Artist Discovery: Earmilk and Skream & Benga

Once a week, between now and August 3rd, we’ll be teaming up with a handpicked selection of the country’s top music bloggers for our Artist Discovery Series. Meant to give you a deeper look at the range of talent taking the Lolla stages in August, the artists featured range from big name headliners to buzzworthy newcomers making a stir in the music world. Today’s feature comes from Earmilk’s Alyce Currier. “Dubstep,” at this point, is a household term, a word whose definition has shifted vastly over the last couple of years to span a huge variety of music (instead of the old-school UK dance music that it once usefully categorized, it’s now a vast blanket term that’s tossed around – often wrongly – for everyone from Rustie to Rusko). Chances are, if you’re a dance music maker right now, someone’s called your productions “dubstep.” So the term, at this point, is pretty useless, but as for the actual history of this music and how it’s evolved, there are two artists who, more than anyone, have stayed along for the entirety of the ride; those two artists are none other than Croydon’s Skream and Benga. The duo have been active since around 2002-2003, and ten years of adapting seamlessly – and retaining “thought leader” status – in such a rapidly changing environment is nothing to scoff at. Their grandfather status is cemented to some degree by their recently-minted Friday BBC Radio 1 show, showcasing their ability as musical influencers and curators alongside their role as producers. Skream’s had releases on Tempa, Tectonic, Deep Medi Musik, and more; Benga’s had releases on Tempa, Big Apple, Hot Flush, Sony and more, and has a new album in the pipes for this year. Alongside all of this work, the two actively tour the club and festival circuit and are masters of their craft; for a duo that’s appealing to such a vast audience (they’ve got old, school underground respect and also a more mainstream draw) it’s quite impressive that they’re able to string together set after set that pleases everyone; an old-school bass tune here, a recent banger there, all of it tied together by its grimy nature (with the low end always remaining fuller than full). And if you don’t find their on-stage chemistry downright adorable, you’re probably missing some of the valves necessary to make your heart function. It’s hard to say what surprises Skream and Benga might drop in any given set, but they’re the picture perfect case of a “big deal” on the exploding dance music scene and they don’t tour the US that extensively; consequently, you’d be crazy to miss their set at Lollapalooza, if electronic music interests you in the least. It’s the past, present, and future.