Perth crews actually throwing real parties – Part 1: DeadWeight!

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Perth crews actually throwing real parties – Part 1: DeadWeight!

Fun·ny  [fuhn-ee]: adjective, fun·ni·er, fun·ni·est.
01. providing fun; causing amusement or laughter; amusing; comical: a funny remark; a funny person.

For the most part, an article came to light last week and made us search this definition. While there were a couple of deserved inclusions in that not-to-be-named list of Australian crews mostly keeping up with the latest Laidback Luke release and the hottest trance game, the proud Aussie music scene is booming and, whether it’s known or not, lengthens beyond mediocre sound-systems, sub-par venues and Stereo-esque heads. Perth – in particular – is home to some of the best groups for electronica and kudos to said article for including one of them, but we thought it’d be a bit more appropriate to delve deeper into Perth’s underground rather than just paint the surface because, well, there’s more to life than EDM.

This is part one of our indefinitely-long series of Perth’s best crews, and we’re kicking off with dubstep, grime and general bass kings DeadWeight! Expect another instalment soon.

“Big up DeadWeight! Thats how we’re mashing it down in Perth! Large” – Mala (DMZ)

One of Australia’s only dedicated crews to the original dubstep sound, DeadWeight have been throwing flawless parties featuring artists from when dubstep and grime came to fruition in the early 2000’s up until the best of the present day’s scene. While they started up proceedings a few years back in 2010, their international bookings didn’t start until ’11 when they got Rwina’s ‘Halflife‘ man Eprom into town for his first ever Australian show. From there they collaborated with another squad, Knowledge, who together brought out left-field techno don and Hemlock mainstay Untold (who just released his ‘Black Light Spiral‘ LP) as well as Symbols guru Kastle – who recently remixed Justin Bieber (?) – and Jakes, the Daddy of Bristolian dubstep troop H.E.N.C.H. and one of the most interesting vocalists underground British music can lay claim to. That was almost it for 2011, but they also imported the likes of ARP101, Rotterdam’s own Jedi funkateer Martyn, and the Africa Hitech union of Mark Pritchard and Steve Spacek after they released their debut album ’93 Million Miles’ on Warp earlier that year.

Asking one-half of DeadWeight’s main duo Saxon Ames about his thoughts and memories on the sound’s introduction in Perth, he spoke about its origins and how the sound slowly made its way down from Europe:

“The dubstep scene began to take form in Perth circa 2006 as the sound slowly trickled down from London to the most isolated town on the planet. It first began to emerge through Perth’s thriving drum ‘n bass scene. There were several local crews doing their thing and a few bigger players such as Loaded Dice, Naras Entertainment/Knowledge Music and Inhibit Productions hosting intimate-to-large scale parties featuring artists from all over the globe. Dubstep is fairly synonymus with the dnb sound in producing dark, underground vibes, so its place at parties was inevitable as international touring DJ’s were doing dubstep sections in their sets and so the pioneering locals soon followed.

When I was first exposed to the sound via lengthy Internet wanders, there were only a couple avenues I could experience it in Perth. The ‘Someone Say Dubstep?’ series of parties by Blender began circa 2007 when I wasn’t even of legal age, and they were responsible for hosting intimate club shows featuring the artists such as The Bug, Loefah, Joe Nice, Tes La Rok, Pinch, Plastician and Emalkay, who were leading the forefront of the UK/Europe underground dubstep scene at the time. Naras Entertainment/Knowledge Music were always hosting international artists pushing boundaries of underground dance music events in Perth since the mid-2000s, again with a focus on drum ‘n’ bass. As their parties grew bigger and more often, line-ups became larger & more diverse. I remember back in 2009 the guys hosted a mini block party in the city featuring a slew of great artists including Coki, Loefah, MJ Cole, Zed Bias and Jakes. From ever since I can remember looking for events, there was never a dull moment in Perth after that.”

Right now in 2014 we’ve got a healthy dubstep scene here in Perth, but Saxon explains how the sound DeadWeight were pushing didn’t always have the support it needed to thrive despite a solid local environment and unrelenting support from independent radio stations and other similar routes. The importance of one website in particular bolstered the general underground scene and kept it healthy throughout the years.

