Despite being one of America's most active artists in the bass-heavy electronic music subgenre called dubstep, Richmond District resident Justin McCauley is keeping his day job. "One month you'll have a million shows and your sales will be great, and the next month could be weak," he says. McCauley, 30, puts in ...
McCauley, 30, puts in hours at a restaurant when he's not on tour, which in the past six years has included visits to 26 U.S. states, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, Russia, Holland, France and Ireland. Recording solo as Roommate and with production duos OSC and Babylon System, McCauley has released dozens of dubstep-style tracks that fuse dance beats with reggae bass riffs. His success is on par with producers in more popular electronic genres, such as house or techno, and illustrates how far dubstep music has progressed.
In 2000, a small group of London producers wedded reggae bass patterns with the skittering, up-tempo drum sequences from a dance music style called two-step. The resulting subgenre was tagged "dubstep," a term promoted by the British media and S.F. magazine XLR8R. Eleven years later, dubstep producers like England's Christopher Mercer (a.k.a. Rusko) have worked with Britney Spears while U.S. artists Skrillex and Bassnectar are seen on MTV and at major festivals. The music went mainstream when it incorporated vocals and aggressive synthesizer sounds.
"There's more music with shock value hitting the streets these days and less deep-rooted tunes," McCauley says.
His sound is also heavy, but he's consciously decided to stick closer to the music's reggae roots. He's taken to recording Jamaican vocalists like Prime Minister and Bushman at his home studio in San Francisco and has tracked international reggae figures Lutan Fyah and Brother Culture at Iguana Studios in London.
In September, he'll visit Jamaica for the first time to solidify artistic and business relations with performers on the island. "I want to make timeless music that's melodic," he says. "Reggae music has that soul and power. "McCauley's powerful tracks caught the attention of DJ Sep Ghadishah, who welcomes him back for the fourth time to her 15-year running Dub Mission party at the Elbo Room. She says his tracks have an authentic quality that both her club's core reggae audience and new listeners appreciate. "Roommate's productions prove his deep understanding of dub," says Ghadishah. "There is no slavish obsession with re-creating a retro sound, and yet the dub comes through loud and clear." McCauley says his Dub Mission set will include previous material recorded with Babylon System collaborator Tom "No Thing" Kremer and new songs he's recorded with Jamaica's Ras Zacharri. The latter recently released a video for the McCauley-produced song "Jah Rule."The videos, studio work and singles on more than 20 labels illustrate McCauley's creative drive. He says the motivation comes from seeing how far his own music has taken him and a desire to help other artists get a break. He's started to branch out into producing hip-hop beats and down-tempo electronic music, in addition to producing more reggae artists. "If you don't take music seriously, it's not going to take you seriously," he says. "It's a blessing to be where I am, getting support from artists and being able to support other artists too; it's like a really even current flow."
source: Sf Gate
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