Thursday, 4 December 2008
This is a piece I originally did for the Guardian but it kind of got spiked amidst some confusion!
Boston bounce was a scene born out of frustration. DJ C aka Jake Trussell lived in the northern American city and was tired of other cities like Detroit, Baltimore and Chicago getting all the attention for creating their own distinct brands of dance music.
"It began as an idea to incubate a new form of dance music to represent Boston." Explains Trussell, "Cities like Chicago, Detroit, New York, London, and Kingston are well known for the music cultures that grew there. Boston didn't have that, so we set out to develop our own scene."
Trussell had already been singled out by John Peel as an en vogue producer and his Mashit label was one of the last ever 'label of the month' awardees on his show.
Tracks like DJ C's remix of EOSS's 'Macko Jacko is Wacko' earned the label a reputation for producing jungle and breakcore that was not only accessible but also original.
After that in 2004 his reputation was enhanced further when he was courted by global music don Diplo and was asked to remix tracks for M.I.A. But it was the development of a scene in his own city that began to dominate his time.
He'd been djing and producing in Boston along with fellow djs and producers like Aaron Spectre and DJ Flack since the mid 90s as part of the Toneburst collective, which tried to create the DIY spirit of the British rave scene.
The sound which became Boston bounce started at Boston club nights like Spectrum, where DJ C, Spectre and DJ/Rupture would play their mixed up sets, which could include anything from dancehall to grime, "We would present an extremely diverse interpretation of dance music. We'd blend Baltimore-club, 2-step, bhangra, and techno with hip-hop, jungle, dancehall, and rock. Basically whatever we liked." Says Trussell.
Those genre blends were hugely influential on the finished sound of Boston bounce as Trussell explains, "A huge part of the sound is about blending genres. We just wanted to create some framework to begin with — a place to grow from."
That growth came when Trussell started his own night, Beat Research, and began to make his first Boston bounce tracks. He slowly introduced them into his sets at Beat Research and they instantly chimed with a crowd that was used to the eclectic side-steps that are the trademark of Boston bounce.
Tracks like 'Boston, you are my bounce' and 'B-Town swing' captured the soundclash style that Trussell and his friends had created a sound and which Trussell admits was heavily influenced by the UK grime and dubstep scene.
Indeed, when his remix of M.I.A's U.R.A.Q.T is heard next to tracks by Shystie and Lady Sovereign on one of Trussell's many online mixes, it's hard to tell where the grime/UK G begins and the Boston bounce ends.
The Boston bounce sound consists of mid-range basslines mixed with bottom end pressure, dubby reverb and breakbeat drums which will sound familiar to fans of dubstep and dancehall, but it also has a freshness and originality all of its own.
That anything goes attitude of Boston bounce producers, made sure the repetitious nature of some sub genres never happened to Boston bounce.
Mashit put together a 'Boston Bounce' compilation that is dominated by Boston producers such like DJ C, Duo:tone and DJ Flack.
Tracks like DJ C and MC Zulu's 'Ransom the Senator' and DJ Flack's 'Dub Surenda' sound like the dubstep offerings of The Bug but with all the harshness and dread removed and replaced by the buoyancy that Boston is now famed for. Whereas tracks like 'Rain Day' by Local Fields shift from a 135 bpm Boston bounce track into a jungle breakdown that DJ C first became notorious for in the early days of Mashit.
Boston bounce is a sound that isn't afraid of switching it up; in fact that is the whole point.
Trussell has now moved away from Boston to Chicago but the Boston bounce scene is still strong and he regularly makes trip back to his beloved Boston to play at Beat Research.
Younger producers from Boston are also making an impact with B.Rich's slightly harder take on Boston bounce being particularly interesting. New nights like Heartthrob are also mixing Boston bounce with the harder electro of New York based producers like AC Slater and Drop The Lime.
The frustration that spawned Boston bounce has translated into a genre and a scene that is built on docking its cap to its influences, and with influences that good it sounds amazing.
Pity it got spiked, been loving DJ C for time. Get some of those mixes down you it'd a big sound.