UK bass. I’ve always had an issue with this term. What does it mean? What exactly is bass music? Surely most genres within electronic music have elements of bass? Many directly link bass music to ‘the drop’, causing a new wave of producers, worldwide, to focus on the intricacies of ‘the drop’ within their productions, rather than melodies and nuances of the rhythm.

If you were to go by the literal term, the word bass  is defined by low pitches and frequencies; however, this is a somewhat simplistic definition. When talking about UK bass, we must first and foremost acknowledge that actually, there really is no such singular thing; rather, this genre is more a hybrid of various musical forms. Everything from Uk garage and dubstep to funky and tribal can be bass.

 

Music nowadays has no parameters. We are seeing bassline riddims with african drums, hard hitting aggressive bass (by it’s true literal definition) riddims encompass 2 step patterns. Of course, all the aforementioned genres and sub genres listed above, especially garage, have their own rich unique standalone history. However, when talking about UK bass music in 2017, we must appreciate that all these various sounds and styles are all intrinsic.

There’s one label in particular which is leading the way in how we define and consume UK bass music, and that is Roska Kicks & Snares (RKS).

Forming in 2007, label boss Roska created RKS has a means of pushing his own music. It wasn’t until 2010 where RKS began to include other producers, with the likes of J:Kenzo, DJ Naughty & Jamie George entering the fold. Fast forward to 2017 and the label now has an impressive roster of exciting emerging producers and influential veterans.

RKS has covered all genres including UK funky, tribal, house and garage. Today, the label’s musical direction is none more so represented by two of its more recent additions: Majora and Murder He Wrote. In a discussion with Roska, he laments on the first time he was in conversation with the two producers, during his time on Rinse FM, with both Majora and Murder He Wrote constantly sending him “consistent and quality” music to play.

Majora and Murder He Wrote encourage the forward thinking hybridity which is slowly shaping and progressing the UK bass scene. Instead of following a trend or pattern, Roska encourages the two to “be their own producers”. Seeking and emulating a formula had once lead to the stagnation of some musical scenes over the years. We have seen an influx of new, young producers trying to fast-track their careers by believing in a formula. When a product achieves mainstream recognition it is very difficult to stop it being used and abused. We saw this with garage in the early 00’s and dubstep a whole decade later.

When asked whether he would like to see UK bass scene achieve mainstream success, Roska swiftly declines. “I would like it to stay underground… Most people see perceive dubstep to be dead; however, there’s still a small community of people throwing parties and making dubstep music. They are staying true to themselves”.

Majora’s Urges/Lint release via RKS

It is such ethos Roska tries to instil within the talent of RKS, especially Majora and Murder He Wrote -producers he has taken under his wing to mentor: “I’ve been doing my thing for 10 years and that experience has helped the label. Talking to Majora and Murder He Wrote and telling them not to follow the in-thing, instead encouraging hem to enjoy the stuff they are doing”.

Murder He Wrote Stopwatch EP via RKS

This freedom of musical expression is vital if we want the scene to progress. To box a sound under one genre or have rules and regulations as to what said genre must encompass, is archaic. RKS over the years has been THE label in pushing boundaries, incorporating different styles to make something new, exciting and fresh. We see this perfectly depicted with the new Allstars 6 release: Majora’s Fire Water starts of almost spacious and atmospheric before delving into a vibey funky riddim; Murder He Wrote’s Watch the Tempo lures you into a hip-hop style melodic trance before the tempo hastens into a punchy bass/garage roller; Roska’s We Come Correct allows the featured Dread MC to guide you through UK Funky/house laden production with catchy repetitive vocals.

As RKS steps into their first London party at Birthdays they can draw confidence through the success of previous parties nationwide, especially York which saw them takeover 800 capacity club Fibbers.

With more parties (club dates and festivals) and releases coming in in 2017, Roska Kicks & Snares will continue to lead the exciting evolution of UK bass music. Just as how music should be, the label has no boundaries in what it can achieve – it started off trendsetting, being the leading label for various scenes and it continues finding new ways to evolve music. If you want a definition of what UK bass should represent, listen to Roska’s RKS.

 


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Written by David Akosim