encourage fans to do this.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: While the genre as a whole isn't particularly well-received by fans of heavy music and fans of any genre, the scene is also notable for putting forth some of the most highly acclaimed and pioneering artists in Electronic Music, some of which include the following...
    • Nero, is by far the most respected brostep act, as their debut album, Welcome Reality, received highly positive reviews from critics, rave fan response and stepped up brostep's mainstream popularity up a notch thanks to their constant inclusion in modern media. In fact, they have even produced a song for the soundtrack of the 2013 movie reenactment of The Great Gatsby.
    • Lindsey Stirling has become one in some circles.
    • Excision also gains massive respect from not only dubstep fans but also from fans of heavy music in general, thanks to his furious sound influenced by genres such as brutal death metal and Harsh Noise. This respect led to the sudden bump in popularity of the otherwise obscure "noisestep" genre, ultimately bridging the gap between established heavy Electronic Music styles and experimental subgenres such as noise and industrial and bringing a new, more futuristic vibe to an otherwise stagnant style of music.
    • Zomboy, thanks to his seamless fusion in his songs, is regarded by many as a rising force in brostep.
    • Savant is also very well-respected due to his much darker imagery than other dubstep artists.note  He also has his own licensed game, Savant: Ascent, a huge feat for an underground artist.
    • Seven Lions also has gained a devoted following for his seamless shifts between both melodic and hard styles of dubstep and chillstep, as well as his occasional smatterings of trance in his material (having initially gained attention for a remix of Above & Beyond's "You Got to Go").
    • Au5 receives a lot of respect from the electronic music fandom for the sheer complexity of his music, featuring a massive smattering of technical, varied sound design and frequent forays into trance. He is renowned by his fanbase for his ability to maintain consistent structure and musicality throughout even the heaviest of his work, while not sacrificing the variety of his bass design.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: Dubstep artists often use a wide variety of musical instruments, despite what most people think. Guitars, basses, synthesizers, drums, violins, wind instruments, computer software, theremins and sequencers are commonly used instruments in dubstep, but sometimes artists opt for rather bizarre instrument choices. The use of jackhammers and circuit boards is not unheard of...
  • Gateway Series: A great number of EDM fans that got into Electronic Music around the late 00's/early 10's would credit dubstep as their gateway genre.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Dubstep artists, especially more modern acts, tend to throw in vocals for whatever reason. Combining vocals with the Sensory Abuse the genre is known for often results to this. The vocal work in Skrillex' "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" is a particularly extreme example.
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks!: A common perception from longtime fans of the genre.
  • Harsh Noise: A very, very big influence to brostep, with artists such as Skrillex, Excision and Kill The Noise being the most blatantly influenced by it. Noisestep artists tend to draw even more inspiration from the genre, leading to some overlap with industrial (especially the power electronics and EBM subsets).
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: Many dubstep releases (especially the older ones) tend to be very hard to find; much of the traditional dubstep that still exists today has virtually gone out of print, and new artists rarely release professional studio records, therefore the only practical way of obtaining most dubstep is through file sharing sites. Some artists have taken advantage of this by deliberately releasing albums for free, and making money through other means, such as performing live or selling dubstep-related merch.
  • Public Medium Ignorance: Anyone who has a passing knowledge of what dubstep is would immediately think of Skrillex upon hearing the word, not knowing that a whole scene of active dubstep musicians exists. This knowledge often reaches Fan Dumb levels as they continue to associate Skrillex with the genre,note  to the point where the rest of the dubstep scene is perecived as irrelevant. This can get particularly grating in some cases, as many music fans now believe that Skrillex is an even better composer than Hans Zimmer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, or Yoshiki Hayashi simply because Skrillex makes dubstep.
    • Moreover, many people have grown so accustomed to the brostep sound, to the point where they have come to believe that "all dubstep is brostep" or "brostep is the one true dubstep" and shun all other varieties due to not being "filthy" enough.
    • It has gotten progressively worse in recent years, as dubstep continues to displace established electronic music genres such as eurobeat, industrial and trance, to the point where some ignorant listeners have begun calling all forms of electronic music "dubstep". This sounds eerily familiar...
  • Rearrange the Song: Dubstep musicians frequently rearrange songs from within and outside the genre. Some even go as far as making multiple versions of their own songs.
  • Scary Musician, Harmless Music: Frequently inverted with brostep musicians, who tend to look very normal despite the intensity of their music.
  • Sensory Abuse: Fans of the brostep and noisestep flavors would add "but in a good way!". Particularly harsh tracks tend to be fondly referred to as "dirty" or "filthy", playing off of those being the next level of grit up from "grungy".
  • The Scrappy: Was one to Electronic Music fans for a while, mostly due to its over-saturation and mainstream prominence that ended up burying several other genres under the rug. By 2013, however, its Scrappy status was superseded by Big Room House due to its formulaic and even more over-saturated nature. Non-electronic music fans still tend to hold Dubstep in relatively low regard, however.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Nu Metal, in that both brought their respective genre (Electronic Music and Heavy Metal) to the mainstream while being The Scrappy to both music critics and purists of those genres, as well as non-fans in general.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: To the fans of classic 2000s UK dubstep, American brostep has little to nothing to do with the original scene.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: While most dubstep makes use of melodies, they tend to sound more simple in comparison with other Electronic Music genres. This trope comes into play in many "bass drops" where musicality is dropped in favor of rhythmic "wobble" bass riffs. Brostep eschews bass wobbles for heavily distorted riffs reminiscent of industrial music, although there are exceptions: some artists, such as Flux Pavilion and Borgore, subvert this trope, as they keep a certain amount of musicality in the drop. Chillstep artists, and even a handful of brostep artistsnote , however, avert this trope altogether.
  • Trope Codifier: Skream or Skrillex, debates are continuing.
  • Uncommon Time: Usually used in the harder varieties of brostep, such as noisestep and glitchstep, to make the already-harsh drops even more harsh and disorienting. Borgore, Excision and Kill The Noise have made time-signature torture an art form in brostep. From an aesthetic viewpoint, by fluidly warping, stuttering, and halting the actual timing of tracks independently of one another and as a whole, a skilled producer can wrangle a chaotic tangle of dissonant notes into incredibly complex polychord harmonies and meta-rhythms with multiple levels of syncopation and cross-beat. This phenomenon has been observed in only a handful of other genres, most notably modernist Classical Music, djent, drone metal, freeform jazz, Harsh Noise, and Avant-Garde Metal.