“One of the only places to find out about underground dance music events in Perth was local-based Internet forum Teknoscape. Although street press media like X-Press Magazine and soon come Drum Media were strong at the time, smaller promoters still utilised other avenues (street posters, flyers, Teknoscape, RTRFM, IM programs) to advertise their parties: these methods were still effective in the pre-Facebook era. Teknoscape had a pulse on Perth with many active users – it was a great community for everyone to express themselves from all teirs of the scene from punters and promoters to local DJ’s and producers. You could say all dance music parties/events were listed in the scene thread, and if they weren’t, the community was that strong that a member other than the promoter would list it if it weren’t in the guide.”

But was the actual dubstep and grime field strong enough to support a regular slot back then, rather than another drum & bass night with a hint of dubstep thrown in? Apparently not, and this is when DeadWeight started to climb.

“There weren’t enough active members in the scene at the time spreading the sound for dubstep to really take off in Perth. Most of the punters at the events were heads that knew what they were in for, but the numbers never really grew. I think it was mostly due to the fact there was no large local community backing of local producers and DJs to support the sound. Dubstep was a culture built from the ground up from a geographical location external to Perth and was poached with no solid foundation.

It was the local guys that made it all happen and kept the scene healthy. Local DJ’s Rekab, D-vo, Ylem and Proximity Effect are the ones that stand out for me that were supporting the sound, playing the slots and spreading the good news. Ylem started his string of parties ‘Watt Hertz’, hosting some great international acts and Proximity Effect was holding it down at local jawn Reprazent. Big up to the promoters that were taking on board all the acts and giving Perth something new. Although there was a fair bit of dubstep goin’ down in P-Town, it was still mostly limited to special events featuring international touring DJ’s.

My love for the sound took me to a number of events while I was growing up, but most notably was a dubstep event at Shape Bar featuring 16 Bit on my 20th birthday. I saw this guy (now partner-in-crime) in the club I had seen at a house party a few weeks prior spinning some tunes that I’d never heard before. At the peak of my night I interrupted his silky moves on the dancefloor and introduced myself. We chatted for a long time and it was clear we were on the same page, but also different planets (haha). A lot of ideas were tossed around and sooner rather than later we were in my basement rinsing together as much as we could. Our goal was to start a regular, local-based party at a small venue with a focus on sub-weighted, boundary-pushing music. We were fortunate enough that Perth was going through some changes at the time and a couple new inner city venues were popping up, so after several phone calls, emails and meetings we had a brand together and a bi-monthly date locked at a new inner-city small pub The Bird, with events commencing in June 2010.”

Lucky to get their foot in the door at a venue that had generated its own buzz having hosted The Gaslamp Killer in a secret party half-way through its construction, Saxon goes on to explain how himself and Chris Caravella – now DeadWeight head-honchos – were just “a couple of bedroom DJs” who didn’t really have any contacts in the nightclub scene to support their events. And with the ‘Someone Say Dubstep?’ events having stopped at this point, the sound was hard to come by. “It was hard to get new events noticed on Teknoscape around this time as people shifted to popular social media sites like Facebook,” he notes. The duo, therefore, heavily relied on alternative means of promotion like street work of poster-painting and flyers to spread the word along with their friendship network to support them.

“The lineup of our first party featured PaperChain crew Kit Pop & Zeke showcasing their new routine for the first time ever and live artist Naik, local dubstep DJ & producer stalwart Vishnu, local promoter (ICSSC) and DJ Clunk, and none other than DeadWeight! themselves Tifa (newly coined C Double) and Saxon (still Saxon). PaperChain were a few years solid before we came about and offered great support for our event and introduced us to some great people in the local scene.

Our launch night was a success and the vibe was right. The parties continued at The Bird – the lines got longer and we were soon on a monthly basis. Other crews started hearing about what we do and liked our style so we began to DJ around town B2B at venues like The Rise, Shape, Bar Open, Mojos and the newly re-opened Bakery. At the time the dubstep sound was evolving into different territory and pushed into the commercial realm of music due to artists such as Doctor P, Caspa, Skream, 16 Bit, C&S and Skrillex. The sound found a permanent place in Perth, but a lot of the new fans of ‘dubstep’ were attracted to a more aggressive form of the sound. Nonetheless, it made the genre dubstep a more valuable market.”

