Ramadanman Talks Bass, Britney Spears, and the Commercialization of Dubstep
London DJ-producer and Hessle Audio label chief Ramadanman (AKA David Kennedy) was schooled during dubstep's first wave and he has since become one of the most recognized names on the international scene.
Last year's invitation to spearhead a new installment of Fabric's prestigious compilation series with FabricLive56 is testament to both Ramadanman's heavyweight status and dubstep's ever-increasing popularity.
Crossfade caught up with Kennedy ahead of his Saturday gig at Eve to pick his brain. The topics: His 2010 highlights, the commercialization of dubstep, and Hessle Audio's new label compilation.
Crossfade: How did growing up in London influence your sound?
Ramadanman: I grew up in North London, in a suburb called Highgate, which is quite far removed from what would perhaps be the stereotype of London -- either in the red telephone box sense, or the 'gritty council estate' one. It definitely influenced my sound to the extent that I could easily attend the events such as FWD and DMZ which played such a strong role in the scene. It also meant I could hear the music on powerful soundsystems, where you could really hear (and feel) the sub-bass, which was at the time the fundamental part of the sound. From a sonic angle, I moved out of London in mid-2006, so I don't think it really informed my early productions, as I wasn't living there at the time.
2010 was your most prolific year and arguably the year that catapulted you to wide international recognition beyond dubstep circles. What were some personal highlights?
2010 was pretty crazy. I graduated from university in the summer as well, so I was pretty busy for the first half of the year, juggling my degree as well as touring and production commitments. I really enjoyed playing some big festivals in the summer, as well as touring Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia. Also, having my tunes like "Work Them", "Glut" and "Night Air" remix be so well received was incredible, and unexpected.
What is your definition of "dubstep"? Do you think the term is becoming outdated or obsolete with the landscape of bass music morphing so quickly these days?
I don't really think about it that much. I'm more concerned with writing and releasing music rather than trying to define what it is, or what scene it falls under. The word 'dubstep' to me is more about a group of people, and particular time in my life than a particular sound.
Having been around for the first wave of dubstep, how do you feel about the commercialization of the sound as it starts to pop up in music by the likes of Britney Spears?
It doesn't bother me, really. Although saying this is a bit of a cliché, it's just music at the end of the day, and I think it's a bit pointless to divert energy towards getting frustrated or annoyed at something that you don't like. If you're unhappy with the way things are, then I think it's more productive to try and make a change rather than dwell on the negative. The music being commercialized and exploited isn't really a recent development, it's been happening since 2006.
What do you have going on for the rest of 2011?
Hessle Audio: 116 & Rising is released in May, which has been our major project over the last few months. Other than that, I have quite a busy touring schedule over the summer, including lots of festivals which I'm looking forward to. And I'm moving back to London soon, so I'm looking forward to getting settled down there and hopefully writing some new music.
Ramadanman and Zed Bias with Gooddroid, Troy Kurtz, Somejerk, and
others. Saturday, April 23. Eve, 1306 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The party
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