From Wonky to Future Bass

by Piero Scaruffi

A History of Rock and Dance Music

TM, ®, Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi. All rights reserved.

The style called "future bass" was not as clearly defined as trap, but it was closely related to trap because it adopted the same syncopation via Roland TR-808 hi-hat triplet snares, but with saw-sounding synth lines. Future bass' roots are spread all over the world, starting with Los Angeles, where Steven "Flying Lotus" Allison's pioneered the wonky style (a dissonant and somewhat undanceable fusion of dubstep and hip hop) on his album 1983 (2006), and where several producers created variations around it: Jason "Nosaj Thing" Chung with the EP Views/Octopus (2006), Sam "Samiyam" Baker with the EP Return (2008), and Henry "Shlohmo" Laufer of the collective WeDidIt with the album Shlomoshun Deluxe (2010). Another major center of wonky was Scotland where Ross "Hudson Mohawke" Birchard's album Butter (2009) and Russell "Rustie" Whyte's EP Sunburst (2010) operated. Producers who dabbled with the wonky concept included Philadelphia's Paul "Starkey" Geissinger, with his album Ephemeral Exhibits (2008), Montreal's Lunice Pierre with his EP Stacker Upper (2010), and Barcelona-based Alan "Sinjin Hawke" with the EP The Lights (2011). In England wonky affialiates included Liam "Joker" McLean, with his album The Vision (2011), and Stuart "Lapalux" Howard with EPs such as When You're Gone (2012), and maybe even earlier Justin "Zomby" Moulds with his album Where Were U in '92? (2008).

Several producers modified dubstep to make it more melodic, starting with Purple City (2009) by English producer Liam "Joker" McLean and then the "chillstep" movement, notably Harley "Flume" Streten's album Flume (2012) in Australia and Odesza's album Summer's Gone (2012) in Seattle. And finally there was Norway, where Magnus "Cashmere Cat" Hoiberg released the EP Mirror Maru (2012), possibly the first true recording of future bass. Another marginal influence was "chilltrap", the trap subgenre launched in Los Angeles by Henry "RL Grime" Steinway.

Flume's remix of British duo Disclosure's You & Me (2013) is normally considered the first hit of future bass, followed by Odesza's Say My Name (2014). Later, producers incorporated more elements of dubstep and trap into future bass, and moved away from its wonky roots, and future bass became a cross between a warmer kind of dubstep and a melodic kind of trap.

The commercial boom of future bass started with I Love You (2014) by Lido (Norwegian producer and vocalist Peder Losnegard), Nyan Nyan Angel (2014) by Ujico (Japanese producer Keitaro Ujiie), Lovesick (2015) by Mura Masa (English producer Alex Crossan), It's Strange (2015) by Louis the Child (the Chicago-based duo of Robby Hauldren and Frederic Kennett), Lean On (2015) by Major Lazer and French dj William "DJ Snake" Grigahcine, In the Name of Love (2016) by Dutch dj Martijn "Martin Garrix" Garritsen and New York singer Bebe Rexha, Light (2016) by San Holo (Dutch producer Sander van Dijck), Alone (2016) by Marshmello (Philadelphia's producer and DJ Christopher Comstock), and Closer (2016) by the Chainsmokers (New York-based djs and producers Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall), plus the new hits by Flume and Odesza, becoming increasingly poppier (and more kitschy).

TM, ®, Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi. All rights reserved.

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