Fast-forwarding to 2012 after their massive aforementioned 2011, the DeadWeight crew were briefly known as BassNotion throwing gigs with Saran. It wasn’t a quiet time for the unit though – they still managed to get the likes of Digital Mystikz (!), Rinse FM resident N-Type, Rockwell and Marcus Intalex to grace the helm as well as Silkie and Jon Convex later in the year. But back as DeadWeight, Eprom came out to the distant land of Western Australia for a second time along with Kito before the legion threw their biggest and most influential party to date, ‘The Inna Circle’, featuring an absolutely fucked-up-for-Australia line-up of Senseless Records boss DeVille, Ghost Mutt, Mensah aka New York Transit Authority for his debut AUS performance, America’s resident dubstep legend Joe Nice and DEEP MEDi’s Japanese associate Goth-Trad for his only Australian show so far. “It felt like the culmination of 2 years’ hard work and a real celebration of all the styles of music that fall under the bass music umbrella, whether it be from house to garage through dubstep and grime or all the way to footwork,” Chris explains. “It ended up being Australian exclusive performances for Joe Nice and Goth-Trad and it was super humbling to have guys even coming over from the Eastern states to catch our show. That’s something I never thought would happen!” Having been there myself, it was certainly a show to remember. Chris continues to say how “it’s hands-down the proudest moment of this journey for me so far, but I don’t believe it’s the pinnacle of what we can do.”

Getting closer to the present day, we were blessed with the ruthless sounds of dubstep veteran Tunnidge and Robox NeoTech head-honcho Doshy, before the squadron flew over Bristol bass legend RSD for another small club, sub heavy evening with the Smith & Mighty collaborator and DJ-Kicks mixer showing us just how he’s managed to top the scene for over two decades on labels like Pinch’s Tectonic and Punch Drunk amongst others. France’s Von D was after him (read our interview here) with the dubstep innovator and badman DJ bringing his GetDarker release and unique taste on bass music to the vanguard of our city, before the crew organised their second-largest party to date on their third birthday in August last year. The likes of 130 prodigy Wen, who just released his unbelievably outstanding debut album on Dusk & Blackdown’s Keysound Recordings, Adelaide’s Strict Face and Big Dada grime monster Juzlo graced the dance for this night with all DJs delivering a bucket-load of stone cold, neck-snapping dubs alongside killer locals and The Kush Club’s Percy Miracles. The crew even copped a special mention on the back of the vinyl edition of Wen’s ‘Signals’ LP, thanking them for the support in the lead-up to the record.

From there, they discontinued the custom of throwing one-off parties to deliver and overwhelm us with a fortnightly dance at a regular spot – a place where we would know what to expect and where to liberate from the mediocrity of a normal nightclub vibe, a club where we’d end up seeing likes of Matt-U, the Tempa, Black Box, Dub Police signee and Artikal Music UK boss J:Kenzo for his debut Australian performance, Eprom’s third (!) Aus show, together with London’s DEEP MEDi and Butterz’s jazz-infused, funk-slated, ‘Long Live The Jazz‘ badman Swindle – a show in conjunction with fellow Perth crew Next Hype. All these events were in-between regular fortnightly parties where DeadWeight would partner up with Perth’s best DJs each and every time for an unrelenting night of bass – gigs dubbed ‘It’s A DeadWeight Ting!’ came to fruition and hosted the likes of Horsepower Productions member and dubstep scene veteran Benny Ill along with Melbourne’s beatmaker Dizz1 for his ‘Everyday Grind‘ EP launch on Valentine’s Day, 2014. It’s now March, and following a sweatbox rinse in partnership with Big Ape to bring out DMZ member Coki last week, ‘DeadWeight! Dance Club!’ has come to the forefront every two weeks – simply, but not incompletely, a killer lights-off dance party with club-crushing and trunk-rattling bass music from the world over.

