Future bass! The future of dubstep

Meet future bass, the new sound of dubstep

Let’s all take a moment to thank dubstep for everything it’s given us. It led electronica out of the nineties and into the new millennium. It gave us seminal DJs like Skrillex, Deadmau5 and Knife Party. And it gave a whole generation of young music fans a style of music to call their own.

But nothing lasts forever.

Until the year 2000, music trends were typically contained in their decade. The nineties had grunge, the eighties had new wave, the seventies had disco, etc., etc. Every new decade seemed to need a style for itself. But when the BBC’s John Peel started playing dubstep music on the radio in 2003, he was kicking off a tsunami of sound that is still going strong almost 15 years later.

To say dubstep has had a good run is an understatement. That it’s finally passing the torch to a new sound should surprise no one.

That new sound is future bass.

Rolling Stone’s David Turner describes future bass as “a still-codifying genre,” saying, “Future bass takes the ecstatic drops of dubstep or trap, but provides a warm bounce rather than a lumbering bruteness. Basslines are provided by harsh, detuned synths that buzz and purr instead of gulp and whomp.”

The earliest future-bass tracks date back to around 2007, just a couple years after dubstep had gone mainstream. Ten years later, the heir to the EDM crown is taking the throne.

Among the most influential founders of future bass is Louis The Child.

“Back in the day it was called ‘chill trap’ or ‘melodic trap,'” says Louis The Child’s Robby Hauldren. “Then it turned from this 140 [bpm] chill trap into a half-step beat, brought up a little bit more with the filtered chords that are super reverb[ed].”

And independent EDM artists like MondoTunes‘ own Chiefftone are playing for team Future Bass, too.

“I would describe future bass as being of a similar tempo and feel to dubstep, but a lot more light and mellow,” says Chiefftone, a graduate of the Point Blank music college. “Its main characteristic is a layered, often pumping, synth sound that bounces along with the beat. The synth sound is one people might associate with other styles, like trance, but with the tempo slowed down and a more hip-hop beat. And of course the bass itself is important too. Often a heavy ‘808’ or sub is used, often pumping in time with the synth.”

The Chainsmokers continue to release new future-bass tracks

But does Chiefftone agree that future bass might be the next evolution of dubstep?

“I think future bass is already becoming the next big thing. A lot of people listen to future bass every day on the radio without realising it. The Chainsmokers’ huge hits ‘Something Just Like This,’ and ‘Roses,’ are both future-bass tunes. Martin Garrix has basically changed his whole style to future bass recently with his hits ‘Scared to be Lonely’ and ‘In the name of Love’ totally falling in the style of future bass. And of course, there’s the Australian artist Flume, who pioneered the genre, who is more popular than ever.”

You heard it here first, EDM DJs, listeners and producers. Time to learn up.

-Sean McCauley

[“Stray Gun,” the new future-bass single release by Chiefftone, is available online worldwide.]