The walls of The Argyle's basement will be shaking on January 24 as part of the latest edition of Bassment Bump, a series of shows put on by local label Bass Bias Records. And if an evening of shaking it to a DJ spinning bass-heavy tracks in Halifax's literal underground doesn't sound like your cup of orange pekoe, you're not alone.
Bass Bias co-founder Justin "TheJuice" Payne recalls a 2009 show at Club 1668 featuring Calgary-based musician Mark Instinct, notable for its sparse attendance: "We went and there was like seven people there," Payne says. "We were literally putting our arm around him, drinking behind the booth with him."
When it came time for Bass Bias to put on its own show at a local dance club, the result was more of the same. "The floor was empty. People would go to a different room where something more mainstream was playing. And I knew it didn't have to be that way."
Bass music---a category that includes drum and bass and dubstep---has been prominent in the UK for years, Payne says, making its way to the US and Canada only recently. "What you hear on the radio is really kind of screechy, Skrillex-type stuff. [In the UK] it's really evolved. Not all the songs are just about the drop."
Bass Bias Records is an extension of Bass Bias Radio, a CKDU show Payne has been hosting for years. It began as a "conspiracy show with a lot of bass music" until Payne and label co-founder Matt Higdon decided to shift the focus entirely to music. "When we first started we didn't know there was a culture," Payne says, citing the UK drama Skins as one of his earliest exposures to the idea of a bass music scene.
He became familiar with the work of British dubstep producer Benga and EDM producer Skream, followed quickly by Canadian DJ Bassick and Japanese ambient dubstep musician Goth-Trad. "Growing up, my parents were into The Beatles and I grew up in the time of Biggie and Nirvana and Korn and Cypress Hill," Payne says. "I loved all those different genres, but the thing I liked most was the bass line. It's in every style of music, but it was just never the focus."
Bass Bias went from radio show to label because "we found enough artists that were producing their own material that we started releasing free LPs online and that's kind of where we're at now," Payne says. He makes tracks available on SoundCloud as both Bass Bias and TheJuice, and recently released an LP with local EDM label LaserSquid. "If you want to put a city on the map, you have to get guys producing their own original stuff, and we're starting to see that in Halifax."
And Toronto, where Higdon is now a resident. "He wants to start branding that stuff and getting some artists there," Payne says. "We're looking to expand, but 902 will always be the roots of it."
Payne is always on the lookout for quality product: "The thing about any genre of music is that 99 percent of it is shit, but when you find those gems, you get that warm fuzzy feeling." Just don't use dubstep as a synecdoche. "Dubstep is just one of the genres of bass music," Payne says, "but that's kind of like calling both The Beatles and a screamo band 'rock and roll.'"
Bassment Bump 3 w/Lyra, TheJuice, Soapbox Surgeon, Diligence, Evil D, Isotonic, Kevin T, Dark Mattr, Rumble Junkie
Friday, January 24, 10pm
The Argyle, 1575 Argyle Street
$6/$8 call 220-2494 for tickets
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