Speaking to savage dubstep & grime selector as Boy P (Toy P – apparently newly-coined C Double) and fellow DeadWeight captain Chris Caravella, he notes how the crew of mostly-six people have grown to watch the scene develop over the four years since its inception. While the kick-off wasn’t actually that long ago, he notes the importance of fellow Perth-based crew Big Ape for providing a starting point for young people and their introduction to bass music – while the Big Ape vibe isn’t really the DeadWeight sound, it helped to get people interested in the music in a party atmosphere. He also adds that Perth has started to acknowledge and appreciate the amount of proper parties they’ve held in such a short time by broadening past the stereotypical dub-head of early days:

“We’re actually in a position where we’ve watched the scene grow and change over the last 4 years and I don’t think a lot of people realise that, or just how many parties we’ve actually done. We’ve watched it change from daggy dudes who loved bass into top-knot-toting, bucket hat-wearing, camo pants-rocking, internet-loving kids. For me personally I think while the scene here is healthy at the moment, the dubstep side of things has slowed down a bit with Internet trends like Jersy Club and ‘romantic’ trap ala Ta-ku, Cashmere Cat, Hoodboi and the like having taken off and taking centre stage hard in the last couple of months. It feels as though even though everyone now has a world of music at their fingertips via the Internet, people in general don’t really seem to be searching or new and exciting stuff anymore. It’s kind of like whatever the perceived ‘tastemakers’ of them moment tell them is good is what they’re listening to until the next big trend comes along.”

Chris also outlined the reasons for a push towards fortnightly dances rather than massive events a few times a year by referring to their educated and almost-veteran status among the super-young WA scene, “we’re trying to give something back to the scene now by fostering new talent and opening our doors a little bit” – now, more than ever, the crew are increasingly hearing the sounds of new, budding and stimulating DJs at their parties rather than the seasoned-yet-flawless dons who would previously support the internationals at a majority of their gigs. Regarding the crew’s sound, he adds:

“I think there is a lot of potential in the new 135bpm-ish sound being championed by guys like Wen, Tessela, Epoch and Teeth. The sound combines the elements we loved about dubstep when we first heard it; the space and the sub-bass with new rhythm patterns and what seems like a newfound enthusiasm for bass music in general. You can expect to hear a lot of stuff like that at our parties in the future.”

Further, he highlights the importance of grime in the scene and its rise to prominence once again by explaining how it’s slowly making waves here, backed by DeadWeight residents Modo and Nebula who’ve always played it in their sets. Yet while it would seem Perth’s dubstep environment is flourishing, the 140 kingpin explains its demise over in Melbourne with the fall of Heavy Innit. “It’s been interesting to see the scene in Melbourne for ‘bass music’ shrink over the last year with Heavy Innit throwing their last party and hopefully it isn’t a sign of things to come in Perth. We’ll always love the sound (and all the genres that now make up the ‘bass music’ spectrum) though, and hopefully [we can] continue to play it to crowds that feel the same way about it as us for the foreseeable future.”


From bringing out a diverse slew of electronic musicians from Untold to New York Transit Authority, from Eprom to Goth-Trad and from Africa Hitech to RSD, DeadWeight! have bolstered more than 30 international artists over four years and are without a doubt a dedicated team to the worldwide dubstep scene, building up a huge resource of information and opinion about music that exists far beyond the radar. Whether it’s been rinsing in their basement as budding bedroom DJs back in the day, a regular fortnightly party with local DJs rinsing the dance or an internationally-recognised all-night rave, every DeadWeight party focuses on an increasingly niche and special side of underground dance music, showcasing music that doesn’t find a place in the mainstream or get much shelf-space on the high-street. From the original dubstep sound of Digital Mystikz and J:Kenzo to the left-field grime of Wen and Strict Face, DeadWeight have designed and conceived their events by narrowing down virtually endless musical possibilities to form a catalogue of hand-picked selections united by their special theme and bound by a particular style. This is a crew who throws real parties – events that have started from the bottom, combine all the best elements from the bass music spectrum and showcase them in a tight-knit community environment that doesn’t exclude or frighten anyone off; the “holier-than, take-it-or-leave-it” attitude that turns major numbers off the deeper and more underground side of music doesn’t exist, and the excitement leading up to each new party is always different from the last. From hosting small-time locals at their first events to producers on the world stage at festivals like Outlook and Dimensions, the Australian music scene needs more crews like this in order to survive as affluently as it has been, so here’s to a crew who actually party and care what they party for.



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