“I got into dubstep by accident,” admits Bristol’s hottest new producer, Headhunter. “I really liked the grime stuff I was hearing two years ago, but I thought it lacked that special ‘something’.
I started to make trippy, instrumental grime and sent it out to a few DJs, who told me it sounded more like dubstep. I was like, ‘dubwhat?’ So I passed my stuff to local innovator Pinch and he gave me some pointers. Since then I haven't looked back.”
"I don't actually listen to much other dubstep. Far too many people are releasing half-baked tunes"
It didn’t take long for BMX-riding “council estate rebel” Antony Williams to make his mark. Written using only a PowerBook in his bedroom, his first release on the Ascension label last year impressed Tempa – the dubstep scene’s biggest label – so much that they called him in for a meeting and signed him exclusively on the spot. Since then the 25-year-old’s sleek, electronic take on the sound has featured on the ‘Tempa Allstars Vol 3’ doublepack and his first solo EP, ‘Futurebound’ – and the London imprint has proven to be the perfect home for his music. He says: “I want to do something no one else has, to an extent. I’ve been into many styles of dance music, like trance, techno, jungle and garage, so I wanted to bring that into dubstep. Tempa are an amazing label with the history and the forward-thinking focus to push the sound in new directions.”
Dubstep’s crossover with minimal techno is currently producing some of the most interesting music around, from Appleblim and Shackleton of Skull Disco hooking up with Ricardo Villalobos, to Berlin artists like Monolake collaborator T++ producing cutting-edge bass music that appeals to both camps. Williams agrees: “I have a big interest in minimal/dub/techno and how it can evolve to make something else. [Manchester-based Modern Love artist] Andy Stott is someone doing really good things with this, and Berlin’s Substance and Vainqueur continuously impress the hell out of me. I have been mixing up my DJ sets lately with a lot of techno stuff – it comes from living in close proximity Appleblim, who has opened my ears to a world of good music.”
Headhunter’s recent remix for minimal hero Martin Buttrich gave him the perfect opportunity to put this approach into practice. Other forthcoming projects include remixes for progressive trance act Antix, plus Tes La Rok, Komonazmuk and Jakes, along with another EP for Tempa that will see him rise through the ranks into dubstep’s premier league. But Williams, who also runs monthly Thursday dubstep night HENCH in his hometown and is increasingly in demand as a DJ, is staying firmly grounded. He admits: “I’ve got no plans for a label – there are enough of them around at the moment. And I don't actually listen to too much other dubstep. Far too many people are releasing half-baked tunes. But the production and artistic standards of the bigger players have continued to improve. And by crossing genres over, the sound will evolve.”