I read a long time ago, in an Agatha Christie mystery of all places, that when you hear/see/become aware of something – let’s call it, The Thing – when you hear/see/become aware of The Thing that was previously unknown to you, you will hear/see/become aware of The Thing again within 48 hours of first having experienced it.
Considering that you have spent your entire life before that moment unaware of The Thing, it seems interesting that it would reveal itself to you more than once in such a short time span.
For a while I thought the phenomenon being described was synchronicity but I don’t think that is quite correct. Synchronicity is defined as “the experience of two or more events that are apparently causally unrelated occurring together in a meaningful manner.” What the book described is one event or one concept appearing more than once in a very short time period when before that moment it had never made an appearance in your life at all.
I was obviously reading the book to pass an afternoon, not looking for any great learning, but this stuck in my head and I have observed it to be 100% true. Because it sounds a bit like crazy talk, my rational argument is this – you may have always been surrounded by instances of The Thing all the while, but you only start noticing it (the first time and then several times during the next 48 hours) after your attention was explicitly drawn to it that first time.
All this to say that after I had my first proper dubstep experience earlier this year, and since then it appears like I’m obsessively seeking out everything about it, when in fact I’m not. It just reappears in my consciousness at regular intervals, and yesterday once again, I was drawn back to the time eight months ago when I first experienced it in London in February 2010.
As part of the Red Bull Music Academy I spent two weeks in London making music, meeting other musicians and attending gigs. I am from Mumbai and because we weren’t exposed to music from around the world in an organized manner growing up, my grasp of music history is a patchwork-based quilt where the pieces have no connection to each other and are only together because each of them is so beautiful on its own. At the Academy I realized I recognized a few of the established musicians that would lecture there but there were also a large number of artists about whom I knew nothing. In the past that would have caused me a great amount of shame and I would have obsessively researched each of them until my brain had filled the holes in a chronological fashion.
This time my strategy was different – I figured I would just go in blank. I would let my first encounter with the artists be the starting point for my knowledge about them.
I first encountered Mala, one of the pioneers of what is now called the dubstep movement, as another one of the ‘team members’ at the Academy. He was absolutely lovely and offered to help me with Logic one afternoon when I mentioned I was curious about it but had never used the software before. When we hung out later it was a great relief to hear him say that he spends hours experimenting with sounds, especially the kick and the bass, to make sure they sit right with each other.
And then a few days later, I attended his live gig at The Roundhouse – my first proper dubstep event. I had never experienced anything like it. My tweet from that night reads, “DMZ with a bass so deep you could drown in it”. We didn’t hear the music that night, we felt it, we were swept away by the big fat sound waves that filled the massive space. I was dead tired after a very long day so I left a few hours later because I couldn’t remain upright anymore. I regret that now. I wish I had stayed until the end and soaked up every minute of that experience.
Yesterday I came across this trailer and it made me think of that night all over again. Bassweight, a documentary about dubstep, releases this month. Watch the trailer here:
As for me, how did that night of dubstep change me? It opened up my mind to the idea of literally feeling the music. Not in a metaphorical sense, but literally feeling the sound envelope your entire body. I’ve been working on a dubstep track since I got back (yeah, I’m not putting it out there until it is at least beginner-level good). And I’m hoping the music in other genres I make can incorporate a small level of the feeling that I had when I stood there in the dark on the upper level of The Roundhouse and watched an entire room drown in that big warm bass sound.