Melting pots… Electronic music would be nothing without them. That meeting point or venn overlap where various genres collide at the perfect moment in time to create a whole new sonic syntax of its own.
From jungle’s fusion of hardcore and ragga in the early 90s to dubstep’s spawning from UKG, grime, dub and jungle in the early 2000s, some of the most exciting chapters happen between the boundaries as sounds and genres resonate with the new generation coming through who are hungry for something new.
These last few years we’ve experienced an array of fizzy beat cauldrons in bass music. Halftime sits in between drum & bass, trap, dubstep and hip-hop, for instance. The new breakbeat sound sits somewhere between house, UKG, dubstep, breaks, trap and jungle.
Then there’s wave. The sound famously championed by Plastician over the last four years that’s come through the remnants of vapourwave, trap, dubstep, LA beats, garage, hip-hop and beyond. While it began as an internet genre, this year we’re seeing the genre starting to put physical roots down with parties and professional releases backing up the consistent and innovative flow from the likes of stables such as Wavemob and Terrorrhythm.
Another cool aspect about this is that we all have very different sounds and approaches. No one sounds the same. We’ve all caught on in different ways and done our own thing so it’s not homogenous. We haven’t just heard one successful guy and copied him, we’ve all met up in a weird place where all sorts of things meet, including internet based genres that never really made it in the clubs.
From an interesting online subculture a tangible movement is beginning to grow… And one of the men leading at the front of the movement is London’s Kareful. The man responsible for the first wave album (Deluge on Trapdoor), he’s got a lot to say about the genre’s roots, its future, its DIY ethics and strong sense of unity. And also how the sound is bringing many more girls back to the dance.
If you’re already acquainted with wave, you’ll know the following conversation will be an interesting read. If not, trust us, the following conversation is an interesting read. Listen to Kareful’s Fabric mix while you peruse. 30,000 listens can’t be wrong…
Wave… It’s only a few tube stops down the line from dubstep really isn’t it?
It’s the latest progression of it in my opinion. I actually started off playing dubstep as a DJ but I’m quite young so I was late catching onto the genre – all my favourite tunes were six to eight years old by the time I was playing them. I think after a point it’s so hard to play catch up that you start doing your own thing which is where we’re all at with wave music.
You’re 22. So, compared to a lot of the people in the scene, you’re a bit of an elder aren’t you?
Yeah most people making the music are 16-18 because it’s mainly internet based. The older ones are in a different position because we can get physical with it in the clubs because we can actually get into them. This is especially the case in America where you’ve got to be 21 to get into the club. But this is cool because it means more influences are coming into the picture. For me, wave is about hip-hop beats and dubstep textures. For another wave producer it’s a whole other load of influences. It’s a real amalgamation of things going on, taking influence from everything that’s been before. Especially now we all listen to everything and we aren’t so specialist about one particular genre.
You’ve said wave is inherently DIY in other interviews. I like that.
Incredibly DIY! It’s quite punk in that way. It’s kids making noises with what they can. Our generation has more access to music production technology than ever before. We don’t have to work 9-5s to save up for samplers and synths. We’re all very active on social media and sharing tips. There’s this really positive vibe between us all, swapping notes and advice and supporting each other. From my perspective, coming from a DJ background, I share information and techniques all the time… I want artists in the scene to be at the very best they can be so their tunes sound sick and mixed down well when I play them! So yeah it’s very DIY and very close-knit. Another cool aspect about this is that we all have very different sounds and approaches. No one sounds the same. We’ve all caught on in different ways and done our own thing so it’s not homogenous. We haven’t just heard one successful guy and copied him, we’ve all met up in a weird place where all sorts of things exist, including internet-based genres that never really made it in the clubs.
Yeah vapourwave, witch house and even future garage which I always felt never had its own time to shine in the clubs. What’s cool is that you play it to someone who doesn’t think they know about it and they’ll say ‘oh yeah that sounds like such and such genre’ because that’s their reference point. Also, another characteristic is location; most genres will take root in a physical place like Croydon for dubstep or going right back Chicago for house music, Detroit for techno. Now we’re taking a sound from the internet that’s had contributions from producers all over the world and we’re trying to place it in a location. It’s a unique situation.
Yeah, where are your shows? Where in the world are the wave parties at?
Most shows are in London, primarily Dalston but we are finding more and more bookings with promoters. A lot of it are mates hosting little nights and we’re all checking each other’s nights and playing on each other’s line-ups. There’s a proper community here with everyone becoming mates and helping everyone out. It’s a really creative environment. It’s also really female friendly; the music isn’t aggressive or too dark so it’s a nice floaty, vibey atmosphere so more and more girls are coming to the shows. I was going to dubstep events for years and it was always pure men but the balance at wave parties is really healthy, that’s very important.
Amen! So you released the first wave album out earlier this year… A historic moment in wave music!
It’s funny. A lot of people ask how it feels but I’ve been putting my life into this – no other job, just pushing and pushing and busy in the studio. To be honest the first wave album could have come from any number of people in the scene, I just happened to put mine together first. If it’s something I’ll be remembered for then that’s cool but I was still learning at the time. I’m still learning now… I come from a musical background, not a technical background so the best is yet to come! I do have to shout out Trapdoor, the label, as they really pushed this and developed it with me. The original plan was to have a lot of collaborations so a lot of my peers would be represented and the album pushed us all.
How come that didn’t happen?
Some of them are a lot younger than me and couldn’t commit. Others are older than me and had daytime jobs. So in the end I winged it and made it on my own! It’s a shame as I’m fascinated by community and unity and it would have been a sick message to have the first wave album as a real collaborative project. If there’s no scene you’re just a random guy going it alone – you have to push each other and create something together. If there’s a community there are shows and parties every weekend, there’s support, you’re not an island. Do it for the music, not for yourself. No battles, no wanting to be the biggest…. I’m all about supporting everyone.
On that note, give us five people to look out for….
Only five? Ah man, this will be hard….
Skit: A very close friend who’s working on an EP with me. He’s London based, very talented, a wicked DJ and he puts on a night in London that I’m involved in.
Klimeks: The leader of Wavemob and a real innovator. He came up with the name wave through hashtagging everything on Wavemob as wave and it’s stuck. He’s so supportive of everyone and makes sick music too.
Sorsari: He’s been going for a while, very very talented and has an EP on Terrorthythm on July 11. I play his sounds in every set and he’s so forward-thinking.
Trash Lord: Another Wavemob man, he’s a fucking great producer who’s come from the witch house scene but made it all wavier.
Deadcrow: He’s from Holland and is incredibly talented in the studio. I discovered him through Plastician’s show and hooked up. He’s only just breaking through but is coming up big and is so hardworking. I hear new stuff from him every day.
Can I mention more? So many guys need credit… Noah B and Blank Body are crazy talented. I know there are many more that have skipped my mind. Just dig deep and support it, spend time on places like Wavemob… This sound is only going to develop and go to next